Disney+ Review: The Mandalorian (Seasons 1-2)

If you have been following Disney+’s newest hit series The Mandalorian as closely as I have, then you probably also finished the season two finale around 1:00am on Friday, December 18th. This is the way. The second season recently finished and now the long wait returns for the next installment in Star Wars storytelling. But the wait may be less than expected after Disney’s recent announcement of all the new Star Wars shows hitting their streaming service in the near future. But that’s deservant of a separate post altogether; we’re here for Mando. Not surprising, I really like this show. There is a lot which I enjoy as a Star Wars nerd and a lot which I enjoy as a movie/film nerd, and that is probably the thing that creator Jon Favreau (Elf, Chef, 2019’s The Lion King) gets the most right. The balance is well kept throughout most episodes and story or character arcs, unlike the balance of the Force throughout all Star Wars films (it’s always in jeopardy). So I’m not going to divide season one from two, but as a whole I just want to vomit my thoughts about the series in your general direction. Ready your ponchos.
The Mandalorian picks up just a few years after the events of Return of the Jedi, an important piece of information for many character entrances and name drops throughout the series. But maybe the thing I have appreciated most is that you haven’t needed to know much else about Star Wars to enjoy watching. In talking with others about the show, there are about as many people who never got into Star Wars fandom but love The Mandalorian as there are those who have seen every Star Wars thing there is to watch. And most everyone has great things to say and enjoy watching the new episode each week. It is very accessible, drawing mostly from western and sci-fi genres, similar to but better than another Favreau feature, Cowboys vs. Aliens (which I rather enjoyed but could also pick apart pretty easily). As far far away from our galaxy as it is, the show is also very relatable. No, we don’t have to blast our way through what remains of The Empire with a little green alien, but we do understand the surfacing themes of protection, oppression, commitment, and heritage. And honestly, The Mandalorian has provided for me a much needed Star Wars respite from an overwhelming Skywalker Saga screen presence these past several years. Well….mostly….I’ll get to that soon.
So what else did I like so far? Most everything, really. I love the true to Star Wars look of everything, from characters to planetary landscapes. They have brought back enough from previous films and animated series for nerds to ooh and ahh about without going over the top for new ‘fandalorians.’ As I previously said, you don’t need any information heading into the show, but I enjoy it much more knowing related information about a lot of the characters and locations ahead of time. Conversely though, they were also able to successfully surprise the world with Baby Yoda! It was impressive that nobody knew ahead of time, yet everyone immediately adored the tiny tike. Now if only that level of love for Yoda there was… Concerning other Star Wars characters, they brought many more back into season two. Though some fit right into this storyline, whether it be for multiple episodes or just a one-time appearance, others felt forced (hehe, Star Wars puns). I’m sure it was in the original script and idea for the show to include so many notable characters, but the abundance in season two really felt like they were pushing them to prepare for the many upcoming Star Wars spin-offs, including Ahsoka, Rangers of the New Republic, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. And although I will of course be tuning into as many as I can, I’m definitely not as excited for the reason of once again being flooded with Star Wars material. This has been a pleasant year for Star Wars and I’m sure that particular feeling will soon fade.
This leads me right into the few (and I mean few) things about The Mandalorian that I have either less enjoyed or taken issue with. The first is that the although the show has ultimately found it’s rhythm in storytelling, there are too many episodic moments and overused story beats. “We have to travel to Planet X to find Person A, but we had to crash land on Planet Y and help defeat Creature B so that we can get the information we didn’t know we needed.” And this happens a lot, over and over. The saving grace was that all the planets and persons and creatures have been really cool, so I can sort of overlook returning to the same well multiple times. Many of these moments (or episodes) don’t move the story forward much or at all, and a great series will find something to add in every episode so the invested viewer keeps interest in everything that’s happening. I will admit that more often than I hoped, I found myself perfectly content waiting a week to see what happened next. The last part of the show I didn’t like (I told you, few) was how in the season two finale, they brought it all back into the realm of Skywalkers. As I said, I have enjoyed this year away from Skywalker and even more particularly the two seasons of the newest Star Wars show. Everything previously tied into the Skywalker family, and don’t get me wrong I love Star Wars, but three trilogies about it was enough. Now it looks like Luke’s character will somehow contribute to the show after his coming to the call of Grogu (a.k.a. Baby Yoda) and whisking him away to train him in using the Force. I just desperately wanted the Jedi answering the call to be ‘not Luke Skywalker.’ Literally any other Jedi with a remote chance of canon life would have been fine with me…Ezra Bridger, Mace Windu, that kid with a broom at the end of The Last Jedi via time travel or whatever. And now we may have lost the best part of the show in Mando’s relationship to Grogu, at least for some time. I don’t know how this will impact the show moving forward, but I have my lightsabers crossed for seeing as little of Skywalker as possible next season.
But what did you think of the show? Which season did you enjoy more, and are you a big Star Wars nerd too? Is there anything I missed talking about that deserves more time? Timothy Olyphant (Live Free or Die Hard, Santa Clarita Diet) was a fun character addition, and Ming-Na Wen (Agents of Shield, Mulan) was great to see again. I also really enjoyed watching the lightsaber vs. Beskar fights, as that was part of Star Wars lore I didn’t know existed. And what do you think Mando will do with the darksaber??? Let me know in the comments below and give me your thoughts on what might be coming next. And tying into my next review is an overlapping actor, appearing in both The Mandalorian and a new Hollywood release. Have any guesses? Stay tuned for more, and as always thank you for reading. Cheers!

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