First thing’s first, we missed out on last week’s recap. That means we didn’t get to break down the tease of “Clone Wars” star Ahsoka Tano, the return of “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” Mandalorian leader Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), and one of the most action-packed episodes of “The Mandalorian” yet. That’s on us. If you’re still looking for a recap of “Chapter 11: The Heiress,” here’s a great one.
BUT… We are back and ready to go for “Chapter 12: The Siege” and there’s plenty to dive into as the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Baby Yoda reunite with their old pals, pull off another risky operation, and once again encounter the menacing Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).
Let’s get started.
Familiar faces, familiar places
Surprise, surprise… Mando is once again having ship-related issues. After his crash landing on Mon Cala in last week’s episode and the sketchy repairs to the Razor Crest, the ship is barely hanging on as it drifts through space. While Mando may have learned of Ahsoka Tano’s whereabouts last week, there’s no way he’s getting there with his ship in this condition. Even Mando’s best technician – Baby Yoda channeling his inner Baby Groot as he tries to comprehend complex instructions – is no match for the struggling ship.
So, that means it’s time for yet another pit stop as he returns to the bounty hunter haven of Nevarro, where Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano) can lend a hand. But Nevarro isn’t the same lawless planet we last saw at the end of Season 1. Instead, Karga and Dune have been cleaning up the city and kicking out the remnants of the Empire. We get a firsthand look at this as Dune – now referred to as a Marshal – breaks into an Aqualish hideout and decimates what appears to be a band of outlaws.
Mando and the child arrive on the planet and the gang is officially reunited, as Karga and Dune greet their old friends and task their best mechanics with repairing the Razor Crest. If we’re being honest, Nevarro looks like a brand new planet. Gone are the empty streets and the shady corners, and instead the town is bustling with markets and people like something you might find in Mos Eisley. Karga and Dune have even gone so far as to establish a school taught by a C-3PO-style protocol droid. While the adults go off to talk business, they drop off Baby Yo for his first day of school where he quickly establishes himself as the class bully, using the Force to steal a classmate’s snacks right from his hands. It’s cute and funny like all Baby Yoda moments are, but after eating Frog Lady’s spawn and now this, it’s clear no one should stand between the child and his appetite.
One small easter egg in the classroom that really has no significance whatsoever but was certainly no accident comes as the camera lingers on a young girl in the second-to-last row who’s sporting Rey’s signature triple bun hairstyle.
Nothing comes for free
By this point, Mando – and viewers – should know that everything in the Outer Rim has its price. Karga and Dune may be old friends, but they’re not just going to fix up the Razor Crest for free. Together the two have cleaned up nearly the entire planet, but there’s one last thing they must accomplish to completely rid the planet of Imperial influences, and that comes in the form of the lone remaining Imperial base. Once the base is eradicated, Nevarro will be free to operate as a prime trading outpost in the outer rim. For that, they need the big guns, and the big guns happen to be right in front of them donning beskar armor.
The plan is simple: sneak in, overload the reactor, escape, boom. After all, the base should only have a skeleton crew of stormtroopers patrolling, so the mission should be simple. Well, as things tend to for Mando and Co., the operation doesn’t exactly go as planned. After being dropped at the base’s gate by the Mythrol (Horatio Sanz), aka the blue fish man Mando originally captured in the series’s opening scene, the crew quickly comes to learn that this is a fully operational base teeming with stormtroopers.
Despite these unexpected guests, the crew is able to quickly pull off the first two steps of the plan, sneaking into the base and making their way to the core reactor that will ultimately lead to its destruction. With the reactor disabled and lava ready to boil over, the clock is officially ticking and our heroes have 10 minutes to escape. That is, until they realize…
Something’s not right here…
On their way towards freedom, they shoot their way through one room in particular that doesn’t quite look like your traditional Imperial outpost. Instead, the walls are lined with bacta tanks filled with humanoid figures floating in murky blue water. This is no military base – it’s a lab.
A hologram transmission from Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), the man who experimented on Baby Yoda in Season 1, recounts failed attempts and what sounds like cloning. He mentions the improbability of finding a subject with a higher “M-count” before revealing that the blood in question came from the child himself. While he never said the forbidden M-word from the “Phantom Menace,” we can only assume “M-count” to be a reference to midi-chlorians, the microscopic life forms linked to the Force. Cloning has always been present in “Star Wars,” most notably with the Clone army, but where have we seen a clone in need of extreme Force sensitivity? Could Baby Yoda have been the key to successfully replicating Emperor Palpatine prior to “The Rise of Skywalker”?
The doctor closes his message by saying he needs more blood from the child to continue his experiments and telling Moff Gideon he won’t disappoint him again. This reference to Gideon leads Mando to believe this must be an outdated message, since he saw the Moff crash and seemingly perish last season. Well, turns out the transmission is from just three days ago, which means Gideon is alive and well, and Baby Yo is extremely vulnerable.
The chase is on
At this point, it’s clear Mando must get to Baby Yoda as quickly as possible, plus that whole failing reactor thing adds to the time crunch. The crew splits up as they shoot their way out, and Mando hitches a ride on his jetpack while Karga, Dune and the Mythrol use an old Imperial transport to escape into the rocky crevices below. But the Empire isn’t just going to let them walk – scout troopers on speeder bikes are in hot pursuit of the cruiser in a thoroughly entertaining chase sequence.
As badass as the scout troopers may be, they’re no match for the cruiser with Dune at the wheel and Karga manning the turrets, but they’re not the only ones trailing the good guys. Soon a string of TIE fighters are on their tale, too, and the cover of the canyons has just run out, leaving the transport as a sitting duck. That is, until the Razor Crest arrives to save the day.
With Baby Yoda secured, the Mandalorian returns to show off his piloting skills and rescue his old friends. However, all the loops and flips came at a cost. Suddenly, all those macaroons Baby Yo was snacking on aren’t sitting so well, and the child spits up all over himself, forcing Mando to go full dad mode and use his cape to wipe it all up.
After Mando and Baby Yo are well on their way, presumably back on course to find Ahsoka, the X-Wing pilot Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) from Chapter 10 is seen interviewing Karga and Dune about the explosion of the base and the bounty hunter’s whereabouts. During his conversation with Dune, Teva does his best to recruit a soldier of her caliber to join the New Republic, acknowledging that something suspicious is in fact happening on the Outer Rim planets.
Moff Gideon returns
Before things wrap up, the episode closes with a trip to an Arquitens-class command cruiser – also known as an Imperial light cruiser. Onboard an Imperial officer receives a transmission informing her that “The device has been planted as you requested,” and as she relays the message to Moff Gideon, it’s revealed that the device in question is a tracking beacon on the Razor Crest. A mysterious source has confirmed to the Empire that Mando still has the child, and Gideon says that they will be ready next time.
The biggest reveal in the closing moments comes along the walls of Gideon’s cruiser. The Moff appears to be in some sort of barrack lined with heavy duty combat gear that looks strikingly similar to that worn by Dark Troopers – advanced battle droids and infantry exoskeletons featured in multiple “Star Wars” video games. They’ve never been seen in films or shows, but these powerful cyborgs are made using the same prosthetics and gear that turned Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader.
Another smaller but equally important question from the episode’s close is who could be this source informing the Empire of Baby Yoda’s whereabouts? Karga and Dune both seem to treat the child as family, but could someone from the school be an informant? The angry child who lost his macaroons, perhaps?
Maybe we’ll find out next week, and hopefully we’ll finally see Ahsoka Tano onscreen, too!
Come back next week for our recap of “The Mandalorian Chapter 13.”
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Charlotte, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.