One thing I’ll say about The Mandalorian: that show sure makes a person reach for a recorder to play those eleven notes over and over again.
Over the past year — and this includes the final theatrical episode of the Star Wars triple trilogy … nonology? — no single character in popular culture has had so much meme presence as the misnamed “Baby Yoda,” top-secret and breakout star of Jon Favreau’s back-to-basics addition to George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.
Mining the elusive (limited) personality and (super cool) cultural dress of The Empire Strikes Back’s bounty hunter Boba Fett, we got to know the reticent Mando and his cute green sidekick, the Child — mostly in snippets of action and a slowly-building flashback that revealed our titular hero was also an orphan, taken in during the Clone Wars, then raised by warriors all but exterminated by Emperor Palpatine’s Galactic Empire.
Set in the galactic outback five-plus years on from the explosive results of Return of the Jedi, we’ve been seeing firsthand just how little Luke Skywalker and his friends deserved to dance and yub yub amid those treetop teddy bears: if the universe was a tough place under the Empire, as Werner Herzog’s the Client noted in season one, “Judge by any metric: safety, prosperity, trade opportunity, peace. Compare Imperial rule to what is happening now. Look outside.
“Is the world more peaceful since the revolution? I see nothing but death and chaos.”
Without dipping too deeply into the spoilers, people and people-like objects die in this show, back for its second season starting Friday on Disney+ — just one of many reasons Nathan Martin and I were inspired to do a weekly, in-studio video recap and review of each episode last winter.
Thanks to the pandemic, we’re both working from home, but have been chomping at the bit for the last ten months, and so we’ll be back starting this Friday, with our weekly fandom freakouts and Easter Egg hunts called Mando Lore, which you can find on YouTube if you’d like a refresher.
Martin notes he’s “looking forward in the new season to see what adventures Mando and the Child will have. What new characters will we meet, since it seems like every other week there was an announcement of, ‘Oh hey this person is in the show as well.’ Part of me is wondering after watching the trailer how the Jedi will be at play in this part of Star Wars history. We know that seeing the Child use the Force is something that not a lot of people have seen so what happens when Mando gets the Child to other force users like the Jedi.”
The big question on fans’ mind, Martin asks as well: “Will we see Boba Fett? Do we need to see Boba Fett? No.
“Now that we have our basic characters in play how far will Moff Gideon go? We know he knows all about Cara, Greef and Mando and their past, but how?
“I also want to know what happened to Ming-Na Wen’s character Fennec, because I honestly don’t think she’s really dead. Just like last year, it’s going to be interesting going week to week, but it allows for better discussions rather than binging it all in one sitting.
He concludes, “I’m just excited really to see where this season goes. But I also hope there’s an ending they have in mind and not drag the story out for more than five seasons.”
I’m with Martin in the hope the show doesn’t over-milk the moof, as it were. One of the most seductive elements of season one was, as much as it put familiar-looking props in front of our eyes, from the T-adorned mask to the coolest TIE fighter ever to everything tiny, green and big-eared, it was the big twist on each of these from the source material that made for something interesting. Mando is not Boba. The Child is not Yoda. IG-11 was not a silver mannequin on Darth Vader’s bridge.
And both the Client and Moff Gideon were something we hadn’t encountered, same goes for Greef Carga and Amy Sedaris’ lunatic mechanic: people you could see sensibly resulting from a life in the suburbs of tyranny, but overall delightfully fresh and above all seriously weird.
My hope is that whatever role possible Sarlaac-survivor Fett and Anakin’s fallen Padawan Ahsoka Tano play in Space Wolf and Cub’s ongoing journey, it is played quickly for fan service impact — but doesn’t steal the oxygen from the room the way Luke, Han and Leia did in the troubled sequels.
That said, to me, the Emperor in The Rise of Skywalker was over-the-top, hilariously amazing (and what about him, scheming in the rubble, by the way?) — and I do trust Favreau’s instinct to keep running a simple, fast-paced, apocalyptic Mad Max-vibing show that feels way more like it came out in 1983 than in our endlessly agonizing and algorithmically polarized 2020 full of safe choices.
After all, as the saying goes in tough times, “This is the way.”
How much you want to bet the Child says that in his little chipmunk voice by the finale, PS? Wait for this … I cannot.