A standard return for what's been an exceptional show.
- 🌑Plenty of surprises for fans.
- 🌑A nice range of creatures.
- 🌑Does well to remind us who Mando is early on.
- 🌑We get to see the baby!
- 🌑A little too nostalgia focused.
- 🌑Doesn't set up a lot of what's to come in Season 2.
This post contains spoilers for The Mandalorian.
Those who long speculated who Timothy Olyphant was playing in The Mandalorian deserve a well-earned pat on the back. The rumors of the legendary Boba Fett armor were true and he is, indeed, playing slave-turned-space-sheriff Cobb Vanth. Of course, his narrative shifts a little bit from his character in the novelization. Rather than survive the Galactic Civil War, this Vanth survived Tatooine’s Empire occupation. After buying Boba Fett’s armor off of some Jawas, he’s able to defend his desert town from the invaders who sought to fill the void that the Empire left behind.
Mando (Pedro Pascal) happens across Cobb while on a quest to piece together how to get The Child (henceforth known as Baby Yoda) back to its kind. Though Mando is less than pleased to discover that there was no Mandalorian on Tatooine, he agrees to help Cobb take on a leviathan in exchange for the armor to help chart his course. The two will need the help of the town, and an unexpected partnership from the Tusken Raiders to take the monsters down. Things don’t go exactly as planned, but what kind of episode would it be if they did.
So far as returns go, the kick off to The Mandalorian’s second season was surprisingly standard. It’s certainly an adequate episode, but with how secretive Disney+ has been around the property I had honestly expected a little bit more oomph. That quibble aside, “The Marshal” does more right than it does wrong. Olyphant is a great addition to the series’ cast, and he and Pascal have buckets of charisma together as Mando and Cobb. Here’s hoping they didn’t spend the cash to get him on board for him to only be a part of one episode this season.
A nice surprise for “The Marshal” is how creature-heavy it is without there necessarily being a need for it. Star Wars is well known for its exciting aliens, but the most recent trilogy diverted from them a bit (at least when it came to the more memorable title characters). Aside from the giant leviathan the townspeople and the Raiders must face, we see plenty of banthas, as well as a whole host of different creatures in the fight club in the first moments of the episode. Staying creature-heavy throughout the season might be expensive, but it’s also a great way to remind viewers that they’re not simply standing in a sand dune.
The recap that they played in the very beginning of the episode might have been mostly superficial, but the fight club sequence goes a long way to remind us who Mando is. He might have decided to take care of Baby Yoda, and he adheres to a strict honor code, but if you cross him you are very certainly going to die. Giving him dimension was critical to fans’ enjoyment of the series — it’s good that he has a softer side and will never lie — but reminding us now and then that he is also a member of an elite force of some of the most feared warriors in the galaxy is a wise move.
“The Marshal” struggles most when it relies on nostalgia (and I say that as someone who is often pretty pro nostalgia vehicles). There’s some intrigue to this first episode of the season, but it does a lackluster job at setting up where we’re going next outside of “Mando needs this armor to chart a course.” Rather than focus on that, it’s time with the Jawas, then the Raiders, and a “ooh, ahh” glimpse at Boba Fett (Tamuera Morrison) at the very end. That said, it also makes the smart decision of sharing Cobb’s history (though it could have been more brief) and showcasing a little bit of Mando’s empathy when his new partner was unwilling to reach across the aisle with the Raiders.
Buckle up, because the girl who just took a little bit of a pot shot at the time spent on nostalgia is about to be a tiny bit of a hypocrite: getting a chance to see how the general population responded to the fall of the Death Star was super, super cool. It’s a fleeting moment, but those few seconds illustrate why Rogue One ended up hitting so hard for some fans. It’s not all about the Skywalkers. There’s a whole galaxy that was affected by the Empire’s tyranny, and getting to see how folks reacted in the middle of a desert planet was pretty neat.
And that’s that! “The Marshal” ain’t perfect, but there’s a whole lot to love in its quick forty-six minutes. Hopefully next week’s episode will do more to tell us what’s going on with Mando’s plans and the rest of the universe that Season 1 built up.
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