Disney has had a pretty rough track record with the Star Wars franchise. Through mismanagement, lack of appreciation of the lore and general disdain for the audience; the franchise had started to not be more of a PR nightmare than a billion-dollar cow which could be milked every year. So, someone had the bright idea of granting a new show to a couple of guys who had success with a similar IP, Marvel, and the guy who last did something the fans liked, The Clone Wars. Both of those forms of media have a lot of issues, too many for me to bother with right now. Out of this collaboration, however, an actual successful Star Wars production was made: The Mandalorian.
The first season was received with great respect and adoration from both critics and fans alike. There was trust being rebuilt among the fandom. Finally, someone who actually likes Star Wars is doing something with it.
The premise was simple: bounty hunter goes against a bounty in order to protect a child from being subjected to The Empire. The audience gets to see the escapades of a man without a face and a child without a voice. A nice little setup to be able to explore the galaxy in a time period nobody cares about because it’s the only thing we’re ever shown.
Season two of The Mandalorian starts where not much has actually happened or changed since season one. The protagonist has made some allies, the audience were introduced to a new bad guy, though he accomplishes nothing besides showing off a darksaber (basically a glowing sword, similar to a lightsaber.
Season two plays out very similarly to the first season. You want Mando, the protagonist, to complete his mission of delivering the child to a Jedi. What we get is another 10-episode series of Mando doing all the side-quests he can being told ‘nah you need to go here and they might help’ to ‘actually I would help but nah, do this to see if you’ll get help’.
This copy paste formula has already run its course and is boring. Sure, we get to see new worlds, aliens and customs. It is certainly a nice change to get a bunch of world-building, I’m all for that. What I’m not for is the formulaic teasing Disney does where nothing of real import happens in each episode besides the last few minutes, and ultimately last episode.
None of these issues, so far, are to say there’s nothing great about season two. Quite the opposite, in fact. The inclusion and representation of Ahsoka was a much-welcomed addition. I’m not usually one for doing something for the sake of fan service, but, it made sense according to the continuity and added an actual interesting character into this mini-verse.
Another nice addition was the brief addition of Luke Skywalker. This one, however, came with a lot and I mean a lot of strings attached which will be picked up on later. However, this inclusion does lead to speculate how Disney may be viewing their Sequel Trilogy and if anything can amend it.
As with season one, the most interesting part of the show is the world building. This is something the show excels at. Sure, it may be caused by the lingering of fetch quests taking the viewer from one location to another, but these locations feel real. The world being constructed has been and will continue to be lived in. This is a nice change, but it seems too much focus is being spent on this…now.
Disney and, more importantly, the creators of the show need to seriously re-evaluate a few criteria for this show and other elements of the Star Wars franchise yet to come out. If the past 10 – 15 years of television has taught us anything, it’s that people are thirsty for a good story. Nothing epitomizes this more than Game of Thrones; a show praised for the writing then once the focus on writing was abandoned, it collapsed into ruin.
The Mandalorian season two is riddled with tidbits which pulls down something which could be pretty great. There are flat-out some really bad plot holes; one such example is Mando needs to scan his face to access The Empires security database. Why any face would unlock that, I don’t know.
Next, they need to focus on their action scenes with a far more critical eye. I keep finding that the new Star Wars media is about style over substance. When looking at A New Hope, the duel between Obiwan and Vader is one of smallest spectacles, but due to the consequences which could happen it has more of an impact. Contrast this with the newer Star Wars content and it’s a lot of spinning and without thought. Everyone has memed on The Last Jedi in the throne room when Rey is attacked and should have been killed by Snoke’s guards but one pauses mid attack and another jumps back even though they weren’t hit. This is continued in The Mandalorian.
It doesn’t make an entertaining spectacle when people, on either side, have a sudden drop intelligence just for a set piece or because it might look nice. The choreography in some scenes and the set pieces are there for aesthetics and laziness.
There are three egregious action scenes in The Mandalorian, which completely took me out of the experience. The boulder scene in Chapter 14, the use of Boba’s seismic charge and the choreography of Luke.
Let’s start with Chapter 14. Mando, being attacked by Stormtroopers runs down a hill while they shoot at him. Being the savvy tactician and gunslinger he is, decides to run in a straight line instead of simply going behind the hill, out of their line of fire. Cool, creates faux tension. He’s hiding behind a boulder while big-gun Stormtrooper is shooting it, Mando pushes the boulder down the hill and we see it tumble towards said Stormtrooper who just shoot at it even though he has a lot of time to move the 10 feet necessary to live.
Next, Boba’s seismic charge. Something I, along with many fans, wanted to see. We last saw it in The Clone Wars film, made an awesome noise and obliterated asteroids it came in contact with. The explosions were rather big as well. Now in this episode it magically explodes perfectly vertically, could be luck and that’s fine. But if it went wrong then surely the planet would have a nasty chunk carved out of it.
Finally, Luke’s action sequence against the Darktroopers who purposefully don’t attack when there is clearly opportunity and time when Luke is attacking someone else. A lovely bit of plot armour. Honestly, it’s so lazy and pathetic.
Season two of The Mandalorian, generally, was entertaining. Was it amazing, HBO tier content? No. Has it succeeded in areas the films have failed? Yes. The point is; they could and should do better. Disney have an entire universe carved out for them in the Extended Universe, which they made non-canon. They really should take aspects from the books and splice them into the stories they want to tell. A lot of these books weren’t great but there were a significant amount which features plots, characters and events which a lot of fans really paid attention to.
I genuinely believe the showrunners can do better. Stop blasting significant amounts of money on well-known actors. Give that spending for consistent episode lengths and create an actual comprehensive story instead of side quests. Use some of that money to pay someone to watch the edits and call out the stupid shit.