This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2, episode 4, “Chapter 12: The Siege.”
For a franchise that has been around for over 40 years, Star Wars has mostly played things relatively straightforward in terms of its plots, characters, and general morality. Whenever the franchise has taken a risk, whether it be through the prequel trilogy’s attempts to expand upon the foundation of the original trilogy or the entirety of The Last Jedi, the franchise has been quick to reset itself back to a default setting.
Spin-offs within the franchise like The Mandalorian get to offer up unique perspectives on the series, which are worthwhile if we’re going to be getting more and more installments across different forms of media. But sometimes you just want some comfort food. After a series that has had a wild variation in genre and tone, it felt surprisingly nice to just sit back with an episode that felt, for lack of a better phrase, like classic Star Wars. “The Siege” is like comfort food; it’s not going to change your world, but it’s still a pleasant and enjoyable experience.
Before Mando (Pedro Pascal) meets Ahsoka Tano, like was teased last episode, we have one more little diversion on our way to what is sure to be a several-episode arc. Mando needs his ship repaired (again), so he travels back to Nevarro and meets up with his old pals Greef Karga (Carl Weathers, who also directed the episode) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano). It’s a surprisingly friendly moment, with the three of them genuinely glad to see each other and bantering amongst themselves. One would think that Mando would hold some resentment for Karga ratting him out towards the end of last season, but I guess going through an assault of Empire lackeys will remove any animosity that would be there.
Nevarro itself feels like a vastly different place from last season of The Mandalorian. Before, it was usually framed in a negative light, with danger around every corner from smugglers, Empire goons, or bounty hunters. Now, it’s a bustling community with people in the streets, children in schools, and markets thriving. One has to wonder just how long it has been since the events of last season, since Dune claims that she and Karga were able to drive out most of the criminals, rebuild from the first season’s finale, and pacify an entire sector of the planet, but that’s honestly not all that big of a deal.
While there, Mando is given a task that should be familiar to any Star Wars fan. Mando, Kargo, Dune, and even the returning Mythrol (Horatio Sanz from Saturday Night Live) who last appeared in the pre-credits sequence from the very first episode need to blow up an Empire facility. Instead of it being a Death Star, it’s a believed-to-be-abandoned military base, but the goal is still the same. They need to sneak in, detonate the core, and get out.
After weeks of unique adventures, I’m all for a quick little diversion into standard Star Wars fare. We know there’s going to be more unique and extravagant plots in the future, so just taking a week to watch some simple Star Wars action is fine. The action here doesn’t always play to The Mandalorian’s strengths, eschewing more impressive stunt work for standard blaster shootouts, but the variety works to its favor. There can’t be too much hand-to-hand combat or else it’ll eventually grow stale. It would be like eating too much cake.
General series plot advancement is lacking here, though there are two nuggets that we learn about the Empire that give them a much more malevolent presence than last season. We will always associate the Empire with evil and villainy, but the elements we discovered in “The Siege” offer up some interesting directions for future episodes to take.
First, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) has bugged Mando’s ship, the Razor Crest, and knows that he is traveling with the Child and that they’re on their way to Corvus. He has an entire armada prepared to fight him upon arrival, but why exactly is the Empire so determined to get the Child? We don’t quite know yet, but we do see the Empire working on some kind of experiment that requires the Child’s blood and they need way more of it than what they were able to extract last season.
If you’ll permit me to speculate for a moment — while we’ve always known that The Mandalorian takes place between the original and sequel trilogy, showrunner Jon Favreau has never indicated if the events of The Mandalorian would directly lead into the events of the sequel trilogy. “The Siege” may offer some insight into what the final goal of the series may be. With numerous tubes inside of the Nevarro base displaying some kind of malformed lifeform and the Empire actively conducting research on the Child, a Force-sensitive being, The Mandalorian may try to give us a definitive origin for the Supreme Leader of the First Order, Snoke.
But outside of speculation, there’s really nothing too complicated about “The Siege.” It’s a lovely little reminder that the supporting characters from the first season still matter, and we do see some enjoyable comic relief with The Child as well. I may not have liked watching him eat some baby eggs back in episode 2, but I will always understand the desire to eat a macaron at any cost. Those things are just plain dynamite.
If you were looking for a rock-solid piece of Star Wars entertainment, “The Siege” delivered that. You had gunfights, dogfights, an escape sequence from an Empire facility, comfortable character interactions, and chuckle-worthy comic relief. Not every episode of The Mandalorian needs to try some bold new risk for the franchise. Occasionally we can afford to just lie back and watch some simple action unfold. Not everything needs to lay out some intricate groundwork for possible story avenues, although they do lay some seeds here. Sometimes going for the cheap thrills is exactly what we need, and there’s nothing more satisfying for Star Wars fans than watching our heroes blow up an Empire facility and celebrate afterwards.