Read Chris’ review of episodes one to four here.
The second half of season two of The Mandalorian has proved a consistent hit for both fans and critics as the series continues to blaze its own trail, while offering tantalising links to the franchise’s past. With a plethora of spin-off series in this timeline announced, we can expect some greater payoffs from these links, and look forward to delving deeper into elements that are only mentioned briefly here.
‘The Jedi’ offers a first glimpse at fan-favourite Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), who acted as Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice in the The Clone Wars and also appeared in Rebels, retrospectively acting as a backdoor pilot for her recently announced spin-off series. Our titular hero journeys in search of Ahsoka hoping she can train Grogu (the artist formerly known as ‘Baby Yoda’) in the ways of the force, and eventually, help her take control of an Imperial-occupied fort. Some of the imagery and action scenes in this particular episode showcase the Samurai influences on George Lucas and the Jedi as Ahsoka stealthily dispatches her enemies. Directed by Ahsoka creator Dave Filoni, this episode shows that her trajectory is in safe hands, and Rosario Dawson does a fine job transposing one of animated Star Wars most iconic figures to live action.
‘The Tragedy’ is another episode that has won plaudits. Grogu has been taken to seek a Jedi on the planet Tython, but upon arrival, Boba Fett (Temura Morrison) has returned alongside series one’s Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), who had been presumed dead. In exchange for his armour, Fett and Shand agree to defend the Child, and what ensues is some inventive action sequences, allowing Fett to come into his own and show why he has become one of the franchises most iconic figures, despite a relative lack of screen time in his original appearances. While light on plot, this episode has enough frenetic action and high stakes to make up for it, and Robert Rodriguez’s (Sin City, Desperado) direction is as fantastic as one would expect from such a high profile name.
“The calibre of guest directors is of the highest order, and hopefully this is a trend that continues into other live action serials.”
‘The Believer’ acts in many ways as a sequel to The Prisoner from series one, with comedian Bill Burr returning as Migs Mayfield. He is recruited by a rag-tag team assembled to rescue Grogu from the clutches of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). This episode really dives into the politics of post-Return Of The Jedi Star Wars, as we are offered an ex-Imperial officer’s perspective on events, and the moral murkiness of this galaxy is something previously touched on in The Last Jedi and spin-off films Rogue One and Solo. Yet again we a treated to some spectacular action sequences as our heroes try and infiltrate an Imperial base with some explosive cargo – the tension in this scene is jaw dropping. While this episode does feel like a slight deviation from the main story, its character development and world building is excellent, and makes Migs a far more comprehensible and likeable character than when we first encountered him.
Season finale ‘The Rescue’ has proved an instant hit with both fans and critics, and while I won’t delve into spoiler territory, rest assured there are some major surprises in store. It’s safe to say this episode is the culmination of many story beats from across the two series as we see the Mandalorian, Fennec Shand, Boba Fett, Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Bo Katan (Katee Sackhoff) strive to defeat Moff Gideon and his army of Darktroopers and save Grogu. There are some fine action sequences once again, and some truly shocking fan-service moments. Some have criticised this episode for over indulging said fan-service, and whether they’re correct may well be determined on repeat viewings. Perhaps most importantly, this episode leaves some dangling threads for both the future of The Mandalorian and for the numerous announced spin-offs.
Overall, season two builds both on plot and thematically on many of the blueprints begun in series one. It feels like some of the most cohesive, lovingly-made Star Wars content under the Disney banner, and truly delivers on both tender moments and sweeping action and spectacle. The calibre of guest directors is of the highest order, and hopefully this is a trend that continues into other live action serials. Here’s hoping the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, Rangers of the New Republic, Ahsoka and our own Mandalorian’s further adventures keep this level of scale and bravado up; if so, fans of the franchise are in for a real treat.
Words by Chris Connor