The last episode of The Mandalorian was very solid and enjoyable, and I’m pleased to report that the same can be said for Chapter 12: The Siege.
One of my friends — fellow BFFC contributor Quinn Crain — had guessed correctly that Din Djarin (“the Mandalorian”) would return to Greef Karga on Nevarro, in order to repair the Razor Crest. The ship has taken extensive damage and is unable to make the trip to Corvus. We are treated to a cute scene where he is trying to get The Child to help him repair the ship. Mando wants him to switch the blue and red wire, but The Child touches them and they spark. Thankfully, he is uninjured.
We see a shot of an arched hallway. If you look closely, you can see that there is the marking of where the Mandalorian Mythosaur skull was once present. And just inside the entrance is the smelt where The Armorer crafted gear for the Mandalorian. This, sadly, is what was formally the lair of the Mandalorian covert that Mando worked for in Season 1. It has now been taken over by thieving Aqualish, the same species as the individual who harassed Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley cantina in the original movie. As they are about to butcher a ferret like creature, they hear something outside. One of them goes out to investigate and is subdued by Cara Dune. Another exclaims “It’s the Marshal!” Apparently Cara Dune has taken on a law enforcement role similar to Cobb Vanth on Tatooine. Using her superb hand to hand combat skills, she neutralizes all of them with either their own blasters, or a blade she throws at one of them. She then sorts through the various items on the table, telling the ferret that she has to return them to their rightful owners. This is admirable work, and it seems like she’s doing a good job of helping Nevarro recover from being the wretched hive of scum and villainy that it once was. In scenes like this, I also wonder how much Gina Carano’s real life MMA experience applies to the choreography of the action.
Mando arrives at the archway entrance of Nevarro. It is crazy to think of how much has changed from his conflicts here in Season One. Greef Karga and Cara Dune are, of course, overjoyed to see The Child. The condition of the Razor Crest is also quite obvious; the landing ramp of the ship doesn’t even go all the way down and the ship looks like a patchwork quilt. We see an alien mechanic turn back to look at the group; this is an unfortunate and important detail later.
As the group makes their way towards a building, there is a statue that can be glimpsed in the background, standing in the middle of a courtyard. It is clearly IG-11, the bounty hunter droid from last season. As you may recall from the season one finale, it sacrificed itself in order to save The Child and give Mando and his allies a fighting chance at defeating Moff Gideon and his stormtroopers. I am very pleased to see this tribute, because IG-11 and its sacrifice deserve to be remembered not only by us as the audience, but also the inhabitants of this town. After all, IG-11’s contribution is partially responsible for the safety they now enjoy, since the Imperial presence has been severely decreased. I wish they had put the IG-11 statue in a more obvious point of view. I missed it the first time I watched this episode, but caught it on my second viewing.
It turns out that the building Karga has led them to is a school. There is a classroom being taught by a protocol droid, looking and sounding much like C-3PO. Karga believes this is a safe place to leave The Child because he wants to update Mando about a delicate situation that has arisen on Nevarro. The Child spots some blue cookies, being eaten by the kid sitting next to him. The Child wants some, but the kid doesn’t want to share. We see The Child use the Force to bring the cookies to himself when the kid isn’t looking. I wonder if any other kids saw this occur? Not everyone in the galaxy knows about the Force, and during the reign of the Empire it was dangerous for one to out themselves as a Force user. This is still somewhat the case, given Moff Gideon wants to capture The Child. But The Child is still too innocent to consider all this, and uses his power to fetch cookies.
As the group reaches Greef Karga’s office, we see a familiar blue alien sitting at the front desk. It is Mythrol, the first bounty we saw Mando capture during the series premiere. Apparently he is working off his debt (350 years, but who’s counting?). I found this character somewhat annoying last time, but I suppose he was more bearable and useful this episode. Also, the further we progress with the show, the more opportunities we will see where previously established characters could make a comeback during unexpected moments.
Cara Dune urges them to talk business, and they update Mando on their situation. There is an Imperial outpost not far from the town. Cara says that this is where Moff Gideon’s troops originated from. It allegedly only has a skeleton crew, but has not been abandoned. Furthermore, black market arms dealers want to get their hands on the weapons that the outpost would have. Mando agrees to help them remove the Imperial presence.
Along the way, they discuss their simple plan: infiltrate, sabotage the reactor to explode, then leave. The outpost is apparently above a lava river, so the reactor explosion combined with the lava would destroy pretty much everything. The rest of the group cuts open the door at the bottom, while Mando flies up to a higher platform. When they take the elevator and meet him up there, Mando has killed multiple stormtroopers. The base is clearly not as empty as they thought it was.
They make their way to the base, and find the station they need to sabotage by draining the cooling lines. It is a high up platform, with lava at the bottom. It looks very similar to the control panel Obi-Wan Kenobi sabotaged on the original Death Star, a clear indicator if Imperial architecture. Both stations look like an easy place to fall off of; Mythrol snidely references this when he notes there are no safety rails whatsoever. Mythrol drains the cooling lines, and the place will explode in 10 minutes according to Greef Karga.
The group stealthily avoids stormtroopers while making their way through the hallways. There are what appear to be Imperial scientists “purging the drives” in order to hide what they’ve been doing here. It is also as the group is passing by here that we see something… unusual. Behind “Team Mando” there is what appears to be a human with a green shirt and blue jeans. He is partially hidden by the corner of the hallway. His presence in this place is most unexpected, mysterious, and sinister. The Dark Side of the Force radiates strongly from him… just kidding, it’s a set crew member who has not been edited out of the final shot. This is similar to the Starbucks cup in Game of Thrones.
The scientists are quickly dispatched, and the group approaches tanks filled with blue liquid in the walls. This is where the episode truly gets intriguing, and the stakes greatly raised. There are hideous, deformed figures in the tanks. They look like they could be clones of either Palpatine or Snoke. That’s when Cara Dune realizes what this place really is. “This isn’t a military operation…this is a lab.” They dig through the desk and pull up a transmission. It is Dr. Pershing, who was last seen serving the Client in Season One. I am going to quote it here, because what is said is highly important:
“Replicated the results of the subsequent trials, which also resulted in catastrophic failure. There were promising effects for an entire fortnight, but then, sadly, the body rejected the blood. I highly doubt we’ll find a donor with a higher M-count, though. I recommend that we suspend all experimentation. I fear that the volunteer will meet the same regrettable fate if we proceed with the transfusion. Unfortunately, we have exhausted our initial supply of blood. The Child is small, and I was only able to harvest a limited amount without killing him. If these experiments are to be continued as requested, we would again require access to the donor. I will not disappoint you again, Moff Gideon.”
There is a lot to unpack here, which I will after recapping the rest of the episode. But I have to give credit to this scene, because it was creepy and interesting in a very sci-fi way, like something out of the Alien franchise. Mando believes this to be an old transmission, since he thinks Moff Gideon is dead. However, Mythrol says that the transmission is only 3 days old, confirming to Mando that Gideon is indeed alive.
What follows is an awesome montage of Mando and the team fighting their way out. Mando separates from the group because he will recover The Child faster if he flies away with his jetpack. Right before he can take off, we see a miracle: stormtroopers finally land shots against a target, hitting Mando 3 times with their blasters. Of course, the beskar saves him and he shoots them down and leaves. Meanwhile, the others are able to steal a hefty tank, a Trexler Marauder. They are cornered, but recklessly drive the Trexler over the cliff and fall heavily onto the speeder they took to get here. A group of scout troopers attempt to follow on speederbikes, but many of them crash on the rocks. That was even more reckless, and clumsy. The others give chase through the canyon, in a shot that reminds of the speederbike chase on Endor in Return of the Jedi. They are all shot down except for one that Cara Dune rams into the canyon wall.
Soon after, they are pursued by 4 TIE fighters. This time, I am reminded of the Death Star trench run. This episode is full of Easter eggs, isn’t it? Greef Karga shoots one down, but it’s remains crash into and destroy the tank’s cannons. As they try to get to town, the other 3 are engaged by a fully repaired Razor Crest. With agile piloting, Mando easily dispatches the remaining TIE fighters. The Child is safely aboard, and accidentally pukes the cookies it stole earlier. Mando believes it wise to leave immediately, in order to avoid Moff Gideon. A very wise decision indeed.
In the aftermath of this, 2 X-Wings are docked in front of the town. One of the pilots we saw 2 episodes ago, a character called Carson Teva, questions Greef Karga about the exploding base. Karga mostly brushes him off, but Teva encounters Cara Dune outside. He tells her that something is going on out here in the outer rim, which, of course, is true. He also notes that she is from Alderaan, and asks if she lost anyone when it was destroyed. Of course she did, she lost everyone, as she informs him here. “I’m sorry for your loss,” he says as he leaves her some sort of badge to legitimize her Marshal position. It has the sigil of the Rebel Alliance.
In orbit, we see a light Imperial cruiser, flying at the same angle as the original Star Destroyer in the opening scene of A New Hope. However, this vessel is smaller. An Imperial officer takes an incoming transmission. Remember the alien mechanic from earlier? It is revealed that he planted a tracking beacon aboard the Razor Crest. So now, Mando is being tracked without even knowing. It is the same thing that was done to Jango Fett’s Slave l in Attack of the Clones. The officer confirms this to none other than Moff Gideon, who is also aboard. She also confirms that Mando still has The Child. Moff Gideon says “we will be ready” and turns away. He is inside a room where there are dark armored figures lining the walls. The audio description of this episode says they are… “Dark Troopers.”
All in all, this was a very enjoyable episode. It raised the stakes, entertained, and provided a lot of Easter eggs. I’m not even sure I named them all here.
I want to address the most important part of the episode: the transmission by Dr. Pershing. They are doing some weird experiment where they are trying to transfuse blood of Force sensitive beings into either volunteers or what appear to be clones. The Imperials scientists had the same insignia on their uniforms as the young clone troopers had on Kamino, when they were being inspected by Obi-Wan. These scientists themselves are either cloners or connected to cloning in some way; it is simply too much of a coincidence. Also, Moff Gideon has previously said that The Child meant more to him than they could ever know, when he first met Din Djarin. I believe that the ultimate purpose of these experiments is to revive Palpatine. What else could it be? That’s why Gideon is hellbent on capturing The Child; he is trying to resurrect his ultimate master. Now, granted, how would Gideon even know that Emperor Palpatine is not truly dead? Is Palpatine manipulating him through the Force? Or perhaps Gideon knows something, and these experiments might have some other purpose. But that was the impression I got viewing this episode: there are deformed Palpatine like beings in the tanks and they need Force sensitive blood. That is what was reference when Dr. Pershing said “M-count.” The M stands for Midichlorians.
Another possibility is that the Imperial remnants simply want Force sensitive soldiers. But if this experiment is indeed Palpatine related, then Mando and The Child are truly in danger. With every passing episode, it is revealed that Moff Gideon has far more resources than the initial band of stormtroopers we saw in Season One. And if he and his followers are zealously fighting for Palpatine’s eventual return, then it means they will never stop. There will be no surrender or retreat on their behalf. They will stop at nothing to either capture The Child or die trying. So destroying all of them is the only way Mando and The Child will ever be able to live free. But as it stands, I think Moff Gideon has enough resources to overpower Mando. The cruiser in orbit was a bad sign, and we do not know the extent of his forces. Does he have dozens of people at his beck and call? Hundreds? Thousands? He has proven to be cunning, ruthless and resourceful, like Gus Fring from Breaking Bad. That character was also played by Giancarlo Esposito, that’s why I make the comparison.
This season has already raised the stakes in many ways. Boba Fett. Ahsoka Tano. Bo Katan. Implied, named, and confirmed respectively. All of these are heavy hitting legends from the Star Wars universe. Maybe it’s too much of a stretch, or a childish dream. But to see these characters somehow come together alongside the Mandalorian, and fight in an Avengers style team against the forces of Moff Gideon….this would truly be a spectacle to behold, and possibly some of the greatest Star Wars we’ve seen in a long time. Mando certainly needs the help, because he is severely outgunned and outnumbered at this point.
And the Dark Troopers at the end… I don’t know if they are droid or human. In the Expanded Universe (now branded “Legends”) both versions existed in Dark Forces and the original Battlefront II, respectively. Whatever they are, it will be exciting to see them in action, and I’m pleased that at least some parts of the EU are being saved. I hope they challenge Din Djarin’s pride as a warrior. And Boba’s too, if he ends up in my hypothetical dream team.
In conclusion, this episode shines for me because it has now opened a great many avenues storywise. I straight up have no idea where they’re going with this, and I prefer it that way. Unpredictable storytelling is more exciting. I have not been this invested in Star Wars in a very long time, and the thought of the Child ending up in Gideon’s clutches brings me burning fury like the twin suns of Tatooine or the lava of Mustafar. For now, humor my Avengers style team fending off hordes of Dark Troopers hellbent on reviving Palpatine. It will hold us over until we actually see what will transpire. The Siege is a solid way to reach halftime of Season 2.