*** Be warned that FULL SPOILERS ARE AHEAD, so if you haven’t watched this episode, don’t read this article. Trust me, you want to go into this one without spoilers. ***
THE MANDALORIAN IS BACK!
The second season of the highly-anticipated show premiered today, and let’s just say it: it’s better than ever. The first episode not only lived up to expectations but exceeded them. We’d heard rumblings about what could be in store this season, and there’s no doubt that the filmmakers absolutely went for it.
Jon Favreau wrote and directed this episode (making his directorial debut on the series), and I also think Dave Filoni’s impact on this episode was obvious. It’s phenomenal, and it has me even MORE excited for what is still to come this season. It’s hard to believe that so much happened in just one episode, but it did!
So let’s dive into our spoiler-filled review of The Mandalorian Chapter 9, “The Marshal.”
The episode begins with Din Djarin and the Child arriving on a planet and meeting up with Gor Keresh, an Abyssin, as they watch a fight between two Gamorreans. Word has gotten to Djarin that Keresh has information on another Mandalorian’s whereabouts, but Keresh reveals he wants to kill Mandalorians for their armor. A fight ensues, but Djarin makes quick work of them. Keresh attempts to free, but Mando catches him. The Abyssin tells Djarin that there’s a Manalorian on Tatooine. This surprises Djarin, but he follows the lead, leaving Keresh to die.
Arriving on Tatooine, Djarin and the Child reunite with Peli Motto and her Pit Droids. He asks her for directions to Mos Pelgo, an old and seemingly now-extinct settlement. She directs him to the location, and Djarin takes the Child on a speeder bike to the remote village. He asks around about a Mandalorian, and the bartender tells him about the Marshal – who then appears in the doorway to the cantina. He bears Mandalorian armor – Boba Fett’s armor – and sits down, removing the helmet, revealing himself as Cobb Vanth. Djarin demands he take off the armor and give it to him, since Vanth is no true Mandalorian, and they prepare to duel. But they are interrupted by a huge commotion and a Krayt dragon eats a Bantha before leaving. Vanth makes a deal with Djarin: he will give up the armor if Djarin helps him kill the dragon.
The two of them set off, and as they ride on their speeder bikes, Vanth tells Mando the story of how he came to possess the armor. As soon as they got word of the destruction of the second Death Star, their celebration was cut short as the mining guild took over. Vanth managed to escape, stealing a camtono of crystals. He was found in the desert by a sandcrawler of Jawas, and he traded the crystals for the Mandalorian armor they had. He arrived at Mos Pelgo and wiped out the mining guild, and has since been there as the marshal of the village.
At one point on their journey, Djarin and Vanth encounter a bunch of Massiffs… but Mando lets out a cry and draws the Tusken Raiders out, talking with them and striking a deal to team up together to take down the Krayt dragon. Vanth has trouble accepting this, as the Raiders and Vanth’s village had previously fought against each other, but Djarin keeps the peace. The next day, the group arrives at the entrance to the cave where the Dragon dwells. It used to be the location of a sarlaac pit, but apparently the dragon ate the pit. The Tusken Raiders attempt to draw it out, but one of them is eaten by the dragon. Recognizing they need more help, Mando volunteers Vanth’s village. The Marshal attempts to persuade the villagers to join, and they reluctantly do join forces with the sand people.
The plan is simple enough – the only weakness of the Krayt dragon is its belly, so they plant explosives and try to lure it out of the cave over the explosives. They manage to do this, but the explosives don’t kill it. Djarin and Vanth then spring into action, taking to the sky with their jetpacks and fighting the dragon. Eventually, Djarin comes up with a plan. A Bantha still carries the explosives, so Vanth draws the dragon’s attention toward them. Mando sends Vanth away to care for the child, and he and the bantha are eaten by the dragon. But moments later, Mando springs forth from the dragon’s mouth and triggers the explosives, killing the dragon.
The Tusken Raiders pillage the dragon and uncover the pearl, while Vanth gives Mando his armor. The two shake hands and express hopes they meet again, and then Djarin and the Child ride off across the sea, as we see twin suns setting. But a figure stands on a cliff looking on, and as he turns, we see it’s Boba Fett.
THEY REALLY WENT FOR IT!
Oh man, this episode was a Star Wars fan’s dream. There were reports about Timothy Olyphant as Cobb Vanth and Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett, and this first episode pulled it all of better than I could have possibly imagined. Stepping back, I think it’s absolutely incredible what this episode did, because one of the main characters of this episode appeared in the Aftermath books. Fans of Star Wars who spend time reading all this other material (like myself) should be absolutely ecstatic, because it’s very rare for the live-action stuff to reference the books (it almost always happens the other way around). It probably doesn’t seem as significant to those who don’t read the books, but I’m thrilled.
And beyond that, I was blown away by Cobb Vanth in this episode. I wasn’t a huge fan of him in the books and didn’t love that Boba Fett didn’t have the armor any more, but I’ll say this: I am TOTALLY on board with it now, because it gave us Cobb Vanth in this episode. He immediately became endearing and someone you root for, and, in fact, Djarin gets to the point where he trusts Vanth with the Child. I desperately hope we see Olyphant back as Cobb Vanth before long, because I love him.
But in the bigger picture, I’m just thrilled that this fit so well with the previously established material. I really do love The Rise of Skywalker, but I felt like it didn’t necessarily pay any attention to non-film/show material (like with Poe Dameron, as one example). And for most people watching it, that didn’t matter, because they had no idea. So it worked. Similarly, for the vast majority of people watching The Mandalorian, they have no idea that Cobb Vanth even exists, so it some filmmakers probably would have just brought Boba Fett back in his armor and not bothered to explain how he got it from Vanth. But what did this show do? Well, credit to Favreau and Filoni, because here, they actually dove deeper into the other material, and I think it made the episode tons stronger. It makes things that much more rewarding when we finally do see Boba Fett, and in the meantime it introduces audiences to an incredibly likable character in Cobb Vanth. Plus, I thought the flashback sequence did a perfect job of letting audiences know who Cobb Vanth is, and it lines up very well with the books (not every detail fits perfectly, but it doesn’t really contradict, and the purpose isn’t to give a complete re-telling).
There are so many other great references in this episode too. Like, for example, R5-D4. is back! He’s working for Peli Motto now. Or the Krayt Dragon call is very similar to the one Ben Kenobi makes, which is great. The Massiffs appeared in Attack of the Clones. Of course Gamorreans make an appearance, which is very cool. We get more depth to the Tusken Raiders, as this show is continuing to portray them not as mindless savages, which is an awesome and interesting touch. And Cobb Vanth’s speeder looks like it’s taken driectly from a part of a podracer – and in fact, it looks a lot like Anakin Skywalker’s podracer!
Some may say it’s just fan-service, but if so, I think it’s fan-service incredibly well-done. And I think that this episode should serve as a reminder to people that we can’t see the bigger picture. As an example, there were some who didn’t like the fifth episode of season one (when they went to Tatooine) because it felt too fan-servicey and didn’t fit with the larger theme of the story… but after watching this episode, I hope it’s clear that they were setting up a story on Tatooine that wasn’t self-contained in just one episode.
All of this and so much more makes this episode a true joy to watch. And we really haven’t talked much about the fact that BOBA FETT IS BACK. How great was it to see Temuera Morrison again? With one single shot, I thought they captured perfectly the feel and look of what I imagined Fett would be like: worn and battered, but still looks like he can kick your butt. I’m not sure if you realize it or not, but this is our first official confirmation that Fett survived the sarlaac pit. It has been strongly hinted at, but now it’s confirmed. Apparently he’s been hanging out on Tatooine for five years, and I’m interested in finding out what he’s been doing. But what an amazing introduction. Like I said earlier, having Vanth in here actually makes the Fett appearance so much more rewarding. We got an introduction that many people probably took as Fett earlier, only to find out that it’s Vanth… and then, at the very end of the episode, we see him! So great.
So yes, this episode was amazing. I loved every minute of it, and I’m so excited that the show is boldly plunging ahead into season two. The visuals, score, characters, and action were all perfectly done. The episode was very tense and intriguing, but also thrilling. Djarin is searching for other Mandalorians, and that will surely lead us to more exciting moments down the road. But this was a heck of a start, and one that is immensely rewarding for Star Wars fans like me.
The Mandalorian is back, and it’s better than ever.
My grade: 10/10