Review: “The Mandalorian” Season two Episode one

David Brashier, A&C Reporter

“The Mandalorian” returned to Disney+ Friday with the first episode of the series’ highly-anticipated second season, titled “The Marshal.” In a year marked by filming delays due to the pandemic, it’s a surprise that Disney was able to adhere to the new season’s original release date. But in what has arguably been a difficult year for all, it’s nice to have some fresh content.

Season Two picks up where Season One left off. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), a.k.a. “Mando,” with the Child (or as fans like to call “Baby Yoda”) in tow is seeking information from a beskar collector, which establishes his initial goal for this season: locating other Mandalorians. This encounter leads Mando to Tatooine, where he remains for the rest of the episode. The opening is strong and contains a solid action scene that isn’t meant as a throwaway: it genuinely moves the story along.

On Tatooine, Mando meets Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris), returning from Season One, who points him in the direction of a rural mining village in the Dune Sea of the desert planet. It is here Mando and the Child meet Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), aka. “the Marshal,” a local law enforcement official posing as a Mandalorian.

Mando, disgusted by a non-Mandalorian wearing his cultural armor, threatens the Marshal with taking his armor forcefully. The Marshal is willing, but only if Mando will help him and his village. A mysterious creature has been eating livestock, minerals and villagers, and the Marshal recruits Mando to help kill it.

“The Marshal” is a solid return to this series for a plethora of reasons. For one thing, the Mandalorian himself is front and center. Some fans complained last season he Child was shoehorned into too many plot points, and there were plenty of fanatics raving about the character to distract from the titular character himself. Not the case here. The Child is certainly present, and offers just as much adorableness as viewers would want, but its presence never distracts from Mando himself.

Secondly, there aren’t any major callbacks to the first season, or any direct references to other “Star Wars” characters or storylines outside of this series. The creators aren’t trying to live off of the hype from the first season, and they don’t rely on fan service to give this new season the wow factor right out of the gate. This episode stands on its own while continuing the story viewers were left off with at the end of Season One.

“The Marshal” also continues evoking the spaghetti-western tone that writers established in the first season. The first season was heavily inspired by old Western films, both with the structure of the episodes themselves and the titular character as a lone gunslinger. This episode leans even heavier into those western tropes with a “Star Wars” coat of paint. There are a lot of direct references to  classic spaghetti-western-style movies from the last century, and it works here.

The action in this episode is just as good as it was in Season One, blending Mando’s martial arts, blade-wielding and gunslinging, as well as a grand, orchestrated, well-choreographed battle scene to top it all off. Even so, most of this episode is character development, not just for Mando, but also for The Marshal as his counterpart for this episode, who could very well return in future chapters. Central to the resolution of this episode is a team-up between characters that long-time “Star Wars” fans will find fresh and new, but to reveal any more would mean spoiling it.

The only major drawback for this episode is a flashback for the sake of character development for The Marshal, which overstays its welcome. It’s unnecessary and honestly would have made The Marshal a more suave and interesting figure for viewers had writers left it out.

The cinematography in this episode is just as gorgeous as fans would expect. As with any “Star Wars” media these days, there is a perfect blend of practical effects, sets and props, with CGI only used when necessary. The CGI in this episode looks spectacular, especially on creature effects. 

Ludwig Göransson returns to compose the score this season, which is just as punchy as ever. 

Overall, this episode set the bar high for Season Two of  “The Mandalorian,” and gives a lot of promise for what is to come. The story is tight, the characters even tighter, the visuals are gorgeous, and it’s a fun ride all the way. Time will tell whether fans’ concerns for this series will prove true, such as whether the Child will be used too liberally, or if the story will get bogged down with other “Star Wars” franchise characters from outside of this series. But for now, “The Mandalorian” is back and just as good as last season, and that is something to be excited for.