“Chapter 9” finds The Mandalorian in superb form, as Mando’s quest takes him to Tatooine — where else? — and introduces some new (and old) faces.
This recap of The Mandalorian season 2, episode 1, “Chapter 9”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous season finale by clicking these words.
In a year so profoundly terrible, it’s the little things that count, and the return of The Mandalorian counts as one of those. So many people on my various social media timelines have been eagerly anticipating the Beskar-plated bounty hunter and his infant chum that “Chapter 9”, the second season premiere, arrives as a sort of consolation prize. We’ve endured almost the entirety of the worst year in recent memory, and for that, we deserve a treat. And this new longer-than-ever episode is certainly that.
Things open with a recap of the first season, but it’s easy enough to recall what’s what. Mando is travelling the galaxy with “The Child”, henceforth referred to as Baby Yoda because that’s what we’re calling him and I won’t be told otherwise, having been tasked by the Armourer with reuniting him with his people. The problem is that nobody has seen his like before, and plenty in the galaxy would kill to cash in on his rarity.
The first stop is a pit-fighting arena where two Gamorreans tussle with axes and a double-cross leads to our first tasty action sequence (enjoy the visual gag of Baby Yoda closing up his floating crib when he realizes it’s about to kick off.) You can relax — The Mandalorian Season 2 isn’t about to skimp on the action, and it’s of the same quality as it was in the previous outing. Mando’s armed with an Inspector Gadget-style armoury of fun toys, one of which he uses to string his contact up by an ankle and interrogate him for his next lead. Mando needs to find another Mandalorian, and the last time one was seen was Tatooine, since absolutely nothing significant happens in Star Wars in any other place. Off he goes, in search of Mos Pelgo, a settlement lost since the fall of the Empire.
With the help of a borrowed speeder bike, Mando gets to a very Western-inspired cantina where the bartender informs him that the “Marshall” wears Mandalorian armour. He’s proved correct immediately. The Marshall, Cobb Vanth, is Timothy Olyphant, hitting the same “It’s Timothy Olyphant as another gunslinger!” beat as his appearance in this season of Fargo. The armour is second-hand, bought from some Jawas, and Mando wants it. He isn’t about to take no for an answer, and things get testy, but an earthquake interrupts them. (Note: This armour also looks very familiar — the scavenged remains of Boba Fett’s armour post-Return of the Jedi?)
Well, I say earthquake. It’s really the subterranean rummaging of a giant Krayt Dragon — man, I miss Knights of the Old Republic — which promptly chows down on an innocent bantha. Cobb proposes a deal: If Mando helps him kill it, he’ll give him the armour. Mando wants to bomb it from the sky, but they burrow underground, so a more personal approach will be necessary. Luckily, the journey there allows Cobb to regale Mando with his personal backstory, beginning with the destruction of the second Death Star, the lifting of the occupation, the takeover of Mos Pelgo, his escape into the Dune Sea, and his subsequent rescue by a Sand Crawler whose Jawa denizens took him in and exchanged the Mandalorian armour for the crystals he had accidentally pilfered during his escape. A little action scene makes it clear: Cobb took to that armour rather nicely.
With expositional duties handled, Mando and Cobb run into a contingent of Tusken Raiders who also want to kill the Krayt Dragon (Mando, you’ll recall, speaks the language.) But Cobb isn’t the diplomatic type, so making camp that night results in a bit of a to-do that Mando has to defuse with his flamethrower. That’s one way of doing it, I guess. Either way, he’s right — if they keep fighting among themselves the Krayt Dragon will kill them all, and it’s much more proactive to decide how they’re going to kill it.
Luckily, the Tuskens have been monitoring the dragon for generations, and have its digestion cycles down. It lives in an abandoned sarlacc pit, and they periodically feed it banthas to ensure it sleeps long enough to give them a break. Their latest offering goes comically wrong, and the bantha’s shepherd gets scoffed instead. As Mando says, the Tuskens might be open to new ideas.
Mando’s new idea is to enlist Mos Pelgo’s citizens as reinforcements, but they’re still stinging from a relatively recent attack by the Tusken Raiders themselves. Cobb tries to pitch this, but Mando lays out the terms more clearly since he knows the Sand People a little better — in exchange for help killing the dragon, they’ll never attack the town again. Everybody wins. Provided, you know, that everybody doesn’t die in the meantime, which is a possibility we must consider.
The entire team — bickering, but on-side — assemble outside the Krayt Dragon’s lair, complete with a tremendous visual of a Tusken crouching to feel the ground in the mouth of the giant cave. It’s sleeping — if they listen closely, they can hear it breathing. The Krayt Dragon’s only weak spot is its belly, so they need to attack it from below, but before that, they need to wake it and antagonize it enough to lure it outside. Yikes.
The plan is initially successful — with the might of extraordinarily convincing visual effects, the dragon emerges, grabs a snack, and then starts retreating back inside. They only get one shot, so it has to come back out, even further than it did before, much to the chagrin of every extra who has to rope it up with harpoons. But, eventually, and after some volatile projectile vomiting, it makes itself vulnerable to the planted explosives, and the dunes detonate beneath it. It doesn’t do much good, and the creature reemerges at the top of the cave structure, vomiting down below.
There’s nothing else for it — Mando and Cobb have to jetpack up to the ledge and take it on personally, which only really manages to annoy it. Next thing, it’s behind them. Mando, spotting a nearby bantha strapped with explosives, has an idea. It isn’t a particularly well-thought-out one, since he has to hold the creature in place while the Krayt Dragon swallows it, which means it swallows him, too. When it eventually emerges, Mando flies from its mouth in an arc of electricity and hits the detonator, killing the dragon in a wonderful visual complete with on-brand hero landing and the excited cheers of the Raiders and townsfolk both.
As the Raiders sift through the dragon’s guts, Cobb willingly parts with his armour. As Mando speeds away, he’s being watched from afar by none other than Temuera Morrison. Looks like Boba wants his armour back.
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