The second season of the Disney+ TV show, The Mandalorian, streamed its finale recently and not only has the second season of The Mandalorian pleased Star Wars fans but expanded its universe.
The Mandalorian stars Pedro Pascal as the mysterious bounty hunter known to many only as the Mandalorian, though his real name is Din Djarin. The other star of the show is Grogu, the infant member of Jedi Master Yoda’s equally mysterious race known for their connection to the Force. Originally in the first season of show the Mandalorian was hired to deliver Grogu to the remnants of the Galactic Empire (the show takes place several years after Return of the Jedi and the Empire has been defeated) for nefarious purposes. However, the mysterious bounty hunter developed a bond with the Child (as he was called then) and refused. Now hunted by the Empire, the Mandalorian spends most of the second season trying to learn more about the Child and find a proper home for the aforable, little impish being.
As it turns out the bond became quite powerful and over the course of the second season, Djinn became a father figure to Grogu and when the small Force-wielder was threatened the bounty hunter went all out to protect his adopted son.
In its second season, The Mandalorian expanded its mythos and embellished the Star Wars Universe as we were shown how the universe evolved after the events of Return of the Jedi. What was left of the Empire had been driven to the outer edges, perhaps this was the genesis of the First Order from teh Sequel Trilogy. Naturally, the Imperials are in dire straits as the New Republic attempt to restore order to the galaxy. There are signs the New Republic is having a hard time doing this, and again this provides clues to the backdrop of the Sequel Trilogy. In some ways, The Mandalorian is fullfilling the same role that Star Wars: The Clone Wars did in that that show fleshed out the worlds of the Prequel Trilogy, which led many to better appreciate those films.
Speaking of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, characters and details from that revered animated show, as well as Star Wars: Rebels, made live-action appearances in the second season of The Mandalorian, including the exiled Mandalorian princess Bo-Katan (played by Katee Sackhoff, who voiced her in Star Wars: Rebels), and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), the popular Jedi featured in both animated shows. Seeing these characters, especially Ahsoka, was a thrill to watch and gave validity to the Star Wars spinoffs as they are rightfully part of the Star Wars Universe. Even though it was a bit odd not to hear Ashley Eckstein’s voice coming out of Ahsoka, Dawson did a fine job interpreting a more mature Jedi warrior, who provided important details about the Child to the Mandalorian, starting with his name.
Another popular Star Wars character finally returned alive and well. That being the most famous bounty hunter in the galacy, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), who is more of an anti-hero in his appearances in the show. However, we do not learn how he escaped his grisly fate as a meal for the sarlacc in Return of the Jedi. But the final episode gave us the biggest surprise appearances, which elevated the show to a whole other level. More on this later.
The Mandalorian also functioned as a platform to launch several spinoffs dedicated to this era in the Star Wars Universe. Many episodes served as proving grounds for many characters like the former Rebel soldier and Aldaraan survivor Cara Dune (Gina Carano), former Bounty Hunter Guild leader Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), and the mercenary Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Speaking of bounty hunters…more on this later.
It was recently announced that a new show called Rangers of the New Republic is coming to Disney+, which will crossover with The Mandalorian along with a new spinoff show about Ahsoka Tano. While some may think the show is just a gateway to other Star Wars properties, it is more than that.
Despite all the nods to Star Wars fans with past references, The Mandalorian continued to evoke the feel of a Western but with echoes of the manga series Lone Wolf and Cub and this was the heart of the show. This relationship was well developed with little dialogue but the emotions and sight gags were there, which were the best reasons to watch the show, not just the fan service, references and Easter eggs. In many ways, the show was more about a small, fragile family that just happened to have space-age shootouts and giant CG monsters and spaceships. It was shown through these quiet moments like when the two played with a ball or when Djinn’s alien passenger protected her eggs that family bond is the most powerful and motivating force in the galaxy.
Fortunately, The Mandalorian focuses on the title character and his tiny ward. So little is known about the two and viewers are engrossed with learning more about the two and what fate awaits them. The second season of The Mandalorian went all out to deliver an entertaining and thoughtful show that establishes it as a vital part of the Star Wars Universe. Each episode served as high-quality mini-films made by expert filmmakers like Jon Favreu, Dave Filoni (both deserved all the acclaim they are getting for their efforts in producing the show), Peyton Reed, Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Carl Weathers. The episodes capture the mood and lived-in feel of a Star Wars film with high-caliber effects, for the most part. Speaking of effects….
At this point it is time to briefly discuss the concluding episode of the second season of The Mandalorian. Doing so means that a HEAVY SPOILER WARNING is warranted. Anyone not wanting to be spoiled should stop reading and go ahead and watch this terrific TV show. And now…
A literal deus ex machina showed up in the final moments of the second season finale, “The Rescue”, as Djinn the Mandalorian and his allies were trapped on the bridge of an Imperial light cruiser facing a deadly army of robotic darktroopers. Their salvation came in the form of a lone X-wing fighter that docked inside the cruiser and out of it emerge a single Jedi warrior who laid waste to the droid army. It was like watching the prequel films again as a formidable Jedi used all his stunning Force powers to decimate an opposing force. Who was this mysterious Jedi? Well, Luke Skywalker, of course!
What was even more amazing about the reveal was that Mark Hamill reprised his role through the magic of CG. Yes, they went there! To be honest, the digital recreation of a young Luke Skywalker was not convincing, the uncanny valley effect was there and looked unreal. However, it was a blast to see Luke in his prime demonstrating how powerful he has become with the Force. This is what we should have seen in The Last Jedi! The showrunners even gave us a welcome appearance by Luke’s faithful droid R2-D2, who welcomed Grogu as Luke took the Child to train him in the Force.
However, as jaw dropping as those moments with Luke were, what left a big impact was the moment when Djinn and Grogu had to say goodbye to each other. Grogu was hesitant to leave with Luke but the Mandalorian comforted him and even revealed his face to his adopted son. That silent moment was perhaps the most powerful scene in the entire second season and hits the feels.
Finally, the post-credit scene in the finale had Boba Fett and Shand returning to Tatooine and taking over the underworld empire of Jabba the Hutt with a title reveal promising The Book of Boba Fett event coming to Disney+ in December 2021.
It is incredible in this day and age of the Internet that Favreau and company were able to keep these pleasant surprises which capped off The Mandalorian’s triumphant sophomore season. Besides that everyone involved with the show deserves a hearty round of applause for rescuing Star Wars and taking it in a new, organic direction. On to season three!