One of the best marketing campaigns of the last decade came in the final moments of The Mandalorian‘s pilot episode when that little green puppet the world would come to know as Baby Yoda appeared. This tiny little puppet propelled the show directly into the hearts of millions.
Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian made quick use of its Disney-packed wallet to devise a marvelous space western about a mercenary becoming a surrogate father in a lawless age.
Taking place five years after the end of Return of The Jedi, the first two seasons mostly focused on the eponymous Mando Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) trying to get Grogu (baby Yoda’s government name) back to the Jedi.
Season two ended with Luke Skywalker taking Grogu to be trained as a Jedi. But at the start of season three, we find ourselves suddenly back with the duo, reunited in The Book of Boba Fett, a show ultimately not worth your time.
The Mandalorian‘s third season (★★★★☆) starts off getting all its dues out of the way, officially writing off characters like Cara Dunne (Gina Carano), whose actress ended up becoming a right-wing Ben Shapiro ally, and basically letting us know that characters like Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) and Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) are doing fine and will be around when the story requires them.
The main story sets itself up with Mando on the search for redemption, having broken his sacred creed by showing his face to Grogu. All signs of redemption point to the destroyed home planet of Mandalore. It’s believed to be cursed but is the only place Mando can find the “Living Waters” to cleanse him of his transgressions.
Initially, Mando seeks help from his mentor, the Armorer (Emily Swallow), but her strict faith keeps her from assisting him, so he turns to Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackoff), a storied figure in the Star Wars Universe.
Initially the daughter of the ruling Mandalore monarchy, she first appeared in The Clone Wars animated series created by Mandalorian showrunner Dave Filoni.
Her sister, Satine, came to power through succession, which angered Bo-Katan, who believed that the warrior nation should return to its roots, causing a power struggle that would lead to the demise of Mandalore, which Bo-Katan is still reeling from decades later.
With no other connections to his home world, Mando seeks out the fallen ruler, who ridicules his beliefs, but maintains a deep interest in his journey.
Once the journey to Mandalore finally starts, the spectacle that has made The Mandalorian shine truly begins. The special effects are top-notch, with some truly awe-inspiring scenes of destruction and decay that look devastatingly beautiful.
The sets, especially on Mandalore, recall art from masters like H.R. Giger and Tsutomu Nihei, whose cyberpunk settings have inspired films for decades.
The show has clearly made an effort to showcase more of the alien inhabitants, something it has been criticized for in the past, even if the aliens remain a little bit like theme park animatronics. The droids are still the best sci-fi representation in the show. They feel fleshed out, and provide some decent humor, while looking like legitimate robots.
Grogu and Mando’s adventures aren’t breaking the mold, even if the show softly resets its plot to fully focus on the Mandalorian aspect of things. Their father-son dynamic makes Pascal’s rough and gritty character open up and endear us to him.
Grogu manages to be our guide of sorts, with us experiencing all the newness of the show’s world alongside him. Sackoff’s Bo-Katan helps provide some depth and dynamic changes to the main duo, and being such an important figure to the history of the show, Bo-Katan also helps immerse the pair into the greater Star Wars canon, with plenty of Easter Eggs to find in every scene.
The atmosphere of Mando and Grogu’s adventures feels firmly inside the Space Western genre, at times evoking the original film trilogy, something the franchise has been dying to replicate for years.
The episodes frequently straddle too many things at once, often easing between politics and horror and fantasy in ways that it doesn’t always nail.
Jon Favreau may be a good storyteller, but he is not a good writer, especially when it comes to dialogue, which sounds as though it’s explaining things to an amnesiac child, repeating things we already know, multiple times. The bad writing flies in the face of what the show does well.
The first two seasons were great, but by narrowing its focus, this season quickly shows it’s going to top what it has done before. This is important for Disney, which hasn’t been able to replicate the show’s success, despite many attempts. The Book of Boba Fett flopped, while Obi-Wan Kenobi failed to live up to expectations.
Andor is the only show that has come close, arguably being a better overall series than The Mandalorian, even as it struggled to find an audience. A big part of the success comes from showrunner Dave Filoni, who for all intents and purposes is the closest thing to a George Lucas successor as there will ever be.
Alongside creating some of the most iconic modern Star Wars characters like Ahsoka Tano, whose live-action series will debut later this year, Filoni has largely been responsible for creating the best Star Wars content since Disney bought LucasFilm in the 2000s.
The Mandalorian is one of the few Star Wars efforts to feel worthy of the original trilogy. Three seasons in, the show has consistently remained one of the best sci-fi productions on television. Mando and Grogu’s journey can go anywhere, and as long as that puppet is still the cutest thing in the world, audiences will follow them.
The eight-episode third season of The Mandalorian is currently on Disney+, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday through April 19. Visit www.disneyplus.com.
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