TV Review: Mandalorian, Season 2

Can you get too much of a good thing? Yes. Yes, you can. While I proudly say that I’m fond of the Star Wars universe, I can also say that there are elements of it that drive me batty. We might get into some of those.

Exactly a year ago I posted my review of the first season of the Mandalorian. Should you need a brief tutorial of the general idea of the series or who the Mandalorian is, go check it out here.

For the rest of you, let’s dive right into season two and all its hits and misses.

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

The Story

Mando’s goal remains the same: protect the child (We finally learn his name! It’s Grogu.) and deliver him safely to the Jedi who are hiding somewhere in the universe after their near extermination. This is harder than it sounds as now members of the Imperial Fleet, namely Moff Gideon, wants to harvest his blood to create magical super soldiers. I wish I was making this up. (It really doesn’t help that Moff Gideon is played by the same guys who plays Gus Fring on Breaking Bad – owner of Pollos Hermanos and cold methodical drug lord). Chicken anyone?

This goal is challenged by literally everything. Mando struggles to find the hidden Jedi and is forced to perform task after task to get tiny clues that bring him closer to his goal. This turns the beginning of the season into a monster of the week montage where the point of each episode is to defeat a literal monster. We’ve got a massive sand worm ala Dune, some freaky spiders ala Harry Potter, and a sea monster that kind of eats Grogu’s baby pod at one point. When Mando finally thinks he’s reached his goal, Moff Gideon’s robot warriors steal the child away.

Bad news for Mando. Great news for watchers. Ooooh, the tension! We finally get to the climactic action scenes between Mando and his motley crew of fighters and Moff Gideon’s super army and, well, a BIG THING happens.

I’m told if I give away this big thing a nice man will come and break my thumbs – and I need those for typing.

Meet Bo Katan, another Mandalorian who follows a different set of rules.

My Review

I struggled with season two. All of the cool stuff to set up the story already happened in the first season which left season two adrift in what we writer’s call the “murky middle.” This is where the characters know what they need to do but are missing a critical element and have to wade through plot bunnies to find it. When it’s handled well, the murky middle is a great time for character development, increasing the stakes, and deepening relationships – or challenging them depending on the story.

Mando spends a lot of time and effort trying to find where the Jedi are, the critical piece to the story. During that time there isn’t a significant amount of deepening the characters or raising the stakes in a way that felt meaningful. We do get reunited with old Boba Fett, which is nice. One of the criticisms of season one is they held back on using characters from the already established universe. Season two does make up for that.

When it comes to quality, I’ll say it again – the cinematography is stunning, and the artistry is amazing. These worlds feel real and the characters fit in without feeling puppet-like. On the other hand, the dialogue on season two felt way more clunky than the first season and many of the action scenes felt forced into something that seemed way over the top.

That said, should there be another season – although I can’t imagine how considering how this season ended – I’d probably watch it.

Moff Gideon, the complex but underexplored villain. And, yes, he rocks a dramatic cape.

Recommendations

Mandalorian season two is entertaining with some little depth, but not so much that it would push away those who are just here for the action. It’s got a fair amount of shooting and killing, which for me felt way more than needed, but not any significant blood or gore. I’d consider it fairly family friendly to the same extent that Return of the Jedi is family friendly.

Would I love it to be a little more meaningful? Of course. There are a few tender moments, but in all nothing that resonated as deeply as it could have.

All in all, it’s entertaining and that’s what we came for.

I give Mandalorian, Season 2 3/5 stars for leaning too heavily on the shooty bits and missing a few critical chances to give needed depth.


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