The Mandalorian Season 2 opener “The Marshal” leans into western themes and fan service

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Fans of The Mandalorian need wait no longer, the highly anticipated first episode of Season 2 is now available on Disney Plus. The return of the show comes amid a turbulent year for big studios and will be a welcome addition to Disney’s arsenal since they have had to shuffle some of their releases due to the pandemic. The show not only carries much of the studio’s hopes in reigniting interest in its streaming platform, but also the expectations of fan’s who are hoping the new episodes will be able to build upon the preceding season. Beware spoilers are ahead in this first impressions review. 

Creator director Jon Favreau once again returns to helm this episode and immediately we are reunited with the show’s leading characters – Mando (aka The Mandalorian, aka Din Djarin) and The Child (aka Baby Yoda). This season will see our favourite space bounty hunter on a search to find others of the Child’s kind, as tasked to him by the Armourer. 

In “Chapter 9 – The Marshal”, Mando (Pedro Pascal) and the Child return to Tattooine in search of a mysterious Mandalorian hiding out in the far reaches of the Dune Sea. But not everything is as it seems, this supposed Mandalorian is merely Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) wearing the scavenged remains of Boba Fett’s armour. Vanth is the keeper of the peace in Mos Pelgo, but the town is being terrorised by a giant Krayt Dragon. Mando is recruited to help, and teaming up with local Tusken Raiders (aka Sandpeople) they must all band together to defeat this monstrous beast.

Much of this episode leans into the series’ western themes and tropes. We have shots that are literally sci-fi versions of the gunslinger rolling into the abandoned dusty town. A tense stand-off in a saloon that gets interrupted. And the need for two warring sets of townsfolk having to join forces to defeat a common enemy. And even though we’ve seen this imagery all before, there’s something familiar and comforting to see these transposed into the Star Wars universe. Both Favreau and collaborator Dave Filoni have admitted to paying homage to Clint Eastwood and Akira Kurosawa.

It’s also no surprise at all that Favreau and Disney squeeze what they can out of fan service. Seeing Boba Fett’s battered Beskar armour is a great reveal but they do well to keep some mystery around how it was retrieved, besides mentioning Vanth had purchased it from Jawas. The real shock is the cameo from Temuera Morrison looking very roughed up, sporting Tusken Raider robes and weapons and most likely wanting that armour back in the closing shot. 

I can’t decide who the MVP of the episode is between Olyphant as the lawman in some of the most screamingly obvious but also beautifully perfect casting. With a slight hint of his vocal drawl and his excellent coiffed hair. Or the Krayt Dragon that basically looked like a cross between Drogo from Game of Thrones and a Sandworm from Dune but with bonus vomit acid attack. Both of them were wild fun to watch, and I just want somebody to give Cobb Vanth a stetson, do they have stetsons in space?

It is both unusual and somewhat disappointing that this first episode does not directly follow on from the events of Season 1 ‘Chapter 8 Redemption’. We are left to wonder what became of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) having escaped his fight with Mando, we can only assume he is terrorising space criminals with his dark saber in a bid to track down “the asset”. And speaking of “the asset”, it was a genuine bummer that the Child was relegated to a cute sidekick who kept a watchful eye on space-dad and didn’t utilise its Force-powers. Though we are well aware that it is far too precious cargo to be put in real harm’s way.

‘The Marshal’ as an episode feels fairly comfortable and safe as a season opener. Almost like a soft lead-in to a series that has the potential to be even bigger and more explosive. Considering that we have been teased with forthcoming appearances of character favourites Ahsoka Tahno (Rosario Dawson) and Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and we’ve had the reveal of Morrison’s return from the dead. We feel like it’s a safe bet that there’s more good stuff to come, we just need a little patience.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The Mandalorian Season 2, Chapter 9 is now available to stream on Disney Plus. 

Future episodes will be released week to week.

Carina Nilma

Office lackey day-job. Journalist for The AU Review night-job. Emotionally invested fangirl.

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