[Review] ‘THE MANDALORIAN’ season 2 opener is a stunner

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2
CHAPTER 9 – THE MARSHAL

Rated TV-14, 54 minutes.
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Pedro Pascal, Amy Sedaris, and John Leguizamo

Happy Halloween! New STAR WARS is here!

I suppose if we’re not trick-or-treating traditionally (maybe it’s a scavenger hunt like my family is doing), we might as well dress up as our favorite characters from a galaxy far, far away and watch the first episode of THE MANDALORIAN’s second season. And what a glorious, warm welcome back it is.

The first season was a lot of fun, plain and simple. It spun the wheels a lot, being a fetch quest where our silver-armored protagonist (a great Pedro Pascal) hopped from one planet to the next, getting new information, making new friends and many more enemies.

This is all to protect the adorable, internet-breaking Baby Yoda, a.k.a. The Child. (The world might throw a fit when the creators actually assign a name to this green ball of cuteness.) And while it merely was that in a nutshell, it was the details, the world-building, the surprises, the action, the new characters, and nods to other STAR WARS stories along the way that kept us returning for season one’s eight-episode arc.

The first episode of its second season, titled CHAPTER 9 – THE MARSHAL, continues to ride down that same avenue. It’s another stop to collect information. This time, Mando is trying to seek guidance on how he should give The Child back to his own kind. He has a run-in with some alien gangsters at a deathmatch involving Gamorreans. (You know, the green-skinned pig-looking creatures from THE RETURN OF THE JEDI.) This is an exciting opening because it pushes the franchise we know into a different tonal box.

So often, we’ve experienced these galactic adventures. The thrill from these adventures is a good time, no doubt. However, it’s nice that THE MANDALORIAN hits the pause button to show you something new and interesting. These little moments cause you to stop and get lost in thought: “Whoa. They gamble, live like mob bosses, and get their hands dirty in unexpected ways.”

This episode, directed by showrunner Jon Favreau, tips its hat (or helmet) to many different properties. Some may recognize the opening’s salute to the gangster genre, while later sequences remind you of TREMORS, JAWS, THE LORD OF THE RINGS (one specific moment), and Westerns (complete with all the signature moments). I don’t want to spoil the areas where the episode takes these shapes, but film fans will know it when they see it.

Another surprise is how well Favreau subverts your expectations. There’s a small, humorous scene at the opening of a cave and another one that plays you for a fool until the final frames. That last shot makes me wish I watched this episode in a theater with a large crowd. I could hear the cheers.

Hopefully, Favreau and Co. continue to experiment and open up this universe. THE MARSHAL celebrates what you love about STAR WARS and makes you love it more. It provides more understanding of what we’ve seen and who we thought we knew. Favreau is working to incorporate more important, relevant ideas into his work here, especially a message about putting aside our differences to bring about real change. Lots to unpack, enjoy, and speculate about.

Grade: A-

CHAPTER 9 is now available to view on Disney+. New episodes will release each Friday through December 18, with another eight episodes in total.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.