3:37 pm EST, November 15, 2019

‘The Mandalorian’ season 1, episode 2 review: Cracking the shell

The Mandalorian season 1, episode 2 fills the premiere’s vacuum with a much-needed dose of heart. Here’s our review of “Chapter Two: The Child.”

If Disney’s initial debut of Disney+ and The Mandalorian left something to be desired in emphasis and execution, the problems were apparently nothing that couldn’t be resolved with a few days wait and one more episode.

Disney+ is now humming along like a sparkling machine, while The Mandalorian shakes off its chilly veneer to bare a sweet and hopeful heart thumping beneath all that armor.

So:

What happened on ‘The Mandalorian’ season 1, episode 2?

The Mandalorian heads back to his ship with the child in tow. On the way, he is forced to fight off Trandoshans hunting the bounty. He cauterizes his own wounds; the child seems to want to help with the injuries, but the Mandalorian returns it to its pod.

The Mandalorian discovers that his ship has been ransacked by Jawas and attacks, climbing on board their trawler as they flee. He reaches the top, but is blasted by several Jawas at once, leaving him unconscious on the rocky desert floor.

the mandalorian season 1 episode 2

On awakening, the Mandalorian is furious to find his ship utterly stripped. He returns to Kuiil’s farm, where the Ugnaught is surprised to see the tiny creature causing all the trouble. Kuill says it is better to deliver it alive, given that it seems to be a child. The Mandalorian sulks over his stripped ship, but Kuiil offers to take him to the Jawas to trade for the stolen parts.

The baby swallows a frog-like creature and giggles. This is important, okay? Giggling Yodlets are important to the plot.

Kuiil and the Mandalorian reach the Jawas. The irritated and suspicious bounty hunter refuses to give up his weapons, and won’t trade his beskar armor, or the child, for his ship parts. The Jawas decide that they want “the egg,” and the whole gang rides over to a cave, where the Mandalorian wakes and fights with a massive horned beast.

The fight goes poorly for the bounty hunter and the baby watches in apparent anxiety. When the Mandalorian is knocked nearly unconscious and about to be stampeded, the child uses the Force to suspend the huge creature in the air. The Mandalorian recovers and is able to slay the beast when the child collapses, releasing it.

The Mandalorian stares over the child, fast asleep after its exhausting effort.

the mandalorian season 1 episode 2

He returns to the retreating Jawas with the egg just as they are about to leave, and the Jawas feast messily on their prize. The Mandalorian and Kuiil return to the farm with the ship’s parts, confused and somewhat concerned at what has happened to the child. Despite the Mandalorian’s pessimism, they are able to fix the ship quickly. (Ugnaughts get shit done.)

Kuiil accepts only the Mandalorian’s thanks for his help and takes his leave, hoping that the child survives and earns him a great reward. The Mandalorian takes off; when they reach space, the child finally wakes up, though the Mandalorian does not acknowledge it.

Review

There is one scene in The Mandalorian season 1, episode 2 that seems entirely insignificant. Having received their prize from the Mandalorian, the Jawas crowd gleefully around their new egg, slicing it open and feasting on its sloppy yellow innards.

But this scene is significant. It might be the most crucial to understanding “The Child” — and perhaps the series as a whole. Not just because this is a moment of real levity in an otherwise staid (though impactful) episode.

This scene of delight reflects a keen understanding on the part of The Mandalorian‘s writers. The true value of playing in a galaxy like Star Wars, they know, doesn’t lie in repetition, or grim austerity, or flashy fight scenes. It is an opportunity to explore the most essential concepts of the story in new and unexpected ways.

How do I reach this conclusion from a bunch of aliens eating a gigantic egg?

Well.

First of all, this entire transaction between the Jawas and the Mandalorian represents a distinctly different kind of problem solving than we usually see in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. The Mandalorian tries to solve the problem of his ransacked ship in the way that many heroes do — by shooting his way back to his property and hauling it home.

But even though The Mandalorian season 1, episode 2 emphasizes multiple times how inherent weaponry and violence are to this person (even elevating his connection to militaristic symbols to the level of religious faith) this tried-and-true approach does not work. The Mandalorian is overwhelmed by the Jawas. He is forced to ask Kuiil for help, which Kuiil does — but only by working with the Jawas on their own terms.

the mandalorian season 1 episode 2

They don’t want to fight. They don’t even need an item of objective value in exchange for the ship’s innards. The problem that would usually be solved with slaughter is instead resolved with… food.

“The Child” goes so far as to chide the idea that Jawas are even thieves at all, as Kuiil tells the Mandalorian. The Jawas are just doing what they do; dealing with them effectively is a matter of understanding them, not annihilating them. Providing help is better leverage than any threat or explosive.

While the Mandalorian himself seems dubious as to this point, the episode itself strengthens the concept through the consistent attempts by the little Yodlet to help its captor. The Mandalorian appears fairly bemused as to how to think of the sweet creature, but as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that the child has no such problem. It possesses real desires and agency. It tries to help heal the Mandalorian’s wounds; it does eventually save his life, at real cost to its own help.

This choice facilitates the peace in which the dignified Kuiil delights. This choice also allows the Mandalorian to bring the child closer to the most-likely-ill-intentioned individuals who are seeking it. But most importantly — as with the Jawas — the brave actions of the little Yodlet forge a bond between it and the Mandalorian.

An exchange has taken place, and a generous one at that. The Mandalorian might think he’s still the tough-skinned bounty hunter about to cash in. But — just like that sliced open egg — I think there’s a few cracks in his shell that are going to reveal the beating heart behind that beskar breastplate.

The Mandalorian season 1, episode 3 debuts on Disney+ on Friday, Nov. 22.

Our Score

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