Chapter 9 is titled The Marshal, a name that's likely to make fans who've been following the
novels say "Oooooh, yes!" Please don't read any further until you've reminded yourself what happened in season 1 and watched the episode on Disney's streaming service. We good? Good, there is much to discuss. Let's dive into SPOILERS.
In his quest to reunite Baby Yoda with his own kind, Mando (Pedro Pascal) seeks out other Mandalorians to guide him. He learns of someone on Tatooine, which weirds him out since he and his little buddy were already there but heard nothing about it.
It turns out the man in Mandalorian armor isn't a Mandalorian at all -- it's Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant, who previously played gunslingers in Deadwood and Justified). He's decked out in Boba Fett's iconic armor, and his story played out in Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy of novels, which are set between Return of the Jedi and The Mandalorian. This episode also presents it in a super cool flashback.
I'm quite jealous of Vanth's lovely Hollywood hair -- in real life, it'd be a mess after taking off that helmet. Perhaps he uses product derived from Bantha juice to keep it oh so shapely?
When criminal goons rolled into Mos Pelgo following the destruction of the second Death Star (roughly five years prior to The Mandalorian), Vanth escaped and bought Fett's armor from some Jawas. Since the infamous bounty hunter fell into the sarlacc in Return of the Jedi and is busy being digested for 1,000 years, he won't need any armor … right?
"I guess every once in a while, both suns shine on a womp rat's tail," Vanth says of his good fortune, in reference to Tatooine's twin suns. I'm going to use this phrase in real life often.
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With his awesome new armor -- which looks like it was mildly damaged by the sarlacc's digestive system -- Vanth returned to the town and drove the goons out. He then strutted about wearing it, to keep the town safe in the lawless post-Empire Tatooine.
However, Mando's determined to take back the armor and totally willing to gun Vanth down for it until a bigger threat emerges.
Enter the Dragon
A massive Krayt dragon rumbles through the town, traveling under the sand like the horrible beasties in Tremors (a movie that terrified me as a kid). Vanth promises to give Mando the armor if he helps take out the Krayt.
We saw a small Krayt dragon skeleton as C-3PO and R2-D2 traveled through the Tatooine desert in A New Hope, and Obi-Wan Kenobi mimicked its cry to scare off the Tusken Raiders in the same movie.
Here, it turns out that the Tuskens are having the same problems with the Krayt, and they team up with Mando, Vanth and the villagers to end it. Aside from Mando negotiating with them last time he was on Tatooine, Tuskens have previously only been presented as dangerous savages -- having beaten up Luke Skywalker in A New Hope and killing Anakin's mother in Attack of the Clones. This episode adds some refreshing nuance.
In a nice, subtle instance of character growth, Vanth initially insults the Tuskens by refusing to drink their stinky drink, but later knocks one back after allying with them.
The Krayt dragon apparently ate a sarlacc and took over its lair. It's unclear if it was the same sarlacc we saw in Return of the Jedi -- that was the Great Pit of Carkoon, but there are multiple sarlacc pits on Tatooine.
As it slaughters Tuskens and villagers, Mando and Vanth blast around using their sweet jetpacks -- seeing a pair of Mando lads battling a Krayt dragon is the stuff of Star Wars fans' dreams. Mando ultimately slays the beast by letting it eat him (and an unfortunate bantha), then detonating explosives in its belly. Yum.
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In the episode's closing moments, we see a mysterious someone watching Mando from a ridge. He appears to be wearing Tusken Raider gear, and turns around to reveal the face of Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison). He apparently escaped the sarlacc in the years since Return of the Jedi and it looks like he's been hiding. How he got out and what he's been up to for the last five years is unknown, but he'll likely be wanting his armor back.
So Mando's inadvertently painted a big(ger) target on his and Baby Yoda's backs -- we might see Boba hunting him down solo, or he could team up with Moff Gideon and the Imperial Remnant. The Imps want Baby Yoda and would pay Boba serious money for his help in hunting Mando down.
It's actually the first time we've seen Boba's face as an adult, but it's a very familiar one since he's a clone of the late bounty hunter Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones. Decades before the events of The Mandalorian, Jango was recruited by Count Dooku to serve as the genetic template for the clone army used by the Galactic Republic, as part of Darth Sidious' super convoluted plot to wipe out the Jedi. Part of Jango's payment was an unaltered clone that he could raise as his son -- Boba -- but the elder Fett was killed by Mace Windu during the Battle of Geonosis.
We saw young Boba getting up to (occasionally murderous) mischief in The Clone Wars, and his career as a bounty hunter was in full swing by the time of the Original Trilogy, until he got eaten like a sucker. At this point, Boba is around 42 years old -- he looks a bit older because actor Temuera Morrison is 59. But his time in the sarlacc's acid likely aged him, and Tatooine is the planet whose climate turned Ewan McGregor into Alec Guinness in less than two decades. Must be murder on the skin.
There are also a bunch of others sharing Boba's face; the clone troopers. They'll look much older than Boba at this point -- they were genetically engineered to age at an accelerated rate so they could go to war quicker (pretty dark and weird, right?). We know of at least one surviving clone: Commander Rex was present at the Battle of Endor, as seen in the last episode of Rebels.
Baby Yoda cuteness
The little guy didn't do much this episode -- no sudden use of the Force or anything -- and mostly hung back looking adorable. He knows to close his pod just before Mando wastes Gor Koresh's guards with the whistling birds and hides in a pot as the Krayt dragon passes through Mos Pelgo.
It was cool that Mando brought him on this incredibly dangerous mission. Cool, and mad irresponsible.
Gor Koresh (John Leguizamo), the one-eyed guy from the start of the episode, is an Abyssin, and apparently hunted Mandalorians for their beskar. He won't be doing that anymore, since Mando left him to get eaten.
It's cool to see Mos Eisley mechanic Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) again. She's still wild about Baby Yoda -- very relatable.
In his flashback, Vanth steals a camtono of silicax oxalate crystals that he exchanges for Boba's armor. The camtono is a prop originally seen in The Empire Strikes Back, and it showed up last season.
When Vanth is briefing the townspeople, the lights on his armor are oddly hypnotic. Can't wait to see a cosplayer create it.
Mando strikes Vanth's jetpack to send him flying to safety. In Return of the Jedi, Han Solo blindly hit the same jetpack and sent Boba Fett into the sarlacc. Might be time to get a new jetpack...
The shot as Mando blows up the Krayt is magnificent -- the sand ripples and dust is kicked up. Major kudos to the ILM crew for this; I'd love to watch this episode on a big screen.
This episode alludes heavily to the Tatooine section of 2003 video game Knights of the Old Republic. The Krayt dragon pearl -- which the Tuskens remove from its remains in the episode -- is a reward for hunting down one of the beasts. You can also negotiate with Tuskens in the game.