And with that, The Mandalorian is back. The first episode of season 2 dropped Friday and while it didn’t get us much closer to Mando finding “the child’s” people, it did offer us a fun detour to a place we know so very well. Star Wars fans had to be tingling with delight as this episode, titled “The Marshal,” sent the Mandalorian and his charge back to Tatooine, where the essence of Star Wars was given its first unsure steps.
The goal was to begin the process of finding a path to “the child’s” people, thereby fulfilling the quest that The Armorer had given Mando in the season1 finale. And while that was the starting point for the episode, “The Marhsal” veered into a good-old monster-hunting adventure. And to be honest, I was delighted to revisit this planet and to try and catch all the throwbacks to the Star Wars canon. I snagged some, but am quite sure there are more in the episode than I recognized. I won’t do a deep dive on what those might be as you can find those in other reviews of this episode.
But don’t worry, I’ll hit some high points here, the most fun, to me, being the hints about the presence of Boba Fett – and then to see Temuera Morrison himself pop up at the episode’s end. That was exciting for this old-school Star Wars fan. So here we go, but be forewarned, there are SPOILERS AHEAD. So this is your SPOILER ALERT.
We jump right into the action as Mando and “the child’ wander into a fight den to look for information about where there might be other Mandlores hiding. After some unpleasantness and some crafty inducements to get the information, Mando and his cargo are off to Tatooine. And at this point, you know there’s going to be some fan service, not in a gratuitous way, but enough get the memory banks working overtime.
It’s here, in a tiny, ugly enclave in the sand, where things turn from a search for Baby Yoda’s home to a battle for survival. Mos Pelgo is being ravaged by a Krayt dragon, a beast that seems to combine the best of the worms of Arakis and the Graboids of Tremors. It’s a terrifying beast that moves through the sand like a hot knife through butter. It devours the livestock and could take out the town with a mighty bite anytime it wanted.
Here’s a tidbit, if the Krayt dragon seems familiar, it was referenced in the original Star Wars movie (No. 4). We saw its drying bones in one scene of the original movie, then got a little sound effect when Obi-Wan used the scream of a Krayt dragon to scare off the Tusken raiders who had descended on Luke. A fun little throwback reference that the hardcore fans will certainly be thrilled with. But wait, there’s more. Mos Pelgo has a protector, ‘The Marshal,” played wonderfully by Timothy Olyphant. He’s wearing some Mandalorian armor that he apparently bartered for with the sand people some time ago, returning to Mos Pelgo to route the bad guys who had descended on the town years ago.
Mando wants the armor, his honor demands it, and we can’t help but notice that it’s the battered armor of one Boba Fett. And with that, we are off. The pair decide to hold off on their old western-style shootout long enough to figure a way out of the Krayt’s scale-laden clutches. And with that, we are now on the hunt. Mando and Cobb Vanth (Olyphant) seek out allies and come to an agreement with the Tuskens – help kill that animal and they will bother Mos Pelgo no longer – oh, and they want some prize from the Krayt’s carcass – a pearl. Interesting.
So, we’ve got Boba Fett’s armor, Tusken raiders, Banthas, Pit Droids, a pod racer, Gamorreans, and other tidbits that just excited the senses, Yes, at long last we are back home again and episode 201 felt familiar and comfortable. The callbacks remind us of what we love about this ongoing franchise, while also telling us a story that’s become more and more interesting. I don’t even mind the recurring “monster hunting” trope. I like a good old-fashioned monster hunt. And Mando does it well.
In the end, with an initial mistrust, the Tuskens, townspeople, Mando and Vanth stand at the mouth of the beast’s lair and try to blow it up from below as its belly is its only soft spot. Naturally, they pull off the gambit, but naturally, that doesn’t kill the beast. One thing I really enjoyed about Cobb Vanth was that he demonstrated he was no coward. He gave as good as he got and was certainly a worthy ally of Mando’s.
With the beast raging, and only a small stash of explosives left, Mando decides to make the ultimate sacrifice, allowing the Krayt to swallow he and the animal whole, enabling him to blow up the explosives within the creature, thereby killing it, while making a timely and slick getaway. There’s a wonderful message of cooperative accommodation that permeates the episodes final minutes. The whole Krayt battle scene at the end was fun and exciting. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Good fun.
Krayt dead, Vanth fulfills his part of the deal and hands over the Boba Fett armor. You can’t help but feel a vibe of mutual respect that passes between he and Mando. Despite their hard outer shells, when they care about something or someone, they will travel the crooked road to keep them safe. It’s a good moment, a subtle moment of seeing kindred spirits within the other.
But we also have the people of Mos Pelgo harvesting the Krayt side by side with the Tuskens – without apparent animosity. Again, both sides have stood in the maelstrom of the Krayt’s deadly attacks and both have lost people. It’s the kind of subtle respect that comes with those who have suffered loss in the service of a greater good.
They may never be friends, but it’s clear that the Tuskens will keep their word and not bother the Pelgoens. Maybe trading will even ensue between the two peoples? Who knows, there’s an air of optimism throughout the episode.
The mind behind “The Mandalorian,” Jon Favreau had talked extensively prior to the series premiering that he wanted to explore the in-the-shadows, ugly underbelly of this world, with a faceless, High Plains Drifter type of character traversing it. Episode 201 continued that fun vibe of the old western loner who suddenly finds himself with someone to care about while still dealing with baddies who aren’t interested in exhibiting their better angels.
I thought “The Marshal” was a really good kickoff to season 2. I thought the call backs to previous movies and canon was a lot of fun and did you notice the C-3PO graffiti in the sand people’s transport as Vanth decides to snag the Mandalore armor? That was fun, I doubt we’ll see the golden robot in the series, but again, another fun little tidbit that was hiding in plain sight. It reminds you of the world you’re in and the world-building that has gone into it.
And with that, we are off and running. The Mandalorian has returned and the vibe we’d come to expect in season 1 is still there, still interesting and still promising some fascinating developments moving forward. The search for “the child’s” people will certainly get rolling at a high speed as we move along. I didn’t mind a stop back at Tatooine to take care of a dragon and deliver some fan service in the process.
The emergence of Boba Fett at the end, watching Mando and “the child” ride into the Tatooine sunset seemed a bit ominous, but is also a tasty segue into what might be his role in all this. I thought in terms of endings, that was a nice little tease for the future. Well done, folks.
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