How The Mandalorian Season 2 Changed Star Wars For The Better
Hey guys, welcome to my first review! For everyone still reading, I just wanted to say thank you for your continued support as we grow into something special. I hope you all enjoy my first review on my blog and look forward to many more. Without further adieu, let’s get this show on the road! (Very mild spoilers)
As every fan of Star Wars knows, when Disney purchased the rights to the franchise, it not only continued the franchise with more stories and a new era, but it also created one of the biggest fandom divisions since Kirk vs. Picard. Now dubbed “The Fandom Menace,” the loudest part of the Star Wars community has also become one of the hardest to please. However, once the Disney+ streaming service started, it welcomed its viewers with a brand new, live-action spin-off series set in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian was our first look at a world freshly freed from the grip of the empire through the eyes of a man who dons one of the most iconic armors in all of Star Wars. What we expected to be a sprawling action-adventure series surprised us with an episodic space-western about a man and his surrogate son and the lengths he will go to keep this child safe. Its conclusion promised that the second season would offer up some huge revelations in a galaxy far, far away, and boy did it!
The first few episodes of the series eased fans back in with its typical episodic strategy, taking us back to Tatooine, where we see the armor of Boba Fett, yet again, but this time worn by a sheriff played by the always talented Timothy Olyphant. Not only did we get to see the iconic armor (and a cameo by its owner), we also got to see a Krayt Dragon, you know…the thing that makes the sound Obi-Wan made in A New Hope…the basis for Anakin’s saber style…no?…nevermind. Following the explosive first episode, we are later introduced to a fun escorting episode where we see an adorable frog mother who must take her eggs to her husband so that she may save her species. Aside from The Child consistently eating these eggs, Mando (Din Djarin) and his crew are forced to deal with terrifying space spiders. We get to see the new republic yet again, and while they come across as very straight-laced, they aren’t all bad and let the Mandalorian go free rather than face his prior charges.
From this point forward, the new season changes its narrative strategy by focusing more on the overarching plot, while still keeping its episodic styles. In one of the biggest surprises of the season yet, the show bridges its second gap from animation to live-action (after introducing the dark saber) and brings us the ex Mandalorian extremist and leader, Bo-Katan, played by her voice from the show, Katee Sackoff. Showing that this universe is much bigger than we can imagine, we see the Mandalorians fight as a team and argue their beliefs which helps us understand that while the armor is similar, no one Mandalorian is the same.
Following an energetic (with potential foreshadowing of the future of Star Wars) episode that features Gina Carano’s Cara Dune and Carl Weather’s Greef Karga, the series’ next episode brings one of the franchises most beloved characters: Ashoka Tano, to live-action. Played by Rosario Dawson, we get to see our favorite non-Jedi brought to life with her white lightsabers and a ton of ties to both The Clone Wars and Rebels (and apparently a tease to her new show). Tano tells us the child’s true name, Grogu, and explains that he is not only strong in the force but was there for the fall of the Jedi. The trauma he probably experienced brought out even more compassion from Din and allowed us to see that trademark affection of Ashoka. While we won’t see her again for the rest of the season, her impact will continue to be felt all the way to the finale.
Riding the high of the fan service offered from the previous episodes, Din and Grogu fly to the planet of Tython; fans of the expanded universe will know that this planet has some of the earliest ties to the Jedi. As the kid channels his force powers on an ancient rock (providing an awesome visual, by the way), Din is forced to play defender as Boba Fett and Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand, who was saved by Boba in season 1, descend on our hero to obtain Fett’s armor. Obviously, The Mando holds his ideals to a high regard, and it will take a fight to get that armor back to Boba; sadly, the awesome battle is stopped with the Empire descending on them. Long story short, Boba gets his armor and exacts proper justice on many stormtroopers, however a new enemy, the Darktroopers, take Grogu. While they look like the baby of K-2SO and a T-100, these troopers are taken from the expanded universe and revamped to a terrifying effect.
Knowing they can’t just walk in and get Grogu back, Din starts calling in favors, and with the help of Boba, Fennec, and Cara Dune (now an officer of the New Republic); they break Bill Burr’s Mayfield out of prison to sneak into an Imperial facility for information. At first, I thought this episode would be another filler, but not only do we get to see how far Din will go to save Grogu, but we also have an amazing character moment from Mayfield and what he experienced during his time in the Empire during Operation: Cinder. Cinder was mentioned back in the video game Star Wars Battlefront II and alluded to the plan enacted following Palpatine’s death, where targeted planets are devastated by the Empire with orbital strikes that would culminate in the Battle of Jakku. Seeing how this decision affected Burr’s character gave us a great look at the depth he has and even gives him some interesting and redeeming qualities.
Now, without spoiling the season’s final episode, its ending signified an important change in Din Djarin and brought a lot of lore into play for the character who seems to have spent 15 episodes doing his best to avoid a plot. It’s a can’t miss and worth two seasons of build-up. I think that it is important to look at this series, in review, a couple of ways. From a character perspective, we learn a lot about characters we already knew from the show or the cartoons, but no other character has changed more than the title hero. Without spoiling anything, we get to see exactly what Din will sacrifice to make sure this child is safe, and it signifies that there is still a lot in store for the character. By the end of the series, The Mandalorian will change a lot more from when we were introduced to him. This has always been his show, and while he would prefer to lead a relatively quiet life, it’s hard to deny that his experiences on his quest has changed him.
One of the season’s complaints is that it relies too heavily on fan service, and it detracts from the story it is trying to tell. While I can understand the logic behind the complaint, I believe that the storytelling from Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and directors like Peyton Reed, Bryce Dallas Howard, Carl Weathers, Robert Rodriguez, and many others have managed to lend their talents to putting the Mandolorian’s story first and every iconic character we meet is treated as fully-fledged side characters. Basically, there is a lot of lore and fan service, but it all serves to grow the hero, not push him to the side. Personally, the only complaint I had about the series was a lack of consistency in run times. While I appreciate the idea that a story needs to be told no matter how long or short it will be, I think a consistent episode length would be really great.
The Mandalorian season 2 offers a lot of fun, adventure, excitement, and heart that starts strong and keeps its momentum through its 8 episodes. From a character perspective, it is one of the most layered yet subtle seasons of television to be released. With special effects that will make you think you are watching eight mini-movies, it’s hard not to notice the creators’ care and attention to detail. With season 3 coming next year, there are many possibilities for what could happen, but while some second seasons may fade away compared to much more impressive seasons, I don’t see that happening with this one. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, it’s a must watch. Fan of westerns? Give it a go! Check out season 2 of The Mandalorian! 10/10
P.S. If the season brings more questions than answers, I highly recommend checking out The Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons. Star Wars is a beautiful connected universe that deserves its attention.