Every time an episode of The Mandalorian lands, Fantha Tracks will be giving their responses, and here are our initial gut feelings, deep dives and thoughts on the ninth episode – Chapter 9: The Marshal. Beware of spoilerific elements in here.

Mark Newbold

Back in 1980, when fans of the time sat down to experience The Empire Strikes Back, they had no idea what they were in for. Sure, we were returning to the galaxy far, far away with our familiar heroes and villains, but no one was prepared for the galaxy-expanding step up from A New Hope to Empire. No lesser an expert than Dave Filoni used this as an analogy for the elevation between The Mandalorian season 1 and 2, and while Chapter 9 is very much a case of ‘what happened next’ – no major sea changes quite yet (maybe that comes with the episode on the boat?) – there’s ‘something’ different. Not in the tone or the intent, the acting or the design but there’s a tangible shift in quality. Not to in any way knock season one, which was as perfect and well-timed a GFFA treat as any fan could hope for, but it can only bode well for the seven episodes to come. Put it this way, in season one he took down a Mudhorn; in season two he takes down a krayt dragon.

From the opening recap to the arrival from the shadows of Mando and the Child, we’re in familiar territory. It’s no surprise how well Mando accounts for himself in combat, but as he swings the Razor Crest to Tatooine, the friendly face of Peli Motto and R5-D4 (blown motivator port and all) and heads out to Mos Pelgo on the hunt for another Mandalorian, what comes next  – despite all the rumours throughout the spring and summer – still comes as a shock.

Timothy Olyphant nails Cobb Vanth, brought to life from the pages of the Aftermath series, and while his ill-fitting attempt at wearing what remains of Boba Fett’s suit looks all kinds of wrong, the logic of his situation, lawkeeper of this small township besieged by a monstrous krayt dragon (who’s come to Tatooine by way of Arrakis no doubt) makes all the sense. In a post-Endor galaxy where lawlessness reigns, that armour would be a bold statement, and as such has kept the township together, until Mando arrives demanding the armour be returned. A deal is struck, a plan made and while the plot of the episode is certainly basic enough the joy is in the details, and there are many in here. Flashbacks to the destruction of the Death Star, Vanth’s description of their predicament, the battle of the krayt, breaking bread with Tuskens, scurriers, seeing bantha’s up close and looking so good…so much to enjoy and revel in.

Of course, that final shot of Temuera Morrison turning away from a Tatooine sunset will be the moment most discussed. For Fett’s armour to even make it into the Sandcrawler means somehow he must have at the very least been spat out by the Sarlacc (which according to the Sandpeople was eaten by the krayt), and given this series is very much a slow burn don’t expect to see him again until sometime in mid December (A’Sharad Fett anyone?) For now, we have televisions most satisfying show back on our screens, meaning that if nothing else 2020 has given finally us something worth treasuring.

Paul Naylor

Wow. Just wow.

Whatever Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau have been drinking, buy me a bottle for Christmas. I loved Season 1 of Mando, and the opener to Season 2 did not disappoint.

For a TV series to be so cinematic in its execution in itself is astounding, but to back that up with such quality writing and casting…well, it just thrills me to guess what is coming next.

I liken The Mandalorian to a comic book. Each beautiful shot feels like it is telling more than just the story. The history resonates, but what this series does so well – way, way better than the Sequel Trilogy achieved – is it gives long-time fans characters and vehicles from Star Wars lore without over sentimentality.

The story is smart, sharp and relentless and at its close, Chapter 9 gave us a sneak peak that equalled or bettered that of the introduction of The Child.

I can’t wait to see what – or who – Filoni and Favreau pull from the toybox next.

Love it. Love. It.

Matt Shope

The Marshal certainly did not disappoint considering the enormous wave of anticipation I had built over the past few months for the premiere of the second season of The Mandalorian. My excitement broke like a wave as soon Lucasfilm materialized on the screen and an exhalation of calm as I found myself back in the Star Wars universe.

The episode was a perfect opening following last season’s thunderous conclusion. It was a perfect balance of action while casting threads to the greater storyline. The locomotive is just moving out of the station for the series and next Friday won’t be here soon enough. I haven’t had such an exhilarating start to my day in months!

Ross Hollebon

The man in beskar is back and the team behind The Mandalorian shined things up to a peak two-suns level for the premiere of season 2.

Like season 1, it started off with Din Djarin showing his bravery and skills in thwarting a group of enemies—only this time, the Child got to be in the room from the start. The action was great—but even better was seeing the graffiti sprayed on everything prior to Mando entering the ramshackle arena. Maybe we get Sabine Wren this season, maybe we don’t, but the nod to her artwork and influence was special regardless.

And then the single-serving story took a return trip to Tatooine, with comedy relief provided by Peli Motto and her pit droids, and an interesting look at the lighter side of Tusken Raiders before the big surprise.

I absolutely love it when the books work their way onto the screen and Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni couldn’t have made this more space western than by introducing Cobb Vanth, played by Timothy Olyphant. There was a slight variation, according to the first “Aftermath” novel by Chuck Wendig, on how Vanth procured Boba Fett’s Mandalorian armor but it still worked well. Whether you’ve read the book or not, when Vanth showed up in the doorway of the Mos Pelgo cantina, it was a chill-inducing moment (and read the “Aftermath” trilogy if you haven’t yet).

As the rest of the story centered around a devastating Krayt Dragon unfolded, we learned Djarin has become adept at using his jetpack, he is still utterly committed to the Mandalorian code, and his sense of purpose seems to have become more passionate—not just a task, like his bounty-hunting jobs.

Next up: what clone is Temuera Morrison playing—is he Boba Fett or someone else? I can’t wait to find out.

Sander De Lange

Having seen the episode twice now, first to enjoy it and the second time to soak in all the details in for the Episode Guide feature that we run here, it is clear that this is one of the best episodes seen so far of this series. And we say so far, as the first season had many great episodes as well, and if somebody can surprise us then it is Filoni and Favreau. These two clearly know their Star Wars and it shines through especially bright in this episode.

From a wonderful return to Tatooine to a thrilling set up at the end of the episode with lots of packed action in-between, there is absolutely nothing to dislike about this episode. Finally seeing a krayt dragon after more than forty years is amazing, especially done in the way that it was done. It will be a long week of waiting before the next episode can be seen…

Adam O’Brien

I’ve watched Chapter Nine and I have to say, it’s not my favourite episode. It’s ok, and moves along as predicted.

– Cobb Vanth is the highlight, played by Tim Olyphant. I’m not a huge fan of Olyphant’s material but he’s quite good in this role, giving us an interesting take on what could’ve been a corrupt Marshall in a lawless town.

– Mando: By the numbers and felt like he lost all the momentum from previous few episodes. Getting repetitive when he should be using the lessons he’s had in previous episode as ground to move forward (had a great hero’s journey in season one)

– Baby Yoda: just cutesy pie scenes. Come on! We know what he’s capable of now lol

– Best though was the communication with Tusken Raiders. That was cool, interesting and I want to see more.

– Then came the whole Dune ripoff scene at the end (I’d like to see them try that with Shaihallud!)

Jonathan Hicks

Wow. Where to start.

Okay – I enjoyed the first season of the show, and even though there were a couple of episodes that kind of went over old ground (the ‘Seven Samurai’ style save the village episode, the do-a-thing-to-get-a-thing episode), the show was always solid in design, atmosphere and sheer watchability. The finale was suitably epic, the characters engaging and the visuals an absolute treat. And, to put a cherry on the top, the show covered one of my favourite aspects of the Star Wars universe, the underworld.

To follow that you’d need to do something special, right?

So, I think what the showrunners did was take an end-of-series epic episode with some glorious effects and incredible setpieces, and slapped it at the beginning as if to make a statement. A statement that says ‘this is us, this is what we are, and this is how it’s gonna be’. Because if the first episode is anything to go by – and it’s one of the best season openings I have ever seen – then what we have in store for the rest of the series is going to be amazing. You don’t start like that and then dial it down, you come out swinging and punch until the last round. What a fantastic way to start.

Nods to the originals, the legends, even the EU. Little snippets here and there and, even if they’re not using the main characters and plotlines from now defunct material, they’re using the references and it’s the little things that count. It really makes the universe feel alive, and if you don’t know the references then it doesn’t break the show for you, they’re just little world-building details.

The one thing that almost threw me out of the show was the fact that it’s yet another do-a-thing-to-get-a-thing episode, but the sheer scale of this and the implications are so huge that that fact goes out the window. I didn’t care. I was so wrapped up in what was going on I’d have happily had a rerun of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ plotline and enjoyed it.

The Mandalorian is doing something that I feel Star Wars has been lacking for a while; it’s building a universe, making it feel real and accessible and creating characters you either care about or, at the very least, are interested in.

And I’ve sorely missed that in this franchise.

Carl Bayliss

How do Disney and Lucasfilm follow the roaring success of season one of The Mandalorian, you may ask. Well, if this first show is anything to go by, they look to have hit the ground running and taken things up a notch. The effects look way better, and once again the Filoni/Favereau axis have tapped into the old EU/Legends in just the right way – enough Easter eggs to please the die hards but not so wrapped into the story that if you’ve not read every book it doesn’t really detract from the story, it just adds layers.

Can’t wait to see where they go next

Greig Robertson

Now this is how you kick start the second season of The Mandalorian. A stunning opener which reminded me of the opener for Season 1 and showed just how deadly Mando is. A return visit to Tatooine and the familiar face of Peli Motto and her pit droids was a great addition, not to mention a very famous droid…..R5!!!!

The introduction of Cobb Vanth, who some folks may be familiar with from the Aftermath series of books wearing the famous dented helmet and armour of Boba Fett. The goosebumps were showing up on my arms at this point but continued to spread as the show went on; Banthas, Tuskens, Womp rats, Krayt Dragons and Temuera – oh my! Now I’m hoping to jump in the car and listen back to the incredible soundtrack to this episode, HOT DANG!!!

Brian Cameron

With the excitement of new Star Wars, and it presented in an action packed way it is sometimes easy to get swept away in the emotion and not scrape below the surface, but when you do scrape before that surface there are some flaws.

We see the introduction of Cobb Vanth, a character from the Aftermath trilogy of novels, which was a nice touch  to fans of Star Wars literature. However the episode deviated away from the story already established for Vanth – which was disappointing. It can be excused by saying he was embellishing his own backstory, but it was unnecessary.

Whilst I understood the desire to show the armour as ill fitting, as a way to show it was not is. It left me feeling like Vanth was a Halloween character in a red jumper, and not the hero to the township. It undermined the character, and didn’t add to the story.

There were too many moments where it felt like they were showcasing technology, rather than storytelling. Whilst there some wonderful landscapes among long panned speeder bike moments, it started to become a little gratuitous and slowed down the episode. The time and expense of these shots, should have been used elsewhere as there were quite a few shots throughout the show where the backgrounds were very 2D, especially during the initial entry to Mos Pelgo where some of the background buildings were by ILM standards, below par.

This was one of the longest Mandalorian episodes to date, and to be honest a harder cut with five to six minutes removed would have been a good move to the show. At times The Mandalorian can be a little self-indulgent, in need of a rocket-firing Boba Fett up the backside.

These criticisms aside, it was a solid episode with lots of classic elements added to a solid storyline. The series could do with some significant plot progression for the overall arc however, as it remains a slow burn. It still remains the most detailed, well-presented Star Wars of the Disney era.

Mark Mulcaster

Well, if you’re going to kick off the most hotly anticipated second season of a TV series you don’t get much bigger than a Krayt Dragon! There’s so much to unpack in this episode that I think it requires a second watch. Season 2 of the Mandalorian see’s our heroic Mando and his charge The Child aka Baby Yoda on their quest to reunite Baby with his people; at this point we’re still not sure if that’s the Jedi per se, or others of his Species.

The start of the episode serves as a reminder to us how kick-ass our lead character can be with a call back to his opening scene from Chapter 1. The opening prologue does serve as a good recap and reminder for the audience with a lot of the heavy exposition easily traversed.  Already early on we start to see that the writers have continued to use Baby as a bit of comic relief like that seemed to do quite a bit at the back end of Season 1 which is fine, as long as that’s not all his relegated to this season. 
What’s exciting is that some of the scenes we saw in the trailers were from this opening scene which means there is still so much left to see! It’s good to see that the sacrifice of IG-11 in Chapter 8 has had an effect of Din, even if it’s only shown by him giving permissions to Pelo Motto (Amy Sedaris) to have her pit droids work on the Razor Crest…another Haslab tier anyone? 😉
The Quest takes Din back to Tatooine where the filmmakers really double down on both the spaghetti western vibe but a very Seven Samurai plot plot line. The introduction of Timothy Olyphant’s character is again a brilliant modern take on a very old western trope and the bar could of been lifted from any of Sergio Leone’s movies. The long drive in to town really felt like Mando was on horseback rather than a speeder….a speeder that sounded very much like a Harley Davidson.
I like how this series keeps dialogue and exposition to a minimum for the most part. No wonder why Jon Favreau can knock these scripts out so quickly, though this episode is anything but rushed. This is I think the longest episode to date, and I think it felt a bit long. The pacing was ok, but I think if it were 5-8 minutes shorter it would have worked just the same as I never felt the tension built the way that maybe the filmmakers intended.
That being said you have to give the production credit as returning Tatooine in the first chapter is a bold move considering how The Gunslinger was received last year by some fans.
This episode really reminds you of how much a badass Mando is, there wasn’t much in the way of Baby Yoda action and what coverage he did have seemed to be to serve as punctuation to what’s just been said or happened, its very much that we are seeing these events unfold through his eyes.
As like with Chapter 5 this was a nostalgic episode that dragged me (in a positive way) right back to those heady days of hunting Krayt Dragon pearls on Tatooine whilst playing Star Wars Galaxies. I loved the call backs, and hearing a authentic Krayt Dragon call.
Visually it’s stunning as always and it was great to see those super wide aerial shots – who knew they had camera drones in a galaxy far far away? Overall I’d say this was a solid start; it’s hard to top the revelation of Chapter 1 and therefore its better to not try it, It’s got us all back into the Mando Saddle and has definitely made me want to tackle a new Mando costume.

Matt Neve

Let’s just cut to the chase. Boba is back. What a way to do it with the tease (shall come to that) and then reveal the main man with a stunning final shot with the twin suns setting in the background. How did he survive? What is his history? Will he wear his armour again? All these questions have to be answered but it was great to see Temuera Morrison back.

The book nerd in me LOVED the Marshal. He was originally introduced in the controversial Aftermath trilogy, and it was so fulfilling to see written media being referenced on a huge stage. It truly felt all connected, and that hasn’t always been the case.

As for the episode, wonderful western feel. WWE style jump over the top rope into a table and genuine character progression in Tusken Raiders; it all gets a major thumbs up.

Now…is it next Friday yet?!

BE SURE TO LISTEN IN TO EPISODE 61 OF MAKING TRACKS WHERE WE WILL DELVE INTO THE EPISODE.

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Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season One)
  • Hardcover Book
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  • 256 Pages - 12/01/2020 (Publication Date) - Harry N. Abrams (Publisher)