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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, September 27, 2023

'The Mandalorian' continues to focus on parenting, brings in fan-favorite characters

A promotional poster for "The Mandalorian" (2019–) is pictured.

This review contains spoilers for season 1 and the first two episodes of season 2 of "The Mandalorian."

2019was perhaps the biggest yearfor “Star Wars” since the franchise’s inception: the release of the final Skywalker film, an acclaimed video game, plenty of comics and the 20th anniversary of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” (1999)gave every fan something to celebrate. But the launch of Disney+ marked a new era. In particular, “The Mandalorian”(2019–), a live-action series exclusive to the platform, proved that the future of “Star Wars” could very well be in streaming.

About a year after the show’s incredibly successful first season (awards, memes about Baby Yoda, plenty of tie-in media and futurespinoff talk) comes the first two episodes of its second season: “Chapter 9: The Marshal” and “Chapter 10: The Passenger,” which dropped on Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, respectively. Both are great reentries into the world of “The Mandalorian.” We’re given exciting setups for the new season, full of franchise familiarity and new possibilities.

But first, let’s recap: The first season, setfive years after the events of “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” (1983), follows a lone Mandalorian bounty hunter named Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) as he tracks and later protects The Child (otherwise known as Baby Yoda). Djarin and The Child have plenty of adventures throughout the eight episodes, which include interacting with characters like Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).

The season was much slower than the usually fast-paced franchise; chalk that up to the creative minds of Creator and Executive Producer Jon Favreau and Executive Producers Dave Filoni and Kathleen Kennedy. Their approach makes sure that every element of “The Mandalorian” adds up to a rich storytelling experience. The show is heavily Western; Djarin takes on an outlaw role, traveling from desert planet to spooky town, all the while fulfilling plenty of the genre’s tropes. It is also a technical marvel with virtual sets and 360-degree video wallswhich can be attributed to Lucasfilm’s dedication to innovation and creativity,as well as the series’ insane budget. 

The end of the first season left Djarin with a mission: to return The Child to his own kind. And that could mean either species (Baby Yoda, as the nickname suggests, is of Yoda’s currently unnamed species) or Jedi (BabyYoda was revealed to be Force-sensitive in the first season). It’s a journey to home and family, wherever and whatever that may be. And it continues in “The Marshal,” with Djarin traveling back to Tatooine to find another rumored Mandalorian on the planet. He’s looking for others to help him bring The Child where he needs to be.

Djarin meets the rumored Mandalorian in Mos Pelgo. It is Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), who, despite not being a Mandalorian, dons Boba Fett’s armor. He bought it off some Jawas and has become Mos Pelgo’s Marshal, protecting the people from mining corporations. But the armor doesn’t help him against a greater krayt dragon, which has been terrorizing townspeople and nearby Tusken Raiders. Based on Western genre tropes, it’s clear what happens next: Djarin, Vanth, the Raiders and the townspeople team up to destroy the dragon, sharing the meat and appreciating newfound safety.

Just because “The Marshal” is perhaps the most Western-inspired episode of “The Mandalorian” yet doesn’t mean it isn't full of exciting action. There are some interesting interactions between the Raiders (who have a long history in the “Star Wars” franchise) and Djarin. But what's got everyone talking is an appearance from a surprise character reveal that has been rumored for months.Indeed, “The Marshal” ends with a shot ofBoba Fett (Temuera Morrison) watching Djarin on a speeder bike. We needn’t be reminded that Fett’s last appearance in the saga was “Return of the Jedi,” during which he fell into the mouth of the Sarlacc pit. He clearly escaped, with many scars to show for being slowly digested by the Sarlacc’s stomach acid.

Fett’s return not only makes it very likely that “The Mandalorian” will feature other rumored characters — like Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren — in season 2, but it also deepens certain elements of the show. “The Mandalorian” is particularly interested in themes of fatherhood. It’s focused heavily on Djarin’s adoption of The Child — he’s become a parent, slowly learning to care and love. What once was a bounty job has now shaped his entire outlook and purpose.

It’s exciting to think about the idea of fatherhood in the context of Fett and his father, Jango Fett, who was last seen in “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002). Will the relationship between Djarin and The Child remind Fett of his father? What has Fett been up to and how lonely is he? Will Fett try to take The Child or is he a redeemed — or redeemable — character?

That development will certainly add layers to Fett’s character, which is already developed thanks to his appearances in the television show “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008–2020). And while “Star Wars” dads are always a mixed bag, their dual roles between domestic life and intergalactic conflict shape their children’s identities (a clear example being Han Solo and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo).

We can certainly look forward to more discussions on fathers in the coming episodes of “The Mandalorian,” but the second episode of the season focuses on motherhood. “The Passenger” follows Djarin as he decides to transport a Frog Lady to Trask, an estuary moon where her husband awaits to fertilize her eggs. Djarin is not too keen on the idea — it requires him to travel outside of hyperspace because doing so will destroy the eggs — but Frog Lady insists that there are Mandalorians on Trask, so it’s worth the journey.

Along the way, the group encounters plenty of issues. The Child munches on some of Frog Lady’s eggs (a comedic trope that doesn't land, considering how important the eggs are to Frog Lady — more on that later). New Republic patrol officers chase Djarin onto the nearby ice planet Maldo Kreis. After Djarin’s ship crashes into a cavern, a hoard ofkrykna — weird spiders, very akin to those of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002) — attack the group. They fend off the krykna — thanks to the New Republic officers from earlier — and fly off to get Frog Lady home.

The episode is rich with details to analyze. When Frog Lady connects to a droid and uses it to communicate with Djarin, which she previously couldn’t do due to language barriers, she goes on a monologue. She needs to get her eggs to her husband as soon as possible. Djarin tells her the deal is off and she questions his Mandalorian honor and ethics. It hits at the core of the show and reminds us of Frog Lady’s duty as a mother (and Djarin’s duty as both a Mandalorian and a father). She must reunite with her spouse and continue her line. She holds the future in her hands. Djarin must uphold his Mandalorian honor and keep The Child safe.

Frog Lady’s refreshing introduction in “The Passenger” is a reminder of the roles of mothers throughout “Star Wars.” Mothers are something plenty of fans have been analyzing through platforms like “What the Force?” a meta “Star Warspodcast and website. “The Mandalorian” reminds us that not only are parents the backbone of the saga (we could say it’s especially focused on fatherhood), but also that mothers should be vital to characters healing, growing and becoming who they are meant to be (think Leia and Kylo Ren/Ben). For a saga that has always focused on the next generation (something felt in the roles of Luke Skywalker, Leia Skywalker Organa Solo and Han Solo in the sequel trilogy), Frog Lady’s role is right where it should be.

As the second season of “The Mandalorian” continues, it will be interesting to see how parenthood continues to shape as a theme and identity for Djarin. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Frog Lady’s sheer dedication to her offspring rub off on Djarin. Likewise, a confrontation between Djarin and Fett would prove exciting — what will Fett, fatherless and childless, look like when compared with Djarin?

The Mandalorian” streams exclusively on Disney+, with new episodes every Friday.