Star Wars is a beloved franchise that has had a lot of ups and downs in its 43 year history. With Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm in 2012, we have been delivered a mixed bag of quality with great highs such as Rogue One (2016), groan-inducing lows with the lack of handling of the sequel trilogy story, and a lot of meh such as Solo (2018). With the mixed responses among audiences and ever growing, and very vocal, divided fanbase, the Star Wars franchise was in a bad spot. However, when Disney+ launched last November, they kicked off with a new Star Wars story with The Mandalorian (2019-), which single handedly carried the launch of Disney’s streaming service by offering a wonderful new story of never-before-introduced characters in the galaxy far, far away.
Season 2 of the show picks up right where season 1 left off, with our Mandalorian bounty hunter, Din Djarin (played by Pedro Pascal), escorting “the child” (or as everyone loved to call him, Baby Yoda) in a search to reunited him with his kind of “magical sorcerers”, aka the Jedi. On their search, they must encounter various people (most of whom we have met at one point or the other) and help them in order to gain a little information on where they must go. Meanwhile, the remnants of the Empire led by Moff Gideon (played by Giancarlo Esposito) are still working discreetly on various secret projects that require them to regain the child from Mando.
Season 1 was a great breath of fresh air in the universe with all new characters and stories that we have never heard before. After all, being a large galaxy, not everything has to be centered around the Skywalker saga. It was also filled with great action set pieces and surprises around every corner. Season 2 continues aspects with season 1 as the action set pieces are fantastic, there are great nods to pre-Disney Star Wars content such as aspects of the novels labeled as Legends, and the character work with Mando, the child, and the original supporting cast continue to improve and instantly latches you onto these amazing characters. The direction and writing of every episode this season was top notch as new and returning directors came together to deliver Kathleen Kennedy, Dave Filoni, and Jon Favreau’s vision.
That said, Season 1 was great in that it didn’t need to connect to anything else and was truly standalone. Not season 2. Outside of episodes 2 and 7 where the “character of the week” was a The Mandalorian original, every episode’s guest star was a character we have seen before whether it was in Clone Wars (2008-2020), Rebels (2014-2018), or the Original Trilogy. Episode 1’s is a bit different in that it premiered Cobb Vanth (played by Timothy Olyphant) where he is a character from the Aftermath novel trilogy. Without spoiling who these characters are (because they are all BIG, IMPORTANT characters), I as a Star Wars fan was super excited to see them in the show, but often, it felt like it became their show rather than Mando and Baby Yoda’s. So, with all these important Skywalker Saga characters thriving in this show, the magic of The Mandalorian season 1 was lost a little bit.
The acting and technical aspects of this season continue the tradition of excellence with a few exceptions. The only issue with acting I had this season was with Gina Carano’s portrayal of Cara Dune whose lines often came off more onenote and cheesy than Star Wars normally inherently is. Other than that, Pascal, Esposito, and the slew of other supporting characters gave fantastic performances. The visual effects continued to be great, particularly with the giant creatures, alien races, and action scenes. The only REALLY BAD vfx came in the final scene of the season so I don’t want to go into too much detail, but LucasFilm should have set aside a larger budget for that final scene.
Other than that, this season was fantastic as it continued the western/samurai serialized nature of the first season while deepening the parental bond between Din and the child. The idea of heritage played a huge part in the overall theme of this season and played out beautifully in the finale that aired this past weekend. From further developing the lore behind Mandalorians to developing the early post-Empire era of the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian further builds on its fantastic foundation with new stories, character developments, and events within the galaxy. Disney+ and Jon Favreau continue to prove that they were the best thing to happen for Star Wars, and here’s hoping that the trend continues in the 10 other Star Wars shows and future seasons of The Mandalorian in the years to come.