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‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2 is proof of just how amazing Star Wars can be

  WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ‘THE MANDALORIAN’ SEASON 2 On Nov. 12, 2019, Disney unleashed its streaming service, Disney+, into the world. Out of all the touted original content for the platform, one was widely anticipated: The Mandalorian. Created by Jon Favreau, who started the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man, the series followed the titular Mandalorian (played by Pedro Pascal), who operated as a bounty hunter five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. During the show’s first season, the Mandalorian--whose real name is Din Djarin (pronounced “jar-en”)--found himself protecting the Child, a baby that was being hunted by an Imperial Moff named Gideon (played by Giancarlo Esposito). As The Mandalorian progressed, the show became insanely popular. Many viewers were enthralled by the everyday escapades of Djarin and the Child, who was given the nickname “Baby Yoda” since he was of the same species as Master Yoda. Others also compared it far favorably to the then-concluding Star Wars sequel trilogy, widely considered a mixed bag by the fandom. The show’s first season ended with Djarin managing to escape from Gideon and his forces, with his new mission being to bring Baby Yoda--whose real name is revealed to be Grogu in “Chapter 13: The Jedi”--to, well, the Jedi. However, this would prove to be difficult, as the Jedi were practically extinct around this time. Thankfully, the second season of the show, which began on Oct. 30 and ended on Dec. 18, provided a thrilling and emotionally satisfying outcome for the Mandalorian’s quest.

Din and Grogu’s bogus journey

Image from Syfy Wire
The second season begins with Djarin looking for other Mandalorians in the hopes they can lead him and Grogu to any surviving Jedi. Their mission first takes them to the planet Tatooine. There, they meet Cobb Vanth (played by Timothy Olyphant), a marshal of a small settlement called Freetown, who wears Mandalorian armor that he stole. Djarin, who wants the armor from Vanth, helps him stop a monster called a Krayt Dragon from destroying Freetown. After leaving Tatooine, Djarin and Grogu are whisked throughout the Outer Rim, meeting many characters that eventually lead them to the Jedi. Fortunately, these additions never detracted from the heart of the show, which is the relationship between Djarin and Grogu. Due to the perils of their adventure, Djarin’s growing love for his newfound son is constantly tested. For instance, in “Chapter 16: The Rescue” (the season finale), Djarin gives Grogu away so he can finally be trained as a Jedi.  At this moment, he removes his helmet--which is against his code of honor--so Grogu can finally see his face. It’s a stirring and powerful moment, illustrating how much he has grown as a father-figure, with Pascal’s performance giving him that much more humanity.

Boy meets world

Image from Meaww
Returning characters from last season appear during Djarin and Grogu’s journey, like Greef Karga (played by Carl Weathers) and Cara Dune (played by Gina Carano). However, due to season two’s larger scale, The Mandalorian includes characters previously introduced in other Star Wars media, such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. One such character is Bo-Katan Kryze (pronounced “kreeze”), who is played by Katee Sackoff (who voiced her in The Clone Wars and Rebels). She first appears in “Chapter 11: The Heiress” and again in “The Rescue.” Kryze’s inclusion in the show is a welcome one, as Sackoff does a great job with the character’s steely determination and stern attitude. This provides a compelling contrast with Djarin, as his demeanor is that of a man who is wrestling with forces that he doesn’t fully understand. Interestingly enough, Kryze’s storyline both ties into the threat of Moff Gideon (who also returns from season one) and provides some scintillating hints for the show’s future. Another character that leaves her mark on The Mandalorian is former Jedi Ahsoka Tano, who is played by Rosario Dawson. (Ashley Eckstein previously voiced the character in The Clone Wars and Rebels). Ahsoka’s only appearance is in “Chapter 13: The Jedi,” where she reveals that Grogu survived Anakin Skywalker’s attack on the Jedi Temple (as depicted in Revenge of the Sith). Dawson did a decent job with her portrayal, giving viewers a matured and subdued version of the character. However, it was rather jarring having someone else play the character when Eckstein spent a decade doing so.

Post-Endor paracosm

Image from Newsweek
With The Mandalorian set within the 30-year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, it was important for the show to provide details about this era of Star Wars. The first season gave details by revealing Gideon was leading a sizable military force of Imperial troops. This was surprising, as the Empire was not in power at this point, having been defeated by the New Republic four years before the show. Fortunately, this season doubles down, showing that Gideon also controls a laboratory and several starships.  Despite all of that, his most mysterious item is the Darksaber, an ancient Mandalorian weapon that Kryze is hunting him down for. Their rivalry brings greater depth to Gideon’s foothold in the galaxy, demonstrating how his actions have affected other characters. What makes this even more complicated is Djarin, who won the Darksaber from Gideon in “The Rescue”, and is now the rightful owner of the weapon. Such a development illustrates how obsessed Kryze is with getting the Darksaber, due to her refusing to take it from Djarin as she wants to win it during combat. Unfortunately, this plotline isn’t resolved; surely, season three will recognize this and make it the central conflict. Lastly, the criminal underworld--one of season one’s main selling points--is also given more context on its place during this era. Fan-favorite character Boba Fett (played by Temuera Morrison, who also played Jango Fett in the prequel trilogy) returns, where it’s explained that he survived his “death” in Return of the Jedi. He ends up helping Djarin protect Grogu, and when that mission is over, soon takes control of Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine with Fennec Shand (played by Ming-Na Wen, another veteran from season one). The decision to include Fett in the season was worthwhile since he was a competent and fearsome bounty hunter--something the original trilogy failed to capture. With him and Shand now soon-to-be crime lords, the future has grown all the more exciting, and we only have to wait till next year to see how it all unfolds.
Sources: Entertainment Weekly, Observer Featured Image: IMDB Images: Syfy Wire, Meaww, Newsweek