Love Thy Nerd is excited to bring you reflections on each of the episodes of season two of The Mandalorian.
I have no way to quantify this, but my guess is that season two of The Mandalorian is the most anticipated season of TV in 2020. After its premiere season, which saw an expansion of the Star Wars mythos and introduction of beloved new characters, the show is perhaps the most popular item on Disney+ and one of the most groundbreaking shows on television.
That said, I really had little in the way of expectations in advance of the first episode. The Mandalorian, is just as much a western as it is a show with space wizards, aliens, and wacky planets. It could be considered an anthology series, giving us unique and fascinating stories that usually can stand alone on their own apart from a consistent narrative about achieving a single objective. This is what makes it a must-watch series. Yes, in the premiere Mando is looking for other members of his people for assistance in getting The Child home, but that is a small fraction of this episode. The Mandalorian is a show about searching. Our protagonist is searching for allies, honor, and in many ways a home, not only for The Child but perhaps for himself as well.
It is at this point, the show does something that touched my Elmore Leonard heart. Mando arrives on Tatooine and heads to Mos Pelgo, a small town where Mando believes he will find information from another Mandalorian that will help him in his journey to deliver The Child. Who he finds instead is Cobb Vanth, the Marshal of the town wearing (borrowed) Mandalorian armor.
Cobb is played by Timothy Olyphant, whose involvement in the series has been rumored for some time now. Olyphant was previously the lead on Justified, arguably my favorite TV show of all time where he portrayed Raylan Givens, a US Marshal. Which is cool, because Olyphant also played a marshal on Deadwood as Seth Bullock. This has kind of become a thing for him, and we, the viewing public, are all the better off for it.The Mandalorian might very well be finding purpose in ensuring the safety of a child in a cold and dangerous universe and finding a way to do some good among so much chaos.
Mando, or Din Djarin, realizes that Cobb is no Mandalorian and insists on the return of the armor Vanth has been wearing. Notably, yes, the armor Cobb has is that of Boba Fett, and Cobb presumably picked up along the way as opposed to being part of the Mandalorian people. This all leads to a saloon stand-off which really brings this promo for Justified even more full circle. The two end up realizing they have bigger problems and team up to defeat a monster terrorizing the town Cobb has devoted himself to protect in exchange for the Mandalorian armor. This is great stuff, and aside from all other themes, Star Wars canon, and further storylines of the season, works on its own.
Ultimately though, I think Jon Favreau might be giving us a glimpse of his vision of the series with Cobb Vanth and the connection to Justified. While not a perfect one to one, Justified, the series that brought us Raylan Givens who really seems to be called back to here, was about a lone figure trying to do what good he could among a world that often-times didn’t reward such acts. Raylan struggled with returning home and being seen as an outsider among his people, while retaining some sense of familiarity (“We dug coal together”), and Mando finds himself without his people trying to help a child everyone else seems willing to kill him to get to. All the while, both had to take their allies where they could find them (Mando has Greef Karga and Cara Dune, and Raylan had his fellow Marshals as well as the likes of Constable Bob) and take victories as they come, however unseemly they may be. In “The Marshal,” we see what happens when a ragtag group takes on a dragon and on Justified it was just another day to see a villain get their arm chopped off with a meat cleaver.
Premieres often tell viewers something important, even if it’s not direct. While Cobb Vanth found his purpose in protecting Mos Pelgo, the Mandalorian might very well be finding purpose in ensuring the safety of a child in a cold and dangerous universe and finding a way to do some good among so much chaos. This is the way.
It seems while we will get more myths added to the show this season, we can expect a focus on developing this world, the Mandalorian as a character with depth, his relationship to the Child and his allies and won’t see the Child get to ride off like E.T anytime soon.