THE MANDALORIAN: THE MARSHAL Breakdown & Recap
Instead of an ordinary review of the episode, instead this will be a breakdown of the episode with a focus on the references, both in the Star Wars universe and other media that influenced the episode and series. A full review of the entire season will be released upon conclusion of the season later in December. I have spoken.
Season 2 begins not in the Western setting of the rest of the series, but in more of a sci-fi crime setting. Mando a.k.a Din Djarin wanders out of the shadows into a graffiti filled, dimly lit city before heading into an underground fighting arena. Gamorrenas, the guards of Jabba The Hutt seen in Return of the Jedi , go at it in the ring as The Mandalorian sits down with the crime lord, Gor Koresh voiced by John Leguizamo. Mando’s inquiries about other Mandalorians to help find The Child’s home result in him going full Batman and knocking out goons before he ropes up Koresh upside down in a dark alley. Koresh reveals a Mandalorian located on Tatooine before Mando solidifies the Batman comparison by pulling the “I’m not going to kill you, but I don’t have to save you” card as he leaves Koresh to the red-eyed monsters lurking in the shadows.
Why does everyone want to go back to Tatooine?
After the crime soaked, cold open, we (and Mando) return to the Western trappings of the series and one of the many backwater desert planets in Star Wars, Tatooine. Here Mando revisits Peli Motto, Amy Sedaris' character last seen in Chapter 5, The Gunslinger. We see the results of Mando’s character growth as he no longer detests all droids, following the sacrifice of IG-11 in Chapter 8, Redemption.
One of the many upcoming references on this planet, is the R5 droid that was being sold to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode IV before it malfunctioned. Peli’s frustration with the droid’s apparent laziness is a callback to the R5's reason for malfunctioning being the result of a “bad motivator”. As a result, Luke’s family buys R2 and the rest is history.
The Mandalorian series adds or expands on details of the Star Wars universe and in this scene, we are introduced to a proper map of a planet. There have been holograms of planets, but never a detailed, topographic map of one. We see the rough locations of the only 2 towns seen on Tatooine (so far), with Mos Eisley (a wretched hive of scum and villainy) and Mos Espa (Anakin Skywalker’s hometown) located close to one another. Peli gives Mando a general location of Mos Pelgo, where the mysterious other Mandalorian might be as he rides out.
A Man(do) rides into town…
It’s the start of many classic, John Wayne/Gary Cooper Westerns with the lone cowboy wanderin into town and solving the townsfolks' problems before moving on. Mando pulling up on Mos Pelgo combines this classic story trope with the equally influential work of Sergio Leone, who revised the Western genre from glamourous and heroic to gritty and murky. The ramshackle, disparate layout of Mos Pelgo feels reminiscent of Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone Western’s like A Fistful of Dollars. Director Jon Favreau lays the Western tropes on thick as Mando walks into the local canteen and the bartender describes the region as “these parts”. In the canteen, Din finds his mysterious Mandalorian.
In a misdirect, Din’s mysterious Mandalorian is not an actual Mandalorian but the town’s Marshal (sheriff), Cobb Vanth. Cobb is played, in a justified piece of casting by Timothy Olyphant. Olyphant’s casting is a meta reference to his role on the TV series Justified, in which he played a modern-day US Marshal. Vanth was introduced in the book trilogy series Aftermath, which follows the collapse of the Empire and the birth of the First Order. He is the first character who has been introduced in novels before appearing in live action form.
Metatextual references and synergistic story-telling aside, the big reveal of this moment is that Vanth is wearing the armour of the iconic bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Fett was last seen in Return of the Jedi flying into a Sarlaac Pit where he was to be digested for over a thousand years. Vanth reveals he bought the armour off Jawas, who roam the deserts of Tatooine collecting and selling junk. The question remains, how did the Jawas find Fett’s armour which should be stuck inside a Sarlaac Pit? Well, the answer may be revealed in the episode later on.
Din and Cobb have a tense, bar-room showdown with hands wavering over blasters before the town is literally shaken by a classic Star Wars monster that has not been properly seen until now…
The Krayt Dragon, or remains of one, were first seen in Episode IV when C-3PO wanders the deserts of Tatooine. The creature is one of a few references to Frank Herbert’s novel, Dune, which is apart of the long list of influences on George Lucas that resulted in Star Wars. The desert planet, the valuable mineral known as ‘spice’ and now the burrowing worm like creature, all stem from Dune. Here, Mando and Vanth make a deal to kill the Dragon in exachange for Mando getting Fett’s armour.
They set out to find the Dragon, where we see Vanth has retrofitted an old podracer engine as a speeder with the engine bearing an uncanny resemblance to an engine of Anakin Skywalker’s podracer in Episode I. On their trek, Vanth reveals specifically how he came across Boba Fett’s armour with a ground floor perspective of the destruction of the Death Star, or as Vanth clarifies “The second one that is”.
Out in the Dune Sea, the duo encounter the native Tusken Raiders and form a tenuous relation between the Raiders and townsfolk of Mos Pelgos with a tired Western trope covered in a Star Wars kin. The tense relation is reminiscent of Westerns of the 30s, 40s and 50s where the villain were “savage” Native Americans, with even Mos Pelgos locals calling the Raiders “monsters”. THanks to modern filmmaking and values, the Tusken Raiders are not villified but respected as brutal warriors in a brutal landscape.
Together, the group defeat the Dragon in an epic battle, which can’t be contained within a 2.39:1 aspect ratio and reaches out to fill the screen as the filming transitions to the IMAX footage. In another world, this premiere would have been held at IMAX theatres with this being the big showcase moment. As Din reclaims Fett’s armour and rides out into the dual sunset, Star Wars fanboys rejoiced...
In the closing moments of the episode, The Mandalorian is watched by someone who can only be Boba Fett himself. The only confirmation of this is that the actor is Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett and voiced Boba Fett in re-releases of the Original Trilogy as Boba is a clone of Jango. If it isn’t Boba, then what are the chances that another clone of Jango Fett is on Tatooine and has an interest in that armour? Also, quick way to piss off fanboys (besides including lead female characters and deconstructing male characters) is to give them something they’ve wanted for years, only to snatch it away again.
Boba Fett has been a fan favourite character, purely for the aesthetic, which meant that there were decades of stories of Boba’s adventures prior to him falling into the Pit and after with the fan-held belief that he managed to use his (clearly broken) jetpack to fly back out. After the Disney buy-out of Lucasfilm, all these stories and more were removed from Star Wars history and classified as ‘Legends’. Now, the ‘Legends’ are being retold.
So…HOW THE HELL IS HE STILL ALIVE?
Boba went flying into the Sarlaac Pit like a chump with no clear explanation as to how he could have escaped. Well, a throwaway line might have clued us in on how he survived.
The Krayt Dragon’s lair is inside an abandoned Sarlaac Pit, which Cobb Vanth says is impossible. The Mandalorian’s response is, “only if you eat the Sarlaac”. So potentially, a Krayt Dragon ate the Sarlaac Pit with Boba Fett being digested, which would put Boba inside the Dragon, which he could escape from, much like Din Djarin does in this episode.
This will definitely not be the last we see of Boba in this season at least, so we will get a definitive answer soon. But with Jon Favreau, co-creator on this series, directing and writing this episode, nothing should be considered coincidental. This is the way.