With a series like The Mandalorian, it’s easy to forgive a bit of filler. So rooted is it in the style of old TV serials, the show’s bottled, Yojimbo-style formula – Mando visits planet; Mando solves problem; Mando leaves planet – feels like an enjoyable throwback, and carves out space for its shiniest asset, the high-tempo action scenes. But, four episodes into its second season, it’s a struggle not to grow irritated with just how slowly its core narrative crawls forward.
“Chapter 12: The Seige” begins with The Child/Baby Yoda squeezed into a maintenance duct, being given fruitless instruction on how to repair The Mandalorian’s spaceship. It’s a funny scene, one of a few - Carl Weathers, directing here, proves himself a dab hand with the show’s broader comic elements. So Mando (Pedro Pascal) and his ward return once more to Nevarro, to reunite with mercenary Cara Dune (Gina Carano), now known as “Marshal Dune” (how many Marshals does this series need?), and Greef Karga, his former employer-turned-foe-turned-ally, played by Weathers. The trio enlist the reluctant help of the blue-skinned embezzler from The Mandalorian’s very first episode, to ransack an “abandoned” imperial base.
As far as side characters go, Greef and Dune make a pretty insipid pair. Weathers, a veteran actor known for his roles in Predator and Rocky, has been nigh-on impossible to take seriously ever since his cartoonish self-parody in Arrested Development. The Mandalorian has always seen him indulge his hammiest tendencies, and “The Siege” is no exception.
Carano fares even worse. Her gruff character is thinly sketched, and she fails to breathe much life into it. Some fans of the series have called for Carano’s removal after the actor posted comments on social media that were accused of mocking trans and non-binary people, as well as anti-mask memes and comments in support of Donald Trump’s baseless election fraud claims. It remains to be seen whether Disney will quietly phase her character out of any future seasons, but her presence here is enough to leave a slightly sour taste.
Outside of a few enjoyable comic scenes, there’s not much to be seen of Baby Yoda. Once again, he is left in childcare while Mando goes on an adventure (this time, in a Nevarro schoolroom); once again, the majority of his screen-time sees him eating things he frankly shouldn’t (a sleeve of sickly blue biscuits).
“The Siege” also feels like the most time we’ve spent away from The Mandalorian himself. A five-minute-or-so stretch sees Mando’s associates steal the limelight, but the sequence feels too much like a drab spin-off, a stark reminder of just how much The Mandalorian relies on its two leads.
Still, with the show’s first Jedi, Ahsoka Tano, seemingly poised to appear in next week’s instalment, and the series’ Big Bad (Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon) now hot on Mando’s tail, there’s a good chance “Chapter 13” will be more firework than filler. After this, it feels like it needs to be.