tv thoughts: The Mandalorian S2

SPOILERS obviously for Season 2 of the show.

Since watching the season finale of season 2 of ‘The Mandalorian’, I have to say, I agree with James S.A. Corey on this one:

I wasn’t head-over-heels about season 1 of the series but I had high hopes for season 2. After all, first seasons are all about set up and introduction (though for a show set in the Star Wars universe, a lot of that is done for you already) so season 2 is a series’ time to shine. Think of all the series where that second season was the powerhouse with character development and story arcs.

Sadly, I felt like Mando dropped the (little silver) ball. And that ball fell into a giant pile of fan service that, for me, felt like it was over-shadowing the story of Din and The Child.

In fairness, most of the episodes that were just Mando and Son were fun to watch. But they became overshadowed by the “next week’s guest star” and with the finale playing out the way it did, the last image of the series left me mildly annoyed. (I say that because this show doesn’t seem to stir many emotions in me that go beyond mild).

We started strong with Timothy Olyphant guest starring as a marshal in a backwater town on Tatooine. Okay, these are the kinds of meta-jokes I am fine with – Olyphant being best known for his role in ‘Justified’, a fantastic series about a marshal in a small town. When he appeared in Boba Fett’s armor though, I cringed, because I knew this was not going to be the end of Boba Fett in this series.

Boba Fett was hinted at being around in the previous season so I should have known it was coming. But when the tag on the end of the final episode revealed yet another Star Wars series in the works, I rolled my eyes – was all of his arc just a crummy commercial? Can’t we leave some characters alone? This is what fanfic is for – people can spin the stories off any way they want and those that choose to indulge and pick their favorite ending.

And this is when I realized I have a VERY low tolerance for fan service. I don’t mind easter eggs. I love those little nods and winks that are hidden in shows just for fans. But when the whole show is just an easter basket, I feel pandered to. I feel bribed, as though they don’t have enough faith in their own storytelling, they must keep bringing in characters from previous series. Like they don’t trust me, as an audience member, to just enjoy this new adventure in a familiar universe.

I think it bothered me more this season than the previous season because I can understand it for a new show, being worried fans won’t accept it, needing to bring them in with little guest spots by classic characters. It’s a thing that most spin-off shows do to move the viewers around.

But this was the second season of a show that was totally fine being the Dad and Baby Yoda show. There was plenty of story to tell with our main characters, plenty of back story to explore and motivations to examine and shit to blow up with just these two and their comrades, we didn’t need to start dragging in Boba Fett, Ahsoka Tano, Bo-Katan, and Luke Skywalker to get people to watch. THEY ARE WATCHING. I understand the urge to do this but at least spread this stuff out in the series! You could have saved Ahsoka for later (oh wait, she ALSO has her own series coming out so…again, was this a cool bit of fan service or just another commercial?)

I read recently that Disney plans to “reboot” ‘Firefly’ (that’s a whole other ranty post) but what they should have done was lift all those plots and given them to Mandalorian. Din Djarin and Malcolm Reynolds have a lot in common – they both want to be mercenaries but have a conscious, they both struggle to understand their beliefs in the context of the real world, they are both space cowboys with a ship they love (RIP Razorback), and they both end up caring for a “child” that they didn’t want to love but, in the end, they do.

If they are smart, they will finally create a crew for Din to travel with. I think shows about “found family” are some of the most engaging. For example, it would be interesting to have Bo-Katan traveling with him, knowing she wants the darksaber back and that her view of Mandalorian culture is very different from his. He needs some people to talk to, to learn and grow from. We need to see him as more than just a mask but a person. We need to hear conversation that isn’t just him talking to a child that coos and laughs at his words.

Will I watch Season 3? A solid “eh?”. I mean, if the television landscape is anything like it is now, probably? But I am no longer holding out hope they will do anything ground-breaking or even ground-shaking with these characters.

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