The Mandalorian S2E4: The Siege
Well, it’s Friday morning, it’s raining outside, I have a coffee on my desk and a cat on my chest and a Mandalorian review to write. Let’s enjoy this chill low-fi version of the theme song and get into it, shall we?
Because honestly, you’re going to need it after the full-throttle action of this episode. I will admit that I did nearly shut my laptop and discus-throw it into the street beyond when I realized that we weren’t going to be getting any Ahsoka Tano this episode, and I was a little concerned in the first ten minutes or so that we were going to end up on the wrong side of the Baby Yoda Ratio, but hey – The Siege turned it out, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
First and foremost, though, let’s talk about the characters we have returning this week: Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers, who also directs this episode). I’m a big fan of the energy Carl Weathers brings to this outing, on and off camera, but I’ll get to that later – right now, it’s time to talk about the Gina Carano of it all.
Carano’s future on the show, despite her prominent involvement in the first season, has been pretty highly-disputed in the last few weeks, as she’s been covering her social media with some pretty damn nasty conspiracy theories and especially anti-mask COVID-19 content; fans have been calling for her to be removed from the show, and honestly, with good reason. This episode comes in the middle of a stack of backlash against her involvement with the show, and, really, though she couldn’t have known it at the time, an answer to the question of whether she was worth keeping around in the face of such fandom unrest.
I’ve had my reservations about Carano since season one, to be honest. I do love seeing a woman in such a prominent, non-sexualized role in a show like this, and I especially appreciate the fact that she’s muscular and physically accomplished and not treated as a joke for the same because she’s a woman. Cara as a character, an Alderaan escapee turned shock trooper turned mercenary in her own right, is a solid interweaving of lore into an actual character, and, in theory, it works really well.
In practice, though? I just don’t think Carano can act. Her action stuff is pretty much impeccable, and her introduction to the episode via a great action scene is a solid choice. But there’s a lot of great action on this show that has nothing to do with her, and it can’t make up for the fact that she just seems awkward on camera most of the time, especially compared to the easy charm of Carl Weathers. To be quite honest, while I like the idea of Cara, if the show were to lose Carano, I think it would be just fine. I honestly doubt that Disney will actually oust her from The Mandalorian – but if the did, I don’t think the show would have a gaping hole in it from the loss of Carano. Or that one weird half-smile thing she does in reaction to anything happening, ever.
Anyway. Like I said above, this is actually a really solid episode for The Mandalorian, and one that feels distinctly like Carl Weathers diving into the toybox and pulling out everything that he can get his hands on. We have hand-to-hand combat, laser battles, speeder-bike chases, TIE fighter pursuits, daring jetpack escapes, and all of them, quite honestly, are done with a verve and style that makes it hard to be mad that most of this episode is taken up with them. I really love it when you can feel the people behind the camera’s genuine thrill at getting to play with all the cool Star Wars toys, and that’s written all over The Siege in a way that really works. It’s propulsive, well-constructed, and really, genuinely exciting, proving a solid understanding of the rules of this universe with every new sequence thrown in to the mix. This is some of the best action of the entire show, and that’s saying something.
And, to satisfy the “lore” part of the word “Mandaloreian” (excuse me, yes, this is how it’s almost been spelled, I am writer and I will NOT be questioned on this), we actually get some forward momentum on Moff Gideon and whatever’s been going on with the Baby Yoda blood he pinched last season. It’s not exactly artfully fitted into the story – someone presses a button and a hologram appears to explain some major plot details in between laser fights – but it’s there, and it feels good to know that things are actually heading in a somewhat forward-ish direction. Plus, Giancarlo Esposito is back, rocking his Imperial gear and looking like a whole-ass space snack, and the part of me that endlessly fancied the villains over the heroes is getting a bit heart-eyes about the whole thing.
All round, this is a really fun episode of The Mandalorian. Even with the great Carano question hanging over everything, it’s a cracking slice of very entertaining action with a few longer-form plot details hastily crammed in there for good measure (and to keep me from moaning too much, I assume). It might not be Ahsoka Tano, but it’s a damn fine episode to fill in the gaps until we get to her, and I’m willing to wait a little longer if it means we can get our hands into the toybox again.
(header image via Radio Times)