We are now just a few days away from the start of the second season of The Mandalorian. I could not be more excited. Jon Favreau, who entered the Star Wars universe voicing characters in animation and in the movie Solo, and Dave Filoni, George Lucas’ protégée, knocked it out of the park with the first season. I expect this year will be even bigger as their world expands. Before we truly turn our attentions to the further adventures of Din Djarin (the Mandalorian) and the Child, though, I wanted to spend just a little time reflecting on Season 1 and some of the lead up to Season 2.
As may be true for a lot you reading this now, November 12, 2019 was a day I long had circled on my calendar. I couldn’t wait to see what the next iteration of Star Wars was going to look like. Everything I had seen up to that point had me extremely hopeful that this series had a chance to capture all of the best from the series, while taking us in a new direction. Of course, it did just that. Not only did it resonate with long-time fans like me, but it connected with people who had never really watched or understood Star Wars.
43 Years of Star Wars Fandom
For me, it all started in June of 1977. As a seven-year-old boy in San Antonio, TX who spent most of his time outside, I somehow managed to completely miss what was already becoming a cultural phenomenon. My father, who had been away on business, came home and told my brothers and me that he had seen a movie that we would really love. At the time, he probably didn’t realize just how right he was. He described key scenes, Jedi powers, the special effects and the cool aliens. He built our excitement. I was ready to go see this movie.
We headed downtown on a Sunday afternoon to go see Star Wars. At the theater, the ticket booth person told us there had been a misprint in the paper. The start times were wrong. She said that the movie had already started, but we could watch the rest of that showing and then just stay for the next one. We wandered into the theater just in time to see the Millennium Falcon’s escape from the Death Star. Within moments, I was forever hooked. I might be embarrassed to admit just how many times I have seen Star Wars in the theater. I don’t know the exact number, but it is big. Star Wars has been with me since that day, through the movies, toys, collectibles, television, books and comics.
My love of Star Wars and those little moments I experienced along the way continued to grow over time. I remember just how big Yoda’s head looked to a 10-year old boy from the bottom right seat of the theater the first time I saw The Empire Strikes Back. I’ll never forget the almost five hours my family and I waited in line to see Return of the Jedi. We were excited the whole time. I got to spend 15 minutes or so talking with Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO, at Celebration Denver. My nephew and I found an overhang to get under, to try to get out of the rain. While standing there, Mr. Daniels came out of a door and just started to talk with us. I could go on and on, but will spare you that by just bringing up one more memory.
That memory was watching the dreaded holiday special with my family. Even as a child, the special didn’t live up to the hype. It wasn’t just the fans, either. George Lucas hated it so much that he buried the special and seemed determined to never again give up control of a Star Wars project. That said, the special had one very specific highlight for me. The show’s animated sequence introduced the world to the bounty hunter in Mandalorian armor, Boba Fett. Fett quickly become one of my favorite characters, a fact that the Empire Strikes Back later cemented. While he apparently met his end in Return of the Jedi, fans made it clear they wanted to know more about not only Boba Fett, but also about the Mandalorians.
When Jon Favreau pitched his idea for the first live action Star Wars TV series, this was exactly the area on which he chose to focus. Dave Filoni had explored the Mandalorians through Star Wars animation. Others had explored them through books and comics. For many, though, this would be their first opportunity to learn more. Favreau’s idea struck a perfect balance between finding something that was patently Star Wars and something that didn’t need to involve the Skywalkers or a galactic civil war. It gave him the opportunity to exist firmly in the Star Wars universe, but go places and experience things we had never seen before, while being able to see things we had always wanted to see.
I loved the things Favreau and team brought back. I am positive I was not the only 10-year old boy in 1980 that hoped someday I would be able to see just what the bounty hunter droid IG-88 could do. My favorite moment from the series came from “Chapter 1: The Mandalorian.” In this episode, the hope of that 10-year old boy was fulfilled. We got to see IG-11 in action in a big way, making that 39-year wait worth it.
There were many more. I always loved aliens like the Jawas and the Tusken Raiders. I was thrilled with what Favreau and team cooked up for them. In fact, “Chapter 2: The Child” is probably my favorite episode because of the Jawas. Seeing them gang up on Mando to kick him off their Sandcrawler was amazing. Hearing them make fun of the way Mando speaks Jawa made me smile. I also loved that the Cantina from Star Wars is now populated by recognizable droids. These droids rose above not being allowed in the cantina when Luke and Ben were looking for passage to Alderaan, to running it. Favreau even pulled design elements from that holiday special cartoon, such as Mando’s rifle.
For me personally, one of the most exciting moments was the last scene of “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger.” The final scene of this episode made it clear that Boba Fett lives. That or someone has assumed his identity. Even beyond these specific references, Favreau and team continued to find organic ways to bring in other elements of Star Wars that felt right. They did this without overwhelming what is new.
Not overwhelming what is new in The Mandalorian was extremely important. That is what made it feel fresh and really cemented it as a certified hit. This story isn’t about the heroes and villains of an intergalactic conflict. It’s not about god-like beings saving the rest of us. This story is about beings just trying to make their way and help each other, as the galaxy settles into a new normal. Our heroes are an orphan with a big heart (Mando), a former soldier who just wants to retire from action (Cara Dune), a freed slave that just wants to live a quiet life (Kuill), a businessman who finally realizes some things are more important than money (Greef Karga) and a killer droid who is now focused on protecting life (IG-11). Oh, and of course, there is also a child. The Child, that is.
Instead of the big stakes of battling for the fate of the galaxy, this story focused on the small story. It focused on these individuals coming together to help save the Child. The task is to help him find his family, all while creating one of their own. All of this has shown that Lucas found the perfect people to hand control of his franchise, directly to Dave Filoni and indirectly to Jon Favreau.
I am jumping into writing about The Mandalorian just as Season 2 starts. There isn’t time or space to write a comprehensive article about Season 1. I would, though, like to highlight a few key questions from the first season. Let’s capture them here, and we can talk about them as Season 2 goes on.
- Why does the Imperial Remnant want The Child? Do they want to raise him within the Remnant? Do they think that they can extract the Force (Midichlorians) from him? Are they trying to clone Force users? Do they need him to try to bring back Emperor Palpatine?
- The Mandalorians are hiding after The Purge. What exactly was The Purge? The show seems to say the Empire or a faction of it drove the Mandalorians from their home planet of Mandalore. Why are the Mandalorians still in hiding?
- Cara Dune was a Rebel Shock Trooper that is now retired and trying to stay off the grid. What is she running from? What is her history?
- How did Moff Gideon get the Darksaber? The holder of this weapon, which rivals a Jedi’s lightsaber, once determined who led the Mandalorians. Did he capture it during the Purge? How well can he use it? Does he want The Child so he can become a Force user?
- What is going on with the Republic? We see glimpses of them in “Chapter 6: The Prisoner,” in the form of the prison ship and three X-Wings. How powerful are they, though? Are they struggling to take hold?
- Will Mando find The Child’s people? If so, will they be Jedi, Ahsoka Tano (former Jedi) or his own species? What is his species? Will they give him an actual name?
- Where did the rest of the Mandalorians go, after the battle in “Chapter 3: The Sin”? Were there even any survivors, other than the mysterious Armorer? Are there other Mandalorians out there?
- And of course, is that really Boba Fett at the end of Chapter 5? Will we see him this season? If so, will he be friend or foe to Mando?
The trailer released by Disney+ shows Season 2 picking up with Mando continuing this most important of missions—helping the Child find his family. We see that the surviving characters (a moment of silence for Kuill and IG-11) will be back to help. It promises new characters, too. We see Sasha Banks’ new character on what appears to be the planet of Mon Cala. While unconfirmed, many believe she is playing a live-action version of Sabine Wren. Other rumors say that additional characters from animation, specifically Ahsoka Tano and maybe Captain Rex, will join her. And of course, we may finally see the return of Boba Fett. The trailer also showed that there may be major trouble in store for Mando, the Child and their ship, the Razor Crest. Whether Mando will find the Child’s family or whether he will realize the Child already has one, only time will tell.
Disney and Lucasfilm have promised big things will come with The Mandalorian Season 2, as they have said this season will really open up the world. They want this show to be like Game of Thrones, in that you get to follow the stories of different characters, from their perspectives. This has led to rumors of several spinoffs for Disney+ to tell those stories. Through the last 10 months, the team has done a pretty good job, though, of keeping specifics under wraps. This shouldn’t surprise us, given the great job they did with Season 1. Hopefully the story will get to unfold on screen for us, instead of through spoilers hitting all of the major websites. I am ready to start this journey. I look forward to watching it with all of you and sharing my thoughts and insights. Finally, I look forward to hearing from you, too.
This is the way.