We’re running a weekly recap of The Mandalorian on Disney+ for season two. There are spoilers, duh! You’ve been warned.
The Mandalorian will never be the show I want it to be. I had a feeling this was the case during the first season, but after this last week’s premier, I’m certain of it.
I don’t know what I expected, honestly. Last year, when the first-live action Star Wars television series anchored the brand-new streaming service Disney+, all the press stills and trailers had me hyped for a lived-in, gritty take on the Star Wars universe told through the eyes—er, helmet—of an antihero bounty hunter.
That’s not to say I wanted The Mandalorian to go dark, per se.
But I am saying I could have settled for a morally ambiguous TV-PG version of my favorite galaxy far, far away.
What is this show then?But The Mandalorian also really really wants to delight and tickle its Star Wars fanbase. To a fault.
Well, I’ve been around, and I hear people talk. Some of them keep calling The Mandalorian a Western. And the truth is, I don’t know about that. Not because they’re wrong. I just don’t know much about Westerns.
But I have seen a few of those old Clint Eastwood flicks. And inasmuch as those movies were set in dusty, lawless worlds where dingy bars and underworlds were the stages of illicit enterprise and crime, SURE. The Mandalorian may be a Western.
And it did seem a little too on the nose when they cast Justified’s Timothy Olyphant as a hardened, drawling Marshall of a Tatooine ghost town. Okay I’m starting to see it as I type this…
Also, have you guys noticed how with every deliberate step that Mando takes, you can hear something that sounds like spurs jingling on his boots?
Yeah, that settles it. The Mandalorian most definitely wants to be a Western.
And you know what? That part is fun. That’s fine. Good, even.
I love that Mando operates in an unruly world where the geopolitical power once centralized in the Empire now exists only within the nefarious ambitions of scoundrels who wish to fill its vacuum.
That’s the makings of a good Star War.
But The Mandalorian also really really wants to delight and tickle its Star Wars fanbase. To a fault.
Why else would we have not one, but TWO extended scenes in which Sand People and Mando grunt—literally grunt—at each other in the Tusken tongue?
Who asked for that?
Let’s take a step back. This latest episode featured space cowboy Timothy Olyphant (Nice!) riding a speeder bike (Cool!) made from scrap pieces of young Anakin Skywalker’s Phantom Menace podracer (Okay, too far!).
It turns out, Lucasfilm likes to include these fan nuggets solely for arousing the kind of guy who watches The Mandalorian with his family, only to interrupt the action and blurt out, “Hey, that’s a Krayt dragon, the skeletal remains of which were first seen on screen in 1977’s A New Hope!”
A Guy. Like. MEEEEE.
So it’s kinda fun, kinda dumb in that way.
Here’s the thing I really don’t like, and it’s the same thing that plagued the middle half of the first season. It’s this whole monster-of-the-week story structure.
Let’s think back on that first season. A hardened bounty hunter saves an adorable target from annihilation because he can’t bear to kill a foundling. Because he too was once a foundling.
And so he must protect the Child as his own.
This is the way, guys.
And so Mando raced from one planet to another, escaping his own capture, protecting the Child, fighting a big boss in one episode, solving a puzzle in another, making friends and enemies all along the way.
It’s a videogame, basically. And this latest episode dialed that story structure up to 11.
Now we learn that this season’s arc will be Mando trying to return the Child to his kind because the life of a bounty hunter is no life for a kid. Makes sense.
EXCEPT, in order to find his kind, you must first find other Mandalorians. One in particular is hiding on Tatooine.
BUT before you can find him, you must take the Mandalorian armor from the Marshall, because it doesn’t belong to him.
YET before you can do that, you must help the Marshall kill the Krayt dragon.
WHICH CANNOT HAPPEN UNTIL you unite The Tusken Raiders with The Village People to slay the beast together.
Which they do.
This is the way these episodes are going to go, isn’t it?
That’s a disappointment, especially since the end of season one teased the heck out its finale.
Remember how the last season ended with Gus from Breaking Bad playing a bad guy from the old Empire. He wields a dark saber, an item of significance for dorks who read extended universe stuff, and I’m just not that deep enough in it, sorry!
But it looked way cool.
Fast forward to the end of this episode, and it turns out that the missing Mandalorian is most definitely Boba Fett, who survived the Sarlac pit all along, only to stand upon a high hill and scowl in the desert before the theme song and credits play.
Which is, beat for beat, exactly how they ended the first season with Empire Gus and his mean face and dark saber.
So it’s all rather silly.
But most importantly, it’s a Star War! And I’m just the type of guy who thinks that even a bad, dumb Star War is a net good for the world.
And so, it’s within that spirit that I’ll be here every week commiserating and celebrating this mess of a show with you. See you then!