August 29, 2021

Review: Mando and his Fan-Favorite Ward Return in “The Mandalorian” Season Two Premiere

Note: This review was originally published in The Cape Cod Chronicle in October 2020.

Even if you’ve never seen The Mandalorian, you’re undoubtedly familiar with its most iconic character: Baby Yoda, known in-franchise as ‘The Child,’ swept the nation with his cuteness and proved how unprepared Disney was with merchandising for the show. Star Pedro Pascal even described the Child as an “incredible scene partner,” showing he’s just as beloved on set as he is in our hearts.

Unfortunately, if you’re watching The Mandalorian solely for your Baby Yoda fix, you might have to wait a little while. The record-breaking series is back with a new season that will continue through to the end of the year. The titular Mandalorian (played by Pascal) returns, this time with a new mission that relegates Baby Yoda to a mere McGuffin, a plot device to drive the story forward. That’s definitely not a bad thing, though; it means we get more of Pascal and his ever-growing comfort in the role fo the Mandalorian.

As of writing, the only episode to be released is the Season Two premiere, entitled “The Marshal.” The episode consigns Baby Yoda to a spectator-like role, focusing more on the Mandalorian’s search for his kind. His search brings him to Tatooine, a planet well-known to Star Wars fans, where he comes across a village in need of help, led by Marshal Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant, whose naturally gruff demeanor helps him fit right into the Star Wars universe).

The plot is a loose take on Seven Samurai, eerily similar to the fourth episode of Season One. However, it’s different enough to distinguish itself, featuring two antagonistic groups coming together to defeat a common enemy in the form of a gigantic and seemingly undefeatable Krayt Dragon. It might drag the story down a bit, but it’s an entertaining (yet early) interlude in the Mandalorian’s quest.

One of the most common criticisms of modern Star Wars is that it focuses too much on the Jedi, but one thing The Mandalorian does well is giving the average galactic citizen time to shine. I’m happy to see that the series is continuing that trend in the Season Two premiere.

It’s not entirely perfect. The cliffhanger at the end of the first season is not addressed, and there is an unfortunate lack of underused villain Moff Gideon (expertly played by frequent baddie actor Giancarlo Esposito). In hindsight, though, Gideon’s appearance might have further complicated an already hour-long story, and I can appreciate that the show is playing the long game with its overarching plot. The world can wait.

An unexpected ending puts the perfect cherry on a fun romp that expands the universe we’re all so familiar with, and unsurprisingly top-notch visual effects make the viewing experience all the better. It might be in danger of venturing too far into deep Star Wars lore, but for now, the season premiere of The Mandalorian is a rousing episode that only makes me more excited for what’s to come. [Grade: A-]

Director/Writer: Jon Favreau
Starring: Pedro Pascal, Timothy Olyphant, Amy Sedaris, John Leguizamo
Rated: TV-14 (action)
Available: Disney+
Fun Fact: The character of Cobb Vanth was first mentioned in the new canon novel Star Wars: Aftermath, written by Chuck Wendig.

No comments:

Post a Comment