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‘The Mandalorian’ season 2 premiere offers a message of unity in a thrilling ‘Star Wars’ way

‘The Mandalorian’ is back with a stellar new episode that ranks among the series’ best.

The Child in Lucasfilm’s “The Mandalorian” season 2.
The Child in Lucasfilm’s “The Mandalorian” season 2.
Disney Plus

Warning: Spoilers for “The Mandalorian” season 2’s premiere episode.

There’s one clear takeaway from “The Mandalorian” season 2’s first episode — “Star Wars” is back.

The premiere episode, titled “Chapter 9 — The Marshal,” takes us right where we left off with the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and the Child (Baby Yoda) on a journey across the galaxy to find the origins of the creature. The opening takes us to a pseudo-wrestling match, where Mando — after using his weaponry in a typical Mando way — learns he actually has to return to the dust planet of Tattooine to find another Mandalorian. Cue the freakout of thousands of “Star Wars” fans everywhere.

It’s on Tatooine that Mando meets Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), a marshal for the small mining settlement of Mos Pelgo. Oh yeah, and Cobb Vanth is wearing the body armor of a Mandalorian. But not any Mandalorian — Boba Fett.

Boba. Fett.

Again, cue the freakout of “Star Wars” everywhere.

From there, it’s a typical “Mandalorian” episode. Mando and Cobb Vanth unite to defeat a krayt dragon by setting up a specific plan and keeping the Child safe in the process.

The opening scene is a great reintroduction.

The opening scene is without a doubt classic and fun. It’s a perfect reintroduction to the series that teaches first-time viewers about the Mandalorian, Baby Yoda and the adventures they find themselves on. It’s a perfect lens into what the show’s about and how it operates. And it’s just a classic “Star Wars” scene where we’re seeing new creatures in an environment that’s similar to our own.

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Gor Koresh in “The Mandalorian” season 2.
The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Gor Koresh in “The Mandalorian” season 2.
Disney Plus

Plenty of fun for a ‘Star Wars’ fan, but room for improvement.

The entire episode is packed with similar gifts for fans and newbies alike. Seeing Boba Fett’s armor was one thing. Seeing Cobb Vanth ride what looked like one of the engines from Anakin Skywalker’s podracer is an entirely different things. It’s these small easter eggs that make the show so great. “Mandalorian” pays homage to the past without fully making it a recap of the previous shows. Little easter eggs and references are sprinkled within, which makes a much more sweeter experience than if it was drizzled in thick fudge of nostalgia.

That said, there were some moments that dragged on. The scene where Mando, the people of Mos Pelgo and the Tusken Raiders formulate their plan is so reminiscent of previous “Mandalorian” episodes that I almost slept through it. It’s a little moment but definitely one we’ve seen before, one that’s pretty skippable if you need to grab your Swig drink in between scenes.

The biggest message is about unity

The premiere episode also had a tremendous takeaway to kick off the season — unity inspires hope. At one point, Mando explains why the Mos Pelgo people need to work with their enemies, the Tusken Raiders, to defeat the dragon. “Joining forces is their only hope,” he says. And there’s nothing more important to take away than that little phrase. Working together and spreading messages of unity can bring people together and create hope. It’s a perfect message to drop so close to Election Day, where both candidates offer themes of hopes for a better future. More importantly, it arrives at a time of discourse and division. But joining forces — working together to defeat the polarization, the pandemic and the perils of our country — is the only way to find hope.

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Weequay bartender in “The Mandalorian” season 2.
The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Weequay bartender in “The Mandalorian” season 2.
Disney Plus

Let’s talk about the cliffhanger.

OK, so we knew this was coming. Again, spoilers for anyone who hasn’t watched the episode yet. But the final shot of the episode showed Temuera Morrison — covered in dust, cut up with scars — staring at the Mandalorian from afar. Morrison is the actor who portrayed all the clones in “The Clone Wars” and would, in theory, be the grown up version of Boba Fett. The fact that Boba Fett’s armor is still around (Cobb Vanth admitted he got it from the Jawas) suggests the bounty hunter is still alive, too. We didn’t see the Mandalorian leave Tattooine yet, so there’s a good chance we’re going to see the two interact in one of the next episodes. It was a perfect ending to the premiere episode.

There’s some concern about whether the show can properly execute bringing back a character from the original trilogy. We haven’t seen Boba Fett on screen since “Return of the Jedi” in 1983. We don’t know what he’ll be like now that he’s survived the Sarlaac pit, as far as we know. It’s going to be a fun season, knowing that the famous character is back into our worlds. But the situation will need to be handled with care, knowing that the slightest miss on the character could ruin his perception, and damage the reputation of the show itself. Consider Luke Skywalker’s appearance in “The Last Jedi.” Messing with the old can have its rewards and be a fun exploration into something new. But, at the same time, it offers a high risk. If the reason of the season reveals old characters to us, then “The Mandalorian” will want to tread lightly and be weary of how it’s showing off these older characters and how often they’re being brought into the fray.

A screenshot from “The Mandalorian.”
A screenshot from “The Mandalorian.”
Disney Plus

Final thoughts:

“Star Wars” is back. We’ll be getting these episodes for the next eight weeks or so, and it’s going to be an epic ride that brings us back into a galaxy far, far away. The premiere episode hit all the right notes. It told a strong story with action and adventure. It brought forth a powerful message of unity. It had all the easter eggs you could ask for with slight nods to the past.

The premiere had the perfect blend of everything you’d want from the show. Like I said at the top of this, “Star Wars” is back. It’s a new era for the franchise, one where the premiere is a television series and not a film. The future is bright for “Star Wars” right now if this is what we’ll be getting moving forward. The premiere episode did everything fans would want, and gave us promise for something more.

And that gives me hope.