Friday, October 30, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Mandalorian' - Mando Is Pulled Into a Classic Western Story Upon His Return to Tatooine in 'Chapter 9: The Marshal'

Disney+'s The Mandalorian - Episode 2.01 "Chapter 9: The Marshal"

The Mandalorian is drawn to the Outer Rim in search of others of his kind.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Disney+'s The Mandalorian.

"Chapter 9: The Marshal" was written by Jon Favreau and directed by Jon Favreau

This drama was a surprise Emmy favorite for its first season. It was apparently a huge success for Disney+ as well in terms of viewers - though the streaming service doesn't release those numbers publicly. As such, anticipation was quite high for the second season. Would it continue operating in the same way as the first season did? Or would this newfound success actually change up the storytelling because the creative team knew the audience was there and eager to watch more? On one hand, this premiere is the longest episode this show has ever produced. On the other hand, it doesn't change the essence of what made this show great. That's an encouraging sign. Sure, the drama could eventually reach the point of diminishing returns when it comes to reaction shots of The Child - or Baby Yoda as most viewers are prone to calling him. It hasn't reached that point yet. It's still so joyful to watch that little creature reacting to all of the violence his guardian is capable of doing in the name of protecting him from the evil forces of this world. Moreover, it's still frustrating that Pedro Pascal is playing the Mandalorian largely behind a helmet at all times. And yet, the series established why that was important. Sure, Mando is a stoic, no-nonsense figure. That doesn't make him all that deep or rich. But again, he remains entertaining because of the various adventures he embarks on each week. The show still embraces episodic storytelling. Sure, it's not all that imaginative or original to cast Timothy Olyphant in a western pastiche. But he is just so damn good at it that no one should really be bothered by it. He is fantastic addition to this world as Cobb Vanth, a marshal wearing Mandalorian armor in order to protect his mining community. He is disrespectful to the creed because he doesn't abide by what the order deems so important. But this is a way for him to protect this dwindling community as it has faced numerous threats since the fall of the Empire. Mando returns to Tatooine only because he hears about another Mandalorian operating from there. He believes he needs the help of other Mandalorians in order to successfully deliver Baby Yoda back to his home planet and species. That reassurance is never found though. Instead, Mando is propelled into a story largely because he can't allow the Mandalorian armor to continue being used in such a way. He fights against the krayt dragon in order to make a difference. In fact, the overall story here is quite familiar. Two warring sides are forced to work together in order to defeat a common enemy. In doing so, they learn to respect each other and can begin a new era in their working relationship. But again, the execution is at such a high and entertaining level that the audience probably doesn't care about the simplicity. It's incredible to see the special events and the action this world is still capable of producing. The planet of Tatooine is very important in the history of Star Wars. Important characters were born here. Important events have happened here. Every time Mando arrives on this planet for an adventure the episode ends with a tease that something more is going on. That's understandable because of the connections to the overall Star Wars mythology. At the end of "Chapter 5: The Gunslinger," a mysterious stranger steps into the frame to possibly save Fennec Shand. At the end of this episode, a mysterious stranger is also watching over Mando as he rides away having slain the dragon. Now, hardcore fans are already speculating as to who this character is due to Temuera Morrison playing him. However, I will leave that speculation alone until the story itself confirms what exactly is going on. The storytelling overall leaves the impression that all of these story beats are important despite them feeling very contained. When Cobb hands over the armor, he tells Mando that he hopes they meet again one day. That is almost a certainty given the prominence of Olyphant's casting. It may be pandering just a little bit. Every story basically ends with the show winking to the audience that all of these characters could be seen again for more adventures. It's celebratory when Amy Sedaris pops up once more as Peli Motto here. So long as the show creates this rich tapestry of characters to play with, the audience will want to spend more time with them. Sure, more depth is always necessary. Mando doesn't make any real progress in his core mission. That kind of stalling technique can also be frustrating. And yet, the audience should still have trust in the storytellers. This is all building up to something more consequential for everyone involved. It hasn't lost the spirit of what makes the show so great. That energy is appreciated because it creates episodes that are entertaining to watch with the added bonus of some fans getting pleasure out of seeing how the various Easter eggs connect to the mythology overall.