Last time we saw Din Djarin (aka The Mandalorian), he was headed off to return The Child (aka Baby Yoda) to his people. Meanwhile, Moff Gideon was cutting his way out of an Outland Tie Fighter with one of the most storied weapons in Star Wars lore.
We now join the Mandalorian has he looks for others like him who might provide some guidance (and can be turned into really cool action figures.
The episode opens with Din Djarin and The Child walking through a rough looking city on an unidentified planet. The pair eventually enters an underground fighting arena run by an Abyssin named Gor Keresh, who Djarin hopes can help him find other Mandalorians.
While the crowd cheers on a couple of Gamorreans beating the hell out of each other, Keresh offers to wager the information Djarin needs against his Beskar armor if one of the Gamorreans dies in the next minute and a half. When Djarin insists on simply paying him, Keresh shoots one and kills one of the fighters anyway, clearing out the whole arena except for his henchmen. He then turns his gun on Djarin and demands he hand over his valuable armor, which Keresh also admits to collecting via hunting down other Mandalorian enclaves.
As you might imagine, this doesn’t go over well with Djarin, who uses his whistling birds to take down all the firearm-wielding henchmen.
The attack still (conveniently) leaves a few melee henchmen alive, but Djarin makes quick work of them. He then chases Keresh out into the street, snags him with a fibercord, and trusses the one-eyed mob boss up on a light pole. After promising that he won’t die by his hand, Keresh tells him that he knows of at least one other Mandalorian who lives on the planet Tatooine in a town called Mos Pelgo.
Side Note: Despite Tatooine being barren backwater planet, everything in the Star Wars universe seems to revolve around it.
Djarin is skeptical, but Keresh swears he’s telling the truth. The Mandalorian decides to take him at his word and keep his word not to kill Keresh directly. Instead, he shoots out the light he’s hanging from, allowing red-eye creatures to crawl out from the shadows and devour their helpless prey.
Djarin flies out to Tatooine and sets the Razor Crest down at the Peli Motto‘s shop (which we last visited in Chapter 5). After requesting her to give his ship a once over and explaining his mission, he asks how to get to Mos Pelgo. She tells him that it was wiped out by bandits after the Empire fell, but is still able to show him it’s former location via a map projected by an R-5 series astromech.
Motto loans Djarin a speeder bike, which he uses to head out into the Tatooine desert. With a little help from the Tuskens, he eventually finds Mos Pelgo. It’s not the most happening place, but the little town is still filled with intact buildings and residents. He also ends up coming face to face with the town’s marshal (Cobb Vanth), who is wearing Boba Fett‘s infamous green armor.
When it quickly becomes clear that Vanth isn’t a Mandalorian, Djarin demands that he take off the armor and hand it over to him. Vanth calmly refuses, setting up the pair for a throw down right then and there. Before blasters can start popping, however, they’re interrupted by a krayt dragon burrowing through the middle of town.
After watching the creature burst through the sand and devour a bantha whole, Vanth admits that he could probably use the Mandalorian’s help.
As the people of Mos Pelgo recover and repair from the krayt dragon’s attack, Vanth explains to Din Djarin how the Mandalorian tech/armor he wears (which he bought off some jawas) helps him keep the town safe. Unfortunately, it’s no match for the dragon, which continues to be a lethal nuisance. If Djarin can help him kill it, then Vanth is willing to give him the armor.
Djarin agrees, offering to blow it up via an aerial assault from the Razor Crest. Vanth responds by explaining that the creature hides if/when it feels the vibration from large aircraft. Instead, they’ll need to go to where it lives: An “abandoned” sarlacc pit (which is “abandoned” because the krayt dragon ate it).
On the way there, Vance regales Djarin with how he came to be the marshal of Mos Pelgo (somehow while traveling outdoors at a high rate of speed and speaking in a languid manner).
After the second Death Star was destroyed (in Return of the Jedi), a mining collective immediately came in to fill the power vacuum left by the Empire pulling out of Tatooine. On the very night residents began celebrating their freedom, they collective swooped in, began slaughtering everyone, and turned the town into a slave camp.
Side Note: I know we’re supposed to get that the mining collective folks are evil, but killing the town’s residents en masse seems like a terribly inefficient way to set up a slave camp.
Vanth managed to escape with his life along with a
ice cream maker camtono filled with valuable crystals that belonged to the raiders. He wandered in the desert for days before being found by a Jawa sandcrawler. The Jawas offered him a set of Mandalorian armor they’d found (Boba Fett’s) in exchange for the crystals.
After putting it on, Vanth stormed back into town and kicked the mining collective’s asses to kingdom come.
Tension & Teamwork
Vanth and Djarin’s journey is interrupted by a scary looking pack of massiffs. Just as Vanth is about to start smoking them, Djarin calls out to the creatures in a strange, guttural language. This causes the massiffs’ collective demeanor to soften immediately–so much so that one even comes up and wags its butt while giving Djarin a kiss.
Side Note: I really want a massiff now.
Before Vanth can process the adorable weirdness happening before him, a group of Tuskens appear and begin speaking with Djarin, who informs his partner that they want to kill the krayt dragon, as well.
That night at the Tusken camp, Vanth refuses to partake of a drink offered to him by the Sand People. This refusal of their hospitality pisses them off quite a bit, especially considering how they blame him and his townspeople for stealing their water. They also know that Vanth killed many members of their tribe during a recent conflict, which he justified as defending his people from raiders who he considers to be nothing more than monsters.
Tempers predictably flare and almost boil over before Djarin shuts everyone up with a blast from his flamethrower. He then explains to both agitated parties that the krayt dragon will kill them all if they continue fighting amongst themselves.
The next day, Djarin and Vanth ride out to the dragon’s lair with the Tuskens. One of the Sand People brings a bantha to the lair’s entrance in the hopes that the dragon will eat it and become too sleepy to attack their village. Unfortunately, the beast decides to chomp down the Tusken, instead.
Just as the Sand People feared, the beast has begun losing its taste for their livestock.
Later, the group devises a plan to draw out the dragon and kill it with explosives. Doing this will require larger numbers than the Tuskens can provide, so Djarin volunteers the people of Mos Pelgo. Vanth doesn’t think they’ll be on board with assisting a group they went to war with less than a year ago, but Djarin is confident he can get them to come around.
Back in Mos Pelgo, Vanth struggles to get his people to join forces with the Tuskens, but Djarin is able to sway them with his assurance that the Sand People will keep their word to never raid their town again.
Things are tense between the two groups at first, but they eventually work together well enough to get everything prepared for their attack. After setting a plethora of charges (which they plan to detonate below the dragon’s vulnerable belly), a group of Tuskens awaken the sleeping dragon.
The beast emerges, but immediately begins to retreat after taking fire. The townsfolk and the Sand People intensify their attack, drawing the creature back toward the explosives. Things almost unravel when the dragon starts disintegrating everyone with its venomous stomach acid, but it also manages to slither right over the spot they needed it to.
Vanth sets off one of the charges, causing the krayt dragon a great deal of pain. Unfortunately, the explosion doesn’t kill the creature. It burrows and reappears at the top of its lair, pissed off and spewing stomach acid everywhere.
Djarin and Vanth take flight land a few feet away from the dragon’s head. After drawing its attention with some gunfire, the pair land next to a bantha still laden with explosives. The dragon burrows back underground and emerges behind them. Vanth draws its attention again by firing his backpack missile. Djarin follows that bit of awesomeness by taking the detonator from him and whacking his jetpack, causing Vanth to fly off and out of harm’s way.
As the dragon rears up into the air, Djarin holds the hapless Bantha in place, allowing the creature to come down and swallows them both whole. It emerges a few moments later, roaring in agony as an electrical charge surges throughout its body (via the Mandalorian’s Amban phase-pulse blaster).
Djarin flies from the beasts jaws and pushes the detonator, blowing it up from the inside and causing the townsfolk and the Sand People to cheer and rejoice together.
Goodbye & Hello
With their nemesis finally vanquished, the Tuskens merrily hack away enough meat to hold a cookout every day for the rest of the year. They also celebrate finding a rare krayt dragon pearl inside the beast’s carcass.
Meanwhile, Vanth hands over his armor to Djarin. He also thanks him for helping his people and expresses his desire for their paths to cross again some day. Djarin says he hopes they do, as well.
As the Mandalorian speeds back across the Tatooine desert toward Motto’s shop, he’s watched by the man who originally owned the armor now strapped to the back of his bike: Boba Fett…
…at least I’m pretty sure it was him.
The actor was definitely Temuera Morrison, whose casting as Boba Fett this season was revealed over the summer. I guess he could be playing another clone (like he did in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith), but that would be a massive letdown.
Thankfully, Chapter 9 wasn’t a letdown at all. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but the extra long episode was a highly entertaining season premiere that also laid some interesting groundwork for the story ahead.
You might have noticed that I barely mentioned Baby Yoda, but he was there in all his adorable glory–just not as part of the story. Instead, the little green guy was used for a ton of (admittedly great) reaction shots, which ends up being a microcosm of what Chapter 9 didn’t do well.
I love fan service and beautiful sweeping shots as much as anyone, but this episode was so packed full of them that it came dangerously close to overshadowing the narrative. Other times it bordered on being ridiculous, like Din Djarin’s extended and unsubtitled conversation with the Tuskens in their language.
Thankfully, the episode’s straight forward story was aided by wonderful performances from Pedro Pascal (Djarin) and Timothy Olyphant as Cobb Vanth. Olyphant was a fantastic casting choice for this role, providing Vanth with a perfect mix of humor and grit. The pedantic fanboy side of me wishes they’d gone with the character’s already established/interesting backstory, but the canon contradiction could be due to him being an unreliable narrator.
Whatever the case, I certainly hope we get to see Vanth team up with the Mandalorian again before the end of the season.
The special effects had a few hiccups (particularly during the speeder bike scenes), but shined when it counted during the krayt dragon fight, which was great.
I also liked seeing the citizens of Mos Pelgo and the Tuskens come together. Maybe it’s because this election cycle has me losing faith in humanity even more than usual, but that really got to me more than it should have.
As far as the Boba Fett cliffhanger is concerned, that plot thread could end being really cool or really stupid. It’s hard to imagine why Fett would have stayed on Tattooine for five years watching Cobb Vanth walk around in his armor only to stare menacingly as Din Djarin rides away with it. Jon Favreau & Co. have definitely earned our trust–and the thought of Boba Fett being back/alive is undeniably exciting on a surface level–but I’ll hold off on freaking out with joy until we see how things play out.
Until then, however, The Mandalorian started its second season off with amazing style, decent substance, and a story that should provide us with even more fascinating characters and conflicts along the way.
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