"It means more to me than you will ever know"
It's been a long time since I really got invested in anything Star Wars. Disney's sequel trilogy of films left far more than a bad taste in mouth, and will always remain a devastating failure in my eyes; then Disney+ came along and rekindled my love for the star wars universe. It gave us the final season of the phenomenal Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, and, of course, The Mandalorian. The Mandalorian proved that not only can Star Wars still bring us exciting stories and characters, but also that with a passionate team behind it it can become as iconic as the films that started it all. Season two of The Mandalorian continues that trend, and yet still goes above and beyond what I expected this series to be.
Season two picks up right where the first season left us, with knight in beskar armour, Dyn Jarren (otherwise known as Mando), on a quest across the galaxy to reunite the Child ("Baby Yoda") with its own kind, the Jedi. Along the way the pair make new allies, reunite with some old ones, and ultimately get into a lot of trouble trying evade scoundrels and what's left of the Empire. It's a hell of a ride, but one you'll want to see through all the way to the end.
By far what season two has accomplished is establishing The Mandalorian as one of the greatest pieces of Star Wars entertainment ever made, thanks in large part to how it understands what Star Wars should be. The original Star Wars trilogy was all about growth, and striving to be the best you can be, even against impossible odds. The Mandalorian echoes that sentiment in spathes. Mando (Pedro Pascal) becomes far more than the bounty hunter we first met way back in season one, going from strong, silent bounty hunter to badass space dad. Over the course of both seasons we see the subject matter of the original trilogy seep in, where our no nonsense protagonist grows beyond his hard exterior and grows into a truly selfless character; showing how much he cares about the safety of the Child by breaking his own rules, and risking his own safety if it means he keeps the Child safe. What on the surface is a great sci-fi adventure, is deep down a story about a dad trying to protect his kid, making this a deeply personal and emotional journey that I'm sure many people will find relatable. This season had an abundance of depth I never anticipated, and by the end I was a tad more emotional than I would like to admit. The Mandalorian takes what lies at the heart of a great Star Wars story and makes something new and deeply respectful of its roots, perfectly capturing the essence of Star Wars to create a truly unique story that is full of heart.
The series second season isn't a great departure from its first, but that's hardly a problem. What I loved about the first season was the series' story structure, foregoing the traditional linearity of TV's past and instead using its abundant source material to showcase what the franchise has to offer. Like season one, season two weaves together several standalone adventures with the tight thread of the main plot, providing the audience with a completely unique experience every episode. The opening episode does a great job of easing us into the new season with that familiar sci-fi western aesthetic, as Mando find his way to a small rundown town in the middle of the Tatooine desert. It's an episode that reminds us of the series' spaghetti western influence, as in lone gunslinger fashion, Mando volunteers to help rid the town of a threat that's terrorized them for as long as they could remember, aptly devising a plan along with the town sheriff to make the town safe once again. It's an episode that has everything you could ever want from Star Wars, and yet it's a mere taster for what the rest of the series has in store. Each episode takes Mando to new locales filled with diverse characters and peoples, and each has its own brand of blaster fueled action, where he takes on everything from the most inaccurate of stormtroopers, to a colossal dragon. Every second is engaging and entertaining, and a must see for Star Wars and sci-fi fans alike.
Season two also brings back that stellar soundtrack made famous in season one, whether it be the main theme, or everything in-between. I often feel film and TV soundtracks are a hit or miss, sometimes they miss the mark and sometimes when they do, it doesn't have that great of an impact. In the Mandalorian's case, it's a bullseye. The series soundtrack is beyond exceptional, and is as important as Mando and the Child in making it as iconic as it is. Every track is masterfully scored with precision and poise, and the soundtrack as a whole sets the tone of the entire show, whether that be a starfighter battle, an intense duel, or a calm moment between friends. The soundtrack is a character in its own right, and is impactful beyond measure.
What has to be mentioned is how much fan service the new season provides. For any fan of Star Wars, the show provides something to connect with, whether it be in the planets visited, references to Star Wars past, and most importantly, in its abundance of cameo appearances. As I mentioned previously, each episode is different from the last, and a large part of that is down to how each has its own cast of characters, who are more often than not a familiar face. Without spoiling too much, its clear that director Jon Favreau wanted to please some of the more die hard fans out there with appearances from fan favorite characters never before seen in live action. When they first appear on screen its enough to put the biggest of grins on the face of dedicated fans, and while these cameos might not be as impactful to the more casual fans, they prove to be a delightful addition to the story that everyone can get excited about. Some cameos might even prove to be more of a surprise than any fan expected, notably, the return of a certain character everyone knows. What makes these cameos work is how well they are integrated into the fabric of the show, with each presented as a fully developed and living character that has a significant role to play in the story, rather than just a surprise guest appearance. Thanks to this, season two of the Mandalorian is a charming love letter to fans of the franchise, while retaining the integrity of the story in a meaningful and memorable way.
Season two of The Mandalorian has solidified its status as one of the most beautiful and well-made Star Wars stories ever created. The show is abundant in love and respect for the franchise and what makes it so great, delivering a thrilling story headed by a plethora of striking performances, a killer soundtrack, and exciting sci-fi action that you won't want to miss. The Mandalorian is Star Wars in its prime, and is well on track to becoming one of the most iconic and beloved Star Wars stories of all-time.