The Mandalorian (Season 2)

The Mandalorian, premiered its season 2 finale on December 18 to ecstatic reviews. Created and (predominantly) written by the great and powerful John Favreau, this season picks up on Mando’s (played by Pedro Pascal) quest to find a Jedi master suitable to train Baby Yoda. Along this adventure, Mando encounters both friendly and unfamiliar faces. Meanwhile, a threat looms – Moff Gideon (played by Giancarlo Esposito) and his growing army of troops who seek possession of the child for unknown reasons. This review will go into minor spoilers so I encourage my readers to watch the show first before diving into this review. You have been warned – lets jump into it!

Season 2 of the show once again features an exquisite ensemble of directors who brought Favreaus’ vision to life. These include Rick Famuyiwa, Dave Filoni, Bryce Dallas Howard, Peyton Reed, Robert Rodriguez and even Carl Weathers from the Rocky series! I felt that each director brought their own unique visual and directorial styles into the episode(s) they directed, making the season overall less monotone.

In the first episode of the season titled Chapter 9: The Marshal (directed by John Favreau), Mando is drawn to the outer rim where he encounters Cobb Vanth; a sheriff of a locale facing issues from a giant carnivorous beast known as the Krayt dragon. This episode was the longest of the show and definitely one of its most entertaining. The visual design of the dragon was breathtaking – certainly one of the largest animals that we’ve come across in the Star Wars universe. Moreover, the episode gave us a compelling moral, which is that of teamwork. The only way that Cobb Vanth and his village could beat this dragon was if they were to sort out their differences with the Tuskan Raiders and work together.

Sketch of Mando and the Krayt Dragon. Was this the same beast featured in Episode IV?

This season, like its predecessor, also teased us with a number of easter eggs. A lot of people have argued that the second season of the show was a little too “fan service-y”, but I disagree. I felt that the writers were very cautious with the inclusion of easter eggs and maintained a good balance between connecting this show to the existing Star Wars universe while building up its own characters, conflicts and settings. Some of the noteworthy easter eggs in this season, which I thought were wonderful inclusions, include the X-Wings, and the appearance of characters such as Bobba Fett, Ahsoka Tano (played by Rosario Dawson) and Anakin Skywalker.

Lets discuss how well these three characters were portrayed. Bobba Fett was amazing. I felt that the original trilogy completely mugged us of this character because he had very limited screen time and was “killed off” in an unceremonious manner. In The Mandalorian, played by Temuera Morrison, Fett had a menacing presence – he was an artisan in hand to hand combat and a freak at flying. Rosario Dawson took up the role of Ahsoka Tano and also nailed it. Ahsoka is one of the most beloved Star Wars characters and was the highlight of the Clone Wars TV series, which is why I was initially a bit nervous about her portrayal in this show. However, Dawson satisfied my expectations. She brought a calculated and honest approach to her character.

My favorite episode of the season; “The Tragedy”, where we witness the first appearance of the Dark Troopers and a team-up between the two Mandalorians

Lastly, there was Anakin Skywalker. He only makes an appearance in the finale of the season, absolutely mauling the squadron of Dark Troopers so that he can protect and take Grogu away to initiate his Jedi training. The lightsaber sequence featuring Skywalker was incredible from start to finish; very similiar to the one featuring Darth Vader at the end of Rogue One. The only bit of criticism I have about the inclusion of this character was that the CGI used to reconstruct young Mark Hamills’ face was laughable. It was clear to me that the visual effects weren’t finalized. If I were placed in the directors seat, I would’ve cast Sebastian Stan to play that role.

Luke Skywalkers’ face was very disturbing to look at. I imagine that Disney will at some point “re-release” this episode to make a few corrections.

There are many other positive aspects about this season, so let me just rattle them off. There was loads of action, adventure and world building throughout the entire season. Seriously, hats off to the visual effects designer of the show for managing to squeeze so much aesthetically spectacular imagery into 9 episodes. This is even more impressive considering the fact that the show managed to pull off filming during the COVID-19 pandemic, which init of itself presented a massive hurdle to production. The aesthetics of the dark troopers, heavily featured in the final two episodes, was also a positive. These mechanically operated droids gave off a ‘terminator-esque’ vibe and were a genuinely threatening advisory to our heros. I would’ve liked to have seen more of them shown in the earlier episodes.

A mildly frightening close-up of a Dark Trooper

On the negative side of things, I found the basic structure of each episode to be kinda repetitive. This is in the sense that in every episode of the season Mando met a character who helped him get a step closer to finding a Jedi that can train Grogu. But in order for this stranger to help Mando, he must do them a favor – often time requiring Mando to steal something of value and resulting in a massive action sequence taking place. Another minor complaint would be the horrible aim of almost all of the Stormtroopers. I know that this is a trope in all Star Wars films/shows, yet it frustrates me to this day.

Overall though, season 2 of The Mandalorian is a strong follow-up to its first season. It had a straightforward narrative, great worldbuilding and memorable action sequences. The visual effects were incredible (excluding that of Anakin Skywalker) and there was a perfect balance between “fan service-y” elements and original content. It is tough to say where season 3 will take us but I predict it would have something to do with who will take final possession of the darksaber. It also isn’t a leap a say that Mando will team-up with Bo-Katan Kryze to retake control of the planet Mandalore.

RATING:

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