Every Tuesday, Nate from @natenightmoviereviews will be revisiting The Mandalorian starting at the very beginning.
“Chapter 2: The Child” is directed by Rick Famuyiwa, and it is one of my favourite episodes of the series. The cinematography is outstanding, and the tone of the episode helps to establish Favreau’s wider vision for the series overall. Yet, I love this episode mostly because it is just really weird and fun. Famuyiwa is a self-proclaimed life-long Star Wars fan, and that is plainly revealed by the visual storytelling. As well, there are many easter eggs and references to other Star Wars content throughout the episode – most notable of those being the Jawas. However, it’s the familiar themes that interest me more than anything.
Before we get into all of that, let’s talk about the title of the episode, or more specifically, let’s talk about the child. As we discussed last week, “Chapter 1” ends with a huge reveal that left fans like me with so many questions. We have never known the name of Yoda’s species, and we have only ever seen one other example of that species before – Yaddle, a female member on the Jedi Council during The Phantom Menace. In “Chapter 1” we were told that Grogu is fifty years old, and given that The Mandalorian takes place in 9 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), Grogu surely would have been conceived while Yoda and Yaddle were on the Jedi Council at the same time. So, my immediate first question upon seeing this child was – “Did Yoda and Yaddle get it on?” This question may go unanswered for some time, but it seems unlikely that they did, given the fact that they were both high ranking members on the Council during a very dogmatic time. It is possible that Grogu may be a relative to either, or both of them, but I don’t think they are his parents. While I ponder these larger questions of canon, I also like to think about the viewers who aren’t as knowledgeable in the lore as I am – the casual fans (my wife hates that term). When the casual fan sees this little baby Yoda, and they hear people talking about ‘Baby Yoda’ everywhere. I wonder how many of them thought that actually was Yoda as a baby, or how many people still think he is Yoda for that matter. If you are unaware of the timeline, it is an easy mistake to make. Regardless, this reveal obviously created many questions in the minds of fans, and brought about much speculation. For example, another prominent theory is that Grogu may have been conceived by the Force, just like Anakin. This theory becomes even stronger when you consider their age, because they were actually born in the same year, 41 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin). That can’t just be a coincidence, for as Qui-Gon Jinn says, “nothing happens by accident.” So, if they were both manifested by the Force, then they must be naturally linked, which is why Grogu appears to be so powerful. Perhaps Anakin and Grogu may have become a dyad in the Force like Rey and Ben Solo. I could go on for days about stuff like this, but my point is, these fan theories are part of the fun of Star Wars. Except nowadays some fans want answers for everything, even though that has never been the case when it comes to Star Wars. There were always questions left unanswered, and the mystery was part of the fun. In reality, when you provide answers to long unanswered questions, there is no way everyone will be satisfied – just look at the reception for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Nevertheless, part of what makes The Mandalorian so great is the week-to-week nature of the show, and the conversation/speculation it generates. And sure enough, “Chapter 2” gave us a lot to talk about.
This is the episode where we start to see a growing bond between Din and Grogu. As a result, we also begin to notice a personal struggle within the Mando over his greed for the bounty, and a pull to become more selfless. Obviously, this type of struggle is prevalent throughout all of Star Wars, and not every character makes the right choice. Actually, if you recall last week, I mentioned that Grogu is a walking symbol for choice. This is the choice I was referring to. The choice to be more selfless is one of the most important lessons passed down by George Lucas. These are the types of things he was hoping to teach the 12-year-olds – compassion and empathy. Throughout “Chapter 2” we can see that Mando and Grogu really do empathize with each other. Mando is trying to keep Grogu safe, and Grogu is trying to heal Mando. At the same time, Mando also has to learn to empathize with the Jawas, and to negotiate with them, rather than fight them.
Speaking of fighting, the opening fight between Din and the Trandoshan bounty hunters is pretty awesome. The full power of the pulse rifle is on display, and we start to understand why Darth Vader told Boba Fett, “no disintegrations” in The Empire Strikes Back. Furthermore, the fight with the Jawas on the side of the sandcrawler is also fantastic. Not only because it is the Star Wars equivalent to the cowboy in a western hanging on to the side of a wagon, but also because it reminds me of another famous quote from Empire, when Yoda says…
“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size do you?
And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.
Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us.
Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”
While on the sandcrawler, Din foolishly underestimates the Jawas because of their size, and he pays the price for that mistake. Moreover, he also underestimates Grogu multiple times in this episode. And it is Grogu who eventually teaches him a valuable lesson, just as it was Yoda who taught Luke. Except instead of lifting an X-Wing out of the swamp, the “luminous being” Grogu, uses the Force to lift a charging Mudhorn off the ground in order to save Din’s life. Unfortunately, Din then uses a tiny knife to murder the large beast and take it’s egg. But, animals are always getting killed in Star Wars, so we shouldn’t be surprised by that.
Additionally, the scene when Din gives the egg to the Jawas is quite significant. On the surface, it seems funny because the Jawas just slice it open and start digging into it, even though it had previously been built up to be some sort of spiritual totem. Yet, symbolically, it serves as a powerful warning to Din, and to the audience. Considering the fact that Din is currently protecting an innocent child inside an egg-shaped pod, this scene begs the question as to whether or not the Empire will do the same thing to Grogu’s pod when Din inevitably hands him over.
While Din does not fully understand what Grogu actually did in the fight with the Mudhorn (as he strangely seems to have no previous knowledge of the Force), he can recognize that Grogu is obviously very special. Characters finding themselves connected to something bigger than themselves is a recurring theme in Star Wars. As Obi-Wan told Luke, “you’ve taken your first step into a larger world.” Likewise, this episode represents Din’s first steps, and sure enough he does a lot of walking throughout the episode. The inclusion of Jawas is significant, because they are closely associated with Tatooine – the planet where Luke’s journey begins. Personally, when I think of Tatooine, I think of Luke looking off into the distance towards the binary sunset, dreaming of something more. Since we established last week that Mando, like Luke, desires to be something greater, I believe that we are meant to be reminded of Luke’s heroic journey when Mando is having his dealings with the Jawas. Favreau could have chosen any alien species for this episode, but he chose one that was thought to be native to Tatooine. Therefore, when Mando gets shocked by an ion cannon, similar to the way R2-D2 does in A New Hope, this isn’t just an easter egg, it is asking the audience to recognize that Mando’s heroic journey is just beginning.
Another major Star Wars theme we touched upon last week was that of the mechanical vs. the living. Again, this theme is prominent in “Chapter 2” as well. Throughout the course of the episode Mando’s armour fails him, his weapons fail him, and his ship is dismantled. He needs the wisdom of Kuiil to assist him in peacefully negotiating with the Jawas, and he requires the help of a ‘luminous being’ to achieve his mission of retrieving the egg. His tech does not help him in this episode, and it serves as a reminder for him to remain more reliant on the qualities of man rather than machine. This will be an ongoing struggle for him as the series progresses, as we will discuss in the coming weeks…
Thank you for taking the time to read more of my incoherent ramblings about a silly space western. Next week I will be breaking down the action-packed “Chapter 3: The Sin” directed by Deborah Chow, another amazing episode that I can’t wait to watch again.
I have spoken,