pappubahry

The Mandalorian

Spoilers for seasons 1 and 2.

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My basic take on The Mandalorian is that it's good and fun.  Because it hasn't been an event in the way that a Star Wars film would be, it hasn't been fodder for Internet-wide culture warring, making the overall experience generally pleasant.

A small number of you read my Star Wars posts without necessarily watching the source material, so here is a quick summary of the two seasons, which take place a few years after Return of the Jedi:

  • Season 1: A (the) Mandalorian rescues Baby Yoda; the largely disconnected episodes each end in a sort of cliffhanger-y way and you're never reassured that Baby Yoda will survive.  Much of the action is in lawless-West-type areas not controlled by either the New Republic or remnants of the Empire, but by the end of the season the chief bad guy is clearly Moff Gideon, who leads some part of the former Empire.
  • Season 2: A mostly coherent story leading to a showdown between the Mandalorian and friends versus Moff Gideon, fighting over possession of Baby Yoda, with the Mandalorian wanting to return him to the Jedi.

Season 2 in particular has many elements aimed at fans of Rebels and Clone Wars, which I haven't watched, and so my comments should be read in that light.  From worst to best:

  • Chapter 10: The Passenger (S02E02).  Unrealistic coincidence-based setup, horrible Baby Yoda behaviour played for laughs, unsatisfying ending.  The aliens were scary, but this was my least favourite episode in either season, and was particularly out of place in season 2.
  • I don't think the Jawas should be spacefaring; their inclusion was one of many unnecessary nods to the OT in season 1.
  • I don't care about Boba Fett, and I wish they hadn't brought him back.
  • I thought the darksaber, which I hadn't heard of, was a stupid reveal at the end of season 1, but it seems that it has a long history in Clone Wars and Rebels.  Also the "You must win it in battle" thing in the season 2 finale was silly.
  • The Dark Troopers look a little too cartoonishly evil IMO.
  • In Chapter 13, the Mandalorian went from knowing nothing about Jedi training to "No, you have to train him!" really quickly; it felt unrealistic.
  • Also in Chapter 13, "Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?" made me laugh out loud.  It turns out that it wasn't namedrop-fanservice aimed at people who read the old EU novels; instead Thrawn has been a character in Rebels (where apparently he is portrayed as quite stupid), and the namedrop — that's all it was — indicates something about what Ahsoka's up to since some Rebels story arc.
  • Luke Skywalker, who shows up to save the day in the finale to season 2.

    — The show started out by introducing new characters in new settings, making the universe bigger and more interesting, and from this perspective it's disappointing that they went back to Luke for the big final battle.

    — I didn't really care for his scene cutting his way through the Dark Troopers.  I loved the Vader sequence in Rogue One, but Luke here just left me meh.  The fans are going absolutely wild for it though, so YMM very well V.

    — Luke looking directly at the camera and apologising to fans for Rey having Jedi powers without training in The Force Awakens was unnecessary IMO, given that Ahsoka had already done this a few episodes ago (see later bullet point).

    — From the perspective of the overall narrative arc of the second season, I thought that Luke showing up was fine.  Jedi are canonically very important in the Star Wars universe; the Mandalorian had spent the whole season wanting to return Baby Yoda to the Jedi; which better Jedi to collect him than Luke Skywalker?  Now Baby Yoda can resume his training, and a decade later be murdered by Kylo Ren, closing the story arc in a coherent and satisfying way across the TV show and the films.

    — Thankyou, IMDB trivia section: "First live action appearance of Luke Skywalker in TV since the Star Wars Holiday Special."
  • I thought that the Mandalorian should have called Grogu by his name at the end; it was a great scene but could have been just a little bit better.
  • The Empire has fallen so far that they promote Americans to officer ranks these days.
  • One annoyance I had with season 1 was that Baby Yoda was too powerful for a baby, but Ahsoka's explanation (in season 2) that he'd previously had training was satisfying.
  • While I don't think he should have been in the show, Boba Fett was a decent character.
  • The action was great, whether it was low-stakes or high-stakes.  It made it fun, and even my least favourite episode was still exciting at times.
  • I didn't know who Werner Herzog was before I saw his (sadly brief) appearance in season 1, but his performance was terrific.
  • Bo-Katan's sidekick taunting Boba Fett about being a clone was cool.  "I've heard your voice a thousand times before", ha, good stuff.
  • Throughout the two seasons, there's a lot of really great "life in the Star Wars universe" stuff.  Just walking the streets, going to diners, agrarian life with spaceships, it all felt like Star Wars should be.
  • My favourite episode is probably Chapter 15 (So2E07), a mostly self-contained episode in which the Mandalorian and an old acquaintance go undercover in an Imperial mining facility.  TIE fighters save the good guys from local anti-Imperial terrorists, we see some daily life in the military base — interesting stuff, albeit with a dose of "humanise stormtroopers and then shrug as they're massacred".

So yeah, that was good.  I don't know if we're getting any more Mandalorian?  He doesn't have Baby Yoda anymore, and it might be a let-down to go back to episodic bounty-hunting drama.  The post-credits announced what looks like a Boba Fett series next year, which, whatever, I'll watch it.  I'm a bit over Tattooine though.

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