Having had some time to reflect on the second season of The Mandalorian since it’s bombastic and fan–service–filled finale, I can confidently say that executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have set a new standard for the beloved space-faring franchise. Coming off an already impressive first season, they took the opportunity to go bigger and better. Through expanding the lore in new and interesting ways in addition to bringing back fan-favorite characters and elements from other Star Wars I.P., season two of The Mandalorian is a treat to both veteran and new fans of the Star Wars Universe. I now give the obligatory ~SPOILER WARNING~ before we dive into things.
The sophomore season begins with Din Djarin, our titular Mandalorian, traveling the galaxy with the overnight pop culture superstar Baby Yoda in search of others of his kind. The opening episode shows them traveling back to the classic location of Tatooine on their quest to find Baby Yoda, a home among other Jedi. Instead, they find Cobb Vanth, a town marshall who just so happens to be wearing the armor of BOBA F*#$%@G FETT. This episode continues through to Djarin getting the armor back, as it is of his people, through helping Vanth, yada yada yada. But we see at the end an armorless, thought-to-be-dead Fett, looking on with clear intent to follow Mando. This is where the season states its intentions to the audience: to expand and redeem its universe by introducing new characters and storylines while simultaneously revitalizing and reinvigorating older, legacy characters.
The first few episodes are hampered by slow pacing and miscellaneous adventures to kill time while Mando’s ship is being repaired. However, these episodes serve to flesh out the power struggle between the crippled, post-Return of the Jedi Empire and the still small but growing New Republic. They additionally solidify the defacto-father son relationship between Mando and Baby Yoda. After those, the showrunners decide to really start ramping up the reintroduction of popular characters from the lore.Notably, Bo-Katan and her Mandalorian squad of Night Wolves only featured previously in the animated Clone Wars series, made their live-action debut in assisting Djarin in his mission. Later on, we also see fan-favorite Jedi Ahsoka Tano of Clone Wars and Rebels fame make her first live-action appearance being portrayed by the always entertaining Rosario Dawson. And, of course, we see Boba Fett catch up with his fellow Mandalorian in search of his iconic green armor, and even help Din in his quest to save Baby Yoda, finally mentioned by name as Grogu.
This article would be meaningless if I failed to mention the biggest reveal of them all, the appearance by everyone’s favorite Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in the final minutes of the season’s bombastic finale. After taking out a horde of the empire’s newest weapon Dark Troopers, Luke takes Grogu under his own care, prompting an emotional and expertly performed by star Pedro Pascal, goodbye between our hero and his adopted, green companion. There is much to say about the appearance of Star Wars’ original star Mark Hamill, digitally de-aged, of course. What I find most impressive is how the production was able to keep this a secret until the episode dropped. In a media landscape inundated in rumors and production leaks, which ultimately soften the punch of whichever entertainment they choose to burden next.Being able to take arguably the most famous and legendary heroic character in modern cinema and reveal his return in the finale of the second outing of a show and keep it a secret in orderto take fans by surprise with Skywalker’s iconic X-Wing fighter cross the screen and his green lightsaber ignite is a massive feat.
This season has been a masterclass in how to do fan service in a show, but the amazing acting, directing, and original score serve to magnify its greatness. The main players come back in this season just as strong and even stronger in some cases as in the first. Pedro Pascal, as I mentioned before, does a wonderful job with his role, which is not an easy task given he only has a few scenes in the entire show without his helmet completely covering his face. The now-legendary villainous actor Giancarlo Esposito returns just as malevolent as ever. Even Gina Carano and Carl Weathers continue to fill in their supporting slots very nicely, the latter of which even directed an episode early in the season, Chapter 12: The Siege. Fans were also happy to see actor and comedian Bill Burr comeback to portray his ex-imperial scoundrel Mayfield in the season’s penultimate episode, Chapter 15: The Believer. Ludwig Göranson’s franchise redefining score continues to impress throughout the season as he introduces new tunes and character scores while taking some cues from the incomparable John Williams. Boba Fett’s theme is particularly notable as it truly encompasses his bounty hunting antics. And finally, the space adventure/gunslinging epic is rounded out by an impressive roster of directors and cinematographers operating at the top of their game, such as Jon Favreau, Carl Weathers, and Dave Filoni as I mentioned before, but also Bryce Dallas Howard, Peyton Reed, and even Robert Rodriguez to add to the ranks. Favreau and Filoni as a creator and producer duo works perfectly for me as I’m sure it does for many others.
Disney has had a rough go at it since their acquisition of the Star Wars I.P. 2012 but seem to finally be hitting their stride. Since then, they have produced 5 films, one of which is really of great genuine quality and manages consistent praise from fans, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. While each film has applaudable elements and some fine ideas, studio interference from Disney has, apparently, been the source of their poor reception. Of course, this is a subjective opinion, so I just want to say that I don’t hate the sequel trilogy, just to save my head from those fans who may disagree. Conversely, I have yet to meet a single Star Wars fan or read much of anything that points to people disliking it. It seems to be uniting a recently stagnated fan base, as I’m sure it will continue to, along with the other upcoming projects announced by the team. These include a Boba Fett mini-series coming later this year as well as an Ahsoka series along with about nine others coming soon. J. J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy once said that it was impossible to satisfy Star Wars fans, both old and new, with the same content. It looks like Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni heard that and said, “Hold my blue milk.”