The return of The Mandalorian staggers out the start, but manages to pull a surprising group together.
This review contains spoilers for Season 1 Episode 2 of The Mandalorian on Disney+.
The season two premier of The Mandalorian opens with a familiar sight – Mando walking through streets followed by the little pod holding precious, green cargo. The beginning of the episode reminds us of Mando’s new mission, to find more Mandalorians to aid in returning The Child to its own kind. If you don’t immediately catch the reminder, you will definitely catch it within the initial 5 minutes, as Mando has some awkward dialogue with Gor Koresh, a gangster who seems to know a lot about Mandalorian armor, and Peli Motto, the mechanic on Tatooine that we met in the first season. The dialogues with both characters feel choppy and forced. Specifically, as they finish a sentence, they do not seem ready to start the next, causing an off-kilter speed for the conversation. Luckily, these interactions do not last long, and the conversations that follow have a better flow.
Jon Favreau, the director, writer, executive producer, and creator, takes us to two planets and all over Tatooine throughout this episode, providing a wide variety of scenes. However, the episode struggles to maintain a consistent pace as each small section is broken up by a short clip of our protagonist traveling across the barren wastelands of Tatooine, causing the momentum that builds up from a small sequence of events to fall off and have to rebuild. The bright side is that the new areas explored by Mando and his adorable, green counterpart provide new insight on Mandalorian’s beskar armor, different views on the Sand People, and, most importantly, how to kill a Krayt Dragon — hint-, hint, it is something we’ve seen before.
Gor Koresh’s interest in Mando’s armor and the reaction of Mando seeing a non-mandalorian wearing the armor of a fallen brother emphasizes the importance of this armor in the universe. As we know from last season, the armor is specifically crafted for the individual Mandalorian, but the question of “What happens when a Mandalorian dies elsewhere?” never formed. Now we know that when a brother falls in combat, it is the duty under the creed to take the armor back to their enclave, and that a non-mandalorian is not allowed to wear the armor in their place. Hopefully, the significance of this sacred armor will be explored more throughout the rest of the season.
The man that Mando was willing to kill for the beskar armor is Cobb Vanth, portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, and is referred to as “The Marshall.” While this is our first-time seeing Cobb, he was able to have the smoothest dialogue with Mando in the episode and amazing interaction with the Sand People, who’s dialectic is a form of grunts and yells. He did not intend to go against the code of the Mandalorian’s in a malicious way, but rather the intent of using the armor was to save the town he loved, Mos Pelgo, from the mining group that had taken over and killed his friends. He then continued to wear the armor to protect it from raiders, later noted to be the Sand People. What makes his character so unique is the dynamic change he has towards the Sand People; he goes from hating them with a burning passion to seeing them as equals in an attempt to kill the Krayt Dragon.
Which brings us to the bantha and sarlac eating, yes, a sarlac (the thing that we assumed killed Boba Fett), Krayt Dragon. During our first experience with this creature, we see it come straight down the main strip of Mos Pelgo on its way to have a little snack, and it was not what I expected of this episode. The Krayt Dragon was a surprise and had plenty of surprises that it hid up its sleeve, or rather down his throat, to protect itself from getting killed. The Krayt Dragon not only made for an interesting last fight scene, where we get to see Mando and Cobb put their jet packs to good use and a ‘Jonah and the whale’ type defeat, but also provided an opportunity to explore a deeper side of the Sand People.
Following some tense interactions between the Sand People, Cobb Vanth, and Mando, a new perspective is given to the Sand People, who, up until this point, were seen as a savage, indigenous tribe of Tatooine. It is evident that they have a hatred for the people who settled on Tatooine because those people have taken the tribes water and kill their families, as stated by the Mando when translating their conversation to Cobb Vanth. This indicates to me that the Sand people are natives to Tatooine and the people of Mos Pelgo are settlers. Does this sound familiar to anyone who has studied American history? Because this is exactly what happened with the Native Americans and the settlers from the old world of Europe. By the end of the episode I was asking myself “are the Sand People really the bad guys, or are they just trying to defend their land?”
Most importantly, we could never forget the star of the show, The Child, better known by many as baby Yoda! While baby Yoda has little impact on the outcome of the fights and quarrels, it does provide comic relief for some of the more intense moments of the episode. The ability to open and close the pod doors deliver silly moments in fights, and the puppetry expressions when there are scary moments are priceless. Baby Yoda continues to find new ways to entertain the viewer and bring life to every scene.
After it is all said and done, we get a pleasant cliff hanger to finish off the episode. The scene of who we assume to be Boba Fett staring down Mando speeding away with his armor. The excitement for what the future holds when these two meets is undeniable.
The season opener for The Mandalorian does a good job setting up what is to come and continues to deliver exciting fight scenes. Director Jon Favreau does an excellent job bringing Tatooine to life and providing a new perspective on the Sand People. However, Chapter 9 starts with some poor dialogue and struggles to maintain a consistent pace that makes the middle portion of the episode feel longer than it should be. At least, baby Yoda is as adorable as ever!
Chapter 9: The Marshall manages to tell another small story that provides insight into what the future of the series holds but falls short due to awkward pacing and dialogue.