How ‘THE MANDALORIAN’ Chapter 9 Turns Nostalgia Into World-Building
Finally, after a long wait, the second season of The Mandalorian has released. The show did not waste any time and continues where the first left off. Our new favorite Mandalorian Din Djarin is now responsible for a young child that is somehow related to Yoda. Now, he sets out into the galaxy to find others of his kind to bring back the young force-sensitive child home. The last season was filled with Easter Eggs and references to the first two trilogies. It expanded the universe in a way we had yet to see, but there is something about how the second season opens that confirms how well this show handles nostalgia. The Mandalorian isn’t just an Easter egg hunt, as it uses these familiar elements to further build upon a galaxy we once believe to know like the back of our hand.
Before you continue, be wary that there will be some major spoilers for the episode. So, only continue at your own risk if you have yet to watch it.
After the infiltration of an underground fighting arena goes wrong, Mando once again returns to Tatooine. In a way, this planet might be the most visited place in the galaxy. At first, we get some familiar shots from the original trilogy and the last season. The fifth episode Gunslinger, which took place on the same planet, was heavily criticized for focusing too much on nostalgia, and it almost feels like it is going down the same path again. Yet, after we briefly catch up with Amy Sedaris‘ Peli Motto and get a nice moment of character growth, it splinters off from the familiar. The story truly starts the moment he enters the village of Mos Pelgo. Finally, we visit a new location on this desert planet with its history and characters.
Now, the selling point of this episode is the appearance of Cobb Vanth, played by a former gunslinger Timothy Olyphant. I believe fans from the Extended Universe will recognize that name. The first time we meet him, he is wearing a very familiar outfit. Yes, it is, in fact, that of Boba Fett, who we last saw fall into a Sarlacc Pit. The moment that showed how this series pays tribute to the Star Wars history and its last season is the moment Vanth takes off the helmet. In the Mandalorian creed, you cannot take off your helmet. We physically see Din shocked even if we can’t see his face. The show doesn’t hold our hands and have Pedro Pascal explain that no Mandalorian should do such a thing. Din seems to have no connection with Fett, so there was also no in-universe reason for point out the original owner of the Beskar armor. Those that have seen the original will make the connection automatically. Viewers, who are new to the franchise, might even be inspired to read up on it.
There are a lot of great little ways it uses visuals from the franchises’ history. Vanth’s speedster was made out of one of Anakin’s pod racer engine. Mando used a similar cry that Obi-Wan used in A New Hope to communicate with the Tusken Raiders. Yet, this time they aren’t just chased away but spent time with, which had got teased in the previously mentioned episode. Now, we get to explore how Raiders survive in the desert and what traditions they have. We saw glimpses of this worldbuilding when they spent more time with the Jawa’s in the first season. We also get introduced to the ecosystem of Tatooine, such as the various creatures that live there. The Sarlacc Pit was a giant creature that lived under the sand that seemed beyond our understanding. Well, we now get introduced to its natural enemy, the Krayt Dragon, which is the main focus of the episode.
All of these elements not only pay tribute to the franchise’s history but uses them to extend our understanding of this universe. The smartest aspect is how everything in this episode is due to their connection to Boba Fett. His armor creates this immediate connection to the Sarlacc Pit and Tatooine. It takes place in the desert, so it uses some old Western film elements to ease you into the new season. So, the logical next step is to finalize that connection with a massive reveal at the end of the episode. It only truly works if you know anything about the franchise’s history. Yet, it also works for new viewers, as one can make most of the connections from the episodes’ general set-up based on nostalgia. It is hard to believe that this is only the first episode, and I am curious how they expand the Star Wars galaxy in the future.