Like revisiting an old friend, the creators of “The Mandalorian” have learned their familiar formula. Start the episode off with Mando (Pedro Pascal) killing many bad guys and then sending him off on an adventure towards a desert planet. The planet where our bounty hunter discovered Kuiil (Nick Nolte) last season wasn’t Tatooine but represented it closely enough. This season, there’s no hiding it, we’re going to Tatooine, again. When Mando utters he’s been to Tatooine before to mob boss Gor Koresh (John Leguizamo), I thought to myself, “we’ve all been to Tatooine before.” Thankfully the plot in Tatooine offers something that’s welcomingly subtextual to the series.
A bit like Chapter 4 in Season One, Chapter 9 in Season 2 is about Din Djarin saving a small town from a sizeable looming threat. Last time it was a loan ATST hijacked by some pirates, this time, it’s a Krayt Dragon out in the Dune Sea. What drew Mando back to Tatooine was its Marshall (Timothy Olyphant). Taking on such a task requires the assistance of the Sand People. Here’s where the episode goes from been here done that to very interesting. Throughout all of Star Wars’ history, we have seen the Sand People as savages. Wild beasts who live out in the desert with the sole intention to hurt people. Here we see that they may have been the original natives to Tatooine until the settlers came in, driving them from their land. The outskirts of the baron planet is their reservation. It’s all they have left.
Taking a small note from “Dances with Wolves,” it’s up to everyone to put their differences aside so they can fight for a common cause. This show’s script’s brilliance is how much character Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni and others have given to a man who’s entirely concealed by a helmet. Treading similar territory towards the “Sanctuary” Episode, Din reluctantly goes out of his way to help others in need. The entirety of Season One was about the Mandalorian gaining the respect of others to protect The Child. The emotional damage from Din Djarin’s past leaves him with the ability to kill without mercy. Yet, it’s the atrocities that he witnessed towards innocents during the Clone Wars that shaped his need to protect others.
Where films like “Rogue One,” “Solo,” and “The Rise of Skywalker” are half baked blatant fan service bits of nostalgia, “The Mandalorian” continues to please the fans without talking down to them. By avoiding referencing things we know, “The Mandalorian” opts for the deep cuts to expand its universe. When the Marshall explains how he obtained his armor, we go back to the destruction of the second Death Star; we see how it impacted folks from the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Almost every inch of the frame is blistering with nostalgic references in what may be aesthetically the most gorgeous show I have ever seen.
Amazing how far we have come since the days where most visual effects on TV shows looked cheap. No longer does the medium have that “TV Budget” look. No longer are green screens the end all, be all form of slapping a digital background behind an actor. Making George Lucas proud, the company of “The Mandalorian” continues to stun this season with a Krayte Dragon that looks about as good as the sand monster from “Dune” (2020?) The CGI creatures mixed with the practical effects are almost seamless, and most importantly, the visuals don’t get in the way of the story. Episodic in nature initially, “The Marshall” ends on a surprise where judging from the reveal of The Child last season, this reveal will shape for a thrilling plot for the remainder of this season. At least here’s hoping.