Timothy Olyphant smolders his way to a top-tier guest spot on Disney+’s flagship space adventure series.
Hello and welcome everyone, to Season Two of The Mandalorian! A brief refresher: Din Djarin/Mando (Pedro Pascal) is the titular Mandalorian, warrior/bounty hunter who throws a job to save his target: his newly adopted son/universal sweetheart Baby (The Same Species As) Yoda, AKA The Child. Lone Wolf and Cub if Daigoro had Force powers and a palate for frogs, The Mandalorian was a jolt of energy that the Star Wars franchise desperately needed.
Season One concluded with reluctant single dad Djarin flying off into the stars to try and reunite The Child with his people, while remainders of the Empire (namely Darksaber wielder Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito)) are hot on their trail. So grab your broth and keep your helmets on, because Season Two is here at last! Written and directed by Jon Favreau, the premiere is a sweeping Western adventure that sidelines the grander quest for now.
Mando and The Child go to a Gamorrean fighting ring to speak to Gor Koresh (John Leguizamo), a local crime bigwig who might know the whereabouts of some other Mandalorians. Unsurprisingly, it’s a set up: when Mando refuses to bet his armor on the fight, Koresh and his goons pull their weapons on him. Thankfully, Mando and The Child have a system down and The Child hides in his bassinet whilst Djarin makes short work of the gunmen and gets the information from Koresh. Said information? That there might be a Mandalorian alive on Tatooine, in a place called Mos Pelgo.
Off to Tatooine they go, where they’re reunited with Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) whose droids start work on Mando’s ship (the Razor Crest) while she coos over The Child and gives Mando directions to Mos Pelgo. Mos Pelgo was wiped out by bandits after the Empire fell, Motto tells Mando, but he requests to borrow her speeder bike and head that way regardless. Ears flapping in the wind, The Child comes along for the ride, which seems unwise somehow.
Mos Pelgo is a classic little outpost full of suspicious locals and a taciturn bartender who doesn’t recognize the term Mandalorian when asked (“Can you describe him to me?”) but when Mando tells him that a Mandalorian would look like him, the bartender knows that answer to that one. That would be the Marshal, he notes, nodding towards the doorway where a man in armor stands, gunbelts and all. When The Mandalorian leans hard into “Space Western”, it’s a beautiful thing.
The Marshal (wearing very familiar armor) invites Mando for a drink, taking a bottle over to a table where he removes his helmet, revealing two things: One, he’s played by Timothy Olyphant and Two, he’s not a real Mandalorian, what with the helmet removal and all. His hidden facial expressions notwithstanding, it’s clear Mando is more than a little disappointed that he hasn’t found one of his compatriots.
The Marshal acknowledges that it’s probably not super appropriate of him to be wearing that armor, but he doesn’t think Mando is going to start a fight about it, what with bringing his kid into a bar and all. The Child is trying to look into a spittoon during this conversation, if we’re keeping track of Times Mando Needs to Look Behind Him. The Marshal, real name Cobb Vanth, bought the armor from some Jawas, and I don’t want to think about where they found it.
When The Mandalorian leans hard into “Space Western”, it’s a beautiful thing.
Mando demands the armor back, but before the situation can escalate the gentlemen are interrupted as a sudden earthquake shakes the buildings. They’ve got wormsign! Mando and Vanth watch as something huge moves under the sand, emerging partly to eat a bantha whole and swim away. It’s a Krayt Dragon, best known for being the impression that Obi-wan Kenobi uses to frighten off the Tusken Raiders in A New Hope. Vanth explains that the dragon has been attacking the settlement for years and offers to return the armor in exchange for Mando’s help in killing it. Mando agrees. The Child is now in the spittoon.
As Vanth and Mando travel via speeders to the dragon’s lair, Vanth shares how he came to have the armor. After the destruction of the Second Death Star, Mos Pelgo was almost immediately taken over by representatives of the Mining Collective, who turned it into a slave camp. Vanth managed to escape, stealing a container of silicax crystals which he then traded to the Jawas who rescued him for the armor. Using said armor, Vanth returned and liberated Mos Pelgo and has served as the Marshal ever since.
Partway to their destination, the trio encounters a group of Tuskens, who are also looking to kill the dragon. They’ve been feeding it to keep it asleep for longer periods, but after the group watches the dragon decline a bantha to eat a Raider instead, they acknowledge that they need assistance. Mando, Vanth, and the Tuskens make a deal: the people of Mos Pelgo will help to defeat the dragon, and in exchange, the Tuskens will leave Mos Pelgo alone (unless provoked). This isn’t met with great enthusiasm by the people of Mos Pelgo, but the threat of being dragon food wins out.
After a bit of a “we’re all in this together!” gearing up montage, the assorted peoples of the area team up to battle the dragon in a lovely bit of sand and explosions that I won’t spoil except to say that they win! Vanth gives back the armor and he and Mando part on friendly terms. Mando and The Child head back towards Mos Eisley, their passing noted by someone who might have a certain attachment towards the armor in question.
As premieres of sophomore seasons go, “The Marshal” is an excellent way to ease back into the worlds of The Mandalorian. There’s enough of the Big Story Arc to remind us what Djarin is looking for, but a good self-contained adventure inside of the “We’re looking for other Mandalorians/other squishy green guys” framework. The episode is entirely stolen by Timothy Olyphant as Cobb Vanth, a lean and sharp-eyed Western Hero who happens to own a jetpack. It can’t be easy to act against a helmet, but he does it and it’s charming as hell.
If anything, the episode stumbles for having one too many “HEY THIS IS STAR WARS” moments, what with Vanth’s smirking “The second one, that is” re: Death Stars, and cruising around Tatooine in a reworked podracer. I will also give any amount of credits to never hear anyone say “Every once in a while both suns shine on a womp rat’s tail” ever again.
The general adoration for The Child also works against the episode, as we get cute reaction shots as he witnesses Krayt Dragons and near bar fights, but other than that, he could’ve just as easily stayed back at Mos Eisley with Peli Motto. I love the little guy too, but sometimes you have to leave your kid at home. These are little things, however, and unlikely to change much, so the best plan is probably to wave them away and enjoy the ride.
- The pre-Mining Collective takeover shot of the people of Mos Pelgo watching the second Death Star blow up at the local watering hole is a great one. Hey, when you don’t have football, you have to watch something at the bar.
- Mando, I know you have work to do, and the whole “Wherever I go, he goes” mantra, but maybe a petting zoo? A soft play center. A park. Maybe ease up on the underground fighting rings and the bars. Get him a little tablet for inside that floating bed.
- When in doubt, hire a Twi’lek, I guess. Someone give some work to the Devaronians!
- How many little robes has The Child got? Is there a Carters in space?
- Please get that little guy some goggles.
- In what is probably an unintended bit of cross-promotional fallout, I’ve never watched Deadwood, but now I have to?