The first live-action Star Wars TV series is back and just as popular as ever. Season 1 was a massive hit for Disney+, and Star Wars fans and newcomers to the franchise instantly became hooked. Merchandising of the series is on store shelves everywhere, and it has become the most successful non-Netflix streaming series. Needless to say, Season 2 had a lot to live up to. Does it continue the hype train started by the first season, or is it nothing more than bantha fodder? Let’s explore this part of the Star Wars galaxy to find out.
The Mandalorian has proven once again that Jon Favreau and the rest of the writing team are masters of leaving the audience wanting more. Each episode tells its own perfectly-thought out story while still feeling like a part of the bigger whole. Even after the end of the season, fans are still left wondering what is next and clamoring for more. Despite each episode telling a contained story, the plot still flows seamlessly to Din Djarin’s next adventure with Grogu.
Throughout the well-old story of Season 2, the Mandalorian develops wonderfully as his arc takes shape. This rugged bounty hunter learns to show his love toward his son-like travelling companion, while also learning that there are more important things than the old rules about being a Mandalorian taught to him when he was younger. Grogu also has a bit of an arc involving the development of his force abilities. Perhaps the strongest arc of the season comes from an unexpected character: Bill Burr’s Mayfield. Mayfield only appears in an episode or two, but he absolutely steals the show. This former Imperial officer-turned-criminal grows into a true hero after revealing why he turned against the Empire and helping Mando out of a sticky situation.
The action sequences are just as thrilling and well-choreographed as they were in Season 1. It’s so perfectly put together that the audience can feel every punch and blaster shot. However, they manage to shake things up a bit to make the fights different enough from the previous season to keep them interesting. Mando teaming up with a small army of Tuskan Raiders to take down a giant sand worm, using a Beskar spear to combat lightsabers, and using his jetpack to drop an enemy from hundreds of feet in the air are all extraordinarily fun to watch.
The special effects, like with most of Star Wars, are outstanding. They blend traditional effects and CGI seamlessly to make this galaxy come to life. The vehicles, explosions, and blaster shots all look and feel real. The puppeteering for characters like Grogu is fantastic enough to make the likes of Jim Henson proud. The costumes, makeup, and set design add a lot to this realism as well. They’re undoubtedly Emmy-worthy.
The acting, of course, is also marvelous. This is the case from the entire cast. The most impressive part of it, though, is that Pedro Pascal is able to showcase his character’s emotions and thoughts without even showing his face. When the camera is on his expressionless helmet, you know exactly what he’s thinking or how he’s feeling.
There are some solid comedic moments that occur throughout the season. However, they are pulled off without ever distracting or taking anything away from the dramatic moments in the story. It makes the series feel more realistic since that’s how things typically happen in real life. It’s a great way to keep the viewer captivated. It’s something that can be difficult to pull off, so it is rather impressive when it does happen.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian, similar to the first season, expands the Star Wars lore nicely and fills in some gaps caused by other Star Wars media here and there. However, Season 2 does this much more than Season 1. It manages to catch us up on Ahsoka Tano, delve into what the Darksaber is, and give us a glimpse into how the Jedi are still surviving. There are a handful of cameos of characters only seen in the cartoons or other Star Wars media that help to solidify their presence in the greater canon. All this is pulled off while ultimately still telling the story of The Mandalorian.
The last fifteen to twenty minutes of the season finale are especially entertaining. It’s hard to believe Star Wars fans stayed in their seats during this final sequence. The action is brilliant, the suspense is palpable, the emotions are high, and there’s a reveal that cannot be missed. It all leads up to payoff decades in the making. This finale wraps up this chapter of Din Djarin’s adventure nicely, but keeps enough open that fans are excited for more.
There aren’t many things wrong with this outstanding show, but there is one glaring issue with this season in particular. It suffers from the same problem much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe does. There are times when the writing is more focused on setting up other series rather than telling the standalone story. There are plot lines introduced that we will only see expanded upon in other shows or movies. It’s fun to see the various cameos, but there are so many characters and references shoved into these eight episodes that it does start to distract from the main character’s story at times. It’s a bit of a shame considering Season 1 solidified The Mandalorian as a great standalone story and proved that Star Wars media can be good without also tying too much into the “Skywalker Saga.”
A minor issue in Season 2 that carried over from Season 1 is that Mando meets so many new faces each episode that only stick around for a short period of time, that when their name is mentioned with importance, it can be pretty difficult to know who is being spoken about. There are a lot of supporting characters throughout the series, and most of them don’t get enough time for us to really get to know them.
In the Know
There are quite a few characters from other Star Wars TV series and movies who show up throughout Season 2 of The Mandalorian. This includes fan favorites like Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan Kryze from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Boba Fett from the original trilogy. There are other cameos, including an especially big name who shows up in the finale, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise. On one hand, it does distract from the Mandalorian in his own show, on the other, it’s a lot of fun seeing everything tied together like this.
There are also cameos throughout the season of celebrities going unnoticed in roles that use a lot of makeup. John Leguizamo voices Gor Koresh, the cyclops alien in the first episode. Comedian Horatio Sanz reprises his role of Mythrol from Season 1. It’s entertaining to think about certain actors now being a part of the Star Wars universe.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian delivers a heartfelt story while also providing gritty action. The characters are entertaining to watch, and it further expands on the Star Wars lore while also tying much of it together. The performances, effects, and writing are nothing short of impressive. The season finale features one of the most exciting scenes in Star Wars in quite some time. It may get held back a little by too many new faces to keep track of or too many references distracting from the main storyline, but it tells an emotional and exciting story. It ultimately feels like classic Star Wars with modern effects.
Season 2 wraps up this major chapter for Mando, but there’s more than enough to be excited about for his next adventure.
Rating: 9.5 / 10