‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2 Premiere Evaluation: No spoilers, however these western sci-fi tropes nonetheless work
Return to the world of The Mandalorian Right now is kind of a relief to be honest. Sometimes you want an escapist tidbit that introduces you to a simple story of good versus evil, but sometimes that’s not enough. You need a story that is incredibly dense and complex, with its labels and interconnections, that draws on literal decades of canon and involves every aspect of your brain, even if on the surface you are telling a very oversimplified story that may not have been anywhere near necessary an hour while it still turns out to be bloody satisfying.
Yes, the season two premiere of The Mandalorian definitely delivered on that front while reaffirming the show’s commitment to an episodic narrative. While each episode can literally be referred to as a “chapter,” meaning that each episode is really part of a larger whole, “The Marshal” is for the most part a self-contained story with its own explicit plot and a solid conclusion.
The plot of the premiere, when summed up as spoiler-free as possible, boils down to “our favorite rifleman (and hatchling) arriving at a remote outpost and agreeing to take action against an outside threat” – a narrative that perfectly fits into the Mandalorian’s prehistory fits a defined ethos, especially considering the middle episodes of the first season.
Much of the action in the season premiere is centered on the Mandalorian continuing his mission of returning Baby Yoda to his people, a quest that was set at the end of season one. But where this quest takes him is fascinating how closely it ties in with basic storytelling principles – a character wants something and bargains to get it – while leading to some pretty wild scenarios.
What’s special about the middle episodes of season one, of course, is that they didn’t end up having much of an impact on the season’s arc, and that the premiere is so focused on what feels like a stand-alone film at the time of The Story (barring a few Character introductions that could grow into bigger deal later) seems like a strong indicator that this heavily episodic approach will be a defining aspect of season two. This is of course being said despite the looming threat of introduced bad guys in Season 1 and perhaps some new forces in Season 2. It will be fascinating to see how the series embraces both aspects, especially as the producers are now in both concept and technology who use them seem far safer to live with.
(I’m writing this review, to be clear, in the early hours of the premiere day of the premiere, because critics have been told that providing screeners for this season would jeopardize the surprises. Again, there won’t be any spoilers, but based on the first episode … well, maybe that’s more important down the line.)
At the premiere, one of the strengths of season one was that the majority of the episodes were in the 40-minute or less range – it never felt like an episode was longer than necessary. I honestly can’t say that is the case with this episode. It extends to 55 minutes with at least a few moments that feel like filler.
The premiere features some fierce creature battles, however, a major flashback that shows how the events of Return of the Jedi Perhaps it has affected the edge of a galaxy far, far away, and some very welcome guest stars who really bring it all to the field.
It’s all rendered flawlessly (and impressively naturalistic given how much we now know about the production). But the most exciting aspect of the season two premiere is in the long run: The Mandalorian really established its existence by highlighting what life is like on the outer edge – that is, what Life is like for the non-heroes of Star Wars -Universe. People just scratch day in and day out, trying their best to survive, and maybe even look themselves in the mirror when they’re done. It is a concept to which “The Marshal” remains steadfast and loyal that may prove a little too simplistic while leaning heavily on mythology, yet provides clean, honest stories of life in the grosser corners of this galaxy.
While it’s all part of a huge content machine, it’s still so much fun to dig into. Yes, Baby yoda stays as cute as ever, but more importantly, the show’s title antihero will do the right thing when the time is right, but not afraid of gray areas in other circumstances. These are the moments when The Mandalorian is most daring and fascinating. We hope future episodes of this season will build on that.
New episodes of The Mandalorian will be released on Disney + on Fridays.