The Mandalorian Season 2 Premiere (Review)

Nov 1, 2020

The Mandalorian
Disney Plus

Season 2, Episode 1

Major Spoilers Ahead

The Acclaimed Star Wars Series Returns with a Western Showdown, More Baby Yoda, and a Shock Reveal

The Mandalorian shocked everyone when it premiered on Disney Plus. On the theatrical side, the sequels were underperforming at the box office in comparison to films from Disney’s other big franchise, the MCU. While Star Wars 9 barely made over a billion at the box office (the lowest of the sequel trilogy), Marvel’s Avenger’s Endgame broke the record for highest grossing film of all time now sitting at around $2.8 billion. Comparing Star Wars to the most popular franchise ever is unfair; however, it is worth noting that Disney paid roughly the same amount of around $4 billion each to acquire Lucasfilm and Marvel. It is clear which investment has paid off the most. In addition to these box office results, the sequels have led to an increasingly divided fanbase.

In light of these disappointments, Star Wars did not back down and in fact had an ace up its sleeve with The Mandalorian. The critically acclaimed show has gone on to become Disney Plus’s most popular original series. Furthermore, it is adored by the majority if not all of the Star Wars fanbase. Disney finally managed to achieve what they had been trying to do all along. The Mandalorian was neither a nostalgic appeal to fans nor a divisive new take. It was not even a compromise with lacklustre results à la Solo.

The Mandalorian stood on its own with a creative team adept in the franchise including Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau. The show had its own bold ideas but everything remained true to the core of the franchise. Din Djarin took us on a literal journey and “Baby Yoda” stole our hearts. However, the show took place within a distinctly familiar world. The Mandalorian healed the fanbase to a large extent and it dominated in the one key area that the current MCU has yet to touch: Streaming. The Mandalorian was a bona-fide success for Star Wars. It was probably even the biggest win yet for Disney to come out of their acquisition of Lucasfilm years back. With the “Baby Yoda” angle and so much lore still to explore, Disney have not just a hit season on their hands but most likely hit series. Fans have long waited for Season 2 and now the premiere has arrived.

Mando’s Mission

Riding off of huge success, the creative team needed to deliver on the set up and Season 1’s teases in a big way in the show’s sophomore season. The premiere is not a let down on that front as the Mandalorian is searching for “Baby Yoda’s” kind. The show is delving even further into Star Wars lore and is also likely to feature more of the legendary Darksaber this season with Moff Gideon. For now, Din Djarin is seeking help from another Mandalorian in his mission. This episode truly harks back to the original trilogy in the very first scene with a lavish club featuring Gamorrean Guards fighting. And that is not all as Mando after the tense club showdown receives information that the other Mandalorian is on a notable planet. We go back to where it all started: Tatooine.

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Back to Tatooine

More than any other episode so far, this Season 2 premiere feels like Star Wars. There are Jawas, Tusken raiders, and the return of a familiar face (apart from R5 of course). “The Marshal” manages to do the impressive balancing act of staying true to the franchise’s roots while also feeling ripped straight out of an old Western movie. That is probably no surprise given how Lucas took inspiration from those films to create his space opera. The recent films (except Rogue One) have largely diverged from that to focus on high stakes space action and force powers. However, the Disney Plus show has carved out its own section of the Star Wars universe with classic Western storytelling on top of all the mysterious lore that we have come to expect from the franchise.

This episode features a true western showdown where Mando has to help villagers take out the krayt dragon in exchange for Mandalorian armour. Rival tribes (the villagers and Tusken raiders) even have to team up. Add Timothy Olymphant who plays Cobb Vanth, the marshal wearing the Mandalorian armour, into the mix and the episode has all the makings of a true Western. Olymphant in fact just last year featured in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - He played an actor who played a western cowboy.

Like many other shows, the Mandalorian often follows an episodic format with story of the week storytelling. This has its pros and cons but it works well here as a way to reintroduce the show without it being too jarring. There still are teases and easter eggs for the most passionate fans but you can watch the premiere without stressing over what came before and what is yet to come.

A Legend Returns

Speaking of teases, the Mandalorian has delivered a big one. Ever since Chapter 5, passionate fans have been obsessing over who that mysterious figure was at the end. We only saw a part of his body (not enough to tell) yet fans have long suspected who it was. This character only had limited screen time in the Original Trilogy but has become a fan favourite character. Fans have wanted Boba Fett to return for ages in spite of his apparent death at the hands of the Sarlacc Pit. Their prayers might just have been answered. Throughout the episode, Boba Fett was teased and hinted at with the appearance of his armour on Cobb Vanth. That could have just been an Easter egg but Filoni, Favreau, and co decided to go one step further with Temuera Morrison cameoing at the end.

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Morrison played Boba’s father, Jango Fett, in Attack of the Clones and now has returned to the franchise for the Mandalorian. He is most likely playing Boba Fett this season. Other candidates including Rex have been floated around; however, Boba makes the most sense given the inclusion of his armour in the episode. Fans have every reason to rejoice.

This season seems to be going all out on fan service. There have been rumours for a while now of the return of two other popular characters. Both Ahsoka and Bo-Katan are rumoured to feature in this season making the transition from animation to live action. The fan service could be overwhelming but one can trust the creative team to utilise it well given their track record with Season 1 and Filoni’s experience with the animated Star Wars shows.

Conclusion

The Mandalorian has made a triumphant return with its Season 2 premiere episode, “The Marshal”. This both feels like Star Wars and an old western at the same time as Mando ventures back to where the franchise started out: Tatooine. There is something quite serendipitous about the Mandalorian using Tatooine as a jumping off point for future episodes. “The Marshal” harks back to the Original Trilogy but sets up so much more. The apparent resurrection of a fan favourite character both pays respect to the original films and passes the baton on to the future. Passionate fans are sure to be delighted with all the fan service in the Season 2 premiere and most likely in future episodes with the rumoured reappearance of Ahsoka and Bo-Katan. The show though stays true to its roots with episodic storytelling that will satisfy even the most casual viewer. The episode perhaps went slightly too safe in that respect and it could have taken more risks. However, that responsibility now lies on future episodes. The key thing is how the show will chart its own path with these characters, mainly Boba Fett who just now was brought back into the fold.

For now, fans can rejoice that Mando is back with “Baby Yoda” at his side in this explosive second season premiere which both feels quintessentially Star Wars and has all the makings of a true Western. There is so much left for Season 2 to explore. A piece of advice: Keep watching.

Score: 8.5/10.0

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