You’ll have to forgive me for this one, but the last time we saw Din Djarin and Baby Yoda it might as well have been a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….specifically 20,000 years ago, in the year 2019. With an incredibly divisive election, a global pandemic, and the Bon Appetit Youtube channel getting canceled for most of the year, nothing could be more welcoming than the warm nostalgia bath that is The Mandalorian.
But the show works because it’s more than a collection of cameos from the Bad Motivator Droid, and writer/director/creator John Favreau opens season two with his signature blend of restrained storytelling and refreshingly straightforward action. Let’s talk about all the things that made me excitedly turn to my partner and whisper “that’s [whatever it was that was on the screen].”
So, ManDADlorian and Baby Yoda are searching for more Mandalorians to help track down any remaining Jedi. The best person to ask? Cyclops John Leguizamo. But the one-eyed gangster instead turns on our heroes because we need a cool pre-credits fight scene. After making short work of the bad guys, Din promises the one-eyed double-crosser won’t die by his hand, which of course is just a badass little fake-out move – the kind of loophole nomadic drifters love to throw around. Maybe I’m getting ahead here, but I think this little trick says something coming from a guy who normally takes himself too seriously. It’s one of a few examples throughout the episodes that Din isn’t the same dude as last season. Fatherhood changes you, man(dalorian).
We’re off to Tatooine again because apparently there are only six planets in Star Wars. No, I’m kidding, there’s a good reason for going back this time BUT THAT’S IT. NO MORE TATOOINE FOR A GOOD LONG TIME, STAR WARS, I MEAN IT. Din reunites with Amy Sedaris’ Motto who doesn’t know where this mystery Mandalorian is, but does know about a mystery town full of mysteries to investigate. Our old buddy R5 helps with a map, and the poor little guy still hasn’t had a nice oil bath since blowing his own motivator to keep R2 and 3P0 together in A New Hope.
Off to Mos Pelgo we go, with Baby Yoda strapped into a speeder like Robin riding shotgun in the Bat-Pod. It doesn’t take long for Din to find the Mandalorian he’s been looking for: Timothy Olyphant! And he’s not a Mandalorian, he’s just wearing Boba Fett’s armor! Here’s where Favreau’s visual flair really sings. When Olyphant’s Marshal takes off the helmet, fans are given the longest, closest look at the OG bounty hunter’s visage. It’s a real soak-it-up moment. But more importantly, is how this immediately ups the stakes: We know Mandalorians don’t take their helmets off. This dude just blasphemed in front of our super religious main character, and the show lingers in that moment, combining fan service with character-driven stakes.
The Marshal is Cobb Vanth, whose story is rehashed from the Star Wars Aftermath books; showing how the Empire falling was great, but also led to more immediate problems for the Outer Rim. The Empire’s whole big selling point is order through fear and control. And sure enough, once the Death Star is destroyed, some Dune-looking jerks from the Mining Guild come shoot up the bar because…i dunno, there’s nothing to mine on a desert planet? Cobb escapes with an ice-cream maker of fancy rocks, which he trades to some Jawas for Fett’s armor so he can go back to town and get his Justified on.
The new marshall in Boba armor gives us more than one wink-wink during the episode, but the most ludicrous/fun is finally seeing that sweet not-suitable-for-children-under-3 rocket launcher finally have its moment in the sun.
Back to the story at-hand, the real Mandalorian challenges Vanth for the armor. Vanth, however, notices Baby Yoda which clues him into the fact that Mando has a potential soft spot. Before any blasters go off, the village is attacked by one of the graboids from Tremors, which is not your daddy’s Krayt Dragon. Vanth makes a deal to fork over Boba’s armor if Mando will help him take out the monster of the week.
The second half of the episode follows our helmet buddies teaming up with the Sandpeople, who are also looking to take down the Krayt. We got a hint of Din’s familiarity with the nomadic tribe in season one, but this episode is the most we’ve ever gotten to see of the Tusken culture in a mainstream story. The tension between them and the citizens of Mos Pelgo is kind of the dramatic hook of the story, even though we don’t even get into it until the third act. I kinda wish we had a little bit more of that baked in throughout – when Vanth speaks to the townspeople to convince them to team up with their sworn enemies, we don’t really have a relationship with either side to make the union satisfying.
While scoping out the Krayt’s nest, Vanth makes a reference to it being an empty Sarlacc pit. Flag that for later. We see more and more of the Krayt Dragon as the episode goes on, and it’s definitely one of the bigger departures of old-school design the show has done yet. Though, while the original McQuarrie concept and the KOTOR boss both have chonky boi dragon legs, the skeleton C-3P0 whines about in New Hope looks more serpentine matching what Disney has given us.
The final battle with the dragon plays out the same way it did in the Knights Of The Old Republic video game, with some added Jetpack action. They plant charges outside the cave and lure the beast out to get blown up. Things don’t go all that great, Krayt dragons have acid lava, apparently.
While Baby Yoda didn’t have much to do in this episode, the real catharsis moment comes when Din hatches a plan to blow up the dragon from the inside. We get our second nod to -and don’t hate me for this- but to how much of a big dumb loser Boba Fett actually was when Mando pops Cobb in the back. The famously faulty jetpack sends our new friend shooting off the same way it got the last guy to wear it swallowed by a desert snake-spider, but this time the whoopsie-doo ends up being a life-saver.
Look, I’m just gonna say what nobody else will admit: Cobb Vanth is way cooler than Boba Fett. Sorry, not sorry. Before getting himself swallowed with a Bantha strapped to the gills in space-dynamite, Mando tells Cobb to take care of The Kid. Throughout the episode, the Marshal changes in Din’s eyes from blaspheming armor thief to Baby Yoda’s Godfather. One of the main themes of the show is having a strict ideology and perspective that is challenged through the actions of others. The Mandalorian keeps having to change his mind about people – and droids – who may not follow his creed, but still uphold his standard for honor.
You know, I’m really curious to see how that goes. I wonder if he’ll end up having to face-off against someone who possibly shares his creed, but not his sense of honor. Like maybe another Mandalorian? Perhaps someone we’re already familiar with, or like maybe a legacy character who we all have preconceived notions about? I dunno. Something fun. Anyway, the episode ends and nothing else of note happens.
Ha, no I’m kidding, of course. Temura Morrison, who played Jango Fett in the prequels, shows up at the last second looking all chewed-up-by-a-sarlacc, and we all – every one of us, not just me – screamed out loud. I’m clearly not even a Boba Fett die-hard but this is the kind of serotonin drip I pay Disney for. Now, technically this could be any number of characters since literally all the clones would be played by him in live-action, but c’mon. It’s Boba Fett. That’s why they teased the dead Sarlacc earlier, and also: every other thing that happens this episode. Who else is it gonna be, Cody? FOH.
Guess we’ll have to come back to Tatooine again this season after all. *shakes fist*
- VIBRO-BLADES! Or I guess, VIBRO-AXES! I guess we’ve seen these before, but seeing them all vibratey was a treat. Here’s the thing, I believe you can overdo fan service callback stuff, and that Star Wars should always try to be new and weird; but I also clap and say “yay!” like a toddler given ice cream when they pull out random old KOTOR Level One weapons
- W. Earl Brown, who played Dan on Deadwood, was the Weequay behind the bar in Mos Pelgo, essentially reprising his role with Olyphant in what is basically the greatest TV show of all time. And now I want Space-Deadwood.
- Seeing some theories that that Cobb Vanth’s speeder bike is made out of Anakin Skywalker’s old pod racer, but that’s one-to-many coincidences for me in my Star Wars. It’s the same model engine for sure, but my head cannon will say it’s just a nod to the design until told otherwise.
- “Sand people always travel single file, to hide their numbers.”
I miss “I have spoken.”