On October 30, 2020, as the United States nervously awaits the spookiest Presidential Election in memory, Disney+ released episode 1 of The Mandalorian Season 2, “Chapter 9: The Marshal.” Anticipation was high after the consistently impressive episodes from Season 1 and we couldn’t have been happier if we were Yoda’s obscure species riding in a saddle bag strapped to a speeder bike!
Of course, the season arrived with a merchandising cavalcade as yesterday’s “Mando Monday” unveiled brand new trinkets of fandom for you to collect. Loved Mando on a Bantha from the premiere episode? Funko’s got a Pop! for that. Into those Hasbro retro figures designed like original Kenner figures from the 70s? Mando Wave 1 has been announced. And, let’s not forget the monstrous 30 inch Razor Crest that HasLab is planning. 6 days left to back that monstrosity as of this writing!
At the outset, Mando recalls his quest given him by the Armorer at the end of Season 1. He is to find a group of sorcerers known as “Jedi” and return the Child, affectionally referred to in the fanspace as “Baby Yoda”, to these space wizards. In order to do so, he needs to find more Mandalorians, through their system of intergalactic coverts, who can assist him on his quest. He finds an underworld type with presumptive knowledge of a Mandalorian watching Gamorreans duke it out like Tyson and Holyfield. Offers and threats are exchanged, and we all know how threats aimed at Mando end up.
And so, info in hand, we find ourselves once again on Tatooine. Those steeped in Star Wars expanded universe of “Legends” knowledge, may very well know that Jedi and Sith alike have identified Tatooine as a nexus for force activity. That’s besides the point, but does explain why our Star Wars galaxy seems to revolve so much around this desolate sand pit. What Mandalorians do we know of who have been seen on Tatooine!?
In short order, Mando makes his way to a derelict mining town. The town is ruled (and protected) by the “Marshal”. Wait a sec, that looks like Boba Fett’s armor, though! Well, you’d be right eagle-eyed observer.
Alas, it’s none other than Timothy Oliphant, or Cobb Vanth. When Cobb sits at a table in the taver, removing his helmet to slug back a refreshment, Mando knows for certain the armor is ill-gotten or, at the very least, out of place and should be returned to its ancestral people. Cobb relates the mining town’s woes, first under the thumb of the empire, then a mining guild who asserted dominance in the power vacuum after the fall of the empire. Finding himself wandering in the desert, Cobb is saved by none other than those pesky, obnoxious Jawas. He trades some pilfered goods for a suit of Mandalorian armor that has somehow found its way into the bowels of the Jawa’s sandcrawler. Mando doesn’t seem interested or impressed with Cobb’s bartering skills and demands possession of the armor- over Cobb’s dead body if necessary. The two find themselves in a stand-off in true western style. My first exposure to Timothy Oliphant was in Dead Wood and so seeing him reprise his role in classic western tropes such as the “frontier town dweller” and “stand-off participant” only makes sense to me. He pulls off the role well, if not a little too cordial. You never really believe he’s as cutthroat as Mando, nor as steadfastly unreasonable. Luckily for Cobb, the gargantuan Krayt Dragon that has been menacing the town rolls down main street, interrupting the blood feud and giving Mando and Cobb grounds for alliance. If Mando will rid the town of the beast, Cobb will relinquish the armor.
Mando and Cobb set out to discover the beast’s lair and to those with a keen eye, you may notice that Cobb’s speeder bike is a salvaged podracer engine from Anakin Skywalker’s legendary Boonta Eve ride! Little easter eggs like this are the nods that reward longtime Star Wars fans without losing the new initiates into the franchise.
Not long into their ride, Mando and Cobb run into a tribe of Tusken Raiders. predictably, Cobb and his mining constituents are none too friendly with the raiding bands of sand people. The Tuskens have raided and stolen mining hauls and equipment from the colony and even killed some of their people, but now the two groups have a common enemy. Throughout these interactions Mando is juxtaposed against Cobb. Whereas Cobb is quick to point fingers and fly off the handle at the Tuskens, Mando speaks to them in their own tongue, understands their strange customs, and sees that an alliance is the most beneficial diplomatic solution to take down such a goliath creature.
And speaking of the Krayt Dragon, once the townspeople are begrudgingly convinced to take on the Krayt Dragon, we are treated to the first fully fledged depiction of this legendary sand beast. We’ve seen a skeleton here and their before in the Star Wars saga, but never a raging and roiling, live-action Krayt Dragon. If you thought the Mud Horn fight in Season 1 was a doozy, look out for this opening salvo in Season 2. Wow.
In the end, the common foe is defeated, the Tuskens get their Krayt ichor and the Krayt Dragon’s pearl, and the townspeople are rid of a menace that was sure to consume them. In the end, Mando retrieves Boba Fett’s armor but didn’t find the Mandalorian he was sent to Tatooine for. As he speeds across the dunes, a mysterious man watches from a hill. He turns to reveal Temeura Morrison, the man who played Jango Fett in the Star Wars Prequels. Of course, the showrunners could be misleading us that this man is in fact Boba Fett, but turns out to be some other clone who escaped Order 66 and imperial servitude. However, the weight of the circumstances imply otherwise. We know Boba Fett fell in the Sarlaac pit on Tatooine. Mando was sent to Tatooine to find another Mandalorian seen there and Boba Fett is the only one we’ve ever seen on Tatooine in the films otherwise. Temeura Morrison is also listed as Boba Fett on IMDB. I’d bet this is Boba and we haven’t seen the last of him.
Though Boba Fett’s story after emerging from the Sarlaac pit has been a part of the Star Wars expanded universe since Star Wars # 81 (1983), now we get live action exploration of Boba’s later years and post-empire exploits. Exciting stuff for sure.
In the end, The Mandalorian Season 2 opens on the same strong notes that we remember from Season 1. Going back to the wide open vistas and western tropes that made Season 1 so unique among recent Star Wars entries, yet familiar to the source materials that initially inspired George Lucas, The Mandalorian continues to dive deep into Star Wars mythos and explore long-standing interests many fans have always held. The Mandalorian is no timid workaround afraid to step on it’s Big Screen counterparts. No, The Mandalorian continues to explore substantive Star Wars questions in substantive ways.