The much awaited, much hyped, Mandalorian Season Two has launched, and when it comes to impact, it does not disappoint. In fact, it is probably fair to say that Chapter Nine came out with material more explosive to the fanbase, than a Death Star on steroids. Someone obviously didn’t tell John Favreau that it’s Halloween, because he has come to the party with a massive basket of Easter eggs.
The story itself however, is very predictable. Once again it’s the Seven Samurai/Blazing Saddles “save the villagers from the big bad” storyline that we saw used in Chapter Four, sanctuary. And yes, we are not numbering them as episodes they are chapters, Episode one Season two is Chapter Nine.
The conflict and outcome, could probably be safely predicted by a five year old, however it’s still a lot of fun. There are a couple of good, genuine laughs to be had in the chapter, but it’s got more western tropes than a John Wayne movie. You would almost swear the town of Mos Pelgo used to be called Tombstone.
The story introduces a character from Chuck Wendigs book Aftermath, Cobb Vanth, played with zest by Timothy Olyphant. Olyphant breathes some refreshing life into the tired storyline, but lets just say it’s doubtful this episode is going to be remembered for it’s largely predictable story. Hopefully Vanth will be a recurring character, because Olyphant was certainly a stand out for the episode. He just carries a sort of natural energy that’s not over or understated.
The cinematography has been taken up a notch. Although it’s always been gorgeous, they’ve abandoned the low key look for something far more blockbuster this episode. There’s some good use of scale in this chapter, and the jetpack flight scenes have a very natural feel to them. Again the director manages to add a real scare factor to some elements of the greater universe.
For those of you unfamiliar with how the Mandalorian is made, it’s a fascinating trip all on it’s own.
Essentially instead of green screen, they have created a space using massive LED wrap-around screens controlled by an army of Geeks with laptops called the brain bar. It’s advantages are obvious, better natural light, particularly with a highly reflective main character, better blending into the background and a more realistic 3D look. I highly recommend you check out the video below.
Would I be cynical to note, that the release date coincides with the eight year anniversary of the Disney takeover of Lucasfilm? Given some of the volatile reveals in the episode, one might think they believe this is the Listerine, to wash the sour taste out of the mouths, of the Expanded Universe Fanbase. Or is that the spark, to light the flame to warm their hearts, that they might finally stop trolling everything Disney? Whatever, it reeks of opportunism to patch old wounds.
We are starting to see a very formulaic approach to the show at times, particularly in what feels like filler episodes. Mando seeks quest, encounters difficulties, kicks ass on difficulties, encounters people that kind of help him, but aren’t really advancing the overall story arc. Make sure the story is buried in Easter eggs and film references, so the audience don’t realise they’ve done all this before.
It’s a safety first sort of approach that The Force Awakens was heavily berated for. This was something that has been noted by critics in the first series, particularly the first four episodes. It was redeemed somewhat in the finale with a good dose of loss, tragedy and failure, but there’s a point where safe is going to lose viewers rather than keep them. There’s a fine balance at stake, with two largely divergent tastes existing in the fanbase.
In this case particularly, the storyline sort of feels like, we need to make this happen because we have these massive reveals to expose, how do we get over here and do this and hey look that’s convenient.
On that subject, we are about to get into those very reveals, and the big, big bucket of sugar sweet Easter Eggs. Maybe we didn’t get a lot of cake this chapter, but boy did we get some icing. If you haven’t seen the show and you don’t want to know exactly what happens, then please do not proceed. Because we are about to enter the Spoiler Zone.
The action picks up on an unknown, outer Rim world. Where Din Djarin is following leads, to try and find other Mandalorian Coverts. He’s kind of at a loss how to proceed and the best idea he has is to find another group of Mandalorians to help out.
As he walks down the dimly lit street, we see hundreds of red glowing eyes, menacing them. Although they aren’t seen, it’s safe to assume they are Fyrnocks, from the Rebels episode Out of the Darkness. Nasty, nasty critters that fear the light, but if you find yourself in the dark, you’re already dead.
The Mando has been told, that a local fight club owner Gor Karesh has information on other Mandalorians. Din walks in to the arena, and we are treated to a fight between two Gamorreans wielding Vibro-Axes. After trying to cheat the beskar armour off Dins back, Gor decides to just steal it instead, revealing that his only interest in Mandalorians is killing them for their highly expensive shiny bits.
One fight club full of dead employees later, and Din Djarin is heading to the planet of maximum plot convenience for the entire franchise, Tatooine. Now I say that, because it ties in to what I was saying before, playing it safe, sticking to the familiar. What could be more familiar, than the planet that’s featured in six of the nine movies, both animated TV shows and now for the second time already in The Mandalorian.
Now we have a place here in Australia that’s almost exactly like Tatooine. It’s called Coober Pedy, it’s a small desert town in the middle of nowhere, that’s so hot that people build their houses underground. Do you know how many times people go there? never. Certainly no chosen one’s born there either. It kind of rubs my suspense of disbelief the wrong way that so much of galactic importance happens on what is essentially the biggest hole in the galaxy.
Apparently there is a man in a town on Tatooine, wearing Mandalorian armour, so you can kind of see where this is going already. There’s not too many sets of mando armour on Tatooine.
The scene where Din idles his speeder bike slowly through town is almost ridiculously corny, it’s the trope of the stranger on his horse, riding into town. You almost expect the speeder bike to whinny it’s that blatant. He ties his speeder bike up outside the town saloon, and goes inside for information from the Weequay barkeep.
It’s at this point the titular Marshall, shows up, it’s Cobb Vanth, decked head to toe in what is indisputably, the armour of the presumably late BOBA FETT. Now with out a doubt, this point is a very big deal for a lot of fans. Because the debate over the final fate of Boba Fett, has raged online for eight years to the day. Ever since the buyout, and the alleged desecration of the holy texts of the Expanded Universe in which Fett was the patron saint of “badass.”
This is probably the highlight of the episode, because the second Cobb Vanth removes his helmet, Din immediately comes to the realisation that he is not Mandalorian and either he thinks the guy killed the suits original owner, or it’s just outright blasphemy that he is wearing it, because it is ON. Din is just straight up hand it over or I’ll kill you and peel it off your corpse. Those in the military would immediately pick up on the stolen valour feel to the scene.
This tender moment is brutally interrupted, because the town has a Tremors problem, or more realistically an Arrakis Sandworm problem. The town is under attack, by the legendary Krayt Dragon. It’s tunneling under the earth, like a shark through water, with a taste for Bantha (mostly). Cobb offers to give the armour to Mando without argument, if in fact he will help him rid the town of the beast. Dins either got a real good side or he’s hoping for a Krayt dragon badge from the armourer if he ever runs into her again. I mean Mudhorns good sure, but Krayt dragon? That’s epic.
Turns out that at the end of Return of the Jedi, a lot of things fell apart, and not for the better. With the Empire withdrawing it’s occupation, the power vacuum attracted a lot of groups to fill it. In Mos Pelgo’s case it was the mining guild. They came in and shot the place up, Cobb escapes into the desert with some crystals he steals off them, nearly dies and is saved by Jawa’s. They offer him everything but the kitchen sink for the crystals, but Cobb spied the Fett armour and saw a way to save his town…
After that he was the defacto leader and protector of the town.
The two head off on the dragons trail and encounter a tribe of Sandpeople with their Massiff dogs as seen in Attack of the Clones. The story gets a little Dances with Wolves here, because it turns out that Cobb not only used the armour to remove the mining guild, but he’s killed quite a few Sandpeople with it as well albeit during them raiding the town. The town is accused of stealing the Tusken’s water and the townspeople don’t trust the Tuskens one darn bit. It’s an odd couple alliance that Din finally manages to seal with the help of his flamethrower.
The plot unfolds pretty much as you would expect from here, Villagers team up with the Tuskens, try and bait the creature out. It’s at this point that a little light bulb goes on in your head and you realise why the Tuskens scattered when Ben Kenobi uses the call of the Krayt Dragon in A New Hope. Because this thing is a beast, not only is it on a scale not sort of explored before in the show, but vomits acid on it’s attackers which is kind of grossly hilarious.
They try and kill it with mining explosives, but predictably it avoids the trap and and it comes down to the Mandalorian to save the day. You are kind of expecting the child to do something, but the little one is pretty much cute window dressing for the whole episode.
It’s the final scene, which is probably going to set fans social media alight for the next few weeks. Because as the Mandalorian rides off into the glorious sunset with his reward of Fett’s armour. There is a single bald raider with uncovered head, compete with Gaffi stick, observing his progress across the horizon. As he follows the speeder bikes progress, across the sunset lit vista, we see his face and… yep, you guessed it, it’s Boba Fett. I don’t know what Temuera Morrison got paid for those ten seconds but I bet it was worth it.
Now this is kind of a double nod to the EU, both in finally establishing Fett’s fate, but also reminiscent of the comic with a Jedi who fit into a Tusken clan. Are they just men under those masks after all? Is there a membership requirement or can anyone just join?
There’s a sense of finality to this shot, like Boba has just moved on and accepted a new life. I’m dubious that the character will ever be revisited, but I’ve been wrong before…surely.
Well that was an epic ride, despite my minor complaints I did thoroughly enjoy the episode. I’m sure it will be picked apart like the Krayt Dragon carcass was at the end of the episode, so tonight I’m just going to bask in the afterglow and try not to think too hard about it.
Let me know what you thought in the comments and hey follow me as we get through this long awaited series.