The Mandalorian Recap: S02E01, “Cowboy Bobap”


The first episode of The Mandalorian’s second-season return opens on Mando sauntering down the dimly-lit street of a shady city. I mean, really sauntering. For a man on a mission, the guy is really taking his time. It’s like, if you were behind him on the sidewalk, it would be infuriating, because he’s also got his Baby Yoda hover-stroller at his side, so it would basically be impossible to get around him. There are people who walk down an airport’s moving walkway, using it to get to their gate faster, and there are the people who seem to regard it as a little ride, just standing there like a dick. I think both Mando and I have made it clear which camp we’re in.

Anyway, it turns out Mando is headed to this underground fight club thing where some of those pig-men that Jabba had as guards (alright, Gamorreans, you nerds) are going at it with axes. There’s also some kind of energy blasting out of them when they clash, and I’m not really sure what was going on there, but who cares. Mando isn’t here to watch a porcine fight. He’s here to meet John Leguizamo.

The Spawn actor’s latest shot at playing a gross, pudgy little prosthetics-covered villain sees Leguizamo as a stocky cyclops named Gor Koresh (relationship to David never made clear). This guy was supposed to give Mando the location of another Mandalorian who might help him locate the Jedi, but he immediately betrays that deal for a new one: Mando’s armor or his life.

But this guy has no idea that Mando has those little darts that fly around homing in on everyone around him, and he soon learns this. In the end, Mr. Koresh spills the beans and is left hanging in the street, at the mercy of whatever red-eyed fuckers were lurking out there. And Mando now knows where he’s headed: Christ, Tatooine again? For a massive franchise about intergalactic conflict, it sure seems like we spend a hell of a lot of time in that shithole, but fine. Tatooine it is! Again! At least we get another fun Amy Sedaris cameo out of it.

Sedaris, still in her Ripley cosplay from last season, loans Mando a speeder and sends him on his way to the ghost town where another Mandolorian supposedly resides. Baby Yoda absolutely loves the ride, and that is pretty much his only notable part in this episode.

The Mandalorian has frequently been informed by old Westerns, for never has it been such a Mando with No Name than in the rest of this episode. Writer-director Jon Favreau goes full-on, go-for-broke Western pastiche. Mando slowly riding down the main street of a blown-out desert town, the sparse residents glaring as he passes; hitting up the tavern to meet the sheriff; forcing the townspeople to team with the natives to face a bigger threat, then riding off into the sunset. It is perilously close to parody, but classics are classics for a reason, and in the end, it works well enough.

Backing up to that tavern, there Mando meets the man he came looking for—clad in not just Mandalorian armor but Boba Fett’s armor. Since Mando isn’t really online much, he is not aware of the inexplicably huge fan following Boba Fett has, so it doesn’t really register with him. What does register is when this Mandalorian takes his helmet off to share a spiked blue raspberry drink. That’s no Mandalorian! That’s Timothy Olyphant!

Yes, as we’ve long dreamed, Olyphant has completed the only Triple Crown where the crown is a cowboy hat. From old-fashioney handsome marshal in Deadwood, to contemporary handsome marshal in Justified, and, finally, sci-fi space handsome marshal here. It’s a wonderful, handsome sight to see.

Mando disagrees, though. Handsome or not, he is not pleased to see a non-Mandalorian wearing this armor his people will not shut up about. He demands the Marshal turn it over, and Olyphant—playing this as casually Olyphant cowboy-ishly as he absolutely should—refuses. The two very nearly give us the quickdraw duel the setting demands, only for the rumbling of a different genre trope to approach: a giant sand worm thing!

It seems this Dune guest star has been breezing through this town, ruining their shit and eating its livestock, for some time now. The Marshal has a proposal for the Mando: help kill this thing, and he’ll give up the armor. Never one to turn down the experience of yet another side-quest, Mando agrees.

They race off in their speeders toward the beast’s lair, and we see that the Marshal’s speeder is pieced together from a salvaged podracer. Olyphant does not, in his Olyphant twang, say, “Now this is podracing,” and this is the first of two major issues with this episode.

The second issue ends up being that, in the grand scheme of things, the sand dragon guy is not all that bad a dude. This big-boy is built like a 747, yet—as we soon learn—eating a single sandperson leaves him so sated he passes out like a Thanksgiving feast. If this freak needs to nosh on a space-yak once a week, that sort of seems fair. It’s the desert; what’s he going to do, hit up Olive Garden?

These people and sandpeople aren’t having it, though. They are determined to blow him up from his weak spot, which is his delicate tummy. Their plan doesn’t work, but lucky for them, Mando has one more cliché to trot out before credits roll. He lets the creature eat him and blows it up from the inside, emerging covered in all the bile it kept puking earlier out of spite.

The beast dispatched, the sandpeople (and Mando, nonetheless) waste no time on going after the creature’s meat. Free meat! One of the sandpeople also comes across the dragon’s inner pearl, and they’re all absolutely loving it. The killing of a sand dragon is perhaps the sandperson Seder, and this is their afikomen, a pearlescent matzah they search for and celebrate. Maybe? Who knows what’s going on with these guys.

Job complete, Boba Fett armor relinquished, recurring role for Olyphant all but assured, Mando, as promised, rides off into the sunset. But who’s that cloaked figure watching him leave…? None other than Boba Fett himself, looking like shit and now played by Jango Fett actor Temuera Morrison.

Tattooine: still the hottest place for a prequel murderer to put on a robe and anonymously retire as a hermit.

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