EPISODE: “Chapter 9: The Marshal” – Written and Directed by Jon Favreau.
SYNOPSIS: The Mandalorian is drawn to the Outer Rim in search of others of his kind.
REVIEW (WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THIS EPISODE): The wait is over and boy was it worth it! It has been a year since the last time we saw a new episode of The Mandalorian and 2020 is now instantly better. Thankfully, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni began production on the second season of the STAR WARS spin-off long before COVID-19 was a reality and before the series became such a massive hit. That makes this first episode feel like an organic follow-up to the first batch of episodes rather than a cash grab sequel. Picking up where we last saw Din Djarin and The Child, season two opens with a chapter that is at once familiar and as entertaining as the best stories from season one while answering a major question posed by Mando’s prior trip to Tatooine.1 Mos Pelgo
After an initial visit to a fight club where he learns of the existence of a possible Mandalorian, Din Djarin and The Child make a return trip to everyone’s favorite sand planet, Tatooine. If you recall, last season we were teased with the distinctive jangle of someone’s spurs whom many theorized to be Boba Fett. On the hunt for said spurs, Mando arrives at Mos Eisley at the garage of Peli Moto (Amy Sedaris) who directs him to the abandoned Mos Pelgo. Traversing the familiar Dune Sea, Mando and The Child encounter the ghost town and Marshall Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant). Olyphant has played lawmen to great success in Justified and Deadwood and here reveals himself to be just as upstanding a hero. In the wake of the Second Death Star explosion, a mining collective moved into town and forced Vanth to escape with some crystals. He exchanged those with some Jawas for Boba Fett’s armor which he used to defend the town.
So, that explains Boba Fett’s fate, right? Many have theorized over the years that the Sarlacc digested Fett and the Jawas would have reclaimed his armor. Having it fall into the hands of another angers Mando and the two men showdown. On the brink of a blaster fight, a massive beast rolls through town and eats a Bantha. Cobb reveals it is a Krayt dragon, a creature only seen in live-action as a massive skeleton in Tatooine backgrounds. Mando and Cobb draw a truce and the Marshal agrees to return Fett’s armor in exchange for defeating the dragon. Mando accepts and the two journey by speeder to the monster’s cave. They join up with some Sandpeople on the way which gives Mando the change to show off some of his language skills
In a training/battle prep montage reminiscent of first season fourth episode “Sanctuary”, we see the Sandpeople and citizens of Mos Pelgo join forces to draw the dragon out of the Sarlacc cave it hides in for the change to blow it up. A massive battle ensues which sees many losses and a look at the scale of the Krayt. The special effects here are truly impressive and rival anything in the first season. During the fight, the dragon spits acidic venom and the plan begins to fails, but as usual, our hero comes up with a last-ditch idea to win the day. Allowing himself to be swallowed along with a Bantha covered in explosives, Mando manages to detonate the beast and everyone applauds. As the Sandpeople dig inside the beast’s corpse for what appears to be a massive pearl, we are left to wonder if this is setting up some importance for the rest of the season. Cobb keeps true to his word and turns over Fett’s armor and says he hopes to meet Mando again someday. The Mandalorian and The Child then ride off into the sunset, their next destination unknown.
But, the episode is not quite over. As Mando and The Child head back to the Razor Crest, we see a robed figure watching them from atop a cliff. As the figure turns and walks towards us, it is revealed be an aged Boba Fett (Temeura Morrison)! With the entirety of this episode seeming like a red herring leading up to this twist ending, fans around the world are likely screaming with joy that this classic character has canonically survived! What does this mean for the second season of The Mandalorian? Was this just a fun cameo or will Boba Fett have a role to play in the fate of The Child? Only time will tell but it was one hell of a way to end this opening chapter of season two!
STAR WARS UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The return to Tatooine reveals that R5-D4 (aka Red), the droid that breaks down and allows Owen Lars to buy R2-D2, is seen to be in the employ of Peli Moto. The Marshal’s speeder is a modified engine from a pod racer. The Marshal references the destruction of the Second Death Star. He also is seen with the infamous ice cream maker seen in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. The Jawas and Sandpeople are major characters and we finally get to see a fabled Krayt dragon alive. Oh, and the return of Boba Fett!
COOLEST SCENE: The extended battle between The Mandalorian and the Krayt dragon is the centerpiece of the episode, but for me the best scene is a draw between the reveal that Boba Fett lives and the initial showdown between Mando and Cobb in Fett’s armor.
FINAL VERDICT: My biggest issues with the first season were the “filler” episodes that had Mando undertaking a task that only tangentially contributed to the season narrative. There were certainly some fun and exciting moments in this episode along with teases peppered throughout, but after the big twists in the first season finale involving Moff Gideon and the Darksaber, this episode felt like it was treading water rather than connecting with the overall story. The Child does nothing during this episode except pose cutely for the camera which will surely sell tons of merchandise readily available this year as it was not last time around.
Despite my wishes for what this episode should have been, it is clear that the production values on this series continue to rival anything else on TV right now. It also shows that Jon Favreau truly respects the STAR WARS mythology, both canon and non. (8/10)
NEXT ON THE MANDALORIAN: Chapter 10 premieres Friday, November 6th at 3am EST on Disney+.