- Episode 1 (of 8), ‘Chapter 9: The Marshal’
- Written by Jon Favreau
- Directed by Jon Favreau
Spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2 follow.
The Mandalorian and the Child enter a town at night, graffiti on the walls, creatures snarling in the background. Mando tells a Twi’lek doorman that he’s there to see Gor Koresh, and is ushered into the building and told to “enjoy the fights”.
In the ring, a pair of Gamorreans are fighting with axes as the crowd cheers them on. Mando sits down with Gor Koresh, a member of the cyclops Abyssin species, who tells him these fights are no place for a child. “Wherever I go, he goes,” Mando replies. The Mandalorian says he’s looking for more of his kind, and that he’s heard Koresh knows where to find them. Koresh says it’s uncouth to talk business immediately and goes back to watching the fight, where his Gamorrean is not doing well.
Koresh offers Mando a wager: he bets the information Mando seeks that the Gamorrean will die within a minute and a half – with the stakes being his beskar armor. The Mandalorian says he’s prepared to pay for the information because he’s not leaving his fate up to chance. “Nor am I,” says Koresh, shooting the Gamorrean. He turns his blaster on Mando as his goons surround them, and the crowds run out of the building.
Koresh reveals that normally he has to go looking for the remaining Mandalorians’ hiding places to get his hands on their beskar, which has become an increasingly lucrative asset in the galaxy. “Give it to me now or I will peel it off your corpse,” he says. The Mandalorian makes a counter offer – give him the information and he’ll let Koresh walk away without killing him. The Mandalorian unleashes his whistling birds and takes out most of Koresh’s crew, before battling his way past the few still standing.
Koresh runs away but the Mandalorian captures him in the street and strings him up to a lamppost. Koresh says he will give him the information if Mando agrees not to kill him. “I promise you will not die by my hand,” is the Mandalorian’s cryptic response. Koresh reveals that the mysterious Mandalorian is on Tatooine, in the city of Mos Pelgo. As Mando walks away, he shoots out the light, leaving Koresh to be devoured by the indigenous red-eyed carnivores we heard earlier.
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The Razor Crest arrives on Tatooine, landing at Docking Bay 35 in Mos Eisley. An old acquaintance, mechanic Peli Motto, is there to greet him, and this time the droid-sceptic Mando allows her pit droids to carry out some maintenance on the ship. As Motto reconnects with the Child, she says she hasn’t heard the name “Mos Pelgo” for a while, and that it doesn’t appear on maps because the old mining settlement was wiped out by bandits – after the fall of the Empire, it was a free-for-all on the planet, which made leaving the city unwise. Her R5 droid shows Mando an old map of where Mos Pelgo used to be, and lends him a speeder bike to get there
The Mandalorian sets out with the Child to find Mos Pelgo, stopping off to talk with some Sand People along the way. He eventually locates the town, a tiny settlement straight out of a Western. Mando asks a Weequay bartender if he’s seen another Mandalorian. He says that the town’s marshal dresses the same way, and that he’s standing outside. The figure at the door has a very familiar silhouette. The marshal is wearing Boba Fett’s armor – scuffed and a bit the worse for wear, but unmistakable.
The marshal asks Mando to join him for a group and removes his helmet – betraying the fact that he doesn’t belong to the Mandalorian creed. He reveals that his name is Cobb Vanth, and that he bought the armor off some Jawas. The Mandalorian demands that Vanth hand over the suit. “Take it off. Or I will,” Mando says when Vanth declines. As they face off, fingers poised on triggers, their potential duel is interrupted by what looks to be an earthquake.
It’s actually a giant krayt dragon, burrowing through the sound through the town’s main street – it breaks the surface to consume a defenceless bantha (which it dwarves). Vanth makes Mando a counter offer – if Mando helps kill off the krayt, he’ll hand over the armor. The Mandalorian agrees to the deal – though Vanth explains that his original plan to blast the krayt with the Razor Crest won’t work because the dragon will sense the vibration.
As Mando and Vanth ride off into the desert on speeders, Vanth explains his backstory. As soon as news came through of the second Death Star’s destruction, the Mining Collective moved in to fill the void left by the Empire. Mos Pelgo immediately became a slave camp, so Vanth made a run for it, escaping into the desert with some valuable silicax crystals. After days without food and water he was found by some Jawas, and he traded the crystals for some Mandalorian armor they’d recovered. Using the suit, he was able to free Mos Pelgo from the invaders.
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The Mandalorian and Vanth meet a group of Tusken Raiders. Mando – speaking fluent Tusken – learns that they also want to get rid of the dragon. Despite mutual distrust – the Sand People think the Mos Pelgo residents have stolen their water; Vanth blames them for attacking the town and killing residents – they form an unlikely alliance.
The group leaves on banthas – riding single file to conceal their numbers, obviously – to find the krayt’s nest. It turns out it lives in an abandoned Sarlacc pit, and that the Tuskens have been monitoring its digestion cycle for generations so they can feed it to make it sleep longer. They get a full sighting of the dragon when it eats a Sand Person sent to investigate the cave. They hatch a plan to kill the creature – but it will need the help of the townspeople to work.
After returning to Mos Pelgo, Vanth eventually persuades the skeptical residents to agree to his scheme – the end of the krayt threat coupled with a truce with the Tuskens is too good an offer to turn down. In return, the Sand People will get the dragon’s carcass and ichor (bodily fluids).
Assembling plenty of explosives, they return to the krayt nest. Because the belly is its only weak spot, they bury charges at the entrance to the cave – the plan is to make it angry enough to charge, but unfortunately the monster doesn’t play ball and retreats back into its nest. It also sprays acidic digestive juices from its mouth, melting anyone who comes near.
The krayt disappears into the mountain. Mando and Vanth use their jetpacks to intercept, but their blasters have little effect.
Back on the ground, Mando tells Vanth to attract the attention of the creature, so he blasts it with the rocket in his pack. Mando takes the detonator and stands in front of a bantha laden with explosives, before the krayt swallows them both. Vanth jumps out of the way but Mando is nowhere to be seen, until the dragon breaks the surface and he flies out of its mouth. The krayt explodes before their eyes, and there is much cheering from the townsfolk and the Tuskens.
The Sand People harvest the carcass, recovering a giant pearl in the process. Vanth hands the armor over to Mando, saying that he hopes their paths cross again, and to “tell your people I wasn’t the one that broke that,” referring to the beaten-up suit.
Mando leaves with the Child, a large chunk of krayt meat and the armor. As they ride away, a mysterious figure in dark robes looks over at Tatooine’s twin suns setting. The face is somewhat familiar. It’s either a Clone trooper or – much more likely – an armor-less Boba Fett...
An episode free from Imperial entanglements, but a cracking season opener nonetheless. Tatooine is one of the most familiar locations in that galaxy far, far away, yet ‘The Marshal’ reveals sides of the desert world we hadn’t seen before. Who knew it was possible to sit down for a chat with a Tusken Raider?
As The Mandalorian did frequently in its first season, this chapter expands on Star Wars lore without doing so for its own sake – no clunky nods in the vein of the Kessel Run or Han Solo’s surname here.
Instead, we learn how a very apex predator fits into Tatooine’s ecosystem, and what happened to the planet after the Empire’s occupation ended. The show seems happy to dripfeed information about the galaxy’s post-Return of the Jedi history, and the approach complements the consistently excellent storytelling.
The biggest news in The Mandalorian’s longest episode yet, however, is confirmation that Boba Fett – whose status has been the subject of decades of speculation since he tumbled into the Sarlacc – is alive and well. We have to wait until the final scene to see him in person, but his famous armor is one of the stars of the show.
Its wearer, Cobb Vanth (played by Deadwood’s Timothy Olyphant), is a town sheriff in the spirit of classic movie Westerns, and writer/director Jon Favreau clearly relishes the chance to team him up with Mando as two gunslingers on a quest to save their town.
As for Baby Yoda, The Mandalorian’s breakout star is more a bit-part player in this chapter, but he still has the ability to light up the screen.
A stylish, fan-pleasing return for one of the best shows on TV.
Force the facts
- We’ve seen a krayt dragon before – though it didn’t look quite so healthy in its first appearance. The giant skeleton C-3PO walks past in the Tatooine scenes of A New Hope belongs to a deceased krayt. The creature in this episode is also heavily influenced by Tremors and the sand worms in Dune.
- While this is Cobb Vanth’s screen debut, the character has already appeared in Star Wars canon. He made his first appearance in Chuck Wendig’s post-Return of the Jedi Aftermath novels, and his backstory there seems subtly different – in the books he’s the sheriff of Freetown, while he didn't obtain Boba Fett's armor in quite the same way. This being Star Wars, however, that may all be down to your point of view.
- That’s Temuera Morrison playing Boba Fett in the final scene. Morrison played Jango Fett (Boba’s clone father) and the Clone Warriors in the prequel trilogy, as well as voicing Boba in more recent releases of The Empire Strikes Back.
- While this episode offers the first in-canon confirmation that Fett survived his close encounter with the Sarlacc, he made numerous post-Return of the Jedi appearances in the old Star Wars Legends novels. He was even best man at fellow bounty hunter Dengar's wedding.
- Although Jon Favreau is showrunner on The Mandalorian and has written numerous episodes, 'The Marshal' is the first he’s directed.
- The astromech assisting Peli Motto is R5-D4, the droid Luke Skywalker almost bought from the Jawas in A New Hope. His bad motivator has clearly since been fixed, as he also cameoed in the cantina in season 1 episode 'The Gunslinger'. According to a story in 2017 anthology From a Certain Point of View, R5 blew his motivator on purpose when R2-D2 told him the fate of the galaxy was at stake.
- A big fan of the Child, Motto says that if he “divides or buds”, she’d gladly pay for the offspring. Given Baby Yoda’s resemblance to a Mogwai, could this be a sly nod to the life cycle in Gremlins?
New episodes of The Mandalorian are available to stream on Disney Plus every Friday.