This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian episode “The Marshal.”
In a year that’s been absolutely horrible on many fronts, The Mandalorian is a welcomed return with Chapter Nine “The Marshal.”
I thought this episode was a pretty fine opening for the most part. It wasn’t my favorite episode by any means, but I don’t think it was necessarily meant for a fan like me. “The Marshal” felt like the Mando narrative was getting warmed back up again. We touched on many story beats from season one to remind the more casual fans of where we are. This episode wasn’t made for someone like me who has rewatched the season one episodes multiple times and participated in a queer roundtable discussions for over eight hours.
The Mandalorian has always leaned heavily on the Western genre. “The Marshal” was no exception. There were many nods to Western movie tropes. But even though we’re treading familiar ground by returning to Tatooine, seeing characters like Peli again, and having essentially the same plot as Chapter Four “Sanctuary,” there was plenty of exploration of new content to make it feel fresh.
I continue to love the deep dive into the Tusken Raiders and their culture. Though the last few years of Star Wars has widened its storytelling through representation, we still need more tales of indigenous people. It’s so impressive that over forty years later, we’re getting a fresh new look at these characters. They’re not “monsters” like Cobb Vanth calls them. The Tuskens are intelligent with a full language. They’ve domesticated their animals. It’s an entire culture that we’re finally starting to truly see for the first time.
I would highly recommend watching the final installment of Postcards from the Galaxy’s Edge that premiered earlier this week. It’s titled “The Moment Star Wars Spoke to Me: With Hope,” and it’s a discussion about diversity. Jordan Maison, the editor-in-chief of Cinelinx, talks about the past problematic portrayals of the Tuskens and why proper representation of native people is important. I kept thinking back to that video throughout my viewing of “The Marshal.”
I’m very excited to see Din and Baby Yoda’s journey. Din has to return the Child to his people being either the Jedi or his species. What I really hope we get this season is a deeper exploration of the Force. In the Sequel Trilogy era, the Jedi are gone and the Sith are in hiding. This is a fantastic opportunity to show to a wider audience stories that have already been explored in animation.
In the animated shows, we’ve seen other Force users who are not Jedi or Sith. We’ve explored Dark Siders like the Nightsisters. We seen worshipers of the Light Side through the Lasats. But now in The Mandalorian timeline, what does it mean to be a Force user? Why does Baby Yoda have to be a Jedi? They have a great opportunity to really dig into the deeper mysticism of the Force without titles attached to it.
One piece of dialogue that stood out to me in “The Marshal” was the “He’s seen worse” line. Din is constantly exposing this force sensitive child to all sorts of violence. We’ve seen this manifest last season when Baby Yoda tried to Force choke Cara Dune, a move that’s often used by Dark Siders. But he choked her out of trying to protect his father figure who he thought was in danger. This Child has both Light and Dark Side tendencies. Perhaps we’re going to explore balance.
What is balance in the Force? What is balance to a Force User?
In my opinion, balance is when a Force User accepts both the light and the dark. The Jedi fell because they were not flexible enough to recognize their own faults. It was individuals who saw the Jedi’s flaws like Qui-Gon Jinn and Ahsoka Tano. Palpatine lost in the Original Trilogy, because he underestimated the power of love with Vader redeeming for his son, Luke Skywalker. Both the Light and the Dark Side failed in the Prequel and Original Trilogies, because they were the extremes.
And then we have Baby Yoda. We have a probably Light Side child that’s being exposed to violence and the underworld of the galaxy. That’s going to affect him for sure. The question going forward is how. How will this impact his development for the show? Will they explore Baby Yoda’s Dark Side alongside his Light too? That would be such an interesting character arc for the Child.
Personally, I think it would be a huge move if they never make Baby Yoda a Jedi. He doesn’t need to be. Let the Child be a Force user in his own right without being defined by the few Force titles we have in Star Wars.
So when people use fan service as a criticism of the Aftermath and KOTOR Easter eggs in #TheMandalorian I respectfully disagree. I see it as this franchise FINALLY beginning to realize the promise it made 5 years ago to expand storytelling in a truly big way.
— Mark’s Forever Star Wars 🏳️🌈 (@djmmarquis) November 1, 2020
Depending on whether or not you’ve read the Aftermath trilogy, “The Marshal” brought in either a new character or a familiar one. The introduction of Cobb Vanth gave me the same feelings as the reveal of Darth Maul in Solo. I like when the canon connects like this, because it gives the ancillary content more importance. I’ve talked before on this site about how The Rise of Skywalker’s completely ignoring the comics, books, and animated series. So it’s nice seeing The Mandalorian touching on a book character like Vanth. It opens the door to many other characters to come into live action. Everyone from Rae Sloane to Ciena and Thane are on the table now.
Part of me also thinks this is very sneaky on Disney’s part too. While Vanth isn’t as ballsy of a move as Maul was in Solo, it still has that edge of marketing underneath. Though I will admit, I am very critical of Disney as a corporation. I’ve talked about it in great length on my podcast Hope Makes Chris Watch Cartoons and in other shows like Pink Milk podcast. To me, this feels like Disney pushing the ancillary content. It’s them going, “Oh? You don’t know why Maul is in Solo? Check out Clone Wars! You like this Cobb Vanth guy? You should read the Aftermath trilogy.” Vanth is a much smoother transition than Maul. He’s such a minor character in the books that this might as well be his first introduction to the wider universe. So to me, this works so much better than Maul in Solo. But it still has that “upselling products to the audience” feel to it.
I think the introduction of Vanth is the groundwork for the bigger theme of this season. I believe we’re going to explore what makes a Mandalorian who they are. Din’s group of Mandos are so vastly different from anything we’ve seen before. He was clearly alive in the same time period as Sabine Wren in Star Wars Rebels, who is a Mando who removed her helmet. Bo-Katan, Fenn Rau, Ursa Wren, and even Deathwatch members took their helmets off. Why are Din’s particular group of Mandalorians so different?
This is where Vanth comes in. I think “The Marshal” laid the groundwork for Din’s journey through meeting Vanth. At the beginning, Din is ready to kill Cobb to take back the Beskar armor. But through the episode, Cobb proves why he was worthy of the armor in the first place. He protects his own people. He’s willing to let go of some of his biases to work with the Tuskens. Finally, he’s honorable enough to keep his end of the bargain with Din and give back the beskar armor. He embodies a lot of the same qualities that we’ve seen from many Mandalorians including Din. It’s not the armor that makes a Mando. It’s the person.
And Cobb’s armor just so happens to belong to Boba Fett.
Boba’s reveal in “The Marshal” will probably also explore the what makes a Mandalorian thread. It has long been debated whether or not Boba and Jango Fett were even Mandalorians, or did they just wear the armor. Here we get to see that set up. At some point, we can probably bet that Boba and Din are going to come face to face over Fett’s armor. One is a clone. One is a Foundling. Neither are natural born Mandalorians like Sabine Wren. Who actually has the right to wear the armor? Who is the better Mandalorian? I think it’s going to be so interesting to see these stories set up for the season, if not for the rest of the series.
These questions are also important with the Darksaber in play from the season one finale.
If I had any big gripes, I’m nervous about Boba Fett being in the show. Granted, I feel the same way about all of the Ahsoka and Bo-Katan rumors too. One of the biggest strengths of season one was it was almost entirely new characters and stories in a time period that hasn’t really been explored. We got to know Din, Baby Yoda, and their found family. My concern is when you start bringing in these bigger canon characters like Fett and Ahsoka. It runs a huge risk to pull away from the story already being told. I do not want this to become The Boba Fett Show. Even though Vanth is technically a cameo, he’s such a small character that most people won’t know who he is. Boba Fett, on the other hand, is a really big deal.
That said, Dave Filoni is a showrunner here. We’ve seen him handle cameos in his animated series. He brought Princess Leia, Lando, Tarkin, Darth Vader, and more without ever losing the main characters in their narrative in Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and Star Wars Resistance. So I do have faith that Boba Fett will be handled well. I believe that Din and Baby Yoda won’t be swept to the side for Fett’s story. But I am still nervous until proven otherwise.
Some random thoughts to round out the episode:
-I have mixed feelings about killing the krayt dragon. It’s been living there for a long time, and these settlers came into its territory. It’s minding its own damn business, and these people decided to kill it for just, you know, existing. At least the Tuskens show it a lot more respect.
I was actually expecting Baby Yoda to do something Force related to tame the beast and show there are other ways to handle it. But nope! They just straight up killed the krayt!
I suggest checking out my friend Johnamarie’s review. She really delved a lot more into this topic.
-I lost how many times I screamed at my screen, “DIN! PUT A HELMET ON YOUR BABY!”
-The massiffs are just super good boys who need a good scratch on their good doggo butts! They are very, very good boys indeed!
-I was so excited to see Peli again! As I mentioned in a previous review, I loved her from season one. She continues to be a great comedic character in the series as well as growing ally for Din.
Though, there is a huge point of miscommunication that happened, and I think it’s on purpose! Peli flat out says, “Thank the Force!” when she saw Baby Yoda again. And here’s Din, who doesn’t know what the Force is, looking for other Force users. It’s such irony that the person who could probably help him out the most is right in front of him. But she thinks he’s looking for Baby Yoda’s species, so she missed the point too.
This makes me hope it’s not the last of Peli. This could be some big old seeds planted for later in the season if not the series.
It was also a nice touch to see that Din has eased up around her droids too. His time with IG-11 really was very important last season.
It’s great to have The Mandalorian back! “The Marshal” was a solid start to season two. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.
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