THE MANDALORIAN Season 2 Premiere Review; "[It's] Returned To Save 2020 With A Stellar Opening Episode"

"Chapter 9" is the longest episode of The Mandalorian to date, but after a stellar first season, does it manage to live up to the hype? Find our spoiler-free review of the premiere after the jump...

While this review is spoiler-free, if you want to know absolutely nothing about the episode, stop reading now and come back here after watching it on Disney+!

The first season of The Mandalorian was adored by all, and for many fans, it remains the best Star Wars content produced by Lucasfilm during the post-Expanded Universe, Disney-owned era. Those first eight episodes were, in fact, so good that when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrived in theaters last December, its flaws were even more apparent and nothing it delivered quite managed to live up to the exploits of bounty hunter Din Djarin. Now, season two has hit Disney+ with the expectation that it will be bigger and better than what's come before. It's hard to get much better than that first season, so it's a relief to note that the quality remains the same, though this super-sized "Chapter 9" is definitely bigger! 

We won't even reveal the title of the episode here for fear of spoiling something, but as the trailers have confirmed, the season kicks off with Din Djarin and the Child setting off on a mission to find other Mandalorians in a bid to reunite that adorable creature with its own kind. Whereas season one was quite self-contained, it definitely feels like this world is now slowly expanding and tying into the wider Star Wars Universe. There have been some concerns that would be the wrong move for the show, but thus far, there's nothing to indicate that's going to be the case. The bounty hunter has been established as an important part of this Galaxy Far, Far Away, so why not let those in charge of the show play with some more toys in the box? 

Speaking of which, it's showrunner Jon Favreau (Iron Man) who steps behind the camera for "Chapter 9," and he again leans into the Western feel of the show (if this was his attempt to make up for Cowboys & Aliens, it's worked). Interestingly, one massive, incredible action scene appears to have been shot on IMAX camera as the aspect ratio changes for that sequence. Was a big screen release considered for this premiere before COVID? We may never know, but the quality of The Mandalorian continues to be on par with the Star Wars movies, and the visuals from start to finish are nothing short of awe-inspiring. The series is obviously set after Return of the Jedi, and continues showcasing what the post-Empire Galaxy looks like for normal people; that remains one of the most interesting things about the show, and is handled particularly well here.

It shouldn't surprise you that Ludwig Göransson's score is as terrific as ever, while the show also continues pushing the boundaries in terms of visuals effects. Even after watching the Disney: Gallery: The Mandalorian series, it's hard to compute that the show wasn't shot entirely on location. We'll have a spoiler recap for you later, but in terms of performances, the guest star does a terrific job alongside Pedro Pascal's formidable bounty hunter and is someone we definitely hope to see more of in this series (or others). The actor in question is one of the most talented working in Hollywood today, though not someone we see anywhere near as often as we should on screen. With The Mandalorian, however, they're bound to now have a whole new legion of fans. 

As you might expect, there are some big surprises throughout the course of this opening episode, and some intriguing hints about what comes next. It still feels a little too soon to start making predictions about where this year will take us - if this episode is any indication, the show will continue delivering standalone stories for the most part - but there's no way The Mandalorian will be anything other than essential viewing over the next seven weeks. This is the way. 

The Mandalorian has returned to save 2020 with a stellar opening episode helmed by Jon Favreau, a wonderful performance from an unexpected co-star, and plenty of Baby Yoda cuteness. 


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