“The Mandalorian” Season 2 is easily one of the best shows to come out this year and one of the best “Star Wars” stories. This season provides a completed core arc and sets up a lot of promise for stories to come. My only real issue with the story is the Empire is feeling like they do in “Rebels” and that isn’t good. The threat of our antagonists should be better felt and I hope we can feel an “Empire Strikes Back” level of threat again. So without going into SPOILERS, this show is well worth your time.
The story follows Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) as he attempts to unite “The Child” with the Jedi as he tracks Mandalorians who might know where the Jedi are located.
The Action – The action is the best it has been this season. We get multiple duels and standoffs both with melee weapons and guns. We get large scale battles, under cover missions, space battles and all of it happens over multiple environments and threats. Most importantly the action drives the story forward, it is rarely ever wasted.
The Soundtrack – The soundtrack continues to elevate the storytelling. Ludwig Göransson has truly brought this space western to life and how he weaves the music into the themes of the story enrich the overall work and the music itself is worth coming back on it’s own to listen to again.
Planets and People – We get a ton of planets and people we haven’t seen before and visit areas that we have never been too. We get a hostile snow world full of spiders, Trask a water world and rough trade port where Mando is nearly killed and we visit the small town of Mos Pelgo, a small town on Tatooine being harassed by a Krayt Dragon. All these areas are made richer by the characters as we also get to meet other characters from prior in the series or greater Star Wars Universe. I’ll go into some of my favorite next.
The Characters – The characters are what make this show and here are the ones whose arcs and how they play off Din Djiarin enriched and made the show as great as it is.
Cobb Vanth – Cobb Vanth is the Marshal of Mos Pelgo, a former slave of a mining company that enslaved their town after the fall of the empire he rose to his position by trading what he stole from the company for Boba’s armor from jawas. He promises to give the armor to Din if Din helps take out the Krayt Dragon harassing them. Din does this by forcing the town to confront it’s prejudice against Tusken Raiders who are also dealing with the threat of the dragon. It is powerfully done and the victory is well earned. This was the first episode of the series too and I would not mind visiting Olyphant’s Cobb again.
Mayfield – Bill Burr is back to help Din find Moff Gideon! Cara Dune breaks him out of prison for Din so he can find Gideon’s vessel after Gideon captures “the Child” who at this point we’ve learned is named Grogu. His arc is powerful as we see him turn against the Empire during the undercover mission to get the coordinates to Gideon’s ship as we learn about when the Empire turned on Empire in “Project Cinder” and the slaughter that occurred. Mayfield is the first human to see Din without his helmet too and respects him for it as he sees how deeply Din cares for Grogu. In the end Din and Cara let him go and his arc is completed as someone who went from bragging about his imperial past to one who fights against them now.
Ahsoka – Rosario Dawson is great as Ahsoka and it was great seeing what has happened to her character post “Rebels.” In this she is facing off against a corrupt leader of the forest world of Corvus as she attempts to find who is the Magistrate’s master is. She is the one to reveal “The Child’s” name as Grogu and refuses to teach him because of his attachment and fear. It is really well done and we see that she is looking for Grand Admiral Thrawn. I look forward to seeing that story unfold.
Bo-Katan – Katee Sackhoff is back and Bo-Katan is once more seeking leadership over Mandalore and to free it. In this she seeks the darksaber and weapons for her fight which leads to her working with Din against the Imperial Remnant. She usually has 2 loyalists with her and we see how driven she is in her quest as she only ever helps Din if she gets something out of it. From her we learn he was a foundling of the fanatical “Death Watch” who are attempting to bring back the ancient Mandalorian ways. This clearly changes him too as over time he does get to the point where he will take his helmet off if it is important.
Boba Fett and Fennec Shand – Boba Fett saved Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen’s assassin) and they run into Din to get Boba’s armor back. These two are a great duo as we see that Boba is still the mercenary but he has a code as he helps save Grogu from Gideon as protecting Grogu was part of the deal to get his armor back. We also see how stupid he thinks taking Mandalore is so doesn’t take Bo-Katan seriously. It is a fascinating dynamic as they look down on him for being a clone. We get an idea of his long term goals too as his story is setup in the aftercredits scene.
Din Djarin and Grogu – The heart of this show is Din Djarin and Grogu, they are “Lone Wolf and Cub” and their adventures and the people they meet is what made these last 2 seasons work so well. In this we see Din come into his role as a father and face the hardest of choice when he eventually has to let Grogu go to the Jedi. This completes his arc as his religious zealotry was given nuance by those he met and the comfort he found in himself enough to reveal his face. Din’s arc feels complete and it was because of how much he cared for Grogu.
The Western / Samurai Themes and Feel – The Western / Samurai style themes of the show is part of what made this season and last season work so well. Whether it is helping a small town face a dragon, liberating a town from a corrupt ruler or questing for a mysterious temple we feel how rough the galaxy is and how important our actions are. Din lives this in his role and code and I hope future seasons do not forget this and these themes.
Luke Skywalker’s “Rogue One” Moment – Luke Skywalker shows up after Gideon has activated his powerful Dark Troopers who have come to rescue them, and he just walks through them with. With black glove and green lightsaber this is clearly the young jedi master who isn’t jaded yet and it is awesome. The de-aging of his face is the only thing that feels off, like in “Rogue One” with Leia. Until that point though, it is fantastic. You can see why Grogu went with him to train to become a jedi.
The Book of Boba Fett – The after credits scene involves Boba and Fennec taking over Jabba’s old operation as we meet a fat and old Bib Fortuna who Boba easily kills. I like this setup as “The Mandalorian” can now refer to Boba officially as we get his story going forward, which gives Din a break.
Why Even Have Stormtroopers / An Empty Empire – Stormtroopers are useless in this. At least last season they managed to kill one named character, here they only injure them barely if they have power weapons. This applies to tie fighters and the Empire as a whole. Them being so weak hurt the drama of the show. Why should I be afraid for any of these characters? This happens anytime they are faced whether it is against Boba and Fennec, Bo-Katan and her allies or Greef and Cara taking out a military base. In each situation the Empire loses all their troops or their resources are taken.
Moff Gideon’s Lack of Plan – Gideon knew that Din was coming for him to save Grogu, and did nothing. He had Dark Troopers as his only card, which is really dumb if this guy is supposed to be in intelligence. His lack of plan ruined the Empire as a threat. It felt very “Return of the Jedi” this season where pirates and thieves were a greater threat to our heroes than the named big bads.
Season 2 is a great season and I love how Din and Grogu’s arcs are completed. We get to see how much bigger this universe is but it never loses sight of the themes and western feel. I can’t wait to see what more stories we get with all the shows that have been announced. This is a favorite show and this season was stronger than the 1st Season in every way. This is a show that I’d highly recommend and is easily one of the best shows to come out this year.
Final Score: 9.8 / 10 The lack of villain payoff is the only thing keeping it from being higher.