By Will Custer
Spoiler warning: While I would love to have this review be spoiler-free, I will be going into this episode’s spoiler aspects.
Well folks, we made it. We finally have a new episode of the hit live-action show The Mandalorian, and it was well worth the wait. Like many other Star Wars fanatics, I fell in love with the first season. It felt fresh, new, and ultimately had that Star Wars feel. It was everything so many of us had dreamed a live-action Star Wars show would be like and so much more.
The first episode of the sophomore season titled ‘The Marshal’ takes no time getting into the thick of the action. It starts when our main protagonists, Din Djarin (aka Mando) and The Child, find themselves going into an arena spectating fights between two Gamorreans. When in the arena, Mando talks to some other gangsters that all turn on him, and he quickly has to defend himself and The Child. This scene is directly from the season 2 trailer, and the action sequence is executed to perfection. At the end of it, Mando is back outside and we find out that he is trying to track down another Mandalorian that is rumored to be on Tatooine– we assume this has to be Boba Fett. Mando leaves this gangster in the dark streets hanging by his feet on a street lamp. This showed a darker, almost anti-hero aspect of our protagonist, which I enjoyed seeing and hope we get to see more of in the future.
When we arrive on Tatooine, there is a lot that happens. Over forty minutes of the episode happen here, so there’s a lot to unpack. When Mando and The Child first show up to Tatooine, they go back to Peli Motto’s Hangar Bay in Mos Eisley. He goes here in part to have her and her droids work on the Razor Crest and to get input on where he might go to find the rumored Mandalorian. Motto shows him the map of the old mining town Mos Pelgo displayed by the R5-D4 unit that we see in A New Hope. When I knew we were going to travel back to Tatooine, I, like many others, met it with some hesitation. Star Wars has spent so much time on Tatooine, and I don’t desire to spend more time there, but I still liked the story we got here in the beginning. It gives some more screen time to Motto, who I loved in season 1. It also gives a great nod to the Original Trilogy with the inclusion of R5-D4. Those subtle displays of fan service is what I like. It also leads us to a new part of the planet, which I’m always on board for.
When Mando arrives in Mos Pelgo, he wanders into a bar and asks the bartender where he might find the mysteriously rumored Mandalorian. The bartender explains that someone who wears Mandalorian armor has been the Marshal of the town for years, and at that moment somebody wearing Boba Fett’s armor appears standing in the doorway. Immediately I didn’t think it was Fett as the armor seemed to be fitting loosely and unnaturally on this character.
When they start to talk, this mysterious character in the armor reveals himself as Cobb Vanth, played by the incredible Olyphant. Vanth then explains to Mando that he got this armor off of some Jawas and has used the weapons with the armor to try and keep the peace in the town from outsiders and sand people that come into Mos Pelgo. Vanth then convinces Mando that he needs some additional help to fend off and eventually kill the krayt dragon as it has terrorized Mos Pelgo for a long time. Mando agrees at a price– in return, he requires Fett’s armor as it means more to Mandalorians than it does to Vanth.
On their way to examine the dragon, Vanth and Mando run into some Tusken Raiders, which becomes what I believe to be the most important part of the episode. Vanth initially wants to kill the Tusken Raiders as many have previously in the Star Wars universe. Mando, on the other hand, chooses the side of peace. He stops Vanth and talks to the Tusken Raiders using sign language and their native language. This is important because it continues the theme of humanizing Tusken Raiders in the Star Wars universe. For so long, the audience has had these people painted as barbarians and barely coherent species. It’s often how Native Americans have been looked at in United States history, and to humanize an indigenous group of people, even if it is in a fictional setting, is extremely important. Representing them well when they often get forgotten in film and TV is important. I applaud Star Wars for making an effort in that regard because representation, for everyone, matters.
To add to the representation in this episode, the actor portraying the main Tusken Raider is actually deaf and helped create special signs used in the episode. This furthers the idea of representation because it feels so rare in film that we have people from the deaf or ASL community featured in TV and film. The only recent example that comes to mind is in the film A Quiet Place; they used actual deaf actors to represent characters who are also deaf.
This interaction with the Tusken Raiders leads to two things. First, it leads to an alliance between Mando and Vanth and the group of Tusken Raiders to achieve a common goal– killing the krayt dragon. Second, it leads to the alliance of the townspeople and the Tusken Raiders to again reach this common goal. This is a classic western film trope where you have a group of indigenous people, like Native Americans, and usually white people or cowboys coming together to achieve something they both want. I like this trope in Star Wars because it fits the western vibe that this series gave off in season 1. I think it was often at its very best in season 1 when they leaned into the western genre, and I hope to see more of it in season 2 as they did during this episode.
When they come together, they are eventually able to lure out the krayt dragon into the open by using explosives, noises, and blasters and eventually destroy it using explosives. Then, the episode ends with Mando riding off with Fett’s armor and The Child in hand into the sunset of the twin suns. As he rides off, a scarred and bald man watches over in the distance, and as he turns around, it appears to be an older and worn-down Boba Fett.
There’s a lot this episode does well. As I mentioned before, the Tusken Raider humanization is the most important part, in my opinion. I also think the ending is the perfect amount of fan service. While I am not someone who has ever loved Boba Fett, I’ve assumed he would be featured in this season at some point. This is a perfect introduction for him in this part of Star Wars and has piqued my interest in what his motives will be. I think, at most, he gets featured in just three episodes (including the first one) and doesn’t have a prominent role in this season or series.
This episode seemed almost like a love letter to George Lucas. It is clear that Frank Herber’s Dune inspired Lucas, and the sand worm and krayt dragon have some clear similarities. The other aspect that feels like a love letter to Lucas is the mythology of Mando. With each rapid adventure on different plants like this episode, it feels to truly play into Star Wars’ mythology. To these townspeople that witnessed Mando literally going into the mouth of the beast and destroying it from within, it had to seem like this supernatural thing that was happening in front of them. His determination to lure the krayt dragon out, in an almost mad man like fashion, reminds me of Captain Ahab’s quest to try and get Moby Dick. We can see this type of mythological effect when he helps free the village in Chapter 4 ‘The Sanctuary’ when he frees the village of the Imperial Walker. To those villagers who see him leave the next day, he must come off as this mythical hero who has these supernatural abilities from their point of view– it just seems like a Hercules level of mythology in the Star Wars universe, and I feel that Lucas would love that.
This was a near-perfect way to kick off the new season. It had all the fresh aspects that make Star Wars so much fun. It had the representation, mythology, and storytelling that we all love from this universe. I hope that more episodes like this are in store for the remainder of season 2. After such a long wait, Star Wars is back baby!