November of last year marked a major success not only for Disney but for its streaming service, Disney+, when Jon Favreau’s “The Mandalorian” made its debut.
The series was a smash hit for a number of reasons. “The Mandalorian” was the first time the Star Wars franchise became serialized in a live action television series. Additionally, the show introduced fans to a number of instantly iconic lines such as the sentence-punctuating, “I have spoken,” as well as the mantra, “This is the way.”
There is no question, however, that the most notable success of the show was the appearance of The Child, better known to the public as “Baby Yoda”.
“The Mandalorian” follows the escapades of the titular character, a rogue bounty hunter, on his mission to keep The Child safe from other hired hands. Viewers of the series will remember the season one premiere, in which The Mandalorian (played by Pedro Pascal) joins forces with the eccentric assassin, IG-11 (played by Taika Waititi) to secure a mysterious target.
Of course, that target was revealed to be The Child, who was met with overwhelming praise from fans and non-fans alike. With the series having returned this past Friday, Oct. 30, that same audience is left with a major question: Does the season two premiere live up to the hype of the season one debut?
The quick answer is no, but by no means is the latest installment in the series a bad one.
The second season kicked off with an episode titled, “Chapter 9: The Marshal,” which saw The Mandalorian defend a desert village from a massive carnivorous beast dubbed a Krayt Dragon. Naturally, to take on such a threat, Mando (as The Mandalorian is affectionately, and sometimes not-so-affectionately called) is in need of assistance. Perhaps more aptly put, Mando is the one who’s been recruited for help by series newcomer Cobb Vanth (played by Timothy Olyphant), who also happens to be the marshal that the episode’s title refers to. Together, along with a plethora of background villagers and desert-dwelling aliens called Tusken Raiders, our protagonists set out to do away with the Krayt Dragon.
The plot, though simple, is well executed in the hands of veteran writer and director, Favreau. The newest episode exhibits an expert understanding of the Star Wars universe and the lore that comes with it. Seasoned fans will be overjoyed by both subtle and blatant easter eggs scattered throughout the episode, including cameo appearances from familiar faces.
“The Mandalorian” is no stranger to the Western genre. Many critics of the first season likened the tone of the show to that of the “Spaghetti Western,” a stylized form of the genre that originated from Italy and rose to prominence in the mid-1960s.
“Chapter 9: The Marshal,” continues this trend for the show. Many Western tropes weave their way into the episode: a forefront holster dominates the cinematography of a showdown, and Mando gets sideways glances as he arrives in a backwater town. Though present, these tropes never weigh the episode down, and perhaps, even add to the charm of season two’s debut.
So, with such praise, why the stance that the latest installment of “The Mandalorian” doesn’t live up to the start of season one? Well, simply put, things aren’t as exciting when you’ve become familiarized with the idiosyncrasies of the series. The premiere of season two simply can not deliver the same sense of something new to audiences as the premiere of season one. “Chapter 1: The Mandalorian,” introduced a new side of the Star Wars universe with a protagonist that was unlike any viewers had seen before. The stylistic aspects of the show, and even composer Ludwig Göransson’s trenchant score, are less exhilarating when reintroduced rather than experienced for the first time. While I was personally pleased with the revelation at the end of “Chapter 9,” it does not have as much of an impact on viewers who are not longtime Star Wars fans. On the other hand, the reveal of The Child at the end of season one’s premiere offered an intriguing new story to all viewers, regardless of their previous relationship with the Star Wars franchise. Admittedly, these faults are the result of nit-picking. Ultimately, “Chapter 9: The Marshal,” offers an enjoyable continuation to the beloved series. Whether or not season two will continue on this path is uncertain, but continuing to watch is the only way to find out. After all, “this is the way.”