Disney+ released Season 2 of “The Mandalorian” on Oct. 30. The first episode, “Chapter 9: The Marshal,” contains not only epic action sequences but also “Star Wars” clues that connect to the overarching plot of the franchise.
Jon Favreau, the director and writer of the show, opened Season 2 of “The Mandalorian” with a promising start by drawing callbacks to the original trilogy and incorporating western influences. Actor Pedro Pascal returns as the masked Mandalorian who is searching for his foundling’s family. From the first scene, it becomes clear that he and the Child have been through quite a few adventures, prompting new viewers to see what they were up to in the first season. This installment of the second season takes the Mandalorian, which is the sobriquet for Din Djarin, back to an unexplored territory of Tatooine, a planet that “Star Wars” fans have come to recognize. Taking place in a dusty town with a local tavern, the setting gives off an ambiance of the Wild West, which pairs perfectly with the tone of the show so far. Mando instantly encounters the titular character, the Marshal, who is played by Timothy Olyphant.
Olyphant has been cast as a marshal on three different series previous to this one, but he never makes the role seem stale. He approaches the role of the Marshal, who is also known as Cobb Vanth, with charismatic ease and an itchy trigger finger. He banters with Mando as they deal with Tusken raiders, who are presented as an actual race of people instead of just faceless villains. Favreau takes care to mention the lore described in the comics and shows the Tusken language and culture instead of saving them for an underwhelming fight scene. With mention of the black melons they drink from and actors learning a new type of sign language for them to communicate, the Tusken raiders become more complex and nuanced compared to their previous appearances.
The climax of this chapter actually contains a new sort of attack as Pascal and Olyphant team up to combat a krayt dragon, which were never seen alive in the original trilogy. From the ominous slithering through the sand to the great reveal of its head, the special effects for the krayt dragon were astounding and perfectly executed. This specific scene delivered some much-anticipated spectacle to the episode, leaving viewers wanting more. To complete the overall suspense, the menace is accompanied by a precise soundtrack by Ludwig Göransson that continues to build tension throughout the show.
Other references to the trilogy include a reminder of the Death Star explosion and an R-5 droid almost purchased by Luke Skywalker himself. However, these allusions do not overtake the episode; they serve to add excitement to an already thrilling show and are subtle enough to not distract possible new fans of the “Star Wars” universe.
Favreau seems to be taking this second season of “The Mandalorian” in a similar direction as the first one, with action-packed adventures conveniently fitting into independent, mostly-chronological chapters. There is enough atmosphere of a “Star Wars” movie for audiences to recognize where they are without requiring them to watch all the movies again; it accomplishes a sense of familiarity while adding intriguing reference that hardcore fans will immediately pick up on. “The Mandalorian” has managed to capture attention it has undoubtedly earned, especially during these times when entertainment is highly sought after.
The end of this first installment reveals a twist which completely inverts the perspective of the episode. Viewers will find themselves wanting to rewatch the entire chapter knowing what they know, and some may realize that a certain Tusken raider seems separated from the group for reasons they now know of.
“The Mandalorian” captures the energy of a full-length film within its limited number of minutes, and the actors embody their characters so well that character choices seem almost instinctual. The rest of the season will surely attract many viewers every Friday for new chapters with their favorite bounty hunter.
Lucia Arreola is an Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.