When your source material is a Galaxy, far, far away, your possibilities are pretty limitless.
When making The Mandalorian, it would seem Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni acknowledged this. What they made is an original, and AWESOME, Star Wars story. It’s a Star Wars nerd’s wet dream, and (contrary to what some at Disney Lucasfilm would have you believe) there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Who would have thought all it would take is giving the opportunity to inspired creators with passion for their source material? The Mandalorian is Star Wars content, created for Star Wars fans.
It takes the viewer on a journey that is outside of the all-important crusades of the Skywalkers and the Jedi whilst still managing to stay relevant to them. It is its own, different story, but it definitely happens in the same universe. The immersion is greatly helped by the use of live-action and costumes. And whilst each episode can feel like an isolated story with little consequence, the baby Jedi master to-be, Grogu, keeps Mando firmly tethered to the bigger picture and lends credence and significance to his adventures.
The show captures the atmosphere first introduced to fans by Han Solo and Boba Fett. Mando is a gun-slinging bounty hunter from the old-westerns, with a spaceship, hopping planets. Pedro Pascal (Mando) himself has compared his character to Clint Eastwood. Choosing Tatooine as the set for many of the episodes was a great thematic choice in this regard. Interactions with the Sand People and their hostility with Tatooine’s other residents is well explored and often funny. Favreau really embraces the old-western theme in season 2 with the introduction of ‘The Marshal’, Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) who is a frontier sheriff with a blaster.
The show has really come into its own in this season. In the first one it can be a bit slow, and at times can feel like its finding its feet or testing the water. Whereas now it was all-out, gunslinging Star Wars awesomeness from the first episode. Like I said, it embraces its identity and runs with it. Favreau’s Star Wars was legitimised by the response to the first season and thank Yoda it was. He amps up the pacing and action as well as introducing us to some amazing and neglected characters from the Star Wars canon outside of the movies (as well as one or two from them). He does these characters justice and then some. Ashoka Tano’s story is brought to a live-action series in spectacular fashion, staying true to her character whilst also making her feel real. She is an alien, wielding two white ‘lazer swords’, hiding in the woods but not once does it feel silly or contrived. Casting Rosario Dawson was a great choice, and she plays the role of the experienced Jedi Knight in solitude well.
It does what the Sequel Trilogy producers chose to neglect, utilise and draw on all the beautiful creations of the wider world of Star Wars canon. Right from the first episode when Mando captures the ‘Blurrg’ creature, I felt like I was back playing The Knights of the Old Republic (the game that also first introduced me to the culture of the Mandalorians.)
I cannot wait to see where this story goes!