The Mandalorian is back! This season, we’ll be covering new episodes every week with some non-spoilery thoughts, some spoilery thoughts, and some predictions about what comes next.
If Season One of Mandalorian blurred the line between Hollywood and television, then Chapter 9: The Marshal blasts that line into oblivion.
Director Jon Favreau practically begs us to see this contrast. This episode bursts with visual callbacks to Season One, all as if to say: “look how much more we can do.” The scale of this chapter shows just how small and contained the first season really was, despite all its technical achievements.
But for all its grandiosity, this chapter displays some serious restraint. Somewhere between seasons, marketing and merchandising caught up with the groundswell Baby Yoda craze. But Favreau never lets the child steal the spotlight. The child is still there, of course. He’s still an indispensable, adorable, squeezable, huggable part of the show. But this is Mando’s story. Overpriced plushies be damned.
And now, the spoilers.
Wondering how to world-build without slipping into fan-service? Study this episode.
Fans of the novels probably guessed the eponymous “marshal” identity even before Mando set foot on Tatooine. For the first time, a character from the Canon novels has jumped to live-action. Timothy Olyphant plays Cobb Vanth, local lawman and owner Boba Fett’s discarded armor who originally appeared in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath novels.
Olyphant brings his best sheriff acting to bear on this character. If there’s any critique to be made of this episode, it’s that the Western influence goes a little far. Lucas brought spaghetti western into Star Wars without falling into pastiche; the same can’t be said of this episode.
And then, of course, there’s Boba Fett.
This is how you tie a world together. Nothing is here to please fans. None of it feels forced. We’re not bumping into Dr. Evazan on Jedha. It all flows from the story.
And more importantly, it goes beneath the surface. Favreau doesn’t just say, “Look, there’s that character you like!” and move on. He uses Cobb Vanth to ask questions about honor, justice, and what it means to wear the Mandalorian armor. I have a feeling this is the first of many foils Mando will encounter throughout the season.
Be Mindful of the Future (but not at the expense of the moment):
So what comes next? It’s obvious now that Mando’s path will cross with Boba’s. The question is: when? Maybe next episode. More likely somewhere mid-season. And when it happens, how will their philosophies clash?
That’s maybe the most exciting prospect. Perhaps Boba will function as an older, reverse-mirror image of Mando. They both wore the armor. They both lived the life of a bounty hunter. But where Mando chose selflessness, Boba chose personal gain. Where Mando chose to love and protect the force-wielding child, Boba chose to hate the Jedi. It’s bound to be a memorable meeting.
And of course, we still have so many faces to see. We’ve seen nothing of Moff Gideon, Greef Karga, or Cara Dune—to say nothing of the widely-rumored Ahsoka Tano.
For now, Mando is still on the trail of fellow Mandos. He had a small victory, but he’s no closer to his ultimate goal. I’m predicting that his path will lead him to some more familiar Mandalorian faces—maybe even that of former Darksaber-holder Bo-Katan—before he reunites with friends or meets new enemies.
Merch We Need:
With great Star Wars comes great tie-in merchandise.
This episode offers some major low-hanging fruit. We need a good Cobb Vanth Black Series 6” figure. Preferably with a removable helmet so we can see Olyphant’s gorgeous plastic haircut. But probably not with a working rocket launcher, since that historically goes poorly for Star Wars figures.
We also need a LEGO take on the Krayt Dragon battle. I’m picturing a big ol’ LEGO Krayt Dragon with Mando and Cobb Vanth mini-figures. That would be something to behold.
What Chapter 9 merch do you want to see? Let us know in the comments!
Tune in next Monday for our recap of Chapter 10.