The Mandalorian Chapter 9: ‘The Marshal’ Review
A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, I described The Mandalorian as the best Star Wars we’ve had in decades, and while we’re only one episode into the new season I stand by that bold statement – come at me Rebels fanboys.
Fresh from the events of the first season, Chapter 9: The Marshal sees Mando (Pedro Pascal) begin his quest to return the Child to his people before the nefarious imperial remnants – led by Moff Gideon – can get their fascist mitts on the galaxy’s most adorable fifty-year-old.
Following rumours of another Mandalorian being spotted on Tatooine – who could that be? – Mando and The Child take a trip to the desert planet where the pair become involved with the titular Marshal (Timothy Olyphant), the sand people, and a gigantic krayt dragon – think a Dune sandworm with fewer manners – which threatens a poor village.
I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about the second season of The Mandalorian. I’ve followed the show’s development over the course of the year, and while the rumours and whispers of certain characters joining the show were exciting, I was worried that introducing them may distract from the thing I like best about the show, specifically Mando and the Child kicking butt.
So I was delighted by Chapter 9: The Marshal which continued the first season’s winning formula of aping old westerns by having the galaxy’s weirdest father and son turn up in a location, make some friends, kill some bad guys, before flying off into the sunset.
I’m being glib, of course, but genuinely I thought that a major part of the first season’s success was the way it balanced the ‘season-long arc’ and the show’s ‘wider mysteries’ with the adventure of the week stuff.
Nowadays so many shows seem obsessed with making their season-long stories so intricate and interconnected that they lose sight of the fact the show has to be fun to watch on an episode-by-episode basis, and showrunner Jon Favreau clearly understands that.
Some have criticised The Mandalorian for the way it takes its time advancing the plot, but I disagree. I’m a fan of this decompressed adventure of the week storytelling, it gives the characters and the worlds time to breathe and helps build atmosphere, plus it reminds me of the old serials that first inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars in the first place.
And of course, while I’m reticent to mention anything that could be considered a spoiler, the end of the episode proves Favreau and his crew of writers are building to something…
Speaking of ‘building’, I was impressed with world-building in this episode. One of the reasons I enjoyed the first season of The Mandalorian so much was the way it fleshed out a period of Star Wars history we know almost nothing about – that mysterious blank period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
We’ve seen that the galaxy is a changed place with members of the former Empire essentially creating their own space juntas on some worlds, the New Republic is fighting to bring in the rule of law, while criminals like Mando and his crew basically run around doing what they want.
Chapter Nine, however, does something very interesting, it shows us what happened almost immediately after the second Death Star blew up, and unlike those celebration scenes we saw at the end of the special editions of Return of the Jedi, it wasn’t pretty.
Basically, with the Empire gone, some towns and villages fell into lawlessness with gangs and criminals ruling through force (no not that one). It’s an interesting wrinkle in the traditional narrative of Star Wars, that overthrowing the Empire was a good thing, and I hope the show continues to explore these shades of grey.
Of course, I couldn’t write about The Mandalorian without mentioning the show’s main character, the Child (aka Baby Yoda), who continues to delight. I honestly don’t know what it is about that character but I just love him, every time he’s on-screen I’m watching him, I actually gasped when Mando kicked his crib in this.
In all seriousness though, Pedro Pascal continues to impress despite having a bucket over his head. There’s something about his voice that makes Mando, who’s basically an emotionless killing machine wrapped in beskar steel, really relatable and warm.
I know it’s silly, and a lot of it comes down to the script, but you can tell he really cares about the Child and keeping him safe. Also, Pedro can be super menacing when he wants and I can’t help but think of him as basically the Star Wars equivalent of the soft-spoken but hyper-violent hitman John Wick. Which I guess makes Baby Yoda his dog in this analogy.
As for this episodes guest star Timothy Olyphant? Well, he was extremely charming and likeable. It helps he was one of the guests who didn’t want to hurt the Child and I hope we see him again when Mando needs help or finds himself on Tatooine.
All in all The Mandalorian’s season 2 opener was great fun with a cool adventure, some fun fan service including a great Episode I reference, and interesting characters.
Basically, it’s the best Star Wars I’ve seen since… well, The Mandalorian season 1.
The Mandalorian season 2 is streaming now exclusively on Disney with new episodes every Friday.
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