The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda are back with a bunch of space Enoch Burkes

Patrick Freyne: The Disney+ series is a delightful, morally simple adventure, like Rawhide, The A-Team or The Incredible Hulk

Series three of The Mandalorian (Disney+) starts with a Mandalorian – not the Mandalorian – smelting stuff in the cave where she lives. She is using space metalwork to turn molten metal into a plastic helmet while other Mandalorians (not the Mandalorian) are playing drums. If you don’t like the makey-up word “Mandalorian” you will hate this bit of the show.

Metalwork Mandalorian emerges from her cave holding the plastic iron helmet and begins a ceremony in which a floppy-haired child (not the superior infant, Baby Yoda) is being initiated into the dwindling Mandalorian sect.

“I shall walk the way of the Mandalore, and the words of the creed shall be ever forged in my heart,” says the floppy-haired child. I start humming Walk Like a Mandalorian to the tune of Walk Like an Egyptian. He puts on the helmet and promises never to take it off, which will make him easy to recast. He is a hope for the future of this Mandalorian tribe. I start humming We’re Gonna Make it (After All).

Then a huge space crocodile bursts up from the lake and starts eating Mandalorians. They truly are an unfortunate lot. “Why oh why do these things keep happening to us?” they appear to say as they fire their laser guns at the huge CGI space crocodile that’s gulping down Mandalorians left, right and centre, just gargling them like cheap wine. “We’re a dying people. There are few of us left. Why must we suffer just because, for some vague reason, we like having aquatic initiation ceremonies by the lake where the huge CGI space crocodile who likes eating Mandalorians lives?”


At this point the Mandalorian arrives in his spaceship with Baby Yoda, his green muppet son, in tow to murder the space crocodile. This is what we’re here for: childcare tips and space murder. The Mandalorian, aka How to Look after Your Baby Yoda, is back, and I love it.

Pedro Pascal plays the Mandalorian, and he’s one of my favourite actors right now. Over on the excellent The Last of Us (Now/Sky Atlantic) he gets to show his melancholy face as he surrogate-parents another magic child, this time in a world filled with violent people who have mushrooms in their brain (the United States). On The Mandalorian he wears a shiny bucket on his head. In fact he’s been kicked out of this sect of Mandalorians for briefly taking off the bucket in series two, even though he did so simply to gaze at Baby Yoda’s beautiful face.

Who can blame him? Baby Yoda is a compelling figure. As I’ve said before, he’s the best actor of his generation (babies), trained by Stella Adler and now fresh from an off-Broadway production of a A Streetcar Named Desire. (He played Stanley.) It’s nice to see him return to his roots as a space baby with powers. He’s basically Jesus.

Not turned off by the suicidal initiation ceremony, the Mandalorian asks to be allowed back into the sect while Baby Yoda gurgles charismatically nearby. “You have removed your helmet,” says Metalwork Mandalorian. “Thus compromising our branding.”

She tells him he needs to bathe in sacred water on a sacred planet. A bath is definitely necessary given that he can’t shave or cut his hair with that helmet, so he and Baby Yoda fly away. In Star Wars space you can hear people scream, so you can hear the Mandalorian’s ship go “vroom” as it flies and “pew pew pew!” when it shoots at baddies. You can also hear Baby Yoda gurgling away magnetically in his baby seat.

They arrive at the planet of Nevarro, where a customs official asks why they’re visiting. “To see an old friend,” says the Mandalorian, mysteriously, which seems to be good enough for the customs folk. I’m a fully signed-up open-borders leftist, but even I have questions about this.

It turns out that their scenery-chomping chum Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) is now in charge. He explains that there’s been a mining boom and offers the Mandalorian a nice tract of recently rezoned land. It’s space-planning corruption! He’s in space 1980s Fianna Fáil! Karga suggests that this planet would be a nice place to settle down with “the little one”.

“Grogu,” says the Mandalorian. “His name is Grogu.”

“If you say so,” says Karga, saying what we’re all thinking.

“Yeah, the Mandalorian!” I shout. “His name is BABY YODA!”

They go for a ramble with Baby Yoda in his space pram and find a bunch of angry weirdos hanging out outside a space school where they aren’t wanted. Oh no! Space Enoch Burkes! Karga and the Mandalorian murder most of them in front of Baby Yoda. Nowadays you’d push his space stroller around the corner before coming back to commit the murders. But this was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It was a different time.

The Mandalorian is here because he wants to fix another old friend, the robot IG-11. Fixing IG-11 had apparently not occurred to them when the robot sacrificed himself for them all in series one. Instead, Greef Karga turned IG-11′s corpse into a commemorative statue.

They take IG-11 down from his plinth and try to jump-start him. This process looks a bit like hot-wiring a car. IG-11 comes to life, but he doesn’t go, “Ah, my old friends, it’s good to be back. Out of curiosity, in what respectful way have you treated my body while I was dead? Presumably you haven’t displayed it publicly, because that would be deeply weird.”

I love that The Mandalorian exists in the same universe as the sophisticated and ethically layered Andor. It’s as if Power Rangers were in the same cinematic universe as Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies – which, now that I think of it, would be quite cool

Instead he says, “Asset to be terminated!” and crawls murderously towards Baby Yoda until someone knocks a bronze bust of Karga on to his dome. “Now, that’s using your head,” the Mandalorian quips, instead of saying, “I’ve just seen the torso of my dead friend attempt to kill my baby” – possibly because that’s a little too real and the Mandalorian has not yet been to therapy.

They go to meet some teensy muppet aliens that Baby Yoda tries to hug/eat. This is adorable. The muppets advise them to go into space in order to properly fix IG-11. Then there’s a bit of a space battle, and another character is fan-serviced in as a cliffhanger. Look, The Mandalorian is a delightful, morally simple, episodic adventure, like Rawhide, The A-Team or The Incredible Hulk. I love that it exists in the same universe as the sophisticated and ethically layered Andor. It’s as if Power Rangers were in the same cinematic universe as Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies – which, now that I think of it, would be quite cool.

Meanwhile, in the Star Trek universe they can’t quite get the right balance between gritty and fun. In Star Trek: Picard (Prime Video) the soliloquy-prone Picard and his virtuosically cheesy pal Riker have ambled out of retirement again for gloomy high jinks. They commandeer the science vessel of a by-the-book captain named Shaw and then break a lot of regulations while reminiscing about how great things were in the old days. I spend more time than I’d like hoping poor Captain Shaw will flush them out of an airlock and just do science stuff like a happy space David Attenborough. Also, Picard has a son now – and, I’ve got to tell you, he’s no Baby Yoda.