It’s no secret that a lot of the Mandalorian has been about course correcting. From the get-go, the show breaks down a lot of the mythos to their basic building blocks–the first season was one grand experiment, almost, in rediscovering which parts of the Star Wars formula work.
The western’s classic reluctant hero? Check! The noble quest that wakes him up from his moral apathy? Double check! The adventure-of-the-week format? Ee-e-e-eh, that worked fine enough as a narrative device to establish characters but it almost overstayed its welcome; no, the second season of The Mandalorian proved stronger for its more cohesive episodic nature than did the first.
What these two season managed to accomplish, together, was to rekindle the spark that the Disney’s Sequel trilogy damn near extinguished with a directionless, meandering plot, weak characters and a lack of even the most basic structure that should run through a movie trilogy.
The Mandalorian’s second season not only digs into the galaxy far, far away–it shows a respect to established characters and prior storylines that was woefully lacking in the Sequel Trilogy. Favreau and Dave Filoni know these characters, they know this world, and they have an enormous amount of respect for it–which is why they succeed both in bringing new characters to life and in reintroducing old ones in all the right ways. Here’s a (spoilery) example of what I’m talking about:
Spoilers: I’d never cared for Boba Fett, not a whit, not until I saw him in Chapter 13: The Tragedy. In this episode, he absolutely destroys a contingent of stormtroopers without his armour on in one of the most brutal, visceral fight scenes I’ve seen in Star Wars. I dreaded that by reintroducing Fett through the Mandalorian, the showrunners might make a mistake, resting too much on nostalgia rather than taking this in a new direction. I could not have been more wrong! Was there an element of fan service to it? Certainly, but the way the show goes about reintroducing Boba Fett to the Star Wars universe is not fan service, not that empty sort that’s only ever there for the sake of gratification.
Watching this show has been beyond rewarding–and it has restored my faith in a franchise whose last movie had me laughing in disbelief in the worst possible ways. That’s no guarantee that every single live-action Star Wars project from this point onwards will be as good…but it makes me hopeful that there are people at the helm of Lucasfilm who understand the special kind of magic that has made Star Wars such a persistent phenomenon.
Here’s to not screwing it up!
I’ll likely write more about the Mandalorian next year–these are some very rough thoughts I needed to get out there after the spectacular finale of the second season, released only yesterday. Wow, my mind is still blown. I cannot wait to see Din Djarin and Pedro Pascal’s beautiful mug in the Star Wars universe again!