There’s no denying that the first season of The Mandalorian was a breakout success, partly responsible for alleviating the bad taste that The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker had left in many mouths. As the first ever live-action Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian had to maintain the scale of the movies but on a television budget – something it seemed to manage effortlessly, paving the way for the plethora of upcoming series coming to Disney+ in the next few years. With a look that felt authentic and a focus on events between the original and sequel trilogies, this was the series that Star Wars fans were looking for.
Charged with the mission of reuniting The Child with his fellow Jedi, The Mandalorian once again finds himself travelling from planet to planet undertaking numerous tasks to be rewarded with information or items that take him one step closer to achieving his goal. Even in Season One, this format had begun to feel a bit tiresome, so to see it repeated during Season Two was slightly frustrating as it highlighted the episodic nature of the series. With a rinse-and-repeat plot structure, there was little deviation from the formula and thrilling moments such as the introduction of live-action versions of animated characters Bo-Katan Kryze and Ahsoka Tano were somewhat tainted by the predictability of the narrative.
In regards to the casting of Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson), I was thoroughly impressed by the way that both actresses brought these formerly animated-only characters to life. While Season One was very lightly tied to the events of the movies and the animated series, Season Two solidifies its connection to the wider Star Wars canon but without alienating the casual fans. The return of Boba Fett was a notable surprise (as was the mystery shock cameo in the finale) and it was great fun to see Temuera Morrison playing Boba after portraying his father Jango in Attack of the Clones. Accompanying Boba is Fennec Shard, played once again by Ming-Na Wen, who seems to be taking the role of his partner – at least in a professional stance. These appearances by established characters never steal the limelight away from the Mandalorian, mostly due to the “quest format” of the stories, but instead appear to set up spin-off series at a later date – perhaps creating a shared universe not unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Of the eight episodes that made up Season Two, my particular highlights were “The Passenger” which saw the Mandalorian take a female frog lady and her spawn across the galaxy. The sequences were the Razor Crest was overrun by spiderling creatures was pretty intense and just as cinematic as anything I’d seen on the big screen. Likewise, the preceding episode had the battle against the Krayt Dragon which felt just as epic as any of the Godzilla movies! I also loved “The Jedi”, not only because it featured the first live-action appearance of Ahsoka, but because of the Samurai aesthetic that permeated the storyline. Given how Star Wars was greatly influenced by Asian culture, this curious medley of Western and Eastern themes was particularly effective and you can never go wrong with a lightsaber battle.
As with the first season, the second season of The Mandalorian relies heavily on those impressive cinematic set-pieces and so the actual narrative feels quite thin on the ground. If you remove the various quests and diversions from the plot, as enjoyable as they are, very little transpires. While the final episode promised a shake-up to the status-quo and an increased focus on Mandalorian politics to complicate matters for Din Djarin, I hope that the series moves away from the strict episodic format it has employed to tell a more seamless story. The best analogy I have for The Mandalorian is that it is like eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut, it is absolutely delicious and hits every sweet spot but once it is over, it feels like all you ate was some sugary air and it was relatively unsubstantial for a meal.
The phrase “more of the same” often has a negative connotation when used to describe sequels, but that isn’t the case here. Sure, Season Two doesn’t reinvent the wheel in the same way that Season One did, but it maintains the high level of quality as its predecessor and never loses that authentic Star Wars feel. Future seasons will need to mess with the existing format a lot more to counter that sense of repetition in the story-arcs and the way this season ends certainly implies a different status-quo going forward. For fans of the expanded universe outside of the movies, The Mandalorian is the best visualisation of a post-Return of the Jedi landscape out there and, for me, remains the definitive continuation of the series.
Score – ★★★★ ½
Seasons 1 & 2 of The Mandalorian are both currently available to stream from Disney+
Check out our review of the previous season here.