This review contains spoilers.
The Mandalorian rides back into town with Season 2 and the series gets off to a very strong start, maybe even with one of the best episodes of the show to date?
No Banthas were harmed in the writing of this review.
The Mandalorian – Season 2, Episode 1, Chapter 9: The Marshal
The episode begins with a great shot of Mando and The Child appearing out of the darkness and walking down a poorly lit street. Lurking in the darkness is a pack of hounds, unwilling to enter the light. The pair arrive at a bar and inside the fight club, two Gamorreans are going at it in a fighting ring. Mando sits down to talk to an Abyssin mob boss called Gor Koresh (John Leguizamo) who will trade information of the location of other Mandalorians in exchange for his armour. Mando refuses and Koresh turns his goons onto him. Sensing the upcoming battle, in a wonderful moment of humour, Baby Yoda hits the button to close his carrier, just in time for Mando to take out Koresh’s men with his Whistling Birds. After chasing down Koresh, he strings him up on a light post and obtains the information he requires, rumours of a Mandalorian on Tattooine (everyone’s Boba Fett radars automatically go off!). He promises not to kill him, so instead shoots the light out, allowing the night hounds to do the rest.
Mando arrives on Tattooine, in very familiar surroundings! Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) and her pit droids return to take care of the ship, with Motto providing information of the town were Mando might find his mystery Mandalorian. During this exchange, we get a Mos Espa name drop, where we met Anakin for the first time in Episode One.
Mando sets off to find Mos Pelgo, and after a quick travel montage, which includes more help from Tusken Raiders, he arrives to find a desolate and sparsely populated town. With the hero arriving into town, where will he go first? The cantina of course! After the barkeep is less than helpful, in walks someone wearing Mandalorian armour. Wait? Is that? Boba Fett’s armour? Why yes it is! But this isn’t Fett, this is Marshal Cobb Vanth, protector of Mos Pelgo, played by none other than Mr Modern Western himself Timothy Olyphant! This is inspired casting, be it in Justified or Deadwood, Timmy O is sensational in this type of role. It is also worth noting that, while this is the first visual appearance of Vanth, he is actually an existing character within the new canon, first appearing in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath series. With the pair ready to head into a shoot-out, the ground begins to shake and the duo run outside to see a mass of approaching dust in the distance. Before long, some sort of burrowing creature moves through the town, making it’s way to an unsuspecting Bantha having a drink. The creature devours the Bantha in a flash and heads out of town. #JusticeForBanthas 😦
Vanth says he’ll give up his armour if Mando helps kill the creature that has been plaguing the town. We also get a flashback of how he came into ownership of the armour. We see the downfall of the second Death Star and the fall of the Empire. But this gap allows a criminal faction to step in and take over the town, killing many of its inhabitants. Escaping with his life, Vanth runs into some Jawas who sell the armour to him, which he would then use to kill the criminals and restore freedom to the town.
Mando heads off with Vanth to find the Tusken Raider camp, and in doing so enlists their help to defeat the creature once and for all. This won’t sit well with the residents of Mos Pelgo, given their hatred for the Tuskens. They reach the creature’s layer, a former Sarlacc pit, and confirm that it is a Krayt Dragon, something I guess when it first appeared. Another poor Bantha is lead to its death, but instead, the Krayt Dragon eats the lone Tusken Raider! #YAYJusticeForBanthas 🙂
With both the Tusken Raiders and Mos Pelgo locals working as part of an uneasy, and temporary, alliance they head off to the layer to kill the creature. The plan is to lure it out and use explosives buried in the ground, attacking the Dragon’s only weak point. As you can imagine things don’t go according to plan. Not only does the explosion not kill it, it soon heads up to the top of the mountain to vomit-sniper a load of Raiders and locals. Both Mando and Vanth use their jet packs to take the fight into the sky, but realising they are outmatched Mando comes up with a new plan. He starts by sending Vanth, unwittingly, to safety in an hommage to Boba Fett’s demise in Return of the Jedi. He then uses himself as bait to be eaten by the dragon, alongside another Bantha which is strapped to a bunch of mines. The dragon eats both of them before Mando flies out of the mouth having electroshocked his way to safety and destroying the Krayt Dragon. #JusticeForBanthas 😦
With the Tusken camp and Mos Espa now safe, Vanth willingly relinquishes his armour, returning it to Mando. As the Tuskens claw away at the Krayt’s body they find a Krayt Pearl, this is one of many nods, I believe, to Knights of the Old Republic, in fact, there are many examples spread out throughout the episode that has a noticable KOTOR influence.
As Mando and The Child ride off into the sunset, among the backdrop of the two suns, a figure is seen watching them from upon high. The character has their back to the camera, but we see a bald head and a cloak, as they turn around and walk out of frame, we get a massive reveal! It is Temuera Morrison! We have to assume that Morrison IS Boba Fett, alive and well and finally part of the new canon. There is an outside chance they may be pulling a fake-out, and it turns out to be a clone trooper who went rogue many years ago. But I think that is unlikely. If this is indeed Fett, there is also every chance that this could be his only appearance and it was just a little Easter egg for the fans. I hope I’m wrong on this, however, as I want to see both Morrison and Olyphant return later on in the series!
I think this is up there as one of my favourite episodes of the show so far, I genuinely do. The gunslinger and Western vibes of the first season were great, but this episode was a straight-up love letter to Sergio Leone! It was perfect.
One of the highlights for me, last season, was seeing Mando use sign language to communicate with the Tuskan Raiders. This episode took this one step further, with Mando using vocal as well as sign prompts. We’ve only ever seen the Tuskan Raiders expanded upon in the games, KOTOR in particular, so I thought to have so much emphasis on them in this episode was a welcome addition to the Star Wars Universe. In the films and animated TV series, they have always been seen as animals and outright villains, whereas here they are presented in a much more grey context which I found really fascinating.
For me, the casting of Olyphant was a masterstroke and it really helped to elevate the entire episode. His line delivery and overall presence makes for compelling viewing and he manages to establish himself as a great character almost from the beginning. I think it is also pretty sweet that his ride is a speeder bike that has been converted from the engine of a Pod Racer. It is little touches like this, that appear in the show, that just really caters for the die-hard Star Wars fans. It’s never over the top or too much, they always manage to pull off the right amount of nostalgia.
This was a very strong opening episode and has set the bar for the rest of the season, without question. Last time around, as great as the episodes were, there was a fair amount of treading water with the main story arc, but already from only one episode, you just feel like the pacing and story progression will be a lot more focused this time around.
What are your thoughts about this episode of The Mandalorian? Let us know in the comments below! After all, this is the way…