Chapter 9 is in the books, let’s talk about it. And here be spoilers.
The Mandalorian season two begins quite similar to the first season: The Mandalorian walking purposefully in a seemingly empty environment, then finds himself in the middle of a fight. This time, it’s an underground fighting ring (starring two Gamorrean Guards) overseen by an Abyssin Gor Koresh. Mando is seeking other Mandalorians who might know Baby Yoda’s species. Gor Koresh wants his armor. Things don’t go well for him. After some fisticuffs and a terrifying group of red-eyed creatures appears, the title card rolls and we are a go on season two.
Chapter 9: The Marshall is the first episode of The Mandalorian that really made me think I was watching a live-action episode of The Clone Wars. The premise is the most Clone Wars plot outside of Chapter 4: Sanctuary. A group of townsfolk led by an in-over-his-head but good-hearted marshal, Cobb Vanith (a minor canon character from the Aftermath novels played appropriately by Timothy Olyphant) must join forces with an enemy, in this case, the OT classic Tusken Raiders with Banthas, to defeat an even bigger enemy, a monstrous Krayt Dragon (big enough to eat the previous Sarlaac owner). Mando finds himself in the middle as the peacemaker/voice of reason and, ultimately, the one who saves the day. Lessons are learned on both sides in time for them to defeat the large Krayt…Boba Fett is back!!
Yep, story-wise the episode is nothing that we have not seen before in Star Wars storytelling as I mentioned but let’s discuss some initial thoughts:
Back to Tatooine
Yes, in case the Tusken Raiders and Banthas weren’t a dead giveaway, we are back to Tatooine. And some familiar faces like Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto, her pit droids, and…R5-D4!! Yes, that awesome, brave droid from A New Hope and who briefly appeared last season has a map of Tatooine of yesteryear aka before the end of the war. This sets Mando on a course to meet up with Vanth and his townsfolk and, as much as I wanted more variety in planets/environment, I will say Tatooine has never looked better.
Hello Budget Increase
What the episode lacked in story and pacing, it made up for ten-fold in production scale. The production level in this episode was much better than the last time the hero found himself on Tatooine: between the simple beauty and architecture of the town, the dunes where the Tuskens live, the many Bantha’s, and the big bad showdown at the end. Even the architecture looked fresh and had a touch that made Tatooine look downright beautiful at moments. And that is a credit to Jon Favreau. This episode looked like a film and I haven’t felt that way about an episode of Mandalorian until now.
In my previous post, 5 Things I Want To See in Mandalorian Season 2, I mention that I wanted a surprise that was not already leaked. It would have been nice to be shocked seeing Boba Fett himself, Temuera Morrison as the last shot but I am happy we can say Morrison is officially back as Boba Fett. It was more of a surprise to see Boba Fett’s armor on Cobb Vanth before Boba Fett. This comes after Mando arrives at a local cantina asking for a Mandalorian to which he is directed towards Vanth’s marshal who is wearing Fett’s helmet, chest plate, and jet back and immediately takes it off, killing the vibe for Mando who thinks he has found someone who can help. The backstory for Vanth and how he got the armor (the Jawas are not so bad after all!) and used it to help the townspeople is heartening and I was kind of rooting for him to keep the armor but, knowing how cutthroat Boba Fett can be, it is probably best in the hands of Mando.
The Creative Highlight
It was quick and dark but it was interesting to see live-action Star Wars graffiti that also included Star War characters (C3P0 and various droids and troopers). And it almost took me out of the show, even though I liked it. Star Wars Rebels leaned into this with the character Sabine and I enjoyed the aesthetic and felt it fit well within the color palette for Rebels. Here it looks more like a street corner in a major metropolitan but it also is a reminder that it is the same world as Rebels and that a Sabine appearance might also be around the corner.
Those are my initial thoughts on this first, extended episode of Mandalorian season two. Overall a solid episode, if not a tad slow-paced. Would love to hear your thoughts below and looking forward to seeing what comes next.