Discussing Jon Favreau’s suspenseful plant and hilarious, successful payoff (The Mandalorian: Chapter 9) — SPOILERISH
It’s no secret at this point that Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian is one of the only things keeping Star Wars alive. For years the franchise’s universe has felt incredibly small despite trying to become more grandiose in scope. It was supposed to be a new main trilogy with anthology films in between that really flesh out the universe, except they didn’t really do that. You ever wonder how the rebels got the Death Star plans? Well, here’s a film about that with a completely new cast of mostly charming characters aaaaaaaand they’re gone! Ever wonder how Han Solo did anything? Here’s a film about every major thing that happened to him before A New Hope and it all happens over like, a week (which honestly could have been a fun commentary on Han’s personality and how he sees himself if it was intentional). Those two anthology films really don’t do much to make the universe feel larger, they just fill in some blanks that never needed to be filled in at all.
INTERLUDE: So when Han calls the Falcon “she,” is he referring to Lando’s robot girlfriend that’s inside the Millennium Falcon? Follow-up, did Lando fuck the Falcon offscreen in Empire and Jedi or between those films? Did he fuck the Falcon offscreen in Rise of Skywalker? Should we assume that Lando fucks the Falcon every time he is with it offscreen? Maybe we need a Lando movie that’s structured like Lion King 1 1/2.
Thanks to Jon Favreau, the anthology idea is finally delivering on its promise; the world is being expanded without always directly relating to or affecting the main films. The Empire and New Republic factions are present but not the focus of the story outside of a couple of rogue Imperial officers with their own agendas. There’s no reason for Din the Mandalorian to meet Luke, Han, or Leia. Favreau chooses instead to flesh out the Mandalorian culture, and he seems like one of the few writers best suited for that job; the perfect pick would be Karen Traviss based on her Republic Commando novels where Jedi and clone troopers literally quit to become Mandalorians, but we don’t live in a perfect world.
INTERLUDE: When you really think about it, it really is incredible that talented writers were able to create an entire warrior culture and history out of a single feared mercenary and his dickhead clone-son whose jetpack is on the fritz.
Favreau has been literally embedded in Mandalorian culture for a decade now, first appearing in The Clone Wars as the absolute shit stain Pre Vizsla, a man whose name is a reference to Tor Vizsla, the OG shit stain who killed Jango Fett’s parents (It’s all in the Legends canon now, read a comic book from 2002, you fuckin’ nerds). It’s clear that Favreau has done his research on Mandalorian lore that came before his time, and his clear love for that lore and his gift of storytelling have led to this show and specifically Chapter 9’s rollercoaster of a reveal.
INTERLUDE: I have a theory that Din the Mandalorian is in Death Watch, a terrorist group that splintered from the True Mandalorians and I’m hoping Favreau sees and explores that, but that’s its own essay.
During Season 1 of Mandalorian, Din spends Chapter 5 on Tatooine, a planet famous for many things, including an ending written by two dudes that don’t understand the characters of the movie that they wrote (It’s Abrams and Terrio. I’m talking about Abrams and Terrio making Rey bury Luke and Leia’s prized possessions on a planet neither of them likes and then stealing their family name). The planet is also famous for that scene in Jedi where the clone-son of a feared bounty hunter wearing arguably the coolest-looking outfit in the trilogy gets launched by a blind man who says “Ope!” into the side of a hover-yacht and then rolls down a hill into a giant gaping asshole like a complete dickhead. Anyway, at the end of Chapter 5, that dickhead’s return is teased and it’s not teased again until Chapter 9 during Favreau’s rollercoaster.
Favreau’s ride to the reveal begins with Din learning from One-Eyed Fucko that there is a Mandalorian in a city on Tatooine, which leads every fan of Jedi to realize “Boba Fett. Oh shit, we’re going to meet Boba Fett!” I didn’t remember the tease from Chapter 5 but that would have added to the excitement, and that’s by design. Favreau is taking the viewer on a hype train with unexpected, but funny, stops and a hilariously perfect destination.
So Din arrives on Tatooine, learns where the city is, and heads out in a little montage of his journey. Din rolls into town with a quiet acoustic guitar rendition of the main theme playing like it’s a western (which it completely is but they really lean into it). He enters the cantina, states that he’s looking for someone like him, and the bartender’s response made me freeze in a moment of perplexed laughter: “You mean the marshal?”
At this point, I had to pause the episode so I could laugh out loud. “Boba Fett is a fucking marshal? That dickhead became the sheriff of a town??” The premise of that is really fucking funny and not just because I imagined Boba Fett in all his armor but also wearing a Sheriff Woody vest and a cowboy hat on top of his helmet like an Among Us crew member. What makes it even funnier is the thought of Temuera Morrison delivering cheesy cowboy lines.
Favreau waits just long enough for you to realize that this is it. This is the Boba Fett reveal. Every Boba Fett fan is on the edge of their seats with excitement. And then you see him… In what looks like a shitty Spirit Halloween costume. You realize that it’s not Boba, just some other asshole, but for a moment I had the thought of “What the fuck did they do to Boba Fett? Why is his costume so shitty?” It’s because that’s not him, which is another plant that adds to the mystery of Boba Fett and the Mandalorians, but not in a shitty “mystery box” kind of way (Abrams uses the mystery box because he can’t be fucked to outline a complete story, apparently). There’s a mystery surrounding Boba Fett, but it can’t be fully answered right here and now.
We have reached the final stop on this rollercoaster and it’s my favorite part of the whole ride. The strange man speaks, and as a huge Timothy Olyphant fan, I almost lost my mind. Hearing his voice come out of that helmet is exciting in the “Oh shit it’s Timmy O!” way and hilarious in the “Oh shit it’s Timmy O!” way. These are two different and distinct feelings and anyone who says otherwise is damn dirty liar.
The character, Cobb, then removes his helmet, revealing Timmy O looking hot as fuck and like he’s in a movie where Pierce Brosnan meets himself in alternate dimensions. I mean god damn, that hair, that beard, those eyes, that scarf, that armor… I dunno, maybe I just love a man in uniform. Anyways, Sheriff Smoke Show admits that he’s not a Mandalorian and prepares to get shot right in the fucking face, but thankfully external conflict happens instead. The two team up and Timmy O spends the rest of the episode playing the perfect fun space cowboy.
This all happens in the first fifteen minutes and is a great way to set up ideas for the rest of the episode and the rest of the season. As I howled with laughter and delight at the fact that Timothy Olyphant is canonically a space cowboy in Star Wars, I was asking questions about his origin, how it relates to Boba Fett and how both of those relate to the rest of the season. The episode answers questions about Cobb and the final shot answers the first question about Boba Fett: “Is that fucking reject alive or dead?” Jon Favreau does a fantastic job of efficient storytelling while taking his time to build suspense for both newcomers and hardened fans and that is all elevated by the mere existence of Timmy O playing a god damn space cowboy.