by Hunter Johnson
[Editor’s Note: The following contains minor spoilers for “The Mandalorian” Season 2, Episode 4]
So far in this season, showrunner Jon Favreau has led viewers down detour after detour, some exhilarating and some less so. In “The Siege,” “The Mandalorian” finally returns to the central storyline established in the first season. Along the way, it brings back multiple characters as well as returning to the primary setting of season one, the planet of Nevarro.
Series regular Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” franchise and plays bounty hunter guild leader Greef Karga here, steps into the director’s chair for this episode. Bringing his love for good old-fashioned action, Weathers infuses spectacle into “The Mandalorian” by using some iconic “Star Wars” technology: speeder bikes and tie fighters.
The episode starts off a bit slow, but once the action starts, it doesn’t let up, resulting in some epic sequences. With all the speeder bike chases and tie fighter bouts throughout “Star Wars,” it’s only fitting that “The Mandalorian” would finally get its due.
These scenes will delight fans as a deft demonstration of what it looks like for classic elements from the original trilogy to be reinvigorated in a fresh yet faithful way. Weathers manages to take nostalgic elements of “Star Wars” and use them to showcase how far technology has come and how spectacular these kinds of sequences can look today.
This decision to have Weathers direct pays off immensely. His experience in numerous action films over his career provides him with a clear eye for gripping action, enabling him to make this episode a nicely condensed version of an action movie.
Returning alongside Weathers are a multitude of season one characters. Gina Carano reprises her role as former rebel shock trooper Cara Dune, establishing a commanding presence to all her scenes. Carano’s performance is particularly more believable this time around, with the former MMA fighter’s line delivery being more emotive and confident than in the previous season.
Also returning to the show is SNL’s Horatio Sanz as the Mythrol who Mando collected a bounty on in the very first episode of season one. His inclusion continues the episode’s trend of correcting old wrongs of season one. Alongside Cara Dune’s improvement, the Mythrol is also very much improved in this episode. Last season, his American cadence seemed out-of-place, and his wisecracking comedic nature just didn’t fit the overall tone of the show.
In “The Siege,” his humor has been tweaked ever-so-slightly to fit the right tone, following the “Star Wars” tradition of situational humor over blatant joke-telling. This small change allows audiences to enjoy the character’s presence without being pulled out of the show. Beyond the Mythrol’s humor, his inclusion also continues to build stronger continuity in the show as a whole, as Favreau gradually ties up more and more loose ends from the previous season.
These many loose ends are both a positive and negative aspect of the show. While leaving viewers with questions is great for keeping them engaged, it can also be highly frustrating when answers to those questions take so long to receive. That’s another reason this episode is so delightful to watch. The return of Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), both characters we haven’t seen since season one, has been long-awaited, and their scenes begin to finally explain the reasons behind the Empire’s relentless chasing of the Child.
With the return of Moff Gideon, as well as the reappearance of New Republic Starfighter Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), “The Mandalorian” is beginning to connect all its seemingly disparate plot threads into one larger, interconnected story.
Where this episode suffers is in its buildup to the second act. Once it gets going, the action and the story of “The Siege” are great, but there’s no denying that the middle twenty minutes is a trudge. It takes unnecessary time reuniting characters that fought beside each other a mere four episodes ago, acting as if it’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other. And perhaps it has been a while in the timeline of the story itself, but for audiences, it hasn’t been long at all, and their patience for heartfelt reunions and long-winded exposition will only last so long.
Fortunately, this middle section isn’t the entire episode. The beginning is an especially delightful watch, featuring an adorable scene with the Child, followed by a sequence highlighting the bug-like alien species from the background of “A New Hope,” the Aqualish.
This entertaining opening, along with the impressively staged action of the second half, helps the episode overcome the faults of the scenes in between. In the end, Weathers proves himself to be a capable director, hopefully one that will return for season two and beyond.
Hunter Johnson is a senior Theatre Performance Major and an A&E writer for Cedars. He spends his time gobbling up all the Star Wars that Disney pumps out, followed by daydreaming about his future dog Jojo, all while giving endless attention to his beautiful fiance.