These days, it can be nice when in a world rampant with spoilers, some things can still surprise you.
I remember wandering around Star Wars Celebration in 2019, and seeing people psyched up for The Mandalorian. Even with a prop speeder bike from the show on display, I just dismissed the show as some way to placate the Boba Fett fanboys.
Imagine my surprise later that fall, when I found out how series creator Jon Favreau had something a little different in mind: a series that tapped into the western and samurai tales that George Lucas sought inspiration from, and attempted to tell a live-action story outside the confines of The Skywalker Saga.
Pretty soon, I was drawn into the adventures of Din Djarin (aka the Mandalorian), and his unexpected charge Grogu, aka “The Child.” The show managed to hit me with just enough nostalgia, while taking us off into places that the films would not generally go to.
And now, we find ourselves at the end of the second season, and it’s much-anticipated finale.
With the coordinates to Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) cruiser now in his possession, The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) puts his plan into action to rescue Grogu.
Along with cohorts Cara Dune(Gina Carano), Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), Mando recruits fellow Mandalorians Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), and Koska Reeves (Sasha Banks) to help them out.
After episode 6 of this season, I did wonder if the season finale could do everything it needed to in just 45 minutes. Turns out, I didn’t have much to worry about.
One thing that has been clear over much of season 2, is how the show feels no guilt in reaching back into it’s cast of characters to pull some into the light for various missions. Characters like Mythrol and Miggs Mayfield were definitely a surprise to see play larger supporting roles this season, but I didn’t expect to see Bo-Katan and Koska return before the season ended.
For much of the episode, the action is split-up (with Boba taking a backseat to much of the action). While Mando goes in on his own, it was a nice touch seeing the women of the episode work together in infiltrating the ship. Each of them brings something useful to the fight, and getting to see them interact was a highlight. One highlight for me, was seeing a bit more action given to Fennec Shand, whom I have felt had been rather downplayed since her return to the series.
Seen briefly in episode 6, we also get some of our first full glimpses of Moff Gideon’s nightmarish Darktrooper squad in action. The Terminator-like creations provide some nice tense moments, with an added musical cue from composer Ludwig Goransson to make things seem even more harrowing when our group encounters them on the cruiser.
Like a number of episodes this season, this one attempts to balance out action with emotion, and when it comes to emotions, this episode might hit viewers in ways they never imagined.
Certain revelations given in this episode did push a number of my emotional buttons, but once I had some time to recover and collect my thoughts, I had to judge the episode on it’s overall merits. In fact, one revelation would have probably pushed the episode to the top of my favorites of the season, if certain information hadn’t been given away a few times prior to this episode.
One of the things about the first season of The Mandalorian that I really enjoyed, was that Din Djarin seemed to be a part of the Star Wars galaxy, but quite removed from the previous “lore” that had been a major part of our lives. Seeing Mando encounter characters like Boba Fett and Ahsoka Tano I feel is okay, but I often felt that with Star Wars being such a large sandbox to play in, the show could have done a better job of carving out it’s own way in the universe. That to me seems to be the teeter-totter that the series rests on: it tries to make it’s own way, but has a “habit” of diving a little too often into “the familiar.”
The Rescue definitely feels like a turning-point for the series. It draws a curtain over the eight episodes we’ve invested in over the last few months, but much like The Empire Strikes Back, leaves us at a point where we don’t know just where its characters can go. While some mysteries have been solved, new ones have been revealed. It doesn’t feel like there are any easy answers regarding where most of our main characters can go, and that will surely have many of us guessing as we wait once again, for a new season to start up.
I will admit that season 2 of The Mandalorian didn’t win me over as much as the first season, but watching it there were moments where I wished I was watching these episodes with a theater audience. I saw scenes where I could imagine audiences being just as rowdy and enthusiastic as I recall from the opening night of some of the Star Wars films.
If anything, my one hope is when the series returns, we get a lessening of “guest stars,” and focus a little more on developing the cast of characters surrounding Din Djarin, and where his journeys will take him next.
Final Grade: B+
As we near the end of Season 2 of The Mandalorian, it’s been a bumpy-yet-enjoyable ride. There have been quite a few callbacks to Season 1, with some new revelations adding to the story of Mando and his young charge, Grogu. The show has also twisted in ways I didn’t expect, and still it has proven itself to be one of the most enjoyable things associated with the words Star Wars in quite some time for me.
Thanks to some help from Cara Dune (Gina Carano), Mando manages to spring a mercenary named Migs Mayfield (Bill Burr). A former Imperial, Migs is Mando’s key to finding Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who is now in possession of Grogu.
With an assist from Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), the group head to the planet Morak, where Mayfield can hopefully put his former skills to good use.
It feels like just when our momentum was building up in relation to the closing of Season 2, the series once again puts us in a “holding pattern.” The Believer is another “heist” storyline (directed by show alumni Rick Famuyiwa), but with a few tricks up it’s sleeves.
When it comes to Mayfield, I think like many of us who saw him in the season 1 episode The Prisoner, we figured he wasn’t ever going to be seen again. Much like the character of Mythrol a few episodes back, Mayfield is a reluctant part of the crew. While abrasive and a bit of a motormouth (he feels like the Joe Pantoliano of the episode!), the writers manage to give most of his ramblings a purpose to the story. A highlight comes during a transport scene, where he attempts to engage Mando in conversation.
For much of the story, Mando’s companions take a backseat as he and Mayfield are front-and-center on their mission. It almost becomes an impromptu buddy storyline, and even gives us some further insight into just how strictly Mando is willing to stick to his Mandalorian code given where his journeys have taken him.
In terms of new worlds on the show, Morak is one of the first jungle environments we’ve seen, and one that manages to give us callbacks to Rogue One in terms of the types of troopers we see. There’s also an action-scene involving a turbo tank-style transport vehicle, that definitely feels like it could have been plucked right out of a video game. The planet stop-off gives us another glimpse into the remnants of The Empire working to rebuild in the shadow of The New Republic, and offers a brief glimpse into Imperial ideologies, in the form of an officer named Valin Hess (Richard Brake)
Unlike typical Imperials, Hess’ drawl seems a little out-of-place coming from the mouth of an officer. Even so, the character manages to be quite intriguing given his limited appearance. The show has done a commendable job so far making even the post-ROTJ Imperials interesting characters to watch.
Overall, The Believer feels like previous Season 2 episodes The Passenger and The Siege: it gives us a chance to catch our breath, before plunging us into what will hopefully be an even more exciting episode. Even so, it might be one of those episodes that may age better with time, given some of what is discussed and revealed regarding its characters, and their ideologies.
Final Grade: B-
When The Mandalorian first started, it felt like we were going to see a world where most of what we had learned via the Star Wars films, would take a backseat. Series creator Jon Favreau, looked to be shifting his focus to the grittier side of the galaxy we had glimpsed just briefly in George Lucas’ films.
With The Child showing a resemblance to Yoda and possessing Force-based powers, there was a hint that the Jedi might be showing up in the series…and now, it looks like that time has come.
Going on information given to him by fellow Mandalorian Bo-Katan, Mando takes The Child to Corvus, where he hopes to find a Jedi that will accept his young charge.
It is here that he encounters the walled city of Calodan, presided over by the cruel Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto), and her lieutenant Lang (Michael Biehn).
Elsbeth requests Mando’s help to take down a Jedi named Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), who has been attempting to breach the walls of her city.
It just so happens, that Ahsoka is also the Jedi that Mando is looking for.
While the series has shown us a galaxy following the aftermath of the events of Return of the Jedi, this season has also shown us that the series is not afraid to reference things from the prequel films, let alone The Clone Wars animated series.
With The Jedi, writer/director Dave Feloni gets to bring one of the characters he created to life, showing us Ahsoka Tano far removed from what has been seen. Rosario Dawson disappears into her character, showing us someone who seems to have chosen her own path, but still remembers much of her days before the Jedi Purge. The way she is portrayed here, it’s a good bet that current fans of hers will be pleased, and a number of new fans for Ahsoka will be joining them soon.
The episode also gives us some of the most intimate moments with Mando and The Child we’ve seen yet. It feels like it has been awhile since we saw them connect like this, and Ahsoka acts as an intermediary to help Mando better understand the little one (even revealing it’s name!). Though much like his seeking out Mandalorians in the episode The Mistress, Mando’s search for a Jedi does not quite provide him with all the answers he seeks.
In terms of antagonists, Morgan Elsbeth is more of a low-key villain this time around, a figure who stands calm-and-collected in many situations, but is willing to fight if the need arises. A surprising guest appearance was seeing actor Michael Biehn as her lieutenant. Much like Timothy Olyphant earlier in the season, he just blends in surprisingly well for his brief appearance.
For the theming of this episode, the stylings of samurai films are on full display. From the high walls surrounding Caloden, to the barren stalks of trees silhouetted against the moonlit sky, Feloni is tapping into some familiar theming. Even the opening that introduces Ahsoka feels like it has Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s fingerprints on it. The episode overall feels more like an exercise in quietness and contemplation, than the pulse-pounding action we’ve seen in recent episodes.
This is definitely an episode that requires multiple viewings. Much like how George Lucas would layer in details for the prequels, Filoni does the same here, making me think even a few viewings may not be enough to catch a number of the details included here.
The Jedi will surely provide those with fond memories of Ahsoka Tano, an enjoyable trip down memory lane. Its story swings more towards a samurai tale than a western, but it helps act as a nice change of scenery, where we get to slow down and learn more about our lead characters, without having a major threat to contend with. This may also be one of the most emotional episodes we’ve had in the series so far, but we should be wary as dark clouds still loom on the horizon, and the journey for Mando and The Child, may be a ways off from coming to its conclusion.
Final Grade: B+
The Mandalorian’s quest continues ever onward, but just when it seems his path is clear, we can always count on something popping up to divert his attention.
With his ship needing additional repairs, Mando returns to Nevarro (where he first got the assignment that led him to The Child). Since the events of last season, the once lawless town has been cleaned up by cohorts Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), and Cara Dune (Gina Carano).
While things appear to be going okay, the two request Mando’s help to take out an operational Imperial base nearby, that could threaten their attempts to keep order.
After what we learned in the previous episode, I was really looking forward to The Siege…only to find my excitement tempered, when it was revealed that this was another “back to a familiar locale” episode (at this rate, it makes me wonder if the showrunners are going to send us back to the greenery of Sorgan before the season is up).
Unlike other season 1 locations, we return to a destination that has been transformed. With Greef and Cara having taken control, the streets are now thriving with newcomers and more colorful decorations…while still proving that evil is never fully eradicated in some small, action-packed scenes.
Speaking of “never fully eradicated,” a surprise guest is the aquatic-based Mythrol (Horatio Sanz) from the season 1 premiere episode, who ends up getting dragged along on the mission thanks to Greef. Mythrol almost becomes the C-3PO of the episode, though a tad less whiny in a few situations.
As this is largely a “mission” episode, The Child is put on the sidelines for much of the action. He has a small-but-entertaining scene in the beginning, but the story’s attempts to give him some humor in several other scenes, felt more like the attempts at humor from the earlier episode, The Passenger.
This episode also marks the first directed by a cast member, as Carl Weathers takes on the task. At times, the action-based pacing and setup feels oddly reminiscent of the last episode (The Mistress), but a little more “old-school.” There are even some scenes that made me imagine the excited reactions of a theater audience, given what is put on display here.
The Imperial Base and what goes on within it feels almost like a video game, and the ensuing fight between our heroes and the soldiers that occupy it, feels like some kids playing with their toys in the backyard. There also is the added information that the actions of the shadowy Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), are not as generalized as we may have thought. One scene caught me completely off-guard, let alone the use of an often-maligned word that had me chuckling at the internet reaction.
The Siege was not what I expected, but it was still surprising once I realized the episode had secrets of its own to reveal. Mando ends up on a mission that reveals things that could send shockwaves through the rest of the galaxy, but it’s too soon to know just what has been uncovered.
It’s a nice little episode to catch up with old friends and reminisce about the past, though it does make me wonder how many additional subplots will be revealed before the season ends, and if the show can find balance once they’ve been revealed.
Final Grade: B
As the second season of The Mandalorian hits its third episode, its strong season premiere and decent second episode have brought us back into the series in a big way. Can the third episode improve on what has come before?
After managing to ferry his passenger from the last episode to her husband, Mando is informed that there are Mandalorians near the spaceport where his ship is. What he finds is quite a revelation, but is a key to him hopefully being able to reunite the child in his care, with the Jedi.
If you thought the previous episode was short, The Mistress has it beat by clocking in at just 35 minutes. The length of these most recent episodes makes me wonder if episodes 2 and 3 were meant to be one story, but were split in two due to how much was going on.
Bryce Dallas Howard returns to the director’s chair, showing us once again that she knows how to pull at our emotions, and get us pulled into the action. This episode has much more action than her last episode in season 1, and makes me eager to know what more she could do for the series.
The environment of this episode is probably the wettest we’ve encountered yet, and makes for a nice change-of-pace. We see a population largely made up of sea creatures such as Mon Calamari and Squid Heads, let alone how this area has fared after the fall of the Empire.
The Mandalorians our lead encounters manage to be quite surprising in their depiction. Led by Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), they reveal some additional information in regards to Mandalorian codes, and the history of the warriors. One can definitely sense some apprehension when they do things that seem outside of the code that Mando has lived by for much of his life, but it is notable that this does not stop them from offering help when Mando needs it in several instances.
This episode also continues the “you have to do us a favor” theme from the previous episodes, as Mando is recruited to help deal with some post-Empire loyalists. Howard’s directing of the event is incredibly exciting, and blends drama, action, and a little humor into the mission.
The Mistress manages to bring us some new revelations amidst an action-oriented episode, making it feel like a short-but-sweet storyline. I like episodes where we learn more about the galaxy, and this one where we learn a bit more about Mandalorian codes and post-Empire actions, delivered very well. The introduction of some new characters here leaves the door open to not only the possibility of us seeing them again, but knowing there is even more about The Mandalorians that has yet to be revealed.
Final Grade: B
After a strong season 2 opener, The Mandalorian has gotten us excited to follow the series’ helmeted lead and his young companion, as they set off on a personal mission, and encounter harrowing adventures along the way.
With the second episode, the Star Wars galaxy opens up a bit wider, but just in smaller increments.
The Mandalorian continues his quest to find more of his kind, to help return The Child where it belongs. When an expectant mother needs passage to reach her husband, Mando begrudgingly accepts in exchange for information that might help him.
However, the journey comes with extra stipulations, and leads the group into more than they bargained for.
While starting off in a familiar locale, this episode takes us to some (supposedly) new territory, while keeping much of the nostalgia to a bare minimum. We also get to encounter some new surroundings and creatures, that might put some viewers on edge.
Speaking of creatures, for those who didn’t feel there was enough of The Child in the last episode, this one should be greatly entertaining. We get to see it go through quite a range of emotions, and get in a few, humorous moments of troublemaking that almost make him seem “gremlin-like.”
The mother of the piece is probably not going to win a lot of people over (amphibious creatures in Star Wars seem to grate on most peoples’ nerves), but we do see that she can be resourceful when necessary, while also concerned in regards to herself and her unborn young. What could have become a stereotypical “annoying passenger” with an urgent issue, is nicely kept in check for most of the episode (even if she speaks “frog” most of the time).
One highlight is an aerial sequence in which Mando encounters some X-Wing fighters. While we saw them briefly in the first season, this one showcases Industrial Light & Magic’s technological advances in recent years. Somehow, they’ve managed to find a nice balance between the visuals of the starships we saw decades go, while placing them into some picturesque scenery with real-world detailing.
This episode also brings a new director into the fold, with Peyton Reed (director of Ant-Man) at the helm. Reed brings what feels like a nice, old-school simplicity to the story. There aren’t a lot of wide-open vistas once the main part of the story begins, and the camerawork feels both intimate and claustrophobic for much of the episode (with one scene even feeling like Reed is borrowing from the Spielberg book of framing).
On the whole, the story does prove to show us more of how Mando operates, but just feels average. A much shorter side-adventure (clocking in at only 41 minutes!), The Passenger takes its time a bit more than most episodes, stretching out its storyline in a way which might bore some of the younger viewers, but felt like a nice breather compared to last week’s episode. At this point, the episode could just be allowing us to catch our breaths, before next weeks episode ramps back up to speeds and excitement we’re well used to.
Final Grade: B–
When The Mandalorian premiered last fall, it felt like a return to what Star Wars creator George Lucas enfolded into his early trilogy.
The Disney+ show chronicled the journey of a lone warrior in a sci-fi mixture of westerns and samurai tales, while adding some humor and heart to the mix. It was a story idea that managed to make me excited for a bucket-headed bounty hunter that wasn’t named “Fett,” and revealed a new spin on a familiar species, that soon ended up becoming a hit that caught The Walt Disney Company by surprise.
Now, almost a year and thousands of “Baby Yoda” products later, we return to following a new season of adventures with Mando and The Child.
Following the events of last season, Mando is continuing his quest to find other Mandalorian warriors who can help him return The Child to where it belongs.
His journey leads him back to Tatooine, and to the small town of Mos Pelgo, presided over by a man named Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant). The visit is interrupted when a massive Krayt Dragon threatens the town, leading to Mando providing his help, in exchange for some special items Cobb has obtained.
As soon as I heard of the familiar outer-rim planet, I had flashbacks to the rather average first-season episode, The Gunslinger. I was underwhelmed by that episode’s storyline, and what felt like an attempt to give us a pretty heavy dose of “nostalgic anesthetic” related to some familiar locales.
In the case of The Marshal, writer/director Jon Favreau fortunately has a much more entertaining and interesting narrative to work with, allowing most of the nostalgic bits intertwined within the episode to work in the service of the storyline…though I will say there were a few areas where my eyes opened real wide upon recognizing some unexpected surprises.
The story goes all-in with the Western aesthetic, with Mos Pelgo being the small town at the mercy of the elements and marauders (let alone local creatures), and Cobb is the man who attempts to keep the peace.
As the town’s savior, Cobb’s characterization came across as surprising, and very involving. While a little rough around the edges, he is a person who manages to seem pretty cool and collected when dealing with Mando, but also has some trepidation when dealing with unexpected surprises. We also learn a little about his backstory, let alone how the fall of the Empire affected the small community he is a part of.
The Child takes a backseat for most of the episode, which becomes more of a “creature-feature,” with quite a number of Tusken Raiders (aka “Sand People”) being utilized. The Gunslinger showed us that Mando could communicate with them, and we get to see a bit more of their culture, often against some rather picturesque vistas.
The big baddie this time around is a Krayt dragon, a creature that has been a part of Star Wars lore for years, and is depicted here as a massive threat that may seem familiar to some creatures in the films Dune and Tremors, with maybe a bit of Moby Dick in how the plan is hatched to bring down this sand-swimming monstrosity. Plus, if you have an “ear” for nostalgia, you may pick up on a familiar sound emanating from its maw.
The Marshal is an entertaining action-adventure tale, that manages to tell a good story, while also not letting too much of its nostalgia get the better of it. The addition of more information about Tatooine and its creatures helped draw me in, and Olyphant as Cobb Vanth was an entertaining character to meet for the first time. Series creator Jon Favreau brings us back with a solid first episode, leaving us hungry for what is to come in the next episode.
Final Grade: B+