Part Two of Josh’s Review of The Mandalorian Season Two
Click here for the first half of my review of The Mandalorian, season two! And now, onwards:
Chapter Thirteen: “The Jedi” — As I wrote in part one of my review, getting to see Ahsoka Tano brought to life in live-action was extraordinary. I never thought this would actually happen. I couldn’t possibly have wished for a more faithful, more awesome depiction of Ahsoka than what we got here in this episode. Rosario Dawson was brilliant, absolutely perfect. She was amazing in the spectacular fight sequences and also in the quiet moments. What’s amazing about this episode is that there was so much additional awesomeness beyond just the appearance of Ahsoka!! Hearing Bo Katan say the name “Ahsoka Tano” in episode three was spine-tingling. Almost as great — and shockingly unexpected!! — was hearing Ahsoka herself say the name “Grand Admiral Thrawn” here!! I am overjoyed at the thought that Thrawn (first introduced in Timothy Zahn’s terrific Heir to the Empire trilogy of novels, and brought to animated life on Star Wars: Rebels) might be coming to live-action life in future seasons of The Mandalorian!! (Or one of the multiple spin-off shows Disney has recently announced.) Do the events of this episode occur before or after the final scenes of Star Wars: Rebels?? (I’d at first assumed after, meaning Ahsoka is still on the trail of Thrawn and Ezra… but comments from Dave Filoni have drawn that into question…) I loved meeting the Magistrate (Morgan Elsbeth, played by Diana Lee Inosanto). Her fight with Ahsoka (Beskar spear versus lightsabers) was amazing and intense. I was so happy to see Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens) as the Magistrate’s hired mercenary. (I wish this was more than a one-off appearance!!) It was fun to learn Baby Yoda’s true name (through Grogu is a little sillier a name than I’d hoped), and I enjoyed the scenes of Ahsoka’s helping Mando gauge Grogu’s burgeoning Force abilities. I was surprised Ahsoka didn’t agree to help train Grogu herself. It felt somewhat out of character for her to pass the buck like that. The idea of just letting Grogu’s Force-wielding abilities dwindle seems sad and short-sighted. (And also risky — what damage could he cause with his abilities, without proper training in how to use and control them??) On the other hand, Ahsoka famously declared “I am no Jedi” (in the spectacular Rebels episode “Twilight of the Apprentice”), so I can understand why she wouldn’t want to be a part of training future Jedi. Speaking of which, it’s an interesting piece of discontinuity that this episode about Ahsoka is titled “The Jedi”. Has Ahsoka come to piece with the fact that she really is a Jedi — possibly one fo the greatest Jedi who ever lived?? I’d have loved for the show to have addressed that. Moving on… I loved the look of the planet Corvus. The eerie lighting of the fights in the burned out forest made those scenes really creepy and unusual, and the run-down main street through the town also had a great, memorable look. Also: was that an owl glimpsed above Ahsoka when we first glimpsed her in the forest? What a cool call-back to the mysterious connection between Ahsoka and the owl-like creatures seen occasionally in Rebels…
Chapter Fourteen: “The Tragedy” — I wasn’t sure how the series could possibly match the spotlight on Ahsoka… and so here comes this episode and the triumphant return of Boba Fett. I must say, it was thrilling to get to see Fett back in action, kicking ass in a spectacular action sequence (beautifully directed by Robert Rodriguez). As a kid, I of course thought Boba Fett was pretty awesome back in The Empire Strikes Back. I still do! And, like many, I have always been a bit disappointed that he went out like such a doofus in Return of the Jedi. It was fun seeing young Fett in Episode II and the animated Clone Wars series, though I didn’t much care much for either version. (He was bland in Episode II, and sort of an annoying brat in The Clone Wars.) But the version of Fett that we got in this episode was amazing. I loved this fierce zen samurai sort of version of Fett. Temuera Morrison was great. The hand-to-hand combat was great (as was seeing Fett wreak havoc with his gaffi stick). Getting to see Fett back in his armor (launching a missile, using his jetpack)… all of it was so great and made me so happy!! The awesomeness of Fett almost makes me forgive Mando’s stupidity in leaving Baby Yoda unguarded. I was rolling my eyes at the TV when that went down. I wish they’d been able to better use Mando in this episode; he spends most of the episode either knocked out or making bad decisions. I’d expected that it’d take Mando until the season finale to get to the planet Tython (as directed by Ahsoka), so it was a fun surprise that he and Baby Yoda made it to that planet immediately in the next episode. Baby Yoda’s communing with the Force — behind a super-strong “Force” field (literally) — was cool. I loved seeing Slave 1 again. I was also delighted to see the bounty-hunter Fennec (played by Ming-Na Wen) again! It’s a stretch that she survived getting shot at point-blank range back in season one, but I really like this character so I can go with it. It was fun to learn a little more about Jango Fett; specifically, that he was a “foundling” like Mando. I was surprised to see the Razorcrest get destroyed! That ship has suffered what I’d thought should have been catastrophic damage several times already in this series, but this looks like it’s finally the end for Mando’s cool ship. (Will he somehow wind up with Slave 1 next season…?)
Chapter Fifteen: “The Believer” — It seemed weird to me at the end of the previous episode that, of all people, Mando felt that the criminal Mayfield (played by Bill Burr for one appearance in season one) was essential for rescuing Baby Yoda. This episode makes that a little more understandable (though it still feels like a bit of a stretch; I could think of many other ways Mando could have located Moff Gideon’s ship). I thought Mayfield was a fine character in season one, but I loved how this episode added far more interesting complexities to his backstory. That was my favorite aspect of this episode. The original Star Wars was all about black and white heroes and villains, but I love it when Star Wars stories explore the complexities and shades of grey in this universe. That was very well-done here, in the form of former Imperial Mayfield who, we slowly discover, has many reasons to hate the Empire. That sit-down scene in the canteen between Mando, Mayfield, and the smarmy Imperial officer was spectacular. We also got another great action sequence in Mando and Mayfield’s extended chase/fight with the raiders/pirates on flying skiffs as they tried to make their way into the imperial base. That was an exciting, tense, beautifully realized sequence. It was also fun getting to see Cara Dune and Fennec show their skills, working as sharp-shooters to protect Mando and Mayfield. I loved seeing the look of the prison/garbage planet from where Mando and Cara Dune sprung Mayfield at the episode’s beginning. The scene in which Mando was forced to take off his helmet was cool, though I question the show’s too often giving Mando reasons to take off his helmet. (More on this in my comments on the finale…) I laughed at the TPS report mention (a funny Office Space joke)! I loved getting to see Slave 1 in action again… and it was very cool to see Boba Fett take out the tie fighters with the same sort of sonic bomb that Jango Fett used against Obi-Wan in Episode II. That was cool. Even cooler: actually getting to see what Slave 1 looks like on the inside, when the exterior of the ship shifts orientation from horizontal to vertical!! That was awesome!! That’s something I’ve been wondering about ever since The Empire Strikes Back. That little moment made me so happy!! The episode ends on a weird note as Mando announces to Moff Gideon that he’s coming to rescue Baby Yoda. Why would he give his enemy a heads up like that?? That seemed silly to me.
Chapter Sixteen: “The Rescue” — This was a strong though not overwhelming finale to the season. While I’d been hoping to see both Ahsoka and Cobb Vanth again, I was delighted that Bo Katan was back, and it was thrilling to see Bo, Fennec, Cara Dune, and Koska Reeves all kick ass. The whole sequence of their assault on Moff Gideon’s ship was thrilling. I loved getting to see a “launch tube” on an Imperial ship!! (Shades of Battlestar Galactica…) Obviously the stand-out moment in this episode was the appearance of Luke Skywalker. That made me very happy. I had a huge grin as soon as that green lightsaber flared into action. It was fun to see post-Return of the Jedi Luke in his prime. That hallway sequence of him demolishing Dark Troopers was surely intentionally reminiscent of Darth Vader’s amazing hallway scene in Rogue One. I wish the CGI on Luke was better. I know some fans hated the CGI in Rogue One; but I thought the work on Tarkin was amazing, and while the shot of Leia was imperfect, it was brief enough and a cool enough moment that I could forgive it. I know I should have more reasonable expectations for what can be done for this TV show, but every other aspect of The Mandalorian’s visual effects have been so amazing that I’d hoped for better work on Luke. But I don’t mind too much, because I loved seeing him and it was very logical that he would appear during this time-frame. I loved seeing him zip in on his X-Wing — and with R2D2!! — to save the day. I was very surprised that Baby Yoda left with Luke, though! Is that the last we’ll see of Baby Yoda on the show?? He’s been such an essential part of this show since the beginning, it’s hard to imagine the show without him. Will The Mandalorian now shift to being about Mando and Bo Katan’s rebuilding Mandalore?? (That could be very cool.) Or will Baby Yoda be back, by one plot permutation or another, in season three? It was interesting that the issue of the Darksaber (and the idea that Bo couldn’t just take the Darksaber from Mando… even though she did take it from Sabine in Rebels, didn’t she??) wasn’t resolved… I wonder if that will be dealt with at the start of season three? Also: is Baby Yoda now fated to die along with the rest of Luke’s students when Kylo Ren massacres them all a decade or so down the road…? Mando’s goodbye to Baby Yoda was a wonderful moment. (Though, wow, I think the impact of his removing his helmet would have been FAR stronger had he not also taken off his helmet in the previous episode.) I didn’t love the Dark Troopers. After a season of build-up, they seemed pretty lame to me. Their design felt very derivative of 1970’s Cylons… and in the end Luke easily destroyed them. The biggest disappointment of the finale, and the season, for me, was how easily Moff Gideon was defeated. Even though Mando warned him he was coming, Gideon seemed unprepared and, in the end, Mando beat him pretty easily. I wasn’t bowled over by Gideon’s appearance in the season one finale (in which he seemed dumb for killing the Imperial played by Werner Herzog — I mean, it’s one thing for Vader to kill his men left and right, but at this point when the Empire is broken, surely Gideon could use all the men he can get?? — and then he was easily defeated in his Tie Fighter by Mando), and I’d been hoping this season would better establish him as a dangerous villain. And yet, Mando & co. seem to beat him pretty handily here, so I guess he wasn’t ever too much of a threat. I’d been hoping for more. There were a few other weird plot/editing/pacing issues in this episode that undermined things somewhat for me. Why was Dr. Pershing away from Moff Gideon’s ship (where Mando & co. could intercept him), as opposed to being right there working on Baby Yoda? As soon as Bo Katan discovers Moff Gideon isn’t on the bridge where she’d expected him to be, I’d have thought she’d have realized immediately that he was in the brig with Baby Yoda and that she’d have run down there to get him. And yet not only doesn’t she do that, when Mando drags Gideon onto the bridge, we see Bo is just standing there standing there, staring out into space. Weird! Then, when they detect on the monitors that the Dark Troopers have re-boarded the ship, why does Mando and Bo and everyone just stand around on the bridge doing nothing?? That seems silly to me. But so, OK, this episode wasn’t quite as epic a confrontation as I’d hoped for, and Moff Gideon didn’t prove as dangerous or smart a villain as I’d been hoping for. Still, this was a fun end to a spectacular season. And speaking of endings, I hope everyone stuck around for the post-credits scene! Personally, I’d been hoping for a glimpse of Thrawn, but seeing Fett and Fennec return to Jabba’s palace and kill a hilariously fat Bib Fortuna was a lot of fun.
I loved season two of The Mandalorian! This was an incredible season of television. Each of the eight episodes was a pleasure. I hope Disney can keep this level of quality for the billion upcoming Star Wars shows they announced a few weeks ago…!
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