‘The Mandalorian’ season 2, episode 1 review

‘The Marshal’ delivers big action and optimistic message

By Jennifer Ng | November 6, 2020 7:29pm
On Oct. 30, The Mandalorian returned for its second season and delivered an episode full of action and surprises. Photo: Star Wars

Season Two of “The Mandalorian” premiered Friday Oct. 30 on Disney+ with the first episode “The Marshal”. It picks up soon after the end of season one, with the Mandalorian, or Mando, searching for other Mandalorians to help him on his quest to return The Child, better known as Baby Yoda, to his kind.

After a quick pit stop at a shady pit fight for information, the armored gunslinger finds himself returning to the desert planet Tatooine. In the tiny one-road settlement of Mos Pelgo, Mando has to demonstrate some serious conflict resolution skills as he teams up with the town’s marshal, played by Timothy Olyphant, to protect the town from a monstrous Krayt dragon. We get some adorable Baby Yoda closeups, some excellent jet pack action and fun Easter eggs aplenty. And for those who have been speculating on which characters are making appearances this season, you definitely won’t be disappointed.

The episode, written by series creator Jon Favreau, set the scene for the rest of the season while brilliantly weaving in details from the Extended Universe, keeping the Star Wars world fresh and engaging for new and old fans alike. The “Wild West” vibe of the show remains strong with its distinct music and lawless town settings. The cinematography and special effects are gorgeous as always, making even a desolate desert landscape feel intriguing. The big character reveal before the credits rolled introduced some exciting potential future plot points. 

It might take another episode or so to establish the pacing for this season. Mando’s journey looks like it’ll be taking him all over the galaxy, so we could be getting simple episode-contained plots where we jump from planet to planet for a bit before we settle into a continuous arc to wrap up the season. But with only eight episodes total, I hope this comes sooner rather than later. At least this season, the plot will be pushed forward by The Mandalorian and The Child doing their own searching. Seeing our heroes being hunted by both the remains of the Empire and other bounty hunters will hopefully add to the stakes instead of becoming a recycled plot in itself.

Although Baby Yoda took a back seat in this episode, we get to see a lot more of The Mandalorian himself, and he’s already demonstrated quite a bit of character development since the start of the show. While he still shows no mercy when it comes to combat fighting, he’s quite a bit more tolerant of droids and is more willing to play the role of a third party peacekeeper, in contrast to the very beginning of season one.

But aside from the confirmation that a fan favorite Return of the Jedi character is actually alive, one of the things that stuck out to me the most was the message woven into this episode. The themes were particularly meaningful in our current context, considering how nearly every issue devolves into two dissenting parties who can’t or won’t get along.

The solution to solving the conflict of this episode involves getting two groups of people who have had deeply rooted animosity and mistrust towards the other for ages, the Tusken Raiders and the people of Mos Pelgo, to work together. And in the end, they are able to put aside their hatred that stems from years of conflict and misunderstanding to defeat the monster that’s been terrorizing them both. But it’s not without difficulties. Each side is extremely reluctant to trust the other. There are almost a couple fights that could have ruined the entire agreement, and the plan to subdue the giant Krayt dragon almost doesn’t work.

Tusken Raiders have only ever been portrayed as violent and dangerous to both in-universe characters and the audience watching at home, enforced across decades of movies and books. But this episode reveals that the Tusken Raiders are much more than stereotypes — they share food and stories around the fire, have a deep sense of justice and show great care for their creatures. And we learn they have also faced injustices, from the settlers who have invaded their territory and stolen their water. Plus, they’re actually the ones with the plan to defeat the Krayt dragon.

Even Mando and the town marshal have to overcome their assumptions about the other and discover that they have more in common than they think. They’re both leaders in their own way.

It’s a pretty timeless message and a not-too-subtle reminder that if we want a better future for our communities it will require us to work together. To move forward requires putting in the work to unlearn prejudices and cooperate in order to make the world a better place. We stand together, light the charges, destroy the dragon in a day. Easy, right? 

Oh, Star Wars. If only life was that simple.

Jennifer Ng is the opinion editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at ng21@up.edu.