Directed by Rick Famuyiwa, “The Child” is the second episode of The Mandalorian, the exclusive Disney+ Star Wars television show. It picks up shortly after the first episode left off and sees the title character played by Pedro Pascalon the run with a mysterious baby. It very quickly becomes apparent to the Mandalorian that something isn’t right with the job he’s taken, as he’s quickly attacked by a group of Trandoshan bounty hunters looking to take the child from him.
And it also quickly becomes apparent that this is the episode that will win over everyone who liked but didn’t love the first episode.
After defeating one enemy and disintegrating another, he makes his way to his ship, The Razor Crest, hoping to make a quick getaway. Unfortunately, a pack of Jawas who no longer seem native to only Tatooine, more on that later have stripped his ship. They make a hasty getaway when the Mandalorian starts taking potshots at them, but they’ve also taken so much of the Mando’s ship that he’s unable to get off planet. With no where else to turn, he goes back to the ugnaught Kuiil voiced by Nick Nolte who convinces the bounty hunter to accept his help in negotiating with the Jawas to get his parts back. When the diminutive scavengers realize he doesn’t have anything of value to trade, they send him on a quest for the egg of a monstrous creature.
With no options left, the Mandalorian goes to retrieve this egg from a monster’s lair, youngling with a floating basinet in tow. The monster may well have killed the Mandalorian had the youngling not interceded, tapping into the Force in order to let the Mando win the day. Because of the youngling’s help, the Mandalorian is able to retrieve the egg, get the parts back for his ship, and leave the planet, wondering what it all means.
George Lucas once said that “the Star Wars films are basically silent movies and they’re designed as silent movies, therefore the music has a very large role in carrying a story more than it would in a normal movie.” This philosophy is on full display in the second episode of The Mandalorian. Of the 30-plus minute episode, less than a fourth of it had any dialogue at all, the first word isn’t heard until almost 11 minutes into the episode. The marriage of Famuyiwa’s visual storytelling and Ludwig Göransson’s music is so strong that you barely notice that nary a word has been spoken.
The quiet influences of Lone Wolf and Cub become even more apparent as the Mandalorian is forced to fight in situation after situation, all the while protecting the Force sensitive youngling in its repulsor-powered basinet. There are two moments in particular that take the breath away in this fashion: the first is when he kicks the basinet out of the way when the Trandoshans attack, the other time is when he has to prevent the muddy creature from bulldozing right through the child. There are many moments in the episode that hearken to this ened sense of visual storytelling that would not be possible without the physical presence of Pedro Pascal. His ability to communicate through the mask and the traditional Mando armor is nothing short of awe-inspiring. When you go back and look at silent film stars like Charlie Chaplin or Harold Lloyd, the expressions on their face were one of their most powerful tools in conveying the story. Pascal and the filmmakers have taken that away from the lead of the story, and yet it all still communicates easily. It’s stunning in its artistry and storytelling; the craft that goes into such things is simply working at a higher level.
What to look out for
One thing that’s curious about this episode is the inclusion of Jawas. This is the third planet we’ve seen Jawas on now. For the longest time, they were limited to the wastes of Tatooine, but they’ve spread in The Mandalorian to the planet where the Mandalorian met his contact Greef Carga Carl Weathers, and again on the planet he’s stuck on in this episode, Arvala-7. It’s interesting to note that they do look and sound differently, giving them a solid distinction between their Tatooine counterparts. These Jawas have red eyes instead of yellow and wear dusty grey cloaks instead of brown. It makes one wonder how many planets Jawas have spread to, looking for that sweet, sweet salvage, and how fast will it be before they reach Jakku and pick its bones clean?
The Jawas also serve a purpose in a grand fairy tale sense, knocking the Mandalorian down a peg and then forcing him on a quest to retrieve an egg, a classic symbol of rebirth, fertility, and the cycle of life. It will be interesting to see how this presages what we might expect by the end of the series and what rebirth this might have been for both the Mandalorian and the Youngling.
The other thing to look out for in this episode is what appears to be the apparent influence of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The action sequence with the Jawa sandcrawler is evocative of the tank battle between Indy and the Nazis in the race to grail. There’s a moment in particular where the Mandalorian is hanging off the side of the vehicle and the Jawas try to graze the side of a cliff the same way the Nazis tried to clip Indy. Funnily enough, they pulled the same move in Solo: A Star Wars Story as well, as Han and Chewie were trying to break aboard the Conveyex. The Indy references play all the way to the top of the sandcrawler, and when the Jawas are lined up at the top like German soldiers, the Mandalorian reaches for his pistol to blast them. In a move that felt unexpected, turning the reference on its ear, the Jawas all get a shot off, knocking the Mando right off the top of the sandcrawler. It’s a funny, unexpected moment and rewards you for your expectations built on the homage.
The last thing I’d point you to that feels like a direct homage is the fight between the Mandalorian and the rhino creature. It felt like it took beats right out of Attack of the Clones, both from Jango Fett’s face off against the Reek in the Geonosian arena, but also moments of his fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Kamino. Here, though, when this true Mandalorian has a similar fight with a rhino-like creature and a Force-user on his side, he survives.
The element of the show that continues to raise questions with the most shocking moment of the episode is the young child in the bounty hunter’s care. There is nothing more wondrous in this episode than the youngling stopping the monster from killing the Mandalorian with the Force in a show of power that would seem impossible for one so young. But I suppose Yoda taught us not to judge books by their covers, right?
But this raises even more questions. Where did this youngling come from? Just how strong with the Force is it? If the Imperial Remnant wants the child, who was protecting it? Were the Nikto guarding it actually heroes, dying to protect the child?
The best theory I have is that this child came from one of the Jedi nurseries that Darth Sidious had sought in early seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. If the toddler is really 50 years old, that makes them only one year older than Darth Vader and could have easily placed them in one of those nurseries at any point in the lead up to the Clone Wars. At that point, though, how did they survive this long? Someone must have been protecting them, right?
Whatever the child’s story, the work done to bring them to life is nothing short of astonishing. It’s clearly a combination of physical puppetry and computer work, but there are no seams to the transitions. And the moment where the youngling eats the space-salamander? Perfection.
One of my chief concerns about this show was whether or not it was going to play for kids. Was it going to be caught in this gray area of morality where the underworld thrives, setting bad examples of what’s “cool?” Or would it be something that showed kids how to do the right thing in difficult circumstances, despite that badassery? I think it’s definitely the latter and that pleasantly surprises me. I watched this episode with my four-year-old who is new to the world of Star Wars and was enthralled—especially by the Force wielding toddler. This fairy tale of an episode brought some great storytelling together with a series of mysteries that are so compelling that I’m starting to bristle at the week-long wait for the next episode.
Warning: The Mandalorian spoilers will obviously be found below.
Episode two of The Mandalorian, “The Child,” opens up a ton of possibilities for where the show might go, and how it could connect to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Did Space Werner Herzog and Dr. Pershing send the Mandalorian after Baby Yoda, henceforth known as Yodaling, because they want to clone him? And if so, considering their allegiance with the Galactic Empire, is Yodaling the key to Emperor Palpatine and his laugh being resurrected for Episode IX? Is that why George Lucas brought up Midi-chlorians, which Yodaling must be loaded with, during his discussion with J.J. Abrams? To mix nerd property references, one does not simply get thrown into the Death Star’s reactor shaft and come back without some science-fiction assistance. But, although tempting, let’s save the Rise of Skywalker speculation — besides all the speculation that I just wrote about and how The Mandalorian season one finale is mere days after Skywalker comes out in theaters… my bad — until we have more concrete answers.
For now, let’s focus on what we know for sure, like how Jawas are mischievous bastards who love cracking open Hairy Cadbury Creme Eggs and feasting on the yellow goo inside; blurrgs which, amusingly, made their debut in the 1985’s Ewoks: The Battle for Endor are a good source of transportation; and “Mud Horn” is a “so… Poochie?” name for a horned beast that lives in the mud. Oh yeah, and Yodaling used THE FORCE.
BABY YODA MY GOODNESS I ALMOST FLIPPED OUTTA MY CHAIR HOLY CRAP… i would die for him… only 50 and he deserves the world #TheMandalorian
— naro @vloneman November 15, 2019
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised — if there’s anything we know about Yoda’s species, it’s that they’re very good at lifting things. But I didn’t think we’d see Yodaling’s Force sensitivity show up so quickly, and so strongly. It could have happened even earlier, too, if the Mandalorian or Dyn Jarren, because no one on this show has an actual name had let the 50-year-old baby heal his wounds. Instead, Yodaling waited until he could wreck that Mud Horn, which sounds like a hurtful “Sand People”-esque derogatory term.
“The Child” ends with the Mandalorian and Yodaling leaving Arvala-7, with some help from the Nick Nolte ugnaught and a welding montage, to, presumably, return to Space Werner Herzog and Dr. Pershing. Of course, it might not be that simple if he learns what they plan to do with the “asset.” But that’s for next week’s episode, which premieres on November 22. Let’s marinate on an episode that sounds like it was crafted by seven-year-old me: “So, a bounty hunter and a baby Yoda and an ugnaught hitch a ride from a bunch of Jawas, and the baby Yoda eats a weird lizard, and…” This is not a complaint.
Congrats on the second canonical burp joke in Star Wars, too.
Werner Herzog has never watched a “Star Wars” film, but the celebrated director fit right into the mythology as a mysterious client with Imperial connections in “The Mandalorian,” the flagship launch title of the Disney+ streaming service.
Herzog was one of several cast and crew members who took part in a panel on the first “Star Wars” live action series during its premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles Wednesday night. Disney celebrated the evening with a Q&A before screening the show's first three episodes.
Although Herzog revealed in previous interviews that his decision to sign on to “The Mandalorian” was primarily a financial one, the longtime director was nonetheless effusive about his time on set during Wednesday's chat. It took less than a minute after meeting “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau for Herzog to be sold on the concept, and he noted that the show's technical aspects and production subverted common criticisms about recent big-budget projects.
“It's cinema back at its best,” Herzog said. “In all the big fantasy films, actors were acting almost like robots in front of green screens. You didn't see the world you were inhabiting. Now, the actors see the entire universe in which they are operating. Cinema is back to life.”
Favreau elaborated on the complicated design process of “The Mandalorian” and noted that although the show makes use of classic “Star Wars” elements such as puppets and practical effects, the show was elevated by recent breakthroughs in visual and audio design, real-time rendering and visual effects from Industrial Lights & Magic, and the Unreal video game engine.
“We use virtual reality to plan everything ahead of time,” Favrau said. “Even though a lot of what you're seeing in front of the camera is audio-animatronics, puppetry, practical effects, mask work — all state-of-the-art, great stuff you associate with ‘Star Wars’ — there's a lot of cutting-edge tech that goes into making it.”
Disney spared few expenses to bring a galaxy of bounty hunting and lawlessness to life on the small screen. The show's budget was reportedly $10 million per episode and Disney is hedging its bets that the show will keep viewers hooked on the new streaming service, as Season 2 has already been confirmed.
As for Herzog, though he's is a newcomer to the “Star Wars” galaxy, several franchise veterans lent their skills to “The Mandalorian.” Chief among them is executive producer Dave Filoni, who also directed the show's pilot episode, and has worked on “Star Wars” projects for over a decade — including the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels,” the latter of which he created.
Filoni recalled a conversation while on set with Greg Frasier, the show's director of photography, and noted that transitioning from animation to live-action was hardly the simplest of processes.
“We were there early, it was 5:30 and the sun was coming up and Greg was like, ‘We better get started,” Filoni said. “He’s like, ‘We’re on the clock now, when the sun goes down, we’re done.’ Right. The sun. That’s going to limit what we can do today.”
“The Mandalorian” is streaming on Disney+. New episodes will be released every Friday.
After a full month of folks obsessing over Martin Scorsese declaring that Marvel movies aren’t “cinema”, filmmaker and agent of chaos Werner Herzog has decided to shift the “cinema” conversation elsewhere. Herzog has a part in the new Disney+ Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian. And even though everyone agrees that The Mandalorian is part of the TV landscape, Herzog just went ahead and referred to it as “cinema.”
We all love Werner Herzog. He’s a delightfully bleak man who makes powerful, uncompromising movies that can often be quiet soul-crushing, and he also happens to love watching wrestling. He’s everything you want him to be, and more. When Herzog isn’t directing documentaries and features that make you ponder existential questions he occasionally pops-up as an actor in unlikely places. He was the villain in Jack Reacher. He had a funny cameo as a man selling a haunted house so he could move closer to Disney World in Parks and Recreation. And currently, you can catch him in The Mandalorian as the mysterious figure The Client.
Herzog has said in the past that he hasn’t actually seen a Star Wars movie. But he has seen The Mandalorian, and he had very positive things to say about it during a recent Q&A. “I enjoyed every single moment of it,” Herzog said. “It’s beyond what we are seeing on the screen. It’s cinema back at its best.”
Referring to The Mandalorian as “cinema” will no doubt cause the denizens of Film Twitter to launch into all sorts of endless discussions. However, it’s worth noting that Herzog seems to be specifically referring to the way The Mandalorian was filmed. Specifically, the tech being employed to create the show’s sci-fi-fantasy landscapes.
“On the big fantasy films, actors were acting almost like robots in front of green screens, you didn’t see the world that you were inhabiting,” he said. “Here the actors see the entire universe in which they are operating and the camera does the same.”
The Mandalorian is shooting in something called “The Volume.” Mandalorian co-star Giancarlo Esposito previously offered some insight into the tech:
“Technically, this show has a new technology [that’s] never really [been] refined as much as it is right now. We’re in a place called The Volume, where we do most of our acting, where set pieces are brought in, where we can control the physical atmosphere of what is projected on the walls and control how gravity is; you get a feeling that gravity is being played with.”
And at the center of it all is Werner Herzog, sitting there saying dialogue like, “We can only give you a tracking fob.” If that isn’t cinema, then I don’t know what is.
While doing press for last night’s world premiere of The Mandalorian, which showcased the first three episodes of the Disney+ series, showrunner/creator Jon Favreau addressed the pilot episode’s shocking ending. Read his comments below, but beware of spoilers if you haven’t seen the first episode yet.
Collider transcribed the following quote from Favreau’s red carpet interview with Variety for last night’s premiere. Oddly, Variety has since removed the video altogether. Here, Favreau talks about the episode’s final reveal: the fact that The Mandalorian’s fifty-year-old target is actually a baby of the same species as Yoda.
“I wanted to surprise people, and I wanted to—well, there are bigger arcs that go through the whole season and the whole throw of the show. So as fun as it is to reveal new characters and surprise them, it also fits into a larger narrative about what’s going on in the galaxy after the revolution, and this is an important character.”
We wrote a big article yesterday speculating about what this Baby Yoda’s involvement might mean for the Star Wars galaxy: is it a Yoda clone? Is it Yoda and Yaddle’s son? Could it show up in The Rise of Skywalker? But that was just speculation on our part – now we have confirmation directly from Favreau that this youngling will be “an important character” who may even have larger implications for the galaxy at large in the wake of the fall of the Empire. What does this world look like? What are the power dynamics at play? Who has tried to slide in and fill the power vacuum now that the Emperor is gone? Or could the Emperor himself actually appear in this series, since he evidently survived the events of Return of the Jedi and plays a role in The Rise of Skywalker some thirty years later?
Favreau also seemed surprised that he was able to preserve this surprise reveal for audiences, considering how tough it is to keep a lid on spoilers for all things Star Wars.
“What I’m most proud of is that we surprised people. You know how hard that is to do that nowadays? And what type of commitment it took from everybody who was on set and from the studio to hide all the clues that people, especially Star Wars fans, normally tap into? Looking into toy catalogues, looking into marketing materials, looking into style guides, photography, and the fact that that secret was kept is incredible.”
The second episode of The Mandalorian hits Disney+ tomorrow.
On the November 14, 2019 episode of /Film Daily, /Film editor-in-chief Peter Sciretta is joined by /Film managing editor Jacob Hall, weekend editor Brad Oman, senior writer Ben Pearson and writers Hoai-Tran Bui and Chris Evangelista to discuss what they’ve been up to at the Water Cooler.
>Opening Banter: This is the last time we’ll hear from HT for a while.
At The Water Cooler:
What we’ve been Doing: Peter attended the grand opening of Funko’s new Hollywood store. He also celebrated his birthday at El Coyote. Jacob set up his Christmas tree. Brad is mad because we already had a winter storm. Hoai-Tran is not prepared for her trip to Vietnam. What we’ve been Reading: Jacob read Blockade Billy by Stephen King. What we’ve been Watching: Peter and Brad watched Parasite. Jacob and Chris and Ben watched episode one of The Mandalorian. Peter attended The Mandalorian world premiere and saw chapters two and three of the series. Peter watched Pixar in Real Life on Disney+, he also found Disneyland Around The Seasons on the service. Brad went to see Jojo Rabbit. Watched Let It Snow on Netflix. Chris watched Hobbs and Shaw, The Kitchen, and The Devil Next Door. Jacob saw The Irishman and watched The Imagineering Story, Frozen, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Ben watched Honey Boy, Waves, The Good Liar, and Ford v Ferrari. Hoai-Tran watched Charlie’s Angels, Dark Waters, White Snake, Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy, One Child Nation, saw a special midnight screening of The Host at The Metrograph. What we’ve been Eating: Peter went to the Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure and ate every food item. Brad tried Candy Cane Milano cookies What we’ve been Playing: Chris got a Nintendo Switch and played Untitled Goose Game. Jacob is hooked on Ring-Fit Adventure on the Nintendo Switch.
All the other stuff you need to know:
You can find more about all the stories we mentioned on today’s show at slashfilm.com, and linked inside the show notes. /Film Daily is published every weekday, bringing you the most exciting news from the world of movies and television as well as deeper dives into the great features from slashfilm.com. You can subscribe to /Film Daily on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the popular podcast apps RSS. Send your feedback, questions, comments and concerns to us at [email protected] Please leave your name and general geographic location in case we mention the e-mail on the air. Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes, tell your friends and spread the word! Thanks to Sam Hume for our logo.