Published Oct 30, 2020Star Wars disappointed just about everyone last year with its bloated conclusion to the Skywalker Saga, but Jon Favreau's Disney+ series The Mandalorian stayed on the light side of the Force with a gripping space Western that was cute without being silly, and classic without relying too heavily on nostalgia. The initial eight-episode arc felt low-stakes in a way that was perfect for a serialized sci-fi romp.
A little less than a year later, the show's second season premiere picks up right where the first one left off: titular bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) is still embracing his paternal side as he tries to return the Child — better known to the internet as Baby Yoda — to its own kind.
Plot-wise, "Chapter 9: The Marshall" is gratifyingly simple, as Din is on a scavenger hunt-style to find other Mandalorians, whom he hopes will help him with the Child. This brings him to Tattooine, where he links up with a local Marshall (Timothy Olyphant) to take down a massive sand monster who is wreaking havoc on both the townspeople and the rascally Tusken Raiders.
"The Marshall" does what all the best episodes from the first season did: it tells a self-contained story that works almost like a mini-movie in itself. The Mandalorian is as stoic and expressionless as ever behind his mask, meaning that the key emoting is done by those around him: Olyphant is charming and ruggedly cool like a sheriff from a classic Western, while Amy Sedaris brings her signature wacky wit to her role as the nurturing mechanic Peli Motto. Even in her brief scene, it's delightful to see how she doesn't tone down her Sedaris-ness at all, bringing Star Wars into her universe instead of the other way around. And, of course, the Child offers all of the adorable reactions that GIF-lovers could ever hope for. Composer Ludwig Göransson evokes the Spaghetti Western scores of old, and the visuals offer impeccable alien vistas and impressive CGI thrills.
It's a satisfying start that offers just enough unresolved intrigue to re-hook viewers who tuned in last year. The Force is still strong with this one. (Disney)