Editor's Note: This article contains spoilers for Season 1 of 'The Mandalorian,' and some minimal spoilers for the Season 2 Premiere.
In the fall of 2019, The Walt Disney Company launched Disney+, their own exclusive streaming service. The platform proved to be so successful that The Walt Disney Company recently chose to restructure its strategy around Direct–to–Consumer content. The rapid success of Disney+ would not have been possible without the platform’s exclusive release of The Mandalorian, a Star Wars television series that follows a lone bounty hunter in his adventures across the galaxy.
Disney+’s flagship launch series was a huge success both critically and commercially, surpassing Stranger Things as the most–watched original streaming series. Additionally, the series birthed a new pop–culture icon with “The Child,” more popularly known as Baby Yoda. Overall, the first season of The Mandalorian was a cultural shockwave that sparked a resurgence of the Star Wars fandom, both in old and new fans of the franchise.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian recently debuted on Disney+, and picked up where Season 1 left off. The title character, played by Pedro Pascal, barely escaped season one with his life after an intense battle with Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). Despite the bond that formed between the two over the initial eight episodes, Mando is now on a quest to return Baby Yoda to his species after realizing that a life attached to a rogue gunslinger is no life for a child. The first episode, “Chapter 9: The Marshal,” sets a promising precedent for the upcoming season, full of the precious qualities that made The Mandalorian’s debut season the masterpiece it is.
Mando’s search for more Mandalorians eventually takes him to Tatooine, where he acts as a mediator between two warring populations in attempts to eliminate a common enemy. Through world–building, fight sequences, and evoking nostalgia, “The Marshal” is a great reminder of why Star Wars stories beyond the conventional films are some of the best to be told.
Mando’s journey has taken him to some dark corners of the galaxy, but the creators of the series still find ways to create beauty in the most shady or desolate settings. The season premiere opens with Mando traveling to a gloomy urban planet, teeming with menacing creatures in the shadows. These detailed, intimate settings are complemented with a plethora of beautiful wide–angle shots, ranging from Mando flying through the stars to speeding through the Dune Sea of Tatooine on speeder bikes. Jon Favreau, who directed and wrote the first episode, continues to utilize inventive cinematography to create these gorgeous shots. The series is so aesthetically pleasing to watch, building tension through the diverse environments that present their own unique challenges to Mando and his high–value companion.
The fight sequences are entertaining as always in this premiere. In the episode’s opening scene, Mando gets into a sticky situation while meeting an informant at an underground fighting ring. Realizing he’s walked into a trap, Mando single–handedly incapacitates his assailants with flawless precision. After further intimidation, and leaving an informant to a painful death, Mando exits the planet in his classic badass fashion.
These heroic feats are what solidified Mando as a perfect title character for the series. He travels alone—with the exception of towing Baby Yoda as his companion—and never takes no for an answer. Even when the odds are pitted against him, Mando constantly reigns victorious, alerting others that his presence is not to be taken lightly. Mando’s creativity is highlighted in the episode’s climax, where he thinks quick on his feet, and uses his wits to defeat a dragon—yes, you read that right.
What defines this episode is its commitment to nostalgia and expanding the Star Wars franchise, without overly relying on content from the original films. Mando travels to Tatooine—a trademark planet in the Star Wars universe—after hearing that another Mandalorian supposedly lives there. However, he quickly realizes that this “Mandalorian” is just a gunslinger named Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), who wears the stolen—and easily recognizable—armor of legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett, who was presumably killed in Return of the Jedi (1983). The inclusion of Vanth, also known as ‘The Marshal’ in Star Wars literature, successfully integrates an established story of the Star Wars universe with the new narratives of The Mandalorian, creating a wide appeal for both new and old Star Wars fans.
This episode’s story is also heavily focused on the Tusken Raiders, the native population of Tatooine’s otherwise lifeless desert region. “The Marshal” finds Mando negotiating with the population, who are classically depicted as being savage beasts and murderers. This peaceful interaction, combined with Mando convincing the modern civilization to work with the Tusken Raiders, provides an interesting take on interpopulation relationships, driving the Star Wars universe in yet another unique direction.
Overall, this premiere certainly meets the standard that was established by The Mandalorian’s debut. Some were surprised to see that Baby Yoda didn’t play a more significant role in this episode, but I actually preferred that. While he’s cute, too much of the first season was focused on Baby Yoda, and not the fearless hero that was ensuring his safety. Additionally, this episode ends on a massive cliffhanger. Overall, “The Marshal” is a fun space–Western adventure, and proves that series like The Mandalorian are an amazing addition to the Star Wars universe. Season 2 launched with a bang, and sets a promising standard for the remainder of the season, which will be released over the next few weeks. For those unsure about whether to watch The Mandalorian, trust me: This is the Way.