The Mandalorian Season 2 hits the ground running with Easter egg and Baby Yoda reaction-packed premiere
The Mandalorian Season 2 premiere teases more meme-able Baby Yoda moments, a giant sand monster and a potentially big reveal.
Get your meme generators ready: Internet darling Baby Yoda returns with his reluctant dad for a new season of The Mandalorian. Keeping with Star Wars tradition, the Disney+ show is like a Bifrost Bridge between the worlds of Spaghetti Westerns and intergalactic adventures. The Season 2 premiere continues the cross-pollination with a sense of space, size, and spark that mirrors those worlds and more. Aside from the usual Star Wars delights, prepare for an acute case of typecasting déjà vu as Timothy Olyphant plays another gunslinging cowboy like he did in Deadwood and Justified, with the same cockiness, trigger-happiness and all. Dune fans upset over the film's postponement also get a sandworm alternate in a Krayt Dragon.
If you've done your homework, well and good. For those who haven't, a quick recap: Mando (real name: Din Djarin) wasn't born into the legendary Mandalorian tribe, but raised by them after his parents were killed by Separatist droids (hence his misgivings of all droids as an adult) during the Clone Wars. Years after the fall of the Empire, the now-adult Mando (Pedro Pascal) travels across the galaxy's lawless Outer Rim territories to collect bounties on assignments from Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), the Bounty Hunters' Guild agent operating out of Nevarro. One one such assignment, he is tasked by a client to acquire an asset which turns out to be Baby Yoda (officially referred to as the Child). When he realises the client has nefarious intentions for the force-sensitive toddler, Mando goes rogue to protect his charge. He faces off against scavenging Jawas on Arvala-7, Imperial AT-STs on Sorgan, and a rival bounty hunter on Tatooine. He also recruits some allies along the way: Kuiil (voiced by Nick Nolte), an Arvala-7 native working as a vapor farmer, Cara Dune (Gina Carano), a Rebel shock trooper-turned-merc from Alderaan, and an IG-11 droid (voiced by Taika Waititi) reprogrammed to be Baby Yoda's nurse. The Big Bad is an ex-Imperial commander named Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who leads an army of Stormtroopers on a single-minded hunt for Baby Yoda. The clash between Moff and Mando ends in a couple of casualties (Kuiil and IG-11), before Mando and Baby Yoda escape to chart a new course to reunite the latter with his own kind.
The course won't obviously be a straightforward one. He will need allies, Mandalorian and otherwise. That's where Season 2 picks up as Mando and Bady Yoda arrive on Tatooine in search of a Mandalorian said to live in Mos Pelgo. The staging in "Chapter 9: The Marshal" is worth singling out: it brings to mind High Plains Drifter, where Clint Eastwood similarly rides into a dusty mining town. Ludwig Göransson builds on the opening motif with a more sweeping score to encapsulate the wide plains of Tatooine. All it takes is a visit to the cantina for Jon Favreau to plant his narrative hook. We meet Olyphant's Cobb Vanth, the town's marshal who sports Boba Fett's iconic Mandalorian armour. A verbal duel with Mando evolves into a quick draw situation in no time. Only, they're interrupted by a Krayt Dragon, which has been terrorising the town. So, Mando and Cobb put their differences aside to kill the beast, even negotiating a truce between the townsfolk and Tusken raiders to defeat their common threat.
A large part of Season 1's success was down to its breakout star Baby Yoda. In this episode, however, he mostly plays the role of an observer as the camera holds on his reactions to the surrounding mayhem. Each blink of those big eyes and wiggle of those perky ears make for an endearing reaction shot, tightening its hold over the Internet's hearts. Favreau and his cast also kick back and revel in the world they’ve so lovingly created. The episode opens with Mando and his pocket-sized ward paying a visit to a Gamorrean fighting ring, as Mando seeks info on a fellow clan member. Easter egg hunters should have a field day with the graffitied walls as Mando and Baby Yoda walk through a deserted street in the opening scene. Besides the Krayt Dragon, banthas, massiffs, and womp rats also pop up on Tatooine. Also, look out for an R5-D4 (the droid Luke's uncle Owen Lars nearly bought instead of R2-D2 in A New Hope).
The episode ends with a glimpse of a bald man in dark robes. The actor playing him turns out to be Temuera Morrison, who was Jango Fett in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Considering Jango was decapitated in that movie, Morrison could be playing his son Boba. If you remember the ending of “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger”, a mysterious figure with a similar appearance approaches the body of assassin Fennec Shand on Tatooine. Cobb and Boba aside, Season 2 is also expected to feature Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker's padawan who leaves the Jedi Order to join the rebels in The Clone Wars, and Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze, who leads an elite unit of female Mandalorian warriors. Their appearances should alone keep the viewers coming back for the next seven chapters.
The reason The Mandalorian works is because Jon Favreau doesn't just copy-paste George Lucas's ideas on Notepad++ like JJ Abrams did with his Star Wars update. He gives the fans something new while upholding the spirit of hope and redemption the saga embodied.
While The Mandalorian doesn't exactly reshape Star Wars mythology, much less the modern language of science fiction, it builds its own personality within the saga. It does this by eschewing the usual Star Wars “universe at stake” mechanics of death stars, TIE bombers, and trench run explosions for a more low-stakes, meaningful sense of adventure.
However, the show can't escape some of its video game sensibilities. The new episode too often feels like a side quest meant to accumulate experience points and collectibles (like Boba Fett's armour), rather than inform the main plot. It's a problem it inherits from Season 1. At times, conversations play out like cut scenes in a video game sapping the narrative of some of its forward momentum. Some of the conversations between Mando and Cobb are nothing but an inorganic exposition dump to reveal the latter's backstory to the viewers. Cutesy Star Wars adages — like Cobb's "Every once in a while, both suns shine on a womp rat's tail" — aren't really a fix for grating dialogue.
Season 1 ended with images that raised a whole host of questions. We saw Moff Gideon emerge from the rubble of his downed TIE fighter, brandishing what appeared to be a Darksaber. It's a bit of a legendary weapon in Star Wars canon. It was created by the first Mandalorian Jedi Tarre Vizsla and last held by the Mandalorian warrior Sabine Wren in Star Wars: Rebels. So, how did it get passed down to Gideon? Could he be force-sensitive? Why is he after the Child? Questions also remain on the Child's identity, like where he's from and if there are more like him. These are questions Season 2 will hopefully answer. All this sets up a vast canvas of intergalactic possibilities that will keep the fans guessing, theorising, and combing through every frame of each new episode.
The Mandalorian Season 2 episodes release every Friday on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.
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