The Mandalorian Season 2 Review

Rating:

The Mandalorian is back in business

Main Cast: Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito
Created by: Jon Faverau

The Mandalorian:Moff Gideon. You have something I want. You may think you have some idea what you are in possession of, but you do not. Soon, he will be back with me. He means more to me than you will ever know.

“The Believer” (The Mandalorian Season 2, Episode 7)

The Mandalorian’s first season was a rousing success. The anti-heroic title character, his memetic sidekick, and their western-style stories captured fans’ imaginations in a way that the Star Wars sequel trilogy didn’t. Can The Mandalorian season 2 keep up the pace? Let’s find out.

The Good

Jedi, Mercs, and Mandos, Oh My!

Mando:Are you Mandalorian?
Boba Fett:I’m a simple man making his way through the galaxy, like my father before me.

“The Tragedy” (Season 2, Episode 6)

The Mandalorian’s first season focused entirely on original characters. They are joined by several familiar faces from the Star Wars galaxy.

A mysterious man (Temuera Morrison) stalks Mando after he acquires a lost suit of Mandalorian armor. He is soon revealed to be Boba Fett, who survived the Sarlacc Pit from Return of the Jedi. He convinces Mando to trade him the armor in exchange for assistance on a mission. Despite being older and rusty, Boba becomes one of Mando’s most powerful allies.

Katee Sackhoff plays Bo-Katan, a Mandalorian seeking to restore their homeworld. Bo-Katan is wary of Mando because he was raised by a fundamentalist splinter group. She reluctantly works with him to take down Imperial forces and search for a Mandalorian artifact called The Darksaber.

Rosario Dawson plays Ahsoka Tano, a Jedi knight hiding on a desolate planet.  She wages a guerilla war against the planet’s tyrannical leader. Mando plans to give her Baby Yoda, but she refuses since she can sense he’s not supposed to be with her. She refers the duo to another Jedi, who I will not spoil here. Ahsoka will star in a self-titled spinoff.

Shades of Gray

Miggs:Everybody’s got their lines they don’t cross until things get messy. As far as I’m concerned, if you can make it through your day and still sleep at night, you’re doin’ better than most.

“The Believer” (Season 2, Episode 7)

The Mandalorian has always featured mixed morality. Not all the protagonists are good guys, not all the villains are irredeemable. Season two continues that trend.

Mando frequently works with villains while on his quest. A tyrant who wants to hunt down Ahsoka, an Imperial deserter who participated in a genocide, even Boba Fett and his ex-assassin sidekick. These strange bedfellows leave Mando torn between continuing his quest and his morals.

Mando is forced to confront his teachings several times throughout the season. Learning that there are Mandalorians who don’t follow the same beliefs shakes him. Mando begins to drift from The Way of the Mandalore as he struggles with his upbringing. He even grapples with removing his helmet or leaving Baby Yoda in danger.

The ethical problems The Mandalorian season 2 poses are more subtle than the standard Star Wars fare. Mando is a true neutral whose actions are not influenced by a promise of Jedi healing, Sith lightning, or other rewards.

Dark Forces

Moff Gideon:You’re about to face off with the Dark Troopers. You had your hands full with one. Let’s see how you do against a platoon.

“The Rescue” (Season 2, Episode 8)

Some season two villains aren’t monsters, but there are still a few who are vile.

Moff Gideon (Esposito) appeared in The Mandalorian’s first season finale, but really shines in season two. This Imperial war criminal is manipulative, cunning, and incredibly competent. Despite pretending to be polite and good-natured, he is a psychopath who will kill minions over the slightest misstep. Moff Gideon acts like a fusion of Darth Vader and Tarkin from A New Hope.

Don’t think that Gideon is just a figurehead. He’s an expert sharpshooter who is not afraid to fight on the front lines. When times get tough, he breaks out the Darksaber. This pitch black lightsaber can cut through anything short of Beskar. Even better, possessing the Darksaber makes the wielder the Mandalorian leader. Gideon is not their leader because he apparently stole the blade instead of winning it through combat.

Stormtroopers are the bulk of Gideon’s army, but he has a secret weapon. Imperial scientists created a platoon of droids called Dark Troopers that are basically the Star Wars version of Terminators. One Dark Trooper is a deadly foe and multiple puts a fight into “run or die” territory, even for a group of Mandalorians.

The Bad

Who Are You?

Ahsoka:Now, tell me. Where is your master? Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?” –

“The Jedi” (Season 2, Episode 5)

Season One of The Mandalorian expected viewers to know something about Mandalorians. Bringing in other Star Wars characters exacerbated that problem.

When viewers last saw Boba Fett, he had seemingly died from falling into the Sarlacc Pit. The show gives no explanation for how he survived, escaped, or lost his armor.  There are explanations in expanded universe materials, but most people watching The Mandalorian won’t have read them, so it seems like Fett was resurrected.

Information about the Darksaber is only mentioned in passing. It mostly exists as a weapon and MacGuffin in the show. Likewise, Bo-Katan’s connection to the Darksaber and her stint as leader of the Mandalorians are only briefly hinted at. 

This lack of details make Ahsoka mysterious. She is treated as a normal Jedi despite having left the Order decades ago. Her turbulent relationship with the Jedi is far too long to get into here, but it’s the main story arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and a major arc in Star Wars: Rebels.

Some may argue this is less of a problem because the backstories don’t directly impact Mando’s quest or story. I argue that it makes it harder to understand the character’s actions, like why Bo-Katan dislikes Mando and is so fixated on the Darksaber, why Boba doesn’t have his iconic armor for a chunk of the season, or what are Ashoka’s motivations beyond setting up her spinoff? It makes the characters seem less like part of the story and more like glorified cameos.

The Verdict

The Mandalorian season 2 builds on everything the first season did right. The characters are morally complex, the action is good, and the Big Bad is a major threat. The characters from other Star Wars series over-complicate things, but they are never too intrusive. The Mandalorian Season Two is worth your time.

Image: The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and the Child in The Mandalorian, season two (c) 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. &TM. All Rights Reserved.

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