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The Mandalorian, Season 2, episode 1, ‘The Marshal’, review: Going big and going home

The Independent logo The Independent 01/11/2020 Louis Chilton
a statue of a person © Provided by The Independent

The Mandalorian has always been sold as a smaller-scale Star Wars story – a personal journey in an epic universe. After the cacophonous mess of The Rise of Skywalker last Christmas, it’s nice to see George Lucas’s beloved sci-fi universe return to a place of relative modesty. As The Mandalorian begins its second season on Disney+, however, it’s clear that its creators have started to think a little bigger.

“Chapter 9: The Marshal”, written and directed by series creator Jon Favreau, begins with Din “The Mandalorian” Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and his pint-sized ward (season one’s breakout star, the Child known as Baby Yoda) dropping by a rowdy alien fighting ring. After a brief, typically pugnacious exchange with a local fiend, Mando and the Child head back to Tatooine, ground zero of the Star Wars universe, in search of another of his creed.  

Amy Sedaris (BoJack Horseman) makes a welcome return as the affable spaceport worker Peli Motto, but the episode’s big guest spot belongs to Timothy Olyphant, who plays the self-styled Marshal of a desolate Tatooine mining community. Olyphant’s character enlists the help of Mando to help rid the town of its scourge, a humongous sand-dwelling monster known as the Krayt dragon (confusingly unrelated to the homonymous planet of Krait from The Last Jedi). What follows is a loose riff on Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, a story The Mandalorian has previously aped in its first-season episode “Sanctuary”.

a person wearing a costume: The Mandalorian confers with a cycloptic baddie near the episode’s beginningLucasfilm Ltd © Provided by The Independent

The Mandalorian confers with a cycloptic baddie near the episode’s beginning

Lucasfilm Ltd

With Pascal’s face hidden, as usual, behind Din’s beskar mask, much of the episode’s personality and charisma falls on Olyphant’s shoulders. Coming from lead roles in David Milch’s seminal TV western Deadwood and the acclaimed neo-western Justified, Olyphant consummately understands The Mandalorian’s tone and genre. Though he’s barely able to keep a straight face while delivering jargon like “silicax crystals” or lines like “I guess every once in a while, both suns shine on a womp rat’s tail” (who could?), the character still fits him like a bespoke Stetson.

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“The Marshal” also sees Baby Yoda at his most superfluous, relegated to the role of doe-eyed MacGuffin, used only really for a few typically adorable reaction shots. The Krayt dragon is really the star of the episode – and that’s the problem. The CGI effects are, for TV, top of the line, but the beast perhaps relies too heavily on them; the whole thing escalates into the sort of maximalist blockbuster carnage that The Mandalorian on the whole does well to avoid.  

Despite a panoply of familiar Mandalorian ingredients – countless Star Wars nods, plot twists, and, of course, Ludwig Göransson’s Emmy-winning score, used less sparingly here than in season one – “The Marshal” fails to congeal them into something greater. When it comes to washing Rise of Skywalker’s taste from our mouths, however, The Mandalorian is the perfect Listerine.

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