Monday, May 20, 2024

“The Siege” Is A Solid Episode of The Mandalorian Despite Real World Controversy

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Last week, The Mandalorian gave its titular character a destination and a name to seek once he got there. In true Mandalorian fashion, we do not head right to Corvus to see Ahsoka Tano. With his ship battered and incapable of making said journey, Mando first stops off back in good old Nevarro to have the Razor Crest repaired and meet some old friends. This leads to your usual adventure of the week and it’s all fun and nice and all that. There is just one problem I’m left with.

I cannot divest my enjoyment of this episode from what I know about Gina Carano.

the mandalorian cara dune

Bad Marshal

For those unaware, there has been a bit of controversy lately over Carano, who played Cara Dune in the first season and returns in this episode alongside Greef Karga. It started with a Twitter profile many found to be transphobic and continued recently when Carano announced that she was joining Parler, the bigoted, alt-right whine fest meant to challenge Twitter. She has also tweeted conspiratorial, racist talking points about this month’s presidential election here in America, and anti-mask propaganda regarding COVID.

So, needless to say, Gina Carano has spent much of the past 3 months coming off as a really shitty person. I could maybe, maybe have looked past the transphobic Twitter profile if I felt she genuinely did not mean to be insulting and she had adequately apologized. That she did the opposite and then went on to just come across even more as an alt-right bigot has inescapably tainted my image of her as a person.

And so we come to this most recent episode of The Mandalorian. Mando joins Cara and Greef Karga in a raid to destroy an Imperial base, they find a few secrets, they blow the base up and Mando continues his journey. It is an okay episode of the series to begin with, and felt like a slight step down from the first 3 episodes of season 2.

the mandalorian episode 4 featured

Knowing who Gina Carano makes me not only actively disinterested, it may even be affecting my opinion of the episode.

Any fictional story demands that the audience feels emotional investment in the characters. They are escapism from the real world, even when they offer commentary on the real world. In order to properly escape, we cannot see the actors or their real lives. We cannot be influenced by their outside lives. Unfortunately, we do find out things about creators and crew that does influence our opinions. I have certainly avoided even watching shows made by awful figures within Hollywood. I have avoided movies starring awful actors.

When they pop up in shows you already watch, it is hard to simply ignore what you know about them. I am not going to forget that Johnny Depp is a terrible person, and I am not going to forget that Gina Carano has spent 3 months saying a lot of things that make me not want to watch her.

Cara Dune deserves better than this. If The Mandalorian recast her tomorrow, assuming they picked a better person, I would immediately be invested in the character again. Instead I spent most of her time on screen wishing she was not on screen, because I don’t see Cara Dune anymore. I see Gina Carano mocking the trans community and pushing racist conspiracy theories.

This problem is not going away anytime soon for The Mandalorian. I expect Cara Dune will be back this season. Rosario Dawson has been cast, presumably as Ahsoka despite it not being explicitly confirmed, and she has her own truly terrible transphobic accusations. I am going to have this problem every time either of them appears on screen. Considering how important Ahsoka may be, being unable to escape into the episode because of the person playing her will especially hurt my enjoyment of any episode she stars in.

I wish I could have just spent this space talking only about the episode’s merits. While this was my least favorite episode of season 2 so far, it was still an entertaining episode that continued The Mandalorian’s streak of solid television.

The Other M Word

the mandalorian dark troopers
The appearance of these Dark Troopers has already sent the theories flying.

The biggest takeaway from the episode was definitely the revelations within the Empire base Mando and crew destroy. We have wondered what Moff Gideon so desperately wants Baby Yoda for, and now we see that the Empire was running experiments involving transfusing Baby Yoda’s blood into subjects for…reasons? There are dozens of theories running around right now, from Palpatine clones to Snoke to Moff Gideon trying to find a way to create Force powers for himself and/or others.

We also see Moff Gideon overlooking what appeared to be Dark Trooper suits, so clearly the man has some big plans. Tie this all back into this season’s insistence on showing us the New Republic’s struggles to consolidate power, and it is very possible that The Mandalorian is showing us the beginning of the rise of the First Order. I doubt Moff Gideon is long for this galaxy, considering he was not exactly in power when The Force Awakens comes around, but who knows? There is something of a blank check to the current state of the Star Wars universe and how we got there.

There were also so many fun moments, but the best was probably Mando playing dad as he tries to teach Baby Yoda how to handle the wiring on the Razor Crest.

One minor thing that stuck out to me was the scene of Mando and Baby Yoda eating soup, and how Baby Yoda kept looking to see Mando’s face. This is a minor thing but, considering how rarely we ever see Mando take off his helmet in any way, I do wonder if this is the beginning of a conflict in his feelings over his Code. There is no way his experience with Bo-Katan did not shake his faith in some way.

As has been the case all season, there was so much to enjoy about The Mandalorian this week. I do not want to give the impression that I did not like the episode, or that everything was ruined by one actor who may or may not appear again in season 2. Now it looks like this show is going to do even more heavy lifting to retroactively justify the newest movies on top of everything else. The Mandalorian continues to expand the Star Wars TV universe and establish it as the best thing about the entire IP.

It is just a damn shame that I can’t fully enjoy this episode because of things that have nothing to do with the episode itself.

We will probably see Ahsoka next week. Moff Gideon has a tracking device on the Razor Crest and will possibly be waiting where she is, and if not, he will not be far behind. We are looking at some big episodes in the second half of season 2. I hope they do not lose shine because of some awful people.

Images Courtesy of Disney

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