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‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2 Marks Return of a Classic Character – Review

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‘The Mandalorian’ returns with a season 2 opener worthy of the big screen! Here’s our review, recap, and predictions!

SPOILERS!

We may be living in COVID times right now, but that doesn’t mean your favorite space opera is far away. The opening chapter of season 2, titled “The Martial”, brings a theater filled experience to your living room.

‘TCL Chinese Theatre’ (1977)

Being the longest episode of the series yet, this chapter of ‘The Mandalorian’ flies by like any other. From the opening scene to the end you can tell that the production value for this series has increased. From the bombastic score, the amazing sound design, and the huge set pieces. This opener sets the stage for an epic season.

If you we’re expecting to kick off this episode of ‘The Mandalorian’ with the same epic-ness of the finale of season 1, you might want to adjust your expectations. Though this episode has a theater-like feel to it, it’s true genius is that it takes its time.

Jon Favreau knows how to properly arc a series, especially with one with as limited episodes as this. Being only 8 episodes, Favreau sets the stage for the characters going forward, while also wetting your appetite with a cliffhanger(more on that later), leaving you itching to see what happens next.

RECAP

As per the “Armorer’s” instruction in the previous chapter, Mando is on a mission to return “Baby Yoda” to it’s “people”. Who is implied to be the Jedi. Seeking guidance, Mando sets out to find other Mandalorians to help him on his quest. But since they revealed themselves when they came to Mando’s aid, they have since been eradicated. Leaving a few escaped coverts out in the outer reaches of the galaxy. And this leads Mando to Tatooine…

THE MANDALORIAN THE GALAXY DESERVES

The episode opens up where Mando meets an informant at a fight club to discuss the whereabouts of a potential Mandalorian. And needless to say that meeting ends unceremoniously, where Mando finds issue with his business practices and decides to feed him to the literal dogs. Great moment, feels right out of a Batman movie. You couldn’t even see the dogs, just their glowing red eyes. And that’s all we needed. Also I like how Mando shows a bit more mercy, now that “Baby Yoda” has softened him a bit. He doesn’t kill the guy himself but allows the dogs to do it. This show also does a great job at riding the PG-13 line, knowing what to show and what not to show.

COWBOYS AND MANDALORIANS

When then head off to Tatooine and this is where the episode really finds it’s footing. Like a cowboy taking off on his trusty steed, Mando grabs his speeder and takes off for the town of ‘Mos Pelgo’. Where he’s told is where his missing Mandalorian is.

‘The Mandalorian’ Chapter 9. “The Martial”

On the way he breaks bread with some hospitable Tusken Raiders. And when he finally arrives at the town, you get smacked in the face with a western feel. The only thing that would’ve made it more obvious is a tumble weed passing by.

We then arrive at a Cantina and this is where we find our missing Mandalorian. It is none other than Cobb Vanth? You’re probably not the only one scratching your head. If you were expecting Boba Fett, you were probably disappointed to see a cheap impostor, being played by Timothy Olyphant. And you’re probably wondering who he is. First appearing in a canon novel trilogy, titled the “Aftermath”, by Chuck Wendig, Vanth is a former slave turned sheriff, with much of the same backstory as explained in the show, with minor inconsistency.

SPURS AND SABERS

Nonetheless, he proves a worthy adversary for Mando, stepping up to the challenge after being commanded to hand over the iconic armor. In a classic western standoff, we wait to see who’s gonna draw their pistol first, but then a rumbling appears…

Revealing a Krayt Dragon! And yes, it’s that skeleton you see in the desert of Tatooine in the beginning of ‘A New Hope’ actually appeared in a Star Wars show! As the Krayt dragon appears, dismantling the town, Mando and Vanth put aside their differences. They bring together their town and some friendly Tusken Raiders and set off to defeat the mythical beast.

Krayt Dragon in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

And in one of my favorite moments in all Star Wars. We see a brave little Tusken Raider approach the cave of the Krayt dragon. And when the dragon awakens, the Raider makes a beeline back to his buddies, but sadly his hilarious effort is cut short when he becomes the Krayt dragon’s first snack of that day. Top 5 Star Wars moments of all time.

WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BANTHA

After the Tusken Raider takes one for the team, Mando and Vanth concoct a plan to blow up the dragon by targeting the stomach. And as per usual things dont go as planned, but it results in a great scene.

Its crazy to think about, but all these things we’ve thought we’d never see, we’re seeing. And it’s as awesome as you’d hope. Whatever budget this show is getting, it must be huge, because the VFX for this sequence involving the Krayt dragon looked nothing short of cinematic. The CGI for the dragon looked perfect. And the scene in general felt grand. There’s even a moment where after the attempt at blowing up the dragon by the stomach fails, Mando and Vanth take flight with their jetpacks and try to take it down. And it all looked seamless. It’d be no different if this was a film, and thats what you want out of these Disney+ shows.

If theres one criticism I had about this episode, spectacle wise. Its that you never see the dragons full body. And I wonder if thats cause they shot the sequences in the “Volume” stagecraft system which could’ve limited certain camera angles. I noticed a lot of close up shots. But it wasn’t to the detriment of the show, but a more advantageous way to film the sequence given the limitations.

FINAL SHOWDOWN

There’s a small moment where Mando and Vanth fly by the face of the dragon and land on the mountain. And the way it was shot really gave scale to the dragon. Also its worth noting the aspect ratio changed during that battle sequence. Which also aided in giving more spectacle. Whether or not it was shot on IMAX is unclear, but the shift from 21:9 to 16:9  gave that sequence the epic feel that it needed.

In the end Mando defeats the beast by baiting it to swallow him up along with a Bantha lined with explosives. And after Mando flies his way out, (which I wanna add, is similar to how Boba Fett escaped the Sarlacc pit in the EU) he sets off the explosives, killing the Krayt dragon. (And the Bantha) #RIPBantha

Art by Cristi Balanescu

Mando saves the day! The town is saved. The Tusken Raiders get a special Krayt dragon pearl, the town of Mos Pelgo gets food for a decade, and Mando gets his armor. Everyone’s happy.

HE’S NO GOOD TO US DEAD

Well… except for one person that is… After Mando grabs his armor and 50lb Krayt meat, he heads back to the Razor Crest, but one the way he pasts by a lonesome wanderer carrying nothing but a rifle and gaffi stick. And when that lonesome wanderer turns around it is revealed to be none other than Boba Fett! The best bounty hunter the galaxy has ever known. Yes, he got knocked down by a blind Han Solo and eaten up by a Sarlacc, but he’s back and meaner than ever!

Return of the Jedi (1983)

As for what he wants, I’m not entirely sure. He looks beaten up, he has a scar on his face. It’s possible the Sarlacc left him injured for many years and now he’s ready to return to his glory days as a bounty hunter. But Mando has his armor, and we know that Jango and Boba Fett were never “true” Mandalorians. They just dawned the armor. So it’ll be really interesting to see what happens when Mando and Fett come face to face. And lets hope we don’t have to wait too long. Favreau mentioned how this season will be more streamlined, but this episode felt self-contained, which is something that I didn’t want. But I’ll give it a pass because it’s clearly setting up a lot of stuff. Can’t be too greedy.

Either way I’m excited. This was a great episode. Perfect start to the 2nd season. Not too big in terms of the main story, but some great nostalgic moments and huge reveals all wrapped up in huge spectacle.

Favreau once said that he doesn’t want to be influenced by Star Wars. Instead he wants to be influenced by what influenced George Lucas to create Star Wars. And if that’s the philosophy for ‘The Mandalorian’, it’s noticeable and it’s working.

Writer, film lover, warzone addict, and all around comics enthusiast. I get deeply affected by stories and I hope you do too.

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