Every Tuesday, Nate from @nateflixandchill_ will be revisiting The Mandalorian starting at the very beginning.
Hello there. If this is your first time clicking on The Mando Rewatch, my name is Nate, and over the past several weeks I have been revisiting The Mandalorian, starting from the very beginning. This week, I will be doing a deep dive into the key moments and thematic significance of “Chapter 9: The Marshall.” This is a spoiler-heavy recap. So, if you choose to read on, then I hope that you have not only seen this episode, but the rest of the series as well. It also helps if you have read my earlier reviews because I tend to circle back to previously established themes. With that out the way, let’s talk about Star Wars!
Written and directed by the series creator, Jon Favreau, “Chapter 9: The Marshall” is the season two premiere, and it is an amazing example of the fact that we are living in the golden age of television. Despite being the writer behind most episodes, this is actually the first chapter that Favreau chose to direct himself, and he does a fantastic job. The extended length of the episode really adds to the western motif of the show, particularly with the long, quiet scenes of travel. I enjoy the fact that Favreau chooses to slow down in certain moments, and really spend some time in the environment. Considering this is a season premiere, he is allowing the audience to get re-immersed into the world of The Mandalorian. Sure enough, there is no better planet to remind the audience that they are watching Star Wars than good old Tatooine. However, Favreau doesn’t return to Tatooine just for the member-berries. There is a legitimate reason for this choice, both in terms of the story, as well as the themes. Yet, above all, what it really comes down to is Boba Fett. We all want to see Boba Fett. Afterall, the show is called The Mandalorian, it only makes sense that Mando would have to eventually cross paths with the most famous character to ever wear Mandalorian armour. And, the last place that armour was seen was on Tatooine, falling into a Sarlacc pit. That being said, canon junkies such as myself would have adjusted their reading glasses and raised their index finger if Boba Fett just showed up with no mention of Cobb Vanth. To be honest, all I was expecting was a line of dialogue, or maybe a comic book to fill in the gaps, but they actually included him in the show! A minor character from an interlude in an objectively bad novel has been brought into live-action Star Wars! The moment I saw Cobb Vanth on screen, all those hours spent reading all of the novels and comic books were justified (get it? Justified? ’cause of Timothy Olyphant? … sorry). If you are unsure of what I am referring to, Cobb Vanth is not an original character from the show. He is actually taken from Chuck Wendig’s 2015 novel, Aftermath. The story of how he came into possession of Boba Fett’s armour is slightly different in the book, but who cares? It’s close enough. To be clear, I don’t believe for one second that Favreau actually read Aftermath, but the fact that he listened to the story group when someone told him about Cobb Vanth, and even included the character in the show makes me respect him even more. That shows that he cares about the fans. A lot of other directors would have just said, “I don’t care about that, that’s not part of my story.” But Favreau made the character fit into his story, and not only does he fit, his inclusion enhances the story greatly. Mando sees himself in Cobb Vanth, and in many ways, he represents what Mando could become. Cobb’s flashback sequence shows us that he initially ran away when the mining guild took over the town, then he regretted his decision, got himself some new armour, and eventually came back into town to save the day. Does that sound familiar? It should, because Cobb’s story mirrors Mando’s. Mando handed Grogu over to the Empire, then re-forged his armour, had a change of heart, and turned his ship around to come to the rescue. For both men, their new armour represents their respective selfless acts. They also view their armour as a symbol of their individual honour, and as a symbol of salvation. The difference is how the armour is tied to their identity. To Mando, his identity and his armour are hand-in-hand. Whereas to Cobb, the armour is more of a uniform for him at this point, it shows his status as the Marshall of the town, but he has no problem taking off his helmet, or even giving away the armour altogether. His cavalier attitude toward the armour infuriates Mando, but it also puts a different perspective in his mind about how other people view or use the armour. This hints towards the possibility of a different Way. Regardless, by the end of the episode, it is clear that Cobb has definitely earned the respect of Mando, and Mando probably even feels that Cobb is genuinely worthy of wearing the armour. This is shown when he tells Cobb to “take care of the Child.” Mando trusts Cobb enough to look after Grogu in case he doesn’t survive. Why Mando is willing to potentially sacrifice himself in order to kill the Krayt dragon, I don’t quite understand, it seems counter-intuitive to his ultimate quest. But that’s not the point. The point is, Cobb earns Mando’s respect and trust. Unfortunately, Mando is still honour-bound to his Creed, and he must take the armour from Cobb in the end. So, while Cobb has the freedom and ability to remove his armour, and the understanding that it is what’s underneath the armour that’s more important. Mando still has a little ways to go before he is able to separate himself from what the armour represents to him as a person. All that being said, it is clear that even though some nerd like me told Favreau that there was a potential canon stumbling block before Boba Fett could get his armour back, he was still able to use that to his advantage. And the casting of Timothy Olyphant is absolutely perfect, just like his hair. Although, I do find myself wondering which of the townsfolk chose to be a hair stylist out there in the middle of the Tatooine desert, but that’s being a little too nit-picky.
Speaking of the townsfolk, as a group, they help to build upon the western motif of the show, particularly when Mando comes riding into town, and all of them are standing outside just staring at the stranger rolling in. On top of that, it is an all-white town, and one that is constantly at odds with the Tuskens. Similar to “Chapter 5,” the Tuskens are obviously being used to represent Native Americans, and Favreau goes out of his way to shine a different light upon them. Favreau shows that both sides exhibit an inherent ignorance about the other side, and this has led to bigotry, hatred, and violence. Furthermore, the classic western prejudice of the townsfolk is highlighted by the fact that they refer to the only alien who lives in Mos Pelgo simply as “Weequay,” which is the name of his species, not his actual name. All of this points to a general lack of understanding, empathy, and compassion. The use of the Krayt dragon helps to solidify this argument. Of course, it’s a great call-back, and it looks amazing on screen (the fact that Favreau changes the aspect ratio to further emphasize the dragon’s size is a stroke of genius). However, aside from being incredibly cinematic and just plain awesome, what the Krayt dragon represents thematically is significant. Among many other things, dragons have often been used to represent a greater problem that the community must come together to deal with. Opposing forces must set their differences aside and work together for the greater good. On top of that, when you consider the fact that this episode came out during a time of tremendous turmoil in the United States, then that makes this seem even more significant. The tribalism between the Left and the Right can be seen in the ignorance of the townsfolk and the Tuskens. From a certain point of view, the dragon very well could be representing Covid, or it could be representing racial inequality, or it could simply be representing a general lack of understanding. Or, maybe it could just be a really cool dragon. In any case, by working together and defeating the dragon, the community is able to achieve a moment of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Star Wars really is the best escapism…
P.S. On the off chance that the dragon is actually representing Covid, I hope you all noticed that Mando kept his damn mask on when he defeated it…
P.P.S. Boba Fett is back, baby!
I have spoken,