In Season 2, 'The Mandalorian' And Baby Yoda Strike Back Season 2 of The Mandalorian on Disney+ began today. The first new episode of the rollicking space Western takes off immediately with action and new, yet familiar, characters.
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Return Of 'The Mandalorian' (And Baby Yoda)

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Return Of 'The Mandalorian' (And Baby Yoda)

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TV Reviews

Return Of 'The Mandalorian' (And Baby Yoda)

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

"The Mandalorian" - and yes, that bundle of big-eared green cuteness Baby Yoda - is back on Disney+. The TV series set in the "Star Wars" universe just dropped the first episode of its second season. NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans says it proves that the quality of last year's episodes, which helped launch Disney+, was no fluke.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: The secret weapon of Disney+'s "The Mandalorian" is discovery. It starts with the journey of the title character, a bounty hunter from a warrior race referenced in the "Star Wars" films. Here, he's a hero who champions a young, powerful orphan known as The Child who fans call Baby Yoda. The new episode opens as our hero faces off against an unscrupulous criminal who wants his blaster-proof armor.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MANDALORIAN")

JOHN LEGUIZAMO: (As Gor Koresh) Give it to me now or I will peel it off your corpse.

PEDRO PASCAL: (As The Mandalorian) Tell me where the Mandalorians are, and I'll walk out of here without killing you.

LEGUIZAMO: (As Gor Koresh) I thought you said you weren't the gambler.

PASCAL: (As The Mandalorian) I'm not.

DEGGANS: That sound is The Mandalorian doing what he does best - defeating a roomful of bad guys with an array of cool, hidden weapons. Turns out, our hero needs to find more Mandalorians, warriors who keep a low profile because they're feared, prized and hunted for their combat skill. So he follows a tip from the criminal to head for Tatooine, the home planet of "Star Wars" hero Luke Skywalker, where he finds someone wearing Mandalorian armor. And here's a huge but necessary spoiler - that man in the Mandalorian armor is a marshal played by Timothy Olyphant, who sounds an awful lot like another marshal he once played on TV, "Justified's" Raylan Givens.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MANDALORIAN")

TIMOTHY OLYPHANT: (As Cobb Vanth) I've never met a real Mandalorian - heard stories. I know you're good at killing and probably none too happy to see me wearing this hardware. I figure only one of us walking out of here. But then I see the little guy, and I think maybe I pegged you wrong.

DEGGANS: If you've seen even one other Western movie or TV show, you know these guys are going to team up. Indeed, that's the great achievement of "The Mandalorian," especially in this new episode. It borrows so heavily from Western tropes, most viewers can guess what will happen - who will win a fight, who will team up, who will learn from an unlikely alliance. But the show deploys revelations about the "Star Wars" universe to keep us guessing and engaged. For instance, we learn the aftermath on Tatooine of a crucial scene from 1983's "Return Of The Jedi," after the empire was defeated and the second Death Star was destroyed.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MANDALORIAN")

OLYPHANT: (As Cobb Vanth) The empire was pulling out of Tatooine. There was blaster fire over Mos Eisley. The occupation was over. We didn't even have time to celebrate. That very night, the Mining Collective moved in. Power hates a vacuum, and Mos Pelgo became a slave camp overnight.

DEGGANS: Creator Jon Favreau, who wrote and directed this episode, finds deeper storytelling by digging into parts of the "Star Wars" universe overlooked by the franchise films. He somehow gets a performance from the puppet that plays The Child, mining its reactions for humor and sympathy. And he caps the new episode by revealing the existence of a character from the original "Star Wars" films whose presence is so impactful, I actually gasped when I first saw the image.

Best of all, I left this new episode eager to see what comes next and a little annoyed with Disney+ that they don't follow Netflix's usual binge model and drop an entire season at once. Favreau has shown the second season of the series might be even more creative, ambitious and compelling than the first. Not a bad day's work, even for the coolest Mandalorian in a galaxy far, far away.

I'm Eric Deggans.

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