Mando and “The Child” are back for another season on Disney+ Star Wars hit series “The Mandalorian.” Coming off a well-reviewed, fan-adored and Emmy award-winning first season, expectations for the premiere episode were out of this world (or rather, a galaxy far, far away).
Amidst all the huge expectations for this season’s storyline and character cameos, this first episode largely shies away from the spotlight. While some may be disappointed, that shows just why this series is so successful.
Before George Lucas made Star Wars, he actually attempted to acquire the rights to the famous comic strip and animated TV series “Flash Gordon.” “Flash Gordon” was known for its serialized style of storytelling, where every episode tells a different story in a different place with the only through line being its main character. This style of storytelling influenced Lucas’ writing of 1977’s “Star Wars: A New Hope” and inspired the episodic nature of the saga. That being said, the medium of film has always limited Star Wars’ serialized hopes, as movies are inherently interconnected. The fact is, you can’t have a sequel that’s completely unconnected to the film before it. Thus, the battle between the episodic structure and the connected franchise has existed since the first Star Wars film was released.
Fast-forward to 2019, “The Mandalorian” becomes the first live-action Star Wars TV series and gets rave reviews. Why does it? It isn’t just because of the production value, the character design and great writing, it’s because it understands Star Wars.
The episodic structure of Star Wars is absolutely perfect for a television series and “The Mandalorian” capitalizes on just that. Season 1 had many so-called “filler episodes” where little overall plot development took place. They were one-off adventures, introducing new characters in new settings. Though some people didn’t like the serialized series, many loved it and enjoyed seeing all the new creatures and places in the Star Wars galaxy.
Now, back to the topic at hand, some may be disappointed that season 2 of “The Mandalorian” opens with a somewhat serialized episode, but it again shows why this series works.
In this chapter, we get introduced to a few new characters and explore more parts of the world of Star Wars. The story is contained for the most part, though the overall storyline of the series does influence it.
Like the last season, the visuals are absolutely on point. This does not look like a television show at all. It’s very clear Disney is putting a lot of money into this show and it really pays off. The visual effects are spotless, the character design is impeccable and the action sequences are well-executed.
If you are a big fan of the show, I recommend watching the Disney+ series “Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian” which explains how they used ILM’s new volume technology to create more realistic visual effects.
My only faults for the episode lie in its writing. While the story the episode tells is pretty solid, it could’ve been much better executed.
The main problem is its expository dialogue. Many lines feel forced, making you feel like the characters are just following the script and not just talking normally. Additionally, a few scenes overexplain situations that could just be told with a line or two. They are doing this to help new audience members, but it leaves some parts feeling like they show too much. This also hurts the pacing a bit, which is a key strength of the show. It, for the most part, knows when and when not to take its time, but this episode was a little inconsistent.
All that being said, “The Mandalorian” is a really high-quality television series. Most of the flaws in this episode are nitpicks for a few scenes and not issues in the overall structure or plot. This wasn’t the best episode of the series, but it was by no means a bad one. If you are a Star Wars fanatic or just like high-quality television, this show deserves a watch.
Episode Rating: 4.2/5