On Thursday, Disney announced that seven new Star Wars shows would air on Disney Plus through 2023. The Mandalorian reminded us why this is a good idea.
The first season of the show was often exciting, occasionally reminding you that Din Djarin occupies the same world as the heroes from the Skywalker saga. Most of the time, the show was a series of disjointed incidents and encounters in the style of Planet of the Week with little overarching history. In the few episodes in which the story was the focus, she rarely left room for anything else. The show’s second season doesn’t deviate too far from the general format, but it refines it to the point of excellence.
The Mandalorian Season 2, in which only one episode remains invisible, was superb. As a TV show, it has some of the most formidable action and a great cast of supporting and solo characters played by a deep bank of actors only Star Wars can attract. (Did you get Richard Brake, the original? game of Thrones Night King, in Chapter 15?) Instead of the uneven story-or-no-story pace of season one, Season 2 manages to flirt with serialized stories that prestige television has become known for, while maintaining the fall’s weekly style intact.
Take “The Believer”. Technically, it’s just a raid mission. Not unlike when Din Ahsoka helped liberate a city from the clutches of the Empire, or Timothy Olyphant killed a sandworm. But this time the raid brought characters from Din’s orbit together and was so directly tied to his arc that it didn’t feel like a side excursion at all. It was a thrilling action episode and a fitting next step along the way, which is exactly the justification that season one was often lacking.
Apart from the fact that you can only watch TV The Mandalorian The real strength of season two is that it’s great Star Wars. In two consecutive episodes (episodes 5 and 6) The Mandalorian brought Din face to face with some of the most iconic characters from Star Wars. In the case of Ahsoka Tano, the show introduced her to live-action viewers and managed to portray the beloved cartoon character in a way that was satisfying whether or not you knew her name before the episode.
And it wasn’t a cheap gimmick or a quick fan-service cameo. She gave Din – and the audience – more information about the adorable little Campion to whom he dedicated his life, and she did it in a way only she could, using the Force and empathizing with what it did is to be cut. You have known the Jedi Order all your life. It was a perfect way to get her on the show without feeling outrageous or cheap.
The feat of reintroducing Boba Fett was even easier: Jon Favreau, director Robert Rodriguez, and the show’s crew turned a legend into a character. In just two episodes The Mandalorian took a character with decades of fan mythology and almost nothing to do in the original trilogy and made him someone interesting who still lives up to his own legendary status. The episode even dared to go against the prequel’s mythology. Only by showing us an over-the-hill boba defeating a group of stormtroopers alone does the show manage to fully realize all of the badasserie that appeared to have been hinted at since its first live-action appearance Reich strikes back.
Filling in the margins and focusing on supporting characters is exactly what a Star Wars should do when free from theatrical engagements. Mando crosses paths with characters like Boba Fett, Ahsoka Tano, and even Bo-Katan, firmly rooting him in the Star Wars universe. It connects it with the stories we already know and gives the series space to break new ground. There’s no Luke, Leia, or Han around The Mandalorian
The new series promises to spread throughout the Star Wars universe. Shows like Ahsoka and Obi Wan Kenobi will elaborate characters whose arches feel incomplete while Rangers of the New Republic will fall into the weeds of the days and years that follow the fall of the Empire. To like Rogue One, Andor can explore uncharted territory for the franchise and give us a glimpse into the day-to-day operations of the Rebel Alliance. Meanwhile, The acolyte promises our first on-screen look at the High Republic era, completely separate from anything we’ve seen so far in Star Wars. The show will look radically different, but as the series writers have said, it still retains the soul of George Lucas’ original films.
Simply filling in the blanks in the Star Wars universe is of course not a guarantee of quality – take a look at that solo. But if The MandalorianSeason two is a hint of what the Star Wars universe can be if it escapes the suffocating legacy of the main characters from the original trilogy. Then there are plenty of reasons to believe that Disney Plus and all of TV culture has room for Disney’s rugged list of shows.