‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2 Premiere Teases the Arrival of Boba Fett
The “Star Wars” spin-off, debuting today on Disney+, features several new characters, a few twists and turns, and of course: Baby Yoda.
When The Mandalorian premiered last November on Disney+, it rejuvenated the Star Wars franchise, which at that point was contending with continuing criticism of the reinvention-oriented The Last Jedi, and on the precipice of inciting significant fan backlash over the underwhelming The Rise of Skywalker. A modestly scaled affair that rejected operatic save-the-world spectacle in favor of lean samurai-Western action—think an intergalactic version of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo or Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” trilogy—the eight-episode series was all the more engaging for stripping down its stakes in service of lone-warrior adventure. As envisioned by Jon Favreau, it was an endeavor less interested in the Force and the fate of the galaxy than the plight of a solitary mercenary on a journey of self-discovery.
Plus, it had Baby Yoda.
Thus, today’s return of The Mandalorian (Oct. 30) has been eagerly awaited by both die-hards and Baby Yoda meme devotees. While Disney hasn’t provided advance screeners to press, the maiden installment in the show’s sophomore run sets up a new laser-blasting odyssey for its nomadic hero (Pedro Pascal), who’s been tasked by his Mandalorian Armorer with returning Baby Yoda to his kind. That promises to be an epic quest full of mystery, combat, and surprises. Certainly, bombshells are delivered by the show’s debut, given that it’s not long before Mando runs into a man wearing the very same armor that once belonged to the Star Wars universe’s most famous bounty hunter: Boba Fett.
And that’s before the episode (“Chapter 9: The Marshal”) ends on a cliffhanger reveal involving an individual embodied by Temuera Morrison, who previously played Jango Fett—the father of Boba Fett, and the biological template for his son and a legion of clones—in Star Wars: Episode II–Attack of the Clones. Meaning that either Jango himself isn’t dead, or one of his genetically engineered offspring—most likely Boba himself—is still alive and kicking.
As a first step on the path to completing his mission, Mando visits a sketchy arena where he hopes alien cyclops Gor Koresh (John Leguizamo) can point him in the direction of any remaining Mandalorians who might aid his cause. Gor lets him know that one apparently does reside on Tatooine, in a long-forgotten city known as Mos Pelgo. Gor then tries to double-cross Mando, which doesn’t go well for the criminal, who winds up hanging by his ankles—and surrounded by hungry glowing-eyed creatures—in short order.
Mando travels to Tatooine, where he gets directions from Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) and promptly embarks on a rusty speeder bike across vast desert plains to Mos Pelgo, a sci-fi variation on the sort of dusty, remote frontier settlement (with two rows of buildings lining the main thoroughfare) Western fans will immediately recognize. There, he meets the outpost’s marshal, who’s wearing Boba Fett’s armor. Yet it’s not Boba himself; rather, it’s Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), who purchased the Mando armor from Tusken Raiders. Since only Mandalorians can don Beskar steel, this doesn’t please Mando. However, before the two gunslingers can have a quick-draw duel, a gigantic krayt dragon (resembling a subterranean sand worm crossed with a whale) roars through the center of town. In response to this threat, the two strike a deal: Vanth will relinquish the armor if Mando helps him slay the krayt dragon.
That’s the set-up for an ensuing tale in which Mando and Vanth are compelled by necessity to team with the Tusken Raiders to vanquish the hungry goliath. “Joining forces is their only hope,” says Mando with regards to Mos Pelgo’s inhabitants and their hated Tusken rivals, thereby underlining that cross-cultural dialogue and unity between disparate people is the key to healing the fractured galaxy—a message that resonates beyond the confines of just the Star Wars universe. As written and directed by Favreau, who once again strikes a nice balance between on-the-ground character-based drama and expansive visions of the Tatooine wasteland and grand man-versus-beast battles, The Mandalorian’s Season 2 opener is another tale about the need for togetherness in a time of crisis.
As for everyone’s favorite pointy-eared alien tyke, Baby Yoda does little more than flash some wide-eyed stares and emit a few cooing noises during his handful of reaction shots, serving as adorable background decoration for a story designed to initiate the forthcoming narrative. The focus is mostly on Pascal’s stoic protagonist and Olyphant’s Vanth, the latter yet another of the accomplished actor’s frontier-lawmen characters—a stable that also includes Justified’s Raylan Givens, Deadwood’s Seth Bullock, and Fargo’s Dick “Deafy” Wickware. It’s hardly a role that lets Olyphant stretch his legs, but the actor is so comfortable embodying this particular type that when he remarks, in his typical Western drawl, “I guess every once in a while, both suns shine on a womp rat’s tail,” it’s hard not to smile.
As before, The Mandalorian’s locales aren’t the sterile gray-and-white corridors of the Death Star or the glistening CGI metropolises of George Lucas’ prequels, but barren landscapes where everything and everyone is weathered and beaten up by the unforgiving elements, and the strain of post-war recovery. There’s a tactile, lived-in feel to the proceedings that’s inviting and contributes to the action’s tension, which peaks with the showdown against the krayt dragon. The biggest takeaway from Mando and company’s climactic skirmish is that the behemoth lives in a sarlacc pit and that Mando’s armor is tough enough to withstand the acidic bile of the dragon’s stomach—which, in turn, suggests that though he was consumed by a sarlacc in Return of the Jedi, Boba Fett might very well have survived his apparent death.
No doubt future episodes will elucidate the true identity of Temuera Morrison’s enigmatic figure, who’s only seen at the very end of “Chapter 9,” watching Mando from a distant ridge as the warrior skims across the desert. Nonetheless, this revelation validates early rumors that Boba Fett would factor into this season. And it makes clear that the series will remain its own reserved stand-alone venture, as well as a spin-off that’s tethered, in crucial ways, to the larger Star Wars saga.
For The Mandalorian, this is the way.