Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Mandalorian Season 2, Episode 4: The Siege

This week on The Mandalorian, we get a highly enjoyable episode that may be the most Star Wars-esque outing yet.

The Siege is filled with action and jam-packed with references to the Original Series. Somehow these callbacks manage to be fun this time, rather than cringe inducing as they have in past weeks. 

There are also several allusions to the dreadful Sequel Trilogy, which I'm not happy about and will get to in a moment.

The Siege rigidly follows the same formula we've seen all season long. You know the drill by now— Manny needs help, he lands on a planet, he runs into someone willing to assist in exchange for a favor, and hijinx ensue.

The problem with these formulaic plots though is that they're generally time fillers, postponing the plot revelations and payoffs until the season finale.

The Siege was written by series creator Jon Favreau (natch), but was directed by... Carl Weathers— aka Greef Karga! This is Weathers' first time in the director's chair, and he does an amazing job, handling the episode's extensive action sequences like an old pro. Well done!

As I said above, this episode contains several unwelcome references to the Sequel Trilogy. In one scene, Manny & Co. discover an Imperial lab that may contain clones of Supreme Leader Snoke from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi (or not— it's pretty vague, and hard to tell with any degree of certainty).  

At the end of the episode we see Moff Gideon on his own personal Star Destroyer, secretly hatching a scheme to return the Empire to power.

It almost feels like Favreau is using The Mandalorian to plug the massive plot holes in the SequelsThe Force Awakens famously replaced the Rebels and the Empire with the Resistance and the First Order. Trouble is, JJ Abrams' woefully derivative but inadequate script couldn't be bothered to explain how either of these groups came to be.

Is Favreau trying to "fix" The Force Awakens by showing us the origin of the First Order? Is Moff Gideon the one who set the organization in motion? I can't believe I'm saying this, but it looks like that's exactly what's happening.

I am NOT OK with this! I hated the Sequels with the white hot passion of a thousand exploding suns! They're so inept and nonsensical that I've chosen to ignore everything that happened in them. Disney needs to keep anything Sequel-related far, far away from The Mandalorian, lest it take on the stench of those terrible movies.


The Plot:
The heavily-damaged Razor Crest is limping along toward the planet Corvus, when it suddenly drops out of hyperspace. Manny tries to repair the ship, but it's no use. He sees they're near Nevarro, and decides to head there for proper repairs.

Meanwhile on Nevarro, the Armorer's workshop has been taken over by Aqualish thieves, who are dividing their plunder. Just then Cara Dune— now the Marshal of Nevarro City— bursts in and quickly dispatches the thugs. She gathers up their stolen goods and says it'll be returned to its rightful owners.

Manny then lands the Razor Crest on Nevarro. He's met by his friends Greef Karga— now the Magistrate of the city— and Dune. Karga welcomes Manny, and is happy to see Baby Yoda again. Manny asks about repairing the ship, and Karga says he'll get his best people on it. He orders a couple of mechanics to get started. One of them gives Manny & the Child a suspicious glance as they pass (hmm...).

Manny, Karga & Dune walk through the now-bustling town, filled with traders and merchants. Manny's impressed with the way the two have turned it around. Karga drops Baby Yoda off at a newly-built school. Manny protests, once again stating that wherever he goes, the Child goes. Dune assures him it'll be fine, and guarantees the kid's safety.

The trio goes to Karga's office, where Manny's surprised to see the Mythrol (the amphibian alien Manny captured back in The Mandalorian) is working for him. Karga explains that Mythrol's (which is what I'm calling him) owes him big time and is working off his debt, which should take about 350 years to pay off. Manny advises Mythrol not to run off, or he'll capture him again. Mythrol notes he's turned over a new leaf, as he doesn't want to spend any more time encased in carbonite.

Karga invites Manny to sit as they talk business. Manny says he's just there for repairs, not a job. Karga points out that it'll take a while to fix the ship, meaning Manny has plenty of time on his hands. He shows him a map of Nevarro, indicating the City occupies a large safe szone. Unfortunately there's a leftover Imperial base at the edge of the zone, still manned by officers and Stormtroopers. 
Karga says he just wants the Imperials off his planet, so it'll finally be completely free. Manny agrees to help.

Cut to Manny, Karga, Dune and Mythrol speeding across the lava flats to the Imperial base. They plan to sneak in, overload the reactor powering the place and get out before it blows. Mythrol's nervous about getting so close to the base, until Karga offers to knock a hundred years off his debt.

They arrive at the "front door" of the base, but find the controls are melted. Mythrol attempts to pick the electronic lock, but Manny gets impatient. He jets to the top of the base, and after a few seconds throws a dead Stormtrooper down to the ground. Mythrol finally opens the door, but wants to wait outside. Dune warns him that the lava tides will soon begin, so he reluctantly follows them inside.

The group makes their way to the top of the base, where they find Manny's already cleared it of troopers. Dune spots a Trexler Marauder (PLOT POINT!), claiming it's valuable on the black market. The group then heads for the reactor control room, avoiding various officers and troopers.

Eventually they reach the reactor, which is powered by a lava seam far below. Mythrol's forced to carefully step onto the narrow control platform and disable the cooling system. Instantly the heat level begins rising and alarms sound. Karga announces they have ten minutes to get the hell out before the place blows.

As they race back through the base, they run across a pair of Imperial scientists who are destroying their hard drives before evacuating. The scientists see the intruders and attack, but Manny & Co. make short work of them. They look around and see the room's filled with bio tanks, and are able to vaguely glimpse deformed specimens inside.

Manny says he doesn't like the look of this, and Dune order Mythrol to hack into the console. He does so, and uncovers a transmission from Doctor Pershing (who we also met back in The Mandalorian), who infodumps a ton of exposition. 

Pershing says he took blood from the Child and injected it into various test subjects, who all ended up dying. He believes they need to find a subject with a high "m-count" (uh-oh), and says they'll need more blood from the Child in order to proceed. He then vows not to fail the recipient of the message— Moff Gideon.

Manny says the message must be an old one, as he killed Gideon back in Redemption. Mythrol checks and says the message is only three days old. Manny realizes Baby Yoda's in danger if Gideon's still alive.

Just then the group's attacked by Stormtroopers. Manny says he needs to protect the Child, and Karga tells him to go. Manny blasts off and gets the hell out of there. Karga and the others then fight their way through the troopers as they head for the exit.

The group makes it to the shuttle bay, where they're pinned down by more troopers. Dune glances over at the Maurader and gets an idea. She dashes over to the vehicle, starts it up and backs it up next to Karga and Mythrol. Once everyone's inside, she drives it out of the bay like a maniac. The repulsor vehicle— which is made to hover, not fly— plunges a thousand feet and crash lands on their speeder. The trio then enter a narrow canyon as they speed back to Nevarro City in the Maurader.

They're not out of the woods yet though, as several Scout Troopers pursue them on speeder bikes. Karga mans the Marauder's gun turret and blasts a couple of them, while Dune mashes the others against the canyon wall.

Jus then the base explodes in a fountain of lava. Unfortunately a quartet of TIE Fighters managed to take off just in time and pursue the Marauder. They dive into the canyon, firing at the vehicle. Karga manages to take out a couple, but unfortunately one crashes into the Marauder, destroying its gun turret. 

The Marauder exits the canyon and hightails it across the lava plains, desperately trying to make it back to the safety of Nevarro City. The TIE Fighters close in, and just as it looks like all is lost, the Razor Crest miraculously appears. Manny blasts one of the fighters out of the sky, as Baby Yoda cheers him on. He pursues the last one into the upper atmosphere before finally destroying it.

The others make it back to Nevarro City. For some reason Manny doesn't even land, instead radioing Karga and asking how much he owes for the repairs to his ship. Karga thanks him for eliminating the Imperial base and calls it even. He then invites Manny for a drink, but he begs off, saying he has important business to take care of and exits the episode like he owes it money.

Later on, New Republic Captain Teva (who we met in The Passenger) questions Karga about the destruction of the base. Karga plays dumb about the explosion and says he never saw the Razor Crest. Teva then speaks with Dune, complimenting her on the way she cleaned up the town. He offers her a job in the New Republic, but she turns him down.

Captain Teva says there's something odd going out here in the outskirts, but the Core Worlds don't believe it's true. He leaves Dune a badge emblazoned with the New Republic and leaves. She watches as he walks back to his ship.

Cut to an Imperial command cruiser, where an Officer receives a message from the Mimbanese mechanic. He (or she?) tells the officer that a tracking device was placed on the Razor Crest as instructed, and that Manny still has the Child. The Officer thanks him, promising he'll be rewarded in the new era.

The Officer heads to a secure lab, where she reports to Moff Gideon and tells him the news. 
Gideon vows he'll be ready for Manny. He then turns and gazes at row after row of stasis tubes, each filled with a black-clad Dark Trooper.

• As the episode begins, the heavily-damaged Razor Crest drops out of hyperspace and coasts along at sublight.

Note that the ship makes the exact same "winding-down" sound the Millennium Falcon did when its hyperdrive failed in The Empire Strikes Back.

• Baby Yoda's always adorable, but they cranked up the cuteness level to eleven in this episode. That's because Disney knows they've got a goldmine in their delightful little Muppet, and they're gonna milk his tiny green teats till they're chapped and dry.

Anyway, we see Manny's convinced Baby Yoda to crawl into a tiny equipment alcove, as he tries to teach him basic hyperdrive repair. As you might expect, it doesn't go well and hijinx ensue.

The whole scene reminded me a lot of the scene in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, in which Rocket attempts to get Baby Groot (another of Disney's cutesy infant aliens) to properly prime a bomb.

By the way, why are the Razor Crest's hyperdrive electronics housed inside a tiny, inaccessible compartment? How the hell is an adult supposed to get to any of them? Is it standard procedure for the crews of all such ships to keep a "Repair Baby" on board?

• Once again the Star Wars Universe is a small and cozy place. After the hyperdrive goes out, Manny states they'll never make it to Corvus. He then says they'll have to stop for repairs at Nevarro, which is presumably nearby.

It'd better be REALLY close! As I've pointed out before, here in our galaxy the distances between solar systems are huge. The closest one to us is four lightyears away. Others are thousands or even millions! If the Razor Crest can only putt along at sublight speed, then Manny better hope Nevarro's just around the corner, else they've got a lonnnnnnng trip ahead of them.

• On the way to Nevarro, Manny & Baby Yoda take time out for a snack. As they do so, we finally get to see how Manny eats without removing his helmet— he lifts it up slightly in order to take a few slurps of soup. 

So I guess that whole "Never Revealing His Face To Another Living Being" thing doesn't include the bottom of his chin?

Last week I noted that when Bo-Katan removed her helmet, there was an audible hissing sound of air escaping. We hear the same sound effect here as Manny lifts his helmet a bit, which implies that Mandalorian helmets aren't just buckets placed on their heads, but are somehow pressurized.

• On Nevarro, we see a gang of Aqualish have moved into the Armorer's abandoned forge.

We've seen the Aqualish species before— most notably in A New Hope, when one challenged Luke in the Cantina ("My friend doesn't like you— I don't like you either!").

• So what happened to the Armorer? We last saw her in Redemption, where she took on an entire squad of Stormtroopers with just her smithing tools. Then in this episode we see her forge has been deserted. I guess she left Nevarro to join her fellow Mandalorians somewhere?

• It was great seeing Cara Dune again. She was a badass as always.

In particular I loved the scene in which she used one of the dead Aqualish as a shield while the others blasted away at her. 

Enjoy seeing her while you can though, as I have a feeling she's about to get "cancel cultured." See, recently actress Gina Carano (who plays Dune) made some comments on social media that offended the SJWs and gave them icky bad feelings (what else is new?) so now they're trying to get her fired. It's probably only a matter of time before Disney demands she be written out of the show.

• After Dune wipes out the Aqualish thugs, this meerkat-looking thing takes a liking to her. Oddly enough this animal got a surprising amount of screen time in this episode. 
Was this just a case of more Patented Disney Cuteness®, or are they introducing it as Dune's new sidekick/pet?

• Manny manages to land the Razor Crest safely on Nevarro, where he's met by Greef Karga and Cara Dune.

I loved how the ship's in such bad shape that the rear ramp only goes down halfway, forcing Manny to have to jump off it onto the ground!

• Seeing that Manny's ship is desperately in need of repairs, Greef Karga— make that Magistrate Of Nevarro City Greef Karga— orders his best people to begin repairs on it.

One of the repairmen is a red-skinned Mimbanese. We first saw this race back in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Note that this particular Mimbanese gives a suspicious glance over his shoulder as Manny and the others walk away, because every background character in the Star Wars Universe is always a spy or working for the enemy.

• Karga gives Manny a tour of Nevarro City, which is now a flourishing trade center. Note the commemorative statue of IG-11 in the background (just to the right of Manny). If you'll recall, IG sacrificed his artificial life in Redemption in order to wipe out Moff Gideon's troops and save the day.

• For no good reason, Karga insists Manny leave Baby Yoda in Nevarro City's school while they talk business. 

This scene crams in as many Star Wars references as possible, and then some. First of all, the school's taught by a female protocol droid with a British accent. By the way, the Aurebesh text on the board behind the droid reads, "Gravitational Vector." And because this is a sci-fi show, the board is transparent instead of opaque, making it virtually impossible to read.

We then hear a snippet of the droid's lesson, which is all about galactic "geography:"

Teacher Droid: "…be transported from the Outer Rim to as far away as the Core Worlds. However, there are several other regions within our galaxy. They are the Mid Rim, the Expansion Region, the Inner Rim, the Colonies, Core, and Deep Core... The capital of the Old Republic was within the Core on a planet called Coruscant. The capital of the New Republic is currently on the planet Chandrila, which is also within the Core region. So, back to the start. The system also contains the Akkadese Maelstrom. The Maelstrom surrounds Kessel and its three moons. As you learned yesterday, there are many systems in this galaxy. How many orbits are in the Kessel system? Do we at least remember that?"
Student: "Ooh, I know! Uh… Two?"
Teacher Droid: "Yes, very good. As the third moon of Kessel rotates the outer planet, you see the moon here travels in its same orbit. Now who can track the path of the orbit here? Do I have any volunteers? Anyone?"

As you can probably tell, the droid's lesson is chock full of Star Wars trivia. She mentions Coruscant, capital of the Old Republic and seen numerous times in the Prequels. But she also namedrops Chandrilla, which is the capital of the New Republic, as well as the birthplace of both Mon Mothma and Ben Solo (aka Kylo Ren)— a fact of which I wasn't aware.

She also mentions the Akkadesse Maelstrom, which was featured in Solo: A Star Wars Story. The Maelstrom is where the Kessel Run is located.

• Apparently this kid immigrated to Nevarro from Wisconsin. Many's the time I've seen fur-lined hats like that here on Earth.

• Note one of the girls in the classroom is sporting Rey's hairstyle from The Force Awakens. Eeeesh. I could definitely do without any references to that film.

• Baby Yoda doesn't give two sh*ts about the droid's lesson, as he's far more interested in a kid from the Native American planet who's weirdly eating cookies at his desk.

The writers then finally remember that Baby Yoda can use the Force, and he reaches out a tiny hand toward the sleeve of cookies, causing it to tremble a bit before flying over to his desk. Amazingly the Native American kid doesn't notice any of this till he reaches down for another bite.

And before anyone actuallys me, I know the Child seemingly used the Force in The Passenger, when he was gazing hungrily at Frog Lady's eggs. But that instance was so vague it was easy to miss and hard to tell if it really happened, so I'm not counting it.

Believe it or not, you can actually buy the blue cookies featured so prominently in this scene! They're available from Williams-Sonoma, purveyors of fine useless and overpriced foods and kitchen gadgets since 1956.

The cookies, which are called Nevarro Nummies (no, really!), are available for the low, low price of just $49.95 per dozen. Holy Price Gouging, Batman! I guess they gotta pay for that Star Wars licensing somehow!

• As Manny enters Karga's office, he's spotted by Mythrol— who's so startled by the sight of the Mandalorian he spurts a cloud of vapor from his neck. I guess this is the alien equivalent of "sh*tting a brick."

This scene may be a reference to one back in The Mandalorian. In that episode, Manny captured Mythrol (who had a bounty on his head) and froze him in carbonite for safe keeping. At one point Mythrol said, "I think I have to use the vacc tube. I mean I can do it here, but if you've never seen a fledgling Mythrol evacuate their thorax, you're a lucky guy, trust me."

So the cloud of mist seen here may have been Mythrol "evacuating his thorax." Although the cloud seemed to come from his neck, not his chest. Maybe his anatomy's different.

In this scene Mythrol also promises to behave, saying he doesn't want to go back into carbonite as he "still can't see out of his left eye." That's a reference to Return Of The Jedi, in which Han Solo's released from carbonite and suffers from hibernation sickness, causing him to lose his sight for a few hours.

• Dune shows Manny a map of Nevarro, displaying the "safe zone" they currently occupy and the Imperial Base that's causing them problems.

I was very confused by Nevarro's geography the first time I watched this episode. I could have sworn the map showed the base on the other side of the planet. So I couldn't understand how Karga & Co. managed to drive a speeder there so quickly, and how Manny was able to fly back in time to pick up his ship.

On second watch though, I saw that Nevarro City is at the bottom of the green safe zone, and the base is just outside it. That makes much more sense!

Well, not really. If the base was only five or ten miles away, why didn't the Imperials attack Nevarro City? Were they quietly conducting their secret experiments, hoping Karga and Dune wouldn't notice them?

• Manny and the others arrive at the Imperial Base, which is built into the side of a high cliff. 

Last week I praised the series' production designers, saying they managed to perfectly replicate the old school Star Wars aesthetic. They knocked it out of the park again this week, as this has to be the Star Warsiest episode yet. The corridors of the Imperial Base looked amazingly like those in the Death Star, complete with those distinctive oblong vertical light panels covering every surface.

Nice Attention To Detail: Inside the base, we 
see that some of the base's walls are covered by metal plating, while others are rough and have a striated texture, as if they were cut from the rock with blasters!

It reminded me of Echo Base in The Empire Strikes Back, which also featured corridors cut from the ice. 

This all makes perfect sense, as it's exactly how one would go about excavating a subterranean base in the Star Wars Universe. Well done!

• Inside the base's shuttle bay, Mythrol spots a distinctive vehicle and says, "Look, it’s a mint Trexler Marauder! We can get a lot for this on the black market!" A couple things here:

First off, we've seen a vehicle very much like this one before. In The Reckoning, a squad of Moff Gideon's Stormtroopers pulled up in transport and attacked Manny & Co. The Marauder isn't quite the same as the earlier model, but it's pretty darned close.

Both vehicles are obviously based on the Imperial Troop Transport toy released by Kenner back in 1979. I'm convinced that series creator Jon Favreau had this toy as a kid, and it was his favorite for some reason. Why else would such an innocuous looking vehicle pop up twice on the show?

Secondly, I'm betting Mythrol's line about the Marauder being valuable on the black market is an in-joke about collectibles. No doubt an original Kenner Troop Transport toy in a mint condition box would sell for a pretty penny on ebay (aka the Black Market!).

Sigh... When it comes to references and fan service, Favreau just can't help himself. When our heroes are sneaking through the base, they hear a couple of Stormtroopers approaching. As they pass, one of the troopers says, "Section 4. TK-147."

If that designation sounds vaguely familiar to you, there's a good reason. In A New Hope, the Millennium Falcon was captured and brought aboard the Death Star. Once inside, Luke & Han disguised themselves as Stormtroopers. An Imperial Officer paged trooper TK-147, demanding to know why he wasn't at his post. Luke or Han then walked down the ramp, pointed at their helmet to indicate it was "malfunctioning."

• The group sneaks through the base and eventually reach the coolant control tower. For absolutely no good reason, the controls are mounted on the side of a pedestal that's precariously perched over a pit filled with bubbling lava. 

Mythrol actually has to carefully step off the platform and onto a comically narrow ramp surrounding the pedestal. One wrong move and he'll fall into the lava far below! 

This is patently ridiculous. Why the hell would any sane civilization place their controls in such preposterously inaccessible places? Why not just stick the panel on the wall next to the door? Hell, why's it have to be in the lava room in the first place? The controls could literally be placed anywhere in the base!

Of course this is nothing new, as the Star Wars Universe has been filled with such hazardous interfaces all the way back to A New Hope! Apparently OSHA doesn't exist in this world.

Then as Mythrol's clinging to the side of the pedestal, he quips that there's no guardrail around the pedestal, referencing an of-told joke about the lack of safety on Imperial ships and bases.

Eventually Mythrol figures out the controls and shuts off the cooling system. Note the temperature gauge graphic here...

It looks very similar to the tractor beam display that Obi-Wan shuts off in A New Hope. It's not exact and it's been rotated 90°, but they're definitely comparable. Again, kudos to the production designers for their grasp of the Star Wars aesthetic!

• As they're trying to escape the base, Manny and the others come across what appears to be a cloning lab, complete with specimens floating in large tanks. It's unclear as to exactly what's inside them, but the figures looks suspiciously similar to the failed clones of Supreme Leader Snoke seen in The Rise Of Skywalker.

Jesus F*ck.

OK, first off let me say that I could be wayyyy off here, and the clones in these tanks are something else completely. I hope so! Because I. Do. Not. Like. This. At all. I do not want anything from the thrice-cursed Sequel Trilogy seeping into this show. Those movies were ill-conceived and incoherent, and I loathe them with every fiber of my being. At this point I consider them to be nothing more than elaborate fan fiction and am ignoring everything that happened in them.

If this series is gonna start throwing in callbacks (or I guess callforwards) to those films, then I'm out!

• In the lab, Mythrol punches up a holographic message from Dr. Pershing to Moff Gideon.

We've seen Pershing before— he first appeared in The Mandalorian as an associate of The Client. Later in The Sin, he was seemingly protective of Baby Yoda, and Manny decided to let him live. It's now looking like Pershing's paternal instincts may have all been an act to save his life.

This recorded message finally confirms why The Client, Pershing and Moff Gideon all want Baby Yoda so badly— they're harvesting his blood and injecting it into test subjects in order to give them Force powers. At least I think that's what's going on.

Pershing also comments that one subject survived for a fortnight before his body rejected the blood, and recommends finding a donor with a "higher M-count." That's obviously a reference to midichlorians, the ill-conceived, microscopic life forms that inhabit the blood of Force users. They were first introduced by George Lucas back in The Phantom Menace.

I'm not crazy about having Prequel references in The Mandalorian either, but I'll take them over anything mentions of the Sequels. The Prequels were bland and boring, but the Sequels made 'em look like freakin' Shakespeare!

• As everyone and their dog has posted online by now, this episode features a surprisingly sloppy blooper, similar to Game Of Thrones' infamous Starbucks cup. 

As Manny & Co. tear through the corridors of the Imperial base, they round a corner and are confronted by a squad of Stormtroopers. For a split second, you can glimpse a jeans-clad crewmember standing in the background, partially hidden by a doorway!

He only appears for a couple of frames, so he's hard to spot unless you know where to look. He's at the extreme left side of the screen, and I've slowed down the scene here to make it easier to see him.

Here's a lightened version of the scene to make it easier to spot him.

What's odd about this flub is that it features several laser blasts, which are animated and added in after the fact. The CGI artist probably worked on the scene for an hour or two— more than enough time to realize there's an errant guy hanging around in the background!

Get a good look at him now, because I'd bet my house that it won't be long before Disney orders him to be erased from the background.

• Does Stormtrooper armor serve any functional or practical purpose? Throughout the course of this episode, Manny & Friends are attacked by at least a hundred Stormtroopers. Possibly even more. Incredibly, our heroes kill each and every one of them with a single laser blast!

Either Manny and the others have incredibly powerful blasters, or Stormtrooper armor is less than worthless. At this point the troopers might as well just wear street clothes.

• Manny races back to Nevarro City to protect Baby Yoda. As he flies out of the base, he shoots a few Stormtroopers for good measure. One of them topples off a tower and falls into the bubbling lava pit hundreds of feet below.

The trooper lets out a yell as he falls, but amazingly the producers were able to restrain themselves and didn't use the Wilhelm Scream! I'm shocked and stunned!

The Wilhelm Scream was a fun little detail the first two or three thousand times I heard it in a movie or TV show. After that it started to get a bit stale, and it would yank me out of the story every time I heard it. Kudos to The Mandalorian for using a newer, more generic scream here.

• OK, Mythrol popping up and down as he waited for a clear shot made me laugh.

• After rigging the base to blow, Karga, Dune and Mythrol are pinned down by Stormtroopers. Dune sees the Marauder sitting nearby, and the three use it to escape.

Heh. Earlier in the episode, Mythrol took an odd and incongruous interest in the vehicle, in what may be the most obvious "Chekov's Gun" moment ever. It was painfully clear the Marauder would become important later in the episode.

• Karga, Dune and Mythrol hightail it out of the base minutes before it explodes. Unfortunately the Imperials, bent on revenge, pursue them. 

We're then treated to a Star Wars Greatest Hits Chase Scene. First up, a quartet of Scout Troopers race after our heroes on speeder bikes, as Karga uses the Marauder's gun turret to fire back.

Then the Marauder flees down a narrow canyon, as several TIE Fighters chase after it. I feel like I've seen something like this before, but I can't quite remember where...

• The TIE Fighters manage to knock out the Marauder's gun turret, leaving it a sitting duck. Just when all seems lost, Manny suddenly appears overhead in his ship and blows the TIEs out of the sky.

Note that the Razor Crest has now been completely repaired, and looks better than brand new. But... how? It appears that no more than ten or twelve hours pass after Manny lands on Nevarro. Apparently that was more than enough time for two of Karga's "top people" to completely overhaul the ship!

This is the second episode in a row now in which the Razor Crest has been restored in a single day! Maybe these spaceships are like Teslas, and you just drop a new motor in one instead of trying to fix it.

• This episode features a very puzzling third act, filled with odd storytelling and improbable time compression.

Once Manny finds out Moff Gideon's still alive, he fears for Baby Yoda's safety. He then jets back to Nevarro City to protect the kid— effectively disappearing from the screen and leaving his costars to wrap up the episode without him! That was... unusual, to say the least. Did Pedro Pascal have a previous engagement he had to get to?

Manny then somehow uses his jetpack to fly all the way back to Nevarro City, scoop up the Child, pick up his now implausibly repaired ship, blast off and save his friends by shooting down the TIE Fighters— all in fifteen minutes or less!

Then if that wasn't enough, once Manny wipes out the last of the Imperials, Karga thanks him and offers to buy him a drink. Manny says thanks but no, as he has important business on Corvus. He then zooms offscreen like he can't wait to exit this episode!

As I said, it's all very off-kilter and rushed. Which doesn't make any sense, since these episodes have no official time limit— they last as long as they need to. It really does feel like Pascal wasn't available for part of the filming and the producers were forced to shoot around his absence.

• During the wrapup, Captain Teva— who we met in The Passenger— arrives on Nevarro to investigate the destruction of the Imperial Base. While there, he offers Cara Dune a job with the New Republic.

She turns him down of course, but he leaves her a badge (I guess?) emblazoned with the New Republic Seal. Not sure what this is all about. I assume it's the start of a story arc for Cara Dune, but whether it's resolved this season or not is anyone's guess at this point. There're only four episodes left, so...

• In the final scene, we see an Arquitens-Class Command Cruiser roar overhead, filling the screen with its impressive and immense size.

Once again I feel like I've seen something like this before, but I can't quite figure out where...

• To absolutely no one's surprise, the Mimbanese repairman was indeed a spy, and reports to the Imperial ship.

• An Imperial Officer then reports to Discount Darth Vader, er, I mean Moff Gideon, telling him that a tracking device has been placed in the Razor Crest (just like the Empire did to the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope) and that Manny still has "The Asset" (aka Baby Yoda). 

Gideon then cuts loose with an evil chortle, saying Manny will rue the day he ever crossed him or some such. He turns and gazes at a lab full of recessed alcoves, each housing what appears to be a Dark Trooper.

So what's a Dark Trooper, you ask? Eh... as usual, it's complicated and would take 50,000 words to adequately explain it all.

There were three types of Dark Troopers that appeared in the Star Wars: Battlefront videogame. Unlike regular Stormtroopers, the Dark Troopers were all mechanical droids. The Phase I Dark Trooper was a skeletal-looking and armed with a vibro-blade. The Phase II model was bulkier, while the massive Phase III version never got past the prototype stage. 

Interestingly enough, even though the Phase III model was a droid, its could also be worn by a human as a battle suit.

But then in the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight videogame and the Dark Empire comic books, Dark Troopers were were elite cloned soldiers who were trained in the dark side of the Force. They were used extensively in Operation Dark Hand, a military campaign headed by former Emperor Palpatine in an effort to regain control of the galaxy.

Given the events of this episode, it appears these Dark Troopers are the organic variety seen in Dark Empire. Gideon's obviously injecting Baby Yoda's blood into Stormtroopers, hoping to turn them into an army of Force-sensitive Dark Troopers.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Planes, Trains And Premeditated Murder

Last night I had my annual Thanksgiving viewing of John Hughes' classic Planes, Trains And Automobiles.


If you've not seen the film, it's about uptight marketing executive Neal Page, who's desperately trying to make it home in time for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately he runs into Del Griffith, an overly friendly shower curtain ring salesman whose good intentions inadvertently thwart Neal's travel plans at every turn.

All through the film, Del totes an enormous steamer trunk wherever he goes.

The trunk's so ubiquitous and such a big part of the story that it's practically a character itself!

The trunk's apparently quite heavy (hmmm..), and Del constantly manages to guilt Neal into helping him carry it.

It struck me this year that this lighthearted comedy takes on a much different tone if you imagine that all through the movie, Del's trunk actually contains the body of his late wife Marie! 

You'll never watch it the same way again! You're welcome!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

They're Trying To Tell Me Something...

Once again I feel like the Family Video marquee's trying to tell me something.

Although Mulan Unhinged New Mutants would probably be a better movies than either of those actual films.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Mandalorian Season 2, Episode 3: The Heiress

This week on The Mandalorian we finally get a decent episode, one that's comparable to the heights of Season 1. 

As I said in my previous reviews, The Marshal was packed with annoying fan service, and last week's The Passenger was a dreaded filler episode. So it was great to finally get an outing in which something actually happened and furthered the story arc.

The Heiress was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard (son of Ron), who helmed last season's Sanctuary. Once again she does a darned good job, turning in one of the best episodes of the season (so far). Kudos!

This week's episode is notable for introducing one of the major characters from The Clone Wars animated series. Bo-Katan makes her live action debut here, generating much cheering and rejoicing among fandom. It's not the first time an animated character has graduated to live action (that honor would go to Boba Fett), but it's still pretty cool.

Last week I complained about the seemingly irrelevant Frog Lady plotline, saying that unless she was intended to become a permanent member of the cast, her introduction was completely pointless.

Welp, guess who's not becoming a permanent member of the cast? In this episode, Frog Lady's reunited with her husband and the two of them hightail it off screen, as if they can't wait to exit the episode. Which, as I said, makes her intro and very existence on the show meaningless.
This week's episode generated quite a bit of controversy over on Twitter (what else is new). It seems SJWs were highly offended (what else is new) by the fact that Bo-Katan and her pal Koska Reeves were outfitted with boob armor. Jesus wept.

Yes, it's true that the gals' armor features a slight concavity in the area of their breasts, but it's nothing overt or exaggerated. In fact it looks pretty practical to me. After all, they gotta put their tits somewhere! Otherwise they'd have to mash 'em down under flat, male chest plates.

This is one of those damned if they do, damned if they don't situations. Give the ladies boob armor and the SJWs scream that they're objectifying women. Clad 'em in the same armor as the men and they'd shriek that they were trying to reductively erase the female form. 

This is why I always point out that the internet is both the best and worst invention ever created.

Lastly, this week Manny's quest to return Baby Yoda to the Jedi is finally given focus as he learns the name and address of Ahsoka Tano.

I'm calling it right now— the rest of the season will involve him making his way to her, and we'll finally see her in the season finale. Most likely in the closing seconds.

I can also guarantee that when Manny finally finds the Jedi, he's not gonna leave Baby Yoda with them and fly off by himself. That "adorable" green Muppet is the only thing keeping Star Wars afloat these days, and Disney knows it. There's no way in hell they're gonna write him off the show, and will keep milking every merchandising dollar they can from him.

The Plot: 
After the events of last week's filler episode, the Razor Crest limps its way to the watery moon of Trask, orbiting the gas giant Kol Iben. Manny activates the landing sequence, but the heavily damaged ship descends too rapidly. He manages to gain control just a few feet from the ground. Unfortunately just as the ship's about to set down, an engine blows and it topples over and plunges into the ocean.

The Razor Crest is lifted out of the water by a crane walker. Manny, Frog Lady and Baby Yoda disembark. Manny gives a Mon Calamari dockworker a thousand credits to fix the ship and get it space worthy again. The worker looks doubtfully at the ship.

Frog Lady, her egg canister strapped to her back, scans the crowd for her husband. Somehow she spots him across the dock and they have a joyous reunion. Frog Man thanks Manny for safely delivering his wife and her eggs to him (little does he know!). Manny asks him if he's seen other Mandalorians on Trask. He directs Manny to an inn and says he can find the info he seeks there. Unbeknownst to them, a mysterious, hooded female figure watches the exchange.

Manny & Baby Yoda enter the inn and set at a table. Manny orders chowder for the Child, and asks the Mon Calamari waiter if he's seen any Mandalorians recently. The waiter introduces him to a Quarren, who says he can take Manny to his kind— for a price.

Cut to Manny & Baby Yoda, traveling aboard a trawler manned by an all-Quarren crew. One of the Quarrens asks if Manny's ever seen a mamacore, and opens a water-filled hold in the ship's deck. They throw a load of fish into the hold, and the water churns as some massive, unseen thing feeds. Suddenly the Quarren knocks Baby Yoda (in his floating bassinet) into the hold.

The mamacore then rises up (looking very much like a sarlacc) and swallows the Child & bassinet. Manny jumps into the hold to save the kid, and the Quarrens close the grate, trapping him. He tries to escape, but every time he surfaces the Quarrens jab him with harpoons and shove him back underwater.

Just then the Quarrens are blasted from above. A trio of Mandalorians land on the deck and dispatch the rest of the crew. A female Mandalorian opens the grate and pulls Manny out of the water. He tells her the mamacore ate the Child, and she jumps into the hold. They all watch as her blaster lights up the water below. Suddenly the Mandalorian emerges from the hold with the bassinet.

Manny opens the dented and damaged bassinet, and sees Baby Yoda's safe inside. He thanks the three Mandalorians for saving them.

Suddenly the trio removes their helmets, much to Manny's shock and dismay. Believing they're not Mandalorians, he demands to know where they stole their armor. The leader introduces herself as Bo-Katan Kryze, along with her companions Axe Woves (?) and Koska Reeves. 

Bo-Katan assures Manny she was born on Mandalore, fought in the Great Purge and that her armor's been in her family for three generations. She says they're members of the Nite Owls. He asks why they removed their helmets, prompting Woves to sigh and say that Manny's "one of them."

Bo-Katan explains that Manny's a Child Of The Watch— a group of old school religious zealots who broke away from Mandalorian society and want to reestablish the old ways. Manny says there's only one way— the Way Of The Mandalore. He then grabs BabyYoda and angrily flies off.

That night, Manny walks through the streets. He's stopped by a Quarren who accuses Manny of killing his brother on the boat. Manny looks around and sees he's surrounded by an entire gang of Quarrens. Just then Bo-Katan and her squad return, wipe out the ne'er-do-wells and save Manny's ass again. She offers to buy Manny a drink.

At a bar, Bo-Katan tells Manny that Trask is a black market port, and the remnants of the Empire are buying up weapons with funds they stole from Mandalore. She aims to seize those weapons and use 'em to retake her homeworld. Manny says Mandalore's cursed and everyone who goes there dies. Bo-Katan tells him not to believe everything he hears, and says Mandalorians are stronger together.

Manny refuses to join her cause, saying he swore an oath to return Baby Yoda to the Jedi. Bo-Katan says she'll help him with that— if he assists her. He reluctantly agrees.

Sometime later the four Mandalorians observe their target— an Imperial Gozanti-class cruiser. Bo-Katan says it's scheduled to depart at first light, and will slowly climb until it's out of the port's airspace. She says they can fly aboard, take the crew by surprise and capture the ship for themselves.

Before the mission, Manny takes Baby Yoda to Frog Lady's new home and asks her to watch him. He warns the Child to behave and not eat any more of her eggs. Baby Yoda watches the canister with fascination as a "tadpole" hatches from one of the eggs (!).

The next morning the Imperial ship takes off right on schedule. The four Mandalorians jet through the air and land on the ship. They easily overpower the Stormtrooper guards, hurling them into the sea. One of the troopers manages to sound an alarm before he's killed. On the bridge, the Imperial Captain says they're dealing with pirates and orders his men to seal the hatch.

Manny and the Nite Owls make their way through the ship to the cargo bay. The Captain realizes they're trying to steal the weapons in the bay, and asks his pilot how long it'll be before they can jump to hyperspace. The pilot says they can't jump till they clear the harbor. The Captain orders him to climb immediately.

Meanwhile, the Mandalorians secure themselves as they open the cargo hatch, which blows the stormtroopers out of the ship. They seal the hatch, and Bo-Katan radios the Captain and thanks him for packaging up the weapons for her. She says they'll come in handy when she retakes Mandalore. The Captain threatens to hunt her down if she jettisons the cargo, but Bo-Katan says she intends to take the entire ship.

Manny tells Bo-Katan this is more than he signed up for. She tells him to relax, saying there's something she needs in order to rule Mandalore, and the Imperials know where to find it. Manny says he's leaving, as his mission lies with Baby Yoda. Bo-Katan says he'll never find the Jedi without her help, and he realizes she has him over a barrel. He agrees to stay.

In the cockpit, the Captain receives a call from Moff Gideon. He tells Gideon the ship's under attack and requests reinforcements. Gideon says that's not an option, and tells the Captain he knows what to do before signing off.

The Captain then kills his two pilots and sets the ship on a collision course with the sea.

Meanwhile, Manny charges his way down a corridor protected by dozens of Stormtroopers and wipes them out with a couple of grenades. The Mandalorians then storm the bridge. Manny and Reeves grab the ship's controls, while Bo-Katan threatens the Captain with a knife. She demands he tell her where to find the Darksaber. He refuses, biting down on a capsule and electrocuting himself.

They manage to slow the ship and steer it back upward in the nick of time. Bo-Katan invites Manny to join them, but he refuses. She says she understands, and tells him to take Baby Yoda to the city of Calodan on the forest planet Corvus. There he'll find the Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano. Manny thanks her and flies off right before the ship heads into the upper atmosphere.

Manny returns to the Frog couple's home, and thanks them for babysitting. He returns to the docks, and is less than impressed with the Mon Calamari's repair work. He and Baby Yoda board the Razor Crest, as it shakily takes off and blasts into hyperspace.

• This week's episode clocks in at a scant 33 minutes— a far cry from the 52 minutes of the season opener. Only two episodes have been shorter— The Child and The Gunslinger, both of which were 30 minutes in length.
• Twice in this episode, characters mutter the phrase "dank farrik," which seems to be the Star Wars Universe's version of "frak," which was BattleStar Galactica's all-purpose, TV-friendly curse word.

That's kind of funny, as this episode features Katee Sackhoff, who starred on the revived Galactica.

Eh, I dunno. "Dank farrik" seems overlong and clunky to me. Plus, does the "dank" in the phrase mean what it does in English? Does it mean a "damp, musty farrik?" Give me BSG's clean and simple "frak" any day. There's no doubt what that fake curse word was supposed to mean!

• As the Razor Crest approaches Trask, we see a readout of the moon on the ship's screen. I love how the computer display is simple and relatively crude, matching the ones we saw back in A New Hope. The Mandalorian's production designers really have the whole Star Wars aesthetic down pat!

Same goes for the Gozanti cruiser's cockpit. All those gray & red panels looked exactly like the Imperial tech we saw back in the Original Trilogy

• At one point the heavily damaged Razor Crest enters Trask's atmosphere, and instantly begins heating up upon reentry. Wait, what? 
Since when is this a thing in Star Wars? For over forty years now ships have been landing on planets left & right without so much as a trace of heat or a wisp of flame. So why the sudden burst of scientific accuracy? Because they thought it looked kewl?

I can think of only one other time in all of Star Wars history when this happened— at the beginning of Revenge Of The Sith, when Anakin and Obi-Wan rescued Chancelor Palpatine and had to safely land a crippled Separatist ship on the surface of Couruscant. 

In both cases, the ships were heavily damaged. Maybe that's the reason for all the reentry heat?
• Yep, that's a Mon Calamari dock worker wearing a blue cable knit sweater. You know, that's so ridiculous that I actually kind of love it!

• Trask seems to be populated primarily by Mon Calamari and the squid-like Quarrens. Oddly enough, these two races are both the dominant life forms on their home planet of Mon Cala. I guess the two races just can't live without one another.

While it's an interesting concept for two intelligent species to develop on the same planet, it could never happen here on Earth. Humans would have wiped out the other group before they ever had a chance to rise up.

• After it lands in the drink, the Razor Crest is fished out of the water (literally!) by a crane that looks suspiciously like an AT-AT. So did the denizens of Trask repurpose an old Imperial-surplus walker and turn it into a mobile crane, or do they use AT-AT technology in industry as well as for warfare? Either way, it was cool to see it here.

• Frog Lady finally makes it to Trask with her precious cargo of eggs...

And then spends literally thirty seconds searching for her husband before finding him in the crowd. Well that was certainly a lucky break! 

Seriously, how the hell did she manage to find her hubby so fast and easily? Is there only one seaport on all of Trask, and he knew she'd have to show up there? Or did she radio ahead and tell him where to meet her?

• "What the hell, Alice? When you emailed me you said you laid twenty four eggs. I only see eighteen here. What the frak's going on?"

• As Manny arrives at the port, a mysterious hooded figure watches from the shadows. It's possible she's a character from one of the spinoff series, like The Clone Wars or Rebels. I'm not as familiar with them as I am the Original Trilogy, so at this point I'm not even gonna hazard a guess as to who she may be.

• If nothing else, it was nice to have an episode with an ocean setting and get off the freakin' desert planets for a while!

We rarely ever see watery planets in Star Wars. I think the only other time one's appeared was in Attack Of The Clones. I get why they're so rare, as it's a lot more expensive to film on the water or simulate an ocean with costly CGI than it is to simply set up a camera in the desert. That's why Manny's been to the arid worlds of Nevarro and Tatooine so many times since the series started.

• Manny hitches a ride with a ship full of Quarrens, who promise to take him to an island where he can find other Mandalorians. In reality they plan to kill him for his priceless beskar armor. At one point they open a hold in the ship's deck to show him a deadly mamacore. A couple things here:

First of all, the mamacore looks like an enormous lamprey, with a mouth that's a good six to eight feet wide. Why the hell would they be carrying such a creature in their hold? Is this like a whaling ship, and the crew captured this massive beast while we weren't looking? I don't think that's it. One of the Quarrens mentions the mamacore, saying, "She must be hungry. Oftentimes we'll feed her in the early morning, but we missed that 'cause we were goin' out of port!" That implies it's not their prey, but rather a deadly pet!

Secondly, one of the Quarrens knocks Baby Yoda's basinet off the deck and into the hold, where it lands in the water and is swallowed whole by the mamacore. But... but... why doesn't the basinet float over the water like it always does on land? Does its repulsor technology not work on water? Did the Quarren damage it when he gave it a good smack? I'm confused.

• Bo-Katan and her posse arrive and wipe out the Quarren thugs. She then rescues Manny by reaching out to pull him from the ship's hold.

Note that this scene is practically a carbon copy of the flashback in Season 1's Redemption, in which a Mandalorian warrior wipes out a squad of battle droids, and rescues young Manny by reaching out to pull him from a hidden pit.

There's no doubt in my mind that this was intentional. The two scenes are virtually identical, as the lighting's the same in both, and the figures are in the same pose.

• The Quarrens somehow get the better of Manny and lock him in the hold with the mamacore. Fortunately he's rescued by the timely arrival of three Mandalorians, who wipe out the entire crew and save Baby Yoda.

From left to right, these Mandalorians are: Koska Reeves, played by Sasha Banks, who's apparently some sort of wrestler that everyone but me is familiar with, Bo-Katan Kryze, played by Katee Sackhoff, and Axe Woves, played by Simon Kassianide, who appeared as Sunil Bakshi on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

• If you're anything like me, you're probably wondering why Star Wars fandom is going bat-sh*t crazy over Bo-Katan's appearance in this week's episode.

It's because the character originally debuted on The Clone Wars animated series, and this is her first ever live action appearance. 

Appropriately enough, Katee Sackhoff voiced Bo-Katan in both The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels! That's... actually pretty cool! The production team did an amazing job translating the character to live action. They recreated her armor and even included the little LEDs on the sides of her headband!

So who is Bo-Katan? Welp, her backstory would take 50,000 words to adequately outline, so I'll attempt to be as brief as possible.

During the Clone Wars Bo-Katan Kryze was a member of the Nite Owls— an elite all-female unit of Mandalorian warriors (I guess the lone guy in their trio in this episode didn't get that memo?). She was also an officer in the Death Watch— a terrorist organization that opposed the pacifist Mandalorian government led by Duchess Santine Kryze— who just happened to be Bo-Katan's sister. 

Bo-Katan believed that Mandalore should return to its warrior origins. To that end, she and Pre Visla— the leader of the Death Watch— sought to overthrow her sister's government. Eventually they were exiled from Mandalore. The Death Watch then aligned itself with Darth Maul and the Sith and formed the Shadow Syndicate, in an effort to dethrone Satine and reclaim Mandalore (are you getting all this?).

With the help of the Syndicate, Satine was overthrown and Visla took control of the planet. Unfortunately Maul betrayed Visla and usurped the throne of Mandalore. Bo-Katan then liberated Satine from prison and asked the Jedi for help. Obi-Wan Kenobi responded but was captured by Maul, who then killed Satine. Bo-Katan and her crew then rescued Kenobi, as Mandalore erupted into civil war. 

This resulted in the Siege Of Mandalore, as the Galactic Republic arrived and drove Maul from the planet. Bo-Katan was then offered leadership of Mandalore, but was exiled again when she refused to follow the newly appointed Emperor Palpatine's laws.

Loyalists who rejected the Emperor's rule then sought out a warrior worthy of ruling their planet. They contacted Bo-Katan, and offered her the Darksaber— an ancient Mandalorian relic. Bo-Katan accepted and formed the Mandalorian Resistance, intent on retaking her homeworld.

Around then the Great Purge happened, as the Empire attacked Mandalore, confiscating most of their priceless beskar and scattering the Mandalorians across the galaxy. Apparently during this time, Bo-Katan somehow lost the Darksaber and Moff Gideon came into possession of it.

Bo-Katan is now searching for the Darksaber in order to reclaim the throne of Mandalore. 

Whew! There'll be a quiz on all this later!

The only potential problem with Bo-Katan's appearance here is her age. Roughly 31 years pass between The Clone Wars series and The Mandalorian. Let's say Bo-Katan was 25 during the Clone Wars. That'd make her 56 here! She certainly doesn't look that old in this episode. Maybe Mandalorians age more slowly?

• Whenever Bo-Katan removes her helmet we hear a "hissing air" sound effect. It's the same one used when Luke removed Vader's helmet in the third act of Return Of The Jedi. So... Mandalorian helmets are pressurized? I assumed they were just loosely fitting buckets on their heads.

Plot Hole Plugging Time! This episode does its best to explain two of the series' biggest head-scratching inconsistencies.

First up: The Clone Wars featured many Mandalorian-centric episodes, and often explored their history and culture. Oddly enough, the various Mandalorians on the show were constantly taking their helmets off. In fact they spent more time with 'em off than they did on. Same goes for Jango Fett in Attack Of The Clones.

Then along came The Mandalorian, and suddenly Manny's all "This Is The Way" and says it's against his people's creed to ever remove their helmets in front of someone.

This prompted many fans— myself included— to wonder what the heck was going on. Was the new series simply ignoring what was established in The Clone Wars? Was Disney retconning the show out of canon?

Welp, this week we finally get an answer. When Manny sees Bo-Katan and the others remove their helmets he doubts they're Mandalorians at all. When Manny refuses to remove his helmet as well, Bo-Katan realizes what's going on. She tells Manny, "And you are a Child of the Watch... Children of the Watch are a cult of religious zealots that broke away from Mandalorian society. Their goal was to re-establish the ancient way."

So there you go! Basically Manny's an Orthodox Mandalorian, while Bo-Katan & Co. are reformed. Plot hole successfully plugged!

Second plot hole: So Manny's been tasked with returning Baby Yoda to the Jedi, which is the overarching plotline this season. To that end, he's seeking out fellow Mandlorians, who he believes have the Jedi's address. In order to find more Mandalorians, he's been going on a seemingly aimless quest from planet to planet in a desperate attempt to find them.

Which all begs the question: If he's looking for Mandalorians... why doesn't he just head for his homeworld? There's probably a few million of 'em hanging out there, right? Whoops!

This week's episode makes a valiant, if ultimately lame attempt to explain this massive plot hole. 

Bo-Katan tells Manny that she plans to retake the throne of Mandalore, prompting him to say, "That planet is cursed. Anyone who goes there dies. Once the Empire knew they couldn't control it, they made sure no one else could either."

So there you go. He didn't check out the old home place because it's under Imperial control (I think?), and he believes it's not worth the risk to return. Eh, I guess I'll give 'em this one. Another plot hole somewhat successfully plugged!

• I loved this shot of Manny staring out at the exploding Quarren ship on the ocean. Every frame a painting and all that. Kudos to cinematographer Matthew Jensen for his impressive work here.

• Apparently Frog Lady's species has an EXTREMELY short gestation period! 

In the previous episode she clearly stated that the eggs she was carrying around (that Baby Yoda was snacking on) weren't yet fertilized— which is why she was desperately trying to get them to her husband. 

She then landed on Trask where she was reunited with her mate, Frog Man. The very next day Manny drops Baby Yoda off at Frog Lady's house, and the Child gazes in wonder at the delicious and fascinating eggs. Incredibly, a tadpole hatches from one of them as he looks on!

Holy crap! That means the Frog couple went to their new home, Frog Man fertilized the eggs, they went through their full gestation period and then hatched... all in a single day!

But that's not all! When Manny returns for Baby Yoda several hours later, we see he's playing with the tadpole— who's now grown to seven or eight inches in length! What the hell?!??
• Manny agrees to help Bo-Katan capture an Imperial Gozanti-class cruiser that's taking off from the seaport on Trask.

This isn't the first time we've seen this type of ship. One made a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance back in The Phantom Menace. You can spot it right before the wise, dignified character of Jar-Jar Binks steps in a pile of Bantha sh*t.

• Manny and the other Mandalorians land on the Imperial cruiser and wipe out a squad of Stormtroopers. As they do so, Woves quips that "the Imperials could not hit the side of a bantha."

Sigh... Once again, this is some dangerous, slippery-slop bullsh*t. Yes, Stormtroopers are notoriously bad shots, but that's a narrative convention, meant to give the heroes a fighting chance against endless squads of soldiers. The characters within the universe should NOT be aware that Stormtroopers have terrible aim.

This is at least the third time the series has made this same joke, and it needs to stop, pronto! If the characters aren't worried about Stormtroopers showing up, then there's no reason for the audience to be either, and suddenly the series has no dramatic tension.

• More guest stars! The Imperial Captain is played by Titus Welliver. He starred in LOST as the Man In Black, as made appearances in The Last Ship and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

• Moff Gideon appears via hologram, and when he hears the ship's been boarded, he orders the Imperial Captain to destroy it (with all hands on board).

I knew Gideon would eventually return in Season 2, but I didn't think we'd see him again this soon. I have to wonder if Giancarlo Esposito showed up at the studio just to film this thirty second scene, or if they shot it in a later episode and edited it in here.

• As the ship plummets toward the ocean, Manny and the others are pinned down by Stormtroopers. With only seconds left, Manny saves the day by charging headfirst into a barrage of laser fire as he flings a couple grenades at the troopers.

So why didn't Bo-Katan or one of the other Mandalorians think of this? Is their armor not made of nearly-impenetrable beskar like Manny's? Is he the only one who could survive such an onslaught?

• Bo-Katan thanks Manny for helping her capture the Imperial ship and its weapons cargo. She honors their deal by telling him where to find the Jedi he seeks, saying, "Take the foundling to the city of Calodan on the forest planet of Corvus. There you will find Ahsoka Tano." Two things here:

First up, Ahsoka Tano was Anakin Skywalker's padawan and partner in The Clone Wars animated series, and is apparently going to make her live action debut on The Mandalorian as well. With the appearance of Bo-Katan this week and Ahsoka showing up soon, it seems like this show's rapidly turning into The Clone Wars 2.0.

Secondly, the city of Calodan is only one letter away from Caladan, the home planet of Paul Atreides in Dune. Coincidence or deliberate homage?
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