Monday, April 06, 2020

"The Child" (The Mandalorian, Season 1, Ep 2)(2019)

Time to record my thoughts and impressions after my third time watching "The Child," the second episode of The Mandalorian.  (My thoughts on ep 1 are here.)


This episode picks right up where the last one left off, with Mando and the child (aka Baby Not Yoda) walking together, leaving that compound where they met far behind them.


Well, Mando is walking.  The Child is floating.  In its little bassinet-pod-thing, which Mando can now somehow control with a device that's part of one of his gauntlets.  Or greaves. I'm unsure if they're connected to this gloves or worn over them, but if it's the latter, then they're greaves, not gauntlets.  Anyway.  It's never explained how he's hooked his wrist-worn computer up to the bassinet-pod, we just see in a minute that it is.


Something scatters all the little lizardy critters that have been keeping them company as they walk and float, which puts Mando on the alert.  He instinctively goes for his sidearm, and we get this lovely shot of him with his hand on it, very up close and focused, exactly like a zillion western movies will show you the hero and his weapon.


Before he can draw his blaster, he's set upon by two assailants.  His first move is not of self-defense, but in defense of The Child -- he uses the controls on his wrist to send the bassinet-pod far from himself so Baby Not Yoda will be out of harm's way.  And then he devotes himself to the business at hand.

Mando does hand-to-hand combat beautifully well, as we saw in the first scene of the first ep -- he moves only as much as necessary, is never showy, just fights with whatever means he's got on hand.  These fights are choreographed delightfully!  Fight scenes, especially those with martial arts moves thrown in, are like dances, everyone having to be in just the right spot at the right time.  The more participants, the more complex it gets.  And this one is filmed so well too -- I'm never confused as to who is hitting whom.


Anyway, he disables one assailant, but the other makes a break for it and heads straight for The Child, weapon raised to strike.


As usual, Mando wastes no time.  He whips his Amban rifle up and disintegrates his enemy.  Which instantly made Cowboy say, "No disintegrations!" in his best Darth Vader impression. 


The Child is unharmed, physically, but he looks maybe a little spooked by all the violence and killing he's just witnessed.


Mando saves the day, but he's been minorly injured in the fight, sustaining a slice to the left arm from one of those axe things the baddies were wielding.


Then he spots something one of them had dropped -- a tracking beacon just like the one he'd been given to help him find The Child.  Clearly, he and the IG-11 droid were not the only bounty hunters sent out to find this target.


Cut to Baby Not Yoda and Mando camped out in the middle of nowhere.  Instead of a campfire, they have a little glowing lantern thing, but it's the same scene you'll see in oodles of cowboy movies.  People, camp fire, lots of open country, lots of friendly silence.


Mando tends his wound, a nasty cut that he's cauterizing with a little gadget that throws off lots of sparks.  Which is just like the old trick of sticking a knife blade in the fire until it's hot and then using it to seal up a wound.  I mean, it's just so classic!


Mando grunts a little with pain now and then.  Suddenly he looks up.


Baby Not Yoda has popped out of his bassinet-pod and come closer.  He's stretching out his hand to Mando.  Now, I'd seen Rise of Skywalker (2019) already before we watched this the first time, so my first thought was, "He's trying to use the Force to heal Mando just like people use it to heal each other/themselves in ROS."  Cowboy didn't make that connection because he hadn't seen ROS and it's not so obviously done in other Star Wars films, so I had to explain that.  Anyway.  Clearly, that's what The Child is up to here.  He wants to help!


Clearly, Mando has not see Rise of Skywalker either, because he doesn't get it.  He just picks up The Child and sticks him back in his bassinet-pod.


Gently, but firmly.  Multiple times.  Gah, I love this shot of them.  GORGEOUS.


Mmmmm, all those purpley greys.


Anyway.  Morning!  Time to trudge across more barren scenery.


Annnnnnnnnd we have trouble.  There are Jawas scavenging the Razor Crest.  Jawas complete with a sandcrawler!  This makes me bounce with joy because... it's a sandcrawler!  Just like in the first Star Wars movie!  I get all the nostalgic feels.


Not Mando.  He's got all the angry feels.  This is one of the parts of Mando's character arc that I really identify with and dig -- he gets soooooooo angry here, and lashes out.  Gradually, over the course of the series, he learns to tamp down that anger instead of feeding it, and to respond to problems with a solution that doesn't involve disintegrations.  We'll get there.  He'll get there.


But he's not there yet.  He kills a bunch of Jawas.  They take off in their sandcrawler, cuz who wouldn't if some dude started poofing you into bits of dust?


Mando chases the sandcrawler.  On foot.  The bassinet-pod follows.  (Side note: I'm starting to be able to recognize when it's not Pedro Pascal in the suit.  I think this is Lateef Crowder, as he has a much narrower waist all of a sudden, and it's narrower than in ep 4 when I know it's Brendan Wayne in the suit the whole time, so I'm pretty sure it must be Crowder here, at least for the running bit.  I think it's probably Wayne for the climbing stunts, though.)


And now Mando takes on the sandcrawler.  There's an episode of Combat! (1962-67) called "The Duel" where Sgt. Saunders (Vic Morrow) spends the whole episode trying to take out one specific Kraut tank, and this whole section with Mando vs. Machine really reminds me of it.


Mando starts rappelling up the side.  The Jawas keep chucking stuff at him, trying to knock him off or brush him off or shoot him.  He just keeps coming.  I love his inexorability, his stubbornness.  You know I love stubborn characters, as long as they learn to use their refusal to quit in ways that are good and helpful, not harmful to themselves or others.  He'll get there.


Mando gets to the top and brandishes his pistol.  For a minute, I'm like, "You big, mean man, threatening these little Jawas!  Quit it!"


Those little Jawas aren't helpless, though.  Or unarmed.  Now I'm like, "You mean Jawas, you outnumber him so much!  No fair!"


Yeah, Mando totally gets taken out by the Jawas.


I feel sorry for him, cuz he fought so hard.  And all he wants is to get his ship parts back!  Which they stole.  Poor Mando.


Baby Not Yoda looks sad too.


I just don't get tired of shots of Mando flat on his back, do I?


He's not unconscious for long.  But the shadows are reaching out over the land -- it's getting late.


Mando and Baby Not Yoda share a long look.  Time to start walking again.  Mando walks a LOT.  He reminds me of Cowboy, who also has this mutant ability to walk for miles and miles and miles without stopping.  He visited Jerusalem last summer and walked about 26 miles (a marathon!) one day, then walked that much all over again the next day.  Mutant.


At least Baby Not Yoda gets to ride.  I want a floaty pod thingie!  Anyway, oh my.  The poor ship.  She's torn to bits.


Mando goes inside.  And is angry.  Bangs stuff around.  Grunts.  Huffs and snorts a little.  Acts like an angry buffalo, to be honest.


Baby Not Yoda gives him a look of, "Um, is this helping?  What are you doing?"  Or maybe just, "What is this place?" cuz it's not like he's been to this ship before.


Nothing to do but to walk some more.  GAH, I love this shot!


And this one.  Wow.  This show is so beautiful.


Finally, they reach Kuill's outpost.  Oh, that windmill standing stark against the sky -- so evocative!  So cowboy movie-ful!  Makes me think of this shot from The Proud Rebel (1958), somehow.


And now, ELEVEN MINUTES into the episode, we have our first line of dialog.  Think of that!  Eleven entire minutes of storytelling without a single word spoken.  Oh, Mando grunts and sighs a few times, and the Jawas say stuff in Jawa, but it is eleven minutes before the first line of dialog.  Which is Kuill greeting him by saying, "I thought you were dead."

Can you think of any other shows that use visual storytelling in a way quit so epic as this one?  I didn't even realize there wasn't any dialog for that long the first time I watched this.  I didn't miss it.  I didn't need it.  AMAZING, I tell you!!!


I like this shot of Mando looking up at Kuill because it totally shows us that, although Mando doesn't know it yet, he's going to come to respect Kuill a lot, and learn much from him.  Look up to him, in other words.


Kuill and Mando discuss The Child and what to do about the ship.  And then we get my and Cowboy's most-often-quoted line from this series so far.


Mando looks over just in time to see Baby Not Yoda trying to eat a frog.  Whole.  He says, "Hey, spit that out."  And he says it in such a tired-yet-exasperated way that it's incredibly endearing.  I keep trying to say it with the same inflection as he does.


Next day, back to the sandcrawler.  The Jawas are not happy to see Mando again.


Mando's not terribly happy to see them either.


I love his body language here.  Like, projecting all kinds of physical menace.  He's such a beautifully broad-shouldered, broad-chested wall of mightiness, isn't he?


Kuill is like, "Dude.  Quit menacing.  We're here to negotiate.  Not menace.  Just stop it already."  I mean, he doesn't say that out loud, but he sure does with looks.


Kuill handles the negotiations, since Mando is Very Crabby right now and just keeps up the menacing.


These Jawas are really rude.  I don't like them.


They do agree to give Mando back all the stuff they stole, though.  IF he gets them... an egg.


Well, how hard can it be to get an egg?  For some reason, Mando brings The Child along.  This doesn't make complete sense to me, because surely he trusts Kuill enough to watch over The Child?  And he doesn't know what he's going to go up against to get this egg?  Then again, he is probably worried that more bounty hunters will come after it at any moment, and he wants The Child where he can protect it.


But then he goes into a cave and leaves it outside alone, so um... hmm.  Anyway.  I linked to this shot from The Searchers (1956) last time, but I'm linking to it again because it's sooooooo similar to this one.


Baby Not Yoda watches Mando walk farther and farther away from him.


And then Mando comes back out.  Flying out.  All roughed up, with his breastplate ripped in half.  What could do that to this tough, solid wall of menace?


A mudhorn, that's what.  Annnnnnd the mudhorn sees Baby Not Yoda.


Ah, here's Mando using the controls on his gauntlet/greave to control the bassinet-pod.  He gets the baby out of the way of the charging mudhorn, never fear.


Well, never fear for The Child.  Fear plenty for my Mando.


He tries his spiffy wrist-mounted flame-thrower.


The mudhorn is undaunted.  Thank goodness for all that squishy mud -- Mando just sinks down instead of being smushed.


Let's try the flame-thrower again!  Cowboy keeps complaining that they never let that actually do him much good in combat with this weapon, as over and over again, his enemies just ignore it, or it fizzles out.  He wants to see the flamethrower really take something down.  I mean, it does occasionally kinda keep baddies at bay, but not generally.


The mudhorn tosses Mando around like he's a scarecrow.  He lands hard on rocky ground and the camera goes blurrier and blurrier, telling us Mando's struggling to hang onto consciousness.


Baby Not Yoda looks worried.  And then starts to close his eyes.


Mando struggles to his knees and pulls out his last weapon.  A simple knife.  His rifle is out of commission, his flame thrower does no good, his blaster is... lost in the cave, I think, I can't remember.  All he has left is his knife.  So he holds it out, in both hands, ready to give his all to protect that baby, or die trying.  And he assumes he's going to die trying.


As the mudhorn charges, Baby Not Yoda raises one hand.


Mando waits for his doom, on his knees like a knight bested in combat.  This whole section really draws on mythology, doesn't it?  Hero goes into a mysterious cave to battle an unknown monster and retrieve a prize.  Hero is terribly outmatched.  Hero loses and is about to die.  Hero faces death honorably.


Hero doesn't die.  Hero is saved by his magical helper, in fact.


Mando can't believe his eyes.  The mudhorn not only stopped mid-gallop, it's... floating.


Baby Not Yoda can't hold it for long.  But it's long enough.


Long enough for Mando to take down the mudhorn with one well-placed knife thrust.  He topples to the ground himself, exhausted.


But he gets back up.  He always does.  Now, pull a sword out of a stone?  Pull a knife out of a mudhorn?  Same idea, in a way.  Right here, this moment when Mando's life is saved beyond all hope, saved by the very being he was ready to die protecting, Mando's hero journey truly begins.  He just doesn't know it yet.


Baby Not Yoda needs a nap, though.


Mando returns with the egg.  Which is gross and hairy and muddy, just like the mudhorn.


The Jawas rejoice.


And then they lop off the top of the egg and act like it's a honey pot.


I mean, ew.


This shot cracks me up.  Alllllll the stuff they stole from the Razor Crest.  And Mando riding in front of it like a hero in a chariot.


The bassinet-pod glides along beside.  This might be my favorite shot in the whole episode, Mando reaching out to check on Baby Not Yoda.  Physically reaching out to him, not just giving a quick glance.  This connection is a strong one.



Then we get treated to a fixing-up-the-ship montage that reeeeally reminds me of the montage in Iron Man (2008) of Tony building his first suit of armor, right down to both of them using shots of hammers on metal with sparks flying everywhere.  Which makes sense, since Jon Favreau directed both that and this.


Finally, the ship is repaired.  Mando doesn't know how to thank Kuill.  He offers him a job, but Kuill declines both job and any kind of payment.  He's an incredible character, honorable and kind and abrupt and generous.  I like him so, so much.


So, here we are, ready to take off.  Mando has to return that baby to the guy who hired him, after all.  Can't just hang out together having adventures forever.


I LOVE the concept art they use during the credits.  It's so fun to watch and admire.  So pretty.


I love how they pick out specific moments from the ep to highlight.  It makes me think about why they chose those ones, what's significant about them.  You know they're not random.



By the way, I adore the soundtracks to these episodes.  I've been gradually buying them individually from Amazon as mp3 files, as they have soundtracks for each episode, not simply the season as a whole!  You can also listen to about 2 hours of music from this show here on YouTube, which I do with startling regularity.

Okay, that's it for this ep.  Tune in next time for episode three!  In a week or so...

10 comments:

  1. Baby Not Yoda. Hee, hee. He really needs a proper name of his own, doesn't he? Although I doubt I will ever call him anything but BABY YODA.

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    1. Well, he's not Yoda as a baby, so I refuse to call him Baby Yoda. And The Child feels stiff. Like in Anne of Windy Poplars where the awful grandmother called the granddaughter in her care The Child all the time. So I call him Baby Not Yoda because then people know who I'm talking about, but I'm also being clear that I don't think he's Yoda as a baby. So until he gets his own name, I call him Baby Not Yoda, and I've taught my children to as well :-)

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    2. That's fair. I mean, your way does make sense. But to me, he'll always be Baby Yoda, even if / when they give him his own name. Because once I start calling somebody a certain name, my brain is pretty much incapable of switching. So, Baby Yoda it is, I guess ...

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    3. Katie, yeah, I get that. I'm having a tough time thinking of Mando by his real name still. I chant it to myself like a little secret I'm hoarding.

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  2. Baby Yoda trying heal Mando was the cutest thing!

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  3. This is a good review. I learned about Brendan Wayne from it and found this interview. https://www.vulture.com/2019/12/the-mandalorian-double-brendan-wayne-interview.html

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    1. Thank you, Noumenon! Especially for the link -- I've read excerpts from that interview, but never the whole thing, and it was super nifty. I will reread it, I know.

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  4. "Acts like an angry buffalo, to be honest."<< an Iconique line. xD

    That shot of Mando reaching out after the mudhorn attack to see if Baby's still okay. <3 <3 <3

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    1. Olivia, well, he does. And I say that with a heart full of love for him.

      YES, that shot is just... again with him needing hugs himself.

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