This is the way, yet again Disney+’s The Mandalorian struck it out of the park with its second season.
The season continues with our titular Mandalorian, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), and his journey of reuniting his adopted son, The Child, with his kind.
There are so many positives for this season.
Firstly the show successfully continues to tell a very appealing narrative that covers the themes of identity, religious extremism, fatherhood, and lackluster governments.
Yet again Din Djarin is given so much growth as a character, throughout the season his position as a father to Grogu (the real name of the child). He grows much more protective and affectionate to his son, even breaking and shifting the moral beliefs of the extremist Way of Mandalore in order to gain information on the coordinates of his son’s captor. There is another moment that absolutely defines his growth as a parent that I will cover later.
The live-action introduction of Clone Wars’s Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), in addition to being a welcome surprise for sure, expands upon the themes of Din’s faith. Bo and the other Mandalorians that accompany her challenge Din’s extremist version of being a Mandalorian, as they do not wear their helmets at every waking moment and believe foundlings to be false Mandalorians. It is later explained that Din was adopted by the extremist Children of the Watch. This shakes Din’s faith, but adds onto his growth as a character, as he shifts his ideals in order to be a better parent and in a way, creates his own personal meaning of what it means to be a Mandalorian.
The worldbuilding of the show expands upon the state of the galaxy after the Empire’s fall and creates plenty of haunting moments that play upon the audiences’ knowledge of the imminent rise of the First Order. The dramatic irony is perfect. The writers purposely use this particular word from the Imperial Remnant, “Order”, and I believe that is utterly on purpose. The most haunting scene involves Mayfield (Bill Burr) and his interaction with the Imperial Officer that formerly commanded him. The Tarantino-esque conversation, without any overbearing music and the subtle, but powerful acting of pain from Bill Burr absolutely sell the scene. It culminates with Mayfield’s pain exploding in a brutal act of violence, shooting the Officer point blank and wiping out the Remnant’s base with Din.
The details of Din becoming a socially inept weirdo whose confidence and bravado disappear upon taking the helmet off is amazing on the part of Pedro Pascal. Pascal continues to provide so many subtle movements and vocal shifts that portray a wide range of emotions.
The season also redeems a lot of the faults of season one, useless characters and filler.
Characters from season 1, such as Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) and Mayfield are made out to be the most intriguing characters of the season. With Fennec becoming Boba Fett’s(Temeura Morrsion)- yes THAT Boba Fett- companion in his journey to regain his armor and identity. Mayfield is redeemed by creating one of the MOST emotionally charged and resonant scenes in all of Star Wars.
The prior seasons’ formulaic “side-quest” filler episodes have retroactively become more important, and the new season avoids having filler episodes, with only 1 “Chapter 10 – The Passenger” fitting that criteria.
And now to the BIG ups for this season, the synthesis of all the eras of Star Wars with the appropriate return of characters from other Star Wars media.
The live action introduction of Bo-Katan and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) made me absolutely happy, as these characters finally received their big moments in mainstream Star Wars media. The return and redemption of Boba Fett was an absolute win for the character. Often I had teased people who liked Boba, as I thought he was lame due to how he went out in Return of The Jedi, but I had faith since a character like Darth Maul was made a layered character who was an absolute beast.
The little moments, such as Boba mentioning Jango, making a gag on how the Imperials would “recognize his face”, and having Bo mock Boba’s origin as a clone.
Now the biggest moment of the season
The one. The only. Luke Skywalker arrives at the very end of the season to bring a spectacular ending to the season.
From the moment they said a lone X-Wing arrived at Moff Gideon’s ship, I knew who it was. Red Five, Luke Skywalker. He arrived in all the glory of how he should’ve been in the movies. Jedi Master Skywalker, with green saber and black robes, coming in to utterly make lightwork out of the Darktroopers who were the thorn in the side for our protagonist.
Even Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), the cold calculated killer and self proclaimed omniscient presence, freaks out and attempts a last ditch effort of killing Grogu and Bo-Katan and resorts to attempting to kill himself before being knocked out. That small detail of him freaking out and losing his facade over knowing that New Republic General and Jedi Master Luke Skywalker was going to close in on him was absolutely cathartic to see.
It was well deserved fan-service, as most importantly his appearance FIT THE NARRATIVE.
It brought the scene that made me even cry, Din and Grogu’s farewell. In the light of the classic George Lucasism “It’s like poetry, it rhymes”. Din echos Anakin’s farewell to Luke. He breaks his code in front of EVERYONE and willingly. The moment of Grogu touching his dad’s face for the first and last time was a bittersweet moment. The moment that particularly killed me was seeing the welting tears in Dins eyes as the camera pans away from the crew.
Absolutely perfect ending and cliffhanger for season three.
Overall this season gave me a Star Wars narrative that is something akin to the journeys I would set my LEGO figures on when I was a kid. That is not a bad comparison, I mean that in the sense that it tells an ORIGINAL story (sorry JJ Abrams) while pulling in characters from the universe in a meaningful way that compliments the protagonist narrative while providing for the bigger universe.
People like Jon Favereau, Dave Filoni, and Robert Rodriguez ooze passion and love for this franchise in a way the films could not. It makes me utterly excited for this new TV show universe being created.
The particular thing that solidified my trust for this series is the treatment of Luke Skywalker, especially after the coward that he was portayed as in the character assassination known as The Last Jedi.
People like to see their heroes be heroic.
In conclusion this season of The Mandalorian is the way.