SPOILER ALERT: The following recap has details about the Season 2 opening episode of Disney+’s The Mandalorian, “The Marshal.”
The Man With No Face (or rather, the Man Who Dare Not Show His Face) returned tonight, this time heading back again to the Star Wars stomping ground of Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s home planet.
Mando’s mission: He’s been “quested to bring” Baby Yoda to his kind; “If I can locate other Mandalorians, they can help guide me,” says the bounty hunter.
A tip from the one-eyed, untrustworthy Gor Koresh, following a brawl that turns on Mando at a Gamorrean Guard fighting arena, points the bounty hunter back to Tatooine. And we all know, Mando’s gotta run into Boba Fett, right?
But given how The Mandalorian buries its nose in Western homages, Mando is that stranger from out of town, who arrives to save locals from a devastating nemesis, and this time it’s a snake-like underground creature known as a Krayt Dragon who’s upending Tatooine like the San Andreas fault.
Season 1 of The Mandalorian quickly established a structure between stand-alone adventure episodes of Mando, and those episodes pertaining to the bounty hunter and Baby Yoda squaring off with the Imperials. After a near-death standoff with Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon, down to Mando literally wrestling down the Imperial senior baddie’s tie fighter in the Season 1 finale, we’re not immediately treated to that aftermath in tonight’s “Chapter 9: The Marshal,” directed and written by Jon Favreau. Rather, Mando and a gaggle of Tusken Raiders and Tatooine villagers take on what looks to be the vomiting cousin to Dune‘s sandworm.
Fun? Absolutely, and Mandalorian continues to pay homage in a nuanced way to the trilogy movies, while showing off things we’d only dream about with a set of action figures (a Mandalorian rocket launcher firing off, or get a load of Timothy Olyphant’s speeder bike — isn’t that one of the engines from Sebulba’s podracer in The Phantom Menace?).
However, Season 2 arrives in the shadow of its first season, itself the flagship series that christened Disney’s streaming service. The stakes are high for Disney with Mandalorian Season 2, particularly in the wake of the series’ 15 Emmys noms, including Best Drama Series, and seven wins. Season 2 arrives tonight all decked out with a merchandise blitzkrieg, from Baby Yoda General Mills cereal to bottles of hand sanitizer. Similar to how Season 1 awesomely blew up and rebuilt the Star Wars universe with elements such as Baby Yoda, a crusty Nick Nolte-voiced Ugnaught, and a wry, sly Imperial notable played by none other than German filmmaker Werner Herzog, the mind itches as to whether Mandalorian can outstrip itself, or continue to play old hat.
Disney dropped tonight’s episode at midnight PT around the world with no advance screeners to the press. And while it was certainly worth staying up late for the wait, “The Marshal” felt more like Episode 5 in Season 2, a bridge episode, versus the adrenaline one might have been hoping for following Mando’s fight with Gideon. In the Season 1 closer, Gideon cut out of his tie-fighter with a black lightsaber, a cult weapon in Star Wars lore. Well, we’ll just have to wait to see how that ancient Mandalorian prop got into Gideon’s hands.
In Season 2, the buzz has been that we’re set to see some Clone Wars characters like Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) in the flesh, and, boy, after waiting a year for tonight, it would have been fireworks for Mandalorian to bust out of the gate with those personalities rather than the ole Western mission trope of saving the village.
Ever since Boba Fett’s boots and cape made a cameo in last season’s Episode 5 “The Gunslinger,” Star Wars fans have been as antsy as cats wondering if the famed bounty hunter survived the Sarlacc Pit in 1983’s The Return of the Jedi…and how?? Tonight initially posits that the Boba we saw last season was a poser, that guy potentially being Olyphant’s Marshall Cobb Vanth who wears the great bounty hunter’s armor, helmet and rocket launcher. He bought the get-up off some Jawas. Upon arriving in Tatooine looking for another one of his kin, Mando is steered to Cobb, who he quickly realizes isn’t one of his own. Cobb knows he’s not the real deal as well. Mandalorian creed says Cobb’s Boba Fett armor belongs to Mando. Rather than becoming sworn enemies, the two join forces, with Mando agreeing to help decimate the Krayt Dragon, in exchange for Fett’s body armor.
However, the payoff tonight comes in the episode’s parting shot: That bald-headed figure in black carrying a rifle and a Tusken Raider pole is New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison. He played Boba’s dad Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones and word is he’s playing Boba in Mandalorian Season 2. He’s been watching from a distance all the rockets red glare that Mando has been putting on display in taking down the planet’s most notorious creature.
But, here’s hoping we can drink up more Boba as Season 2 goes on, which would provide some great giddy-up for Mandalorian as it moseys on.
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