Minor spoilers for Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian follow!
Last week, Star Wars fans were treated to the live-action debut of Bo-Katan (Katie Sackoff). With huge plot progression and one big tease of what’s still to come, countless viewers were left with anticipation for this week’s episode of the hit Disney+ show. Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian, subtitled The Siege, unfortunately, isn’t going to live up to that excitement for most fans.
The fourth episode of Season 2 starts with Mando (Pedro Pascal) and the Child in the barely functioning Razor Crest, which… sighs… needs repairs yet again. Mando takes the ship back to the planet of Nevarro, where we are reintroduced to Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano). After reuniting with his old allies, Mando is asked by the two for help in destroying a nearby Imperial base. The purpose? So Nevarro can truly be safe and possibly turned into a new trade route under Karga and Dune’s watch.
Now before we continue, we have to address the giant anti-mask wearing elephant in the room. Actress Gina Carano has been the center of controversy these past few months, as she has publicly shown herself to align with harmful and inconsiderate beliefs. We here at DiscussingFilm don’t condone or support such incredibly damaging ideals. While her character can be sometimes fun to watch as she destroys bad guys, it’s impossible to shake off this feeling of discomfort from a fan’s point of view.
Greef Karga himself, Carl Weathers takes to the director’s chair and while the iconic actor is no stranger to directing, The Siege is his Star Wars directorial debut and he does an impressive job with what he is given. The action is well-staged and riveting; there is a chase sequence in the latter half that Weathers makes quite the impression on. There aren’t plenty of more highlights as this is a pretty simple entry, which is its biggest problem. I wonder if we have another Bryce Dallas Howard situation on our hands? As her first directed episode last season was fine and serviceable overall, but last week saw great improvements within her rhythm in Chapter 11. Which begs the question, is it the content of these scripts or the person leading behind the camera? Had Weathers been given a script similar to one of last week or the Season 1 finale, it seems like the final result would have been more than just serviceable.
The Mandalorian has faced much criticism for its formulaic structure, and this is most present in The Siege. What’s shown isn’t totally new. We are taken back to a planet we have already seen, full of characters we already know, and the mission drags similarities to most of the other episodes in the series. The retreading of old locations and faces is a bit tiresome, and provides less anticipation for moving forward. The show is at its best when it pushes the narrative and our leads forward in new directions, but here we are seemingly pushed back a few parsecs. The transition from Chapter 11 to now is strange. It almost feels as if creator Jon Favreau doesn’t know what he wants the show to be. Most of the time, it’s an adventure of the week with one-off characters and short moments of an actual endgame peaking through. It doesn’t seem likely that it can keep people’s interest for much longer if it doesn’t evolve.
Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian does, however, continue the show’s streak of beautiful looking television with eye-popping set pieces. Followed by Ludwig Göransson’s ever-impressive score, which by the way gets better and better with each episode. Weathers’ direction balances simplicity with a sense of excitement and fun that I imagine leading any Star Wars project brings. But is it enough? After major progression last week, is it enough for the show to return to familiarity? Sure, The Siege boasts its own set of surprises for the future, though probably more exciting for a smaller, specific group of fans. Will the incoming live-action debut of Ahsoka Tano, literally what’s on everyone’s mind, be able to surpass this? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.