Forget the Khaleesi, there's a new dragon tamer in town...
To say 2020 has been a bad year is a bit of an understatement. But its why series like The Mandalorian have been a blessing for nerds everywhere, who were more than happy to see a second season featuring of Djin Djarin and baby Yoda. Season 1 was a huge success last year and was praised for not just its characters, but the worldbuilding of the universally loved Star Wars galaxy.
Disney has often been criticised for its handling of the source material, but The Mandalorian was able to regain some faith from the fanbase, only then to lose it again upon the release of Rise of the Skywalker, but that’s another story. Thankfully, the bad taste was washed away once again with the seventh and final season of The Clone Wars.
Anticipation grew even more as the casting of the second season was announced. With the addition of actors such as Rosario Dawson and even WWE superstar Sasha Banks. The casting of season two has led many to believe there will be plenty of fan service not just for fans of the original trilogy but also for lovers of the Clone Wars and the Rebels animated series.
Like season 1, The Mandalorian season 2 follows Din Djarin/Mando (Pedro Pascal) and The Child, as Djarin seeks to reunite The Child with its own kind, and to do such, he has to seek out other Mandalorians.
After interrogating Gor Koresh (John Leguizamo), his search for another Mandalorian leads him back to Tatooine where he reunites with his friend Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris). He arrives at a town named Mos Pelgo where he is introduced to the town Marshall Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), who is wearing some very familiar-looking armour…
In exchange for returning his armour to Djarin, Vanth asks for help against a Krayt Dragon who is terrorizing his town.
This is the first episode in the series that is directed by Jon Favreau and his love for westerns films and Star Wars is abundantly clear. As soon as the episode starts, we are greeted by great visuals as Mando and The Child arrive into a town clouded by darkness, with several creepy-looking red-eyed creatures adding a dirty grit the show is known for.
The episode also has a short but effective action sequence where Djarin fights off Koresh’s henchmen. If there was an issue with season one, it was that some of the action sequences were sometimes hard to see, but Favreau films it in a way where it is exciting, and the action is far more engaging.
Season one was praised for its homages to spaghetti westerns and they keep on coming from what we see here. Favreau beautifully recreates classic western images such as the hero gunslinger arriving into town on his horse (or in this case speeder), and even hints at a good old fashioned gunslinger duel between Djarin and Vanth.
Favreau once again succeeds in world-building. While the revisiting of the dreaded dune sea is familiar and some may find it repetitive, Favreau mixes it up with a different take on classic Star Wars creatures such as the Tusken Raiders (or the Sand People). While they are usually seen to be unintelligible and violent, Djarin is able to communicate with them and the town of Mos Pelgo. The town begrudgingly teams up with the Tusken Raiders in order to destroy the Krayt Dragon- an established but somewhat obscure creature hidden deep within Star Wars lore.
Thanks to his previous roles in shows such as Deadwood and Justified, Olyphant is very natural in the role of the Marshal, as he wants to protect his town.
The episode also features spectacular special effects, with the creative team once again inspired by the art of original concept artist- Ralph McQuarrie. Seeing a huge behemoth of a dragon, and a team of civilians fighting against it certainly gives this episode a Game of Thrones vibe. Proving The Mandalorian as already levelled up to that production value.
If there is a criticism of this episode, its that the new characters that are seen are not really delved into deeply, which was a problem at times with the first season. Except for the two last frames, the plot for this episode is relatively predictable as there are no real interesting twists in the episode. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it leaves much to be desired.
Overall, the point of this episode was to return to the world that both die-hard fans and newcomers alike fell in love with and in that, it succeeds. It is nice to see Djarin and The Child once again, and while some may call this episode slow, season one had similar criticisms thrown at it, and it was able to win over its audience at the end.
Hopefully, the Mandalorian keeps up the pace because of the many possibilities the first episode succeeds at creating. While this review is spoiler-free, that ending certainly bolstered a famous theory within Star Wars legends, that seems to have finally come to fruition.
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