Us nerds like nothing more than to banter around nerdy topics in our Discord channel. Here is one of those chats, very lightly edited for clarity.
JaWS: When we last gathered, it was in anticipation of the Disney+ show The Mandalorian’s second season. After a wildly successful first season, both in terms of viewers and critics, we had high hopes.
So, in a spoiler free introduction, what did you think of overall in terms of the 8 episode second season of this Star Wars universe based show?
Kerry: It was the equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back for me; it took everything that worked in that incredible first season, added new planets and creatures and characters, and cranked it all up to 11.
Adkins: Whatever else I might say later in this Discord Discourse (#foreshadowing), The Mandalorian is the best Star Wars content out there right now, and maybe of all time. The second season further cemented this truth for me; particularly because (as if there was any doubt) it proved the magic and intrigue and action and mystery of season 1 wasn’t some fluke.
JaWS: I love me some good foreshadowing!
Kerry: Them’s big words, Adkins. You better be ready to back ‘em up!
JaWS: And when you talk about this season of The Mandalorian, you also have to add in an aspect that is hard to judge overall. The Star Wars leaders that be are using this show to justify out an entire huge network of MORE Star Wars shows. (We got a great recap of all those announcements that came out recently in a blockbuster Disney press conference.)
It is hard enough to put together quality television and hope to just get your own show renewed. But for what you are doing to be used as a launching pad for a whole bunch more, that is an epic challenge! And, mostly, this season rose to the occasion.
Kerry: After the rocky years of the sequel trilogy, I think anybody with an investment or even just a casual interest in Star Wars breathes a little easier knowing that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have a hand in almost every show announced a few weeks ago.
JaWS: They do appear to want to be the Jedi counterpart to Kevin Feige’s superhero over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it don’t make me mad at all. (And fair warning, when we get to the discussion of the finale, we are going to have to talk about a dark period: the SlackChat Wars of 2017-18. See, Adkins, I can foreshadow too!.)
Adkins: Hands off my schtick!
Kerry: Dark days, the Slack Wars were. Our ouroboros slowly consumed itself over Luke’s character development in The Last Jedi. But I digress.
THE BEST PARTS OF THE BEST SHOW AROUND
JaWS: So, I think at this point, spoilers abound! What episode(s) or event(s) of the season (other than the finale!) really stood out to you to help this season of Mandalorian so good?
Kerry: The writers and directors really leaned into the paternal side of Din Djarin this season. No other character grows like him this season. His BDE (Big Dad Energy) is on full display in every episode. Pedro Pascal’s mask acting continues to amaze me (same goes for his gnarly stuntmen). Djarin’s relationship with Grogu was the beating heart of S2.
JaWS: Without a doubt, especially towards the end of the season, I wanted to know more about Din Djarin’s past. Knowing he was a foundling and taken in for care and support, tied to his decision at the end of this season, it really should be dug into deeper. And I also think a well developed plot over the course of the season is Din Djarin’s faith being tested and changed in some ways.
From the get go of encountering Rayland Givens, er, sorry, I meant Cobb Vanth, as wonderfully portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, Din has to be thoughtful and serious about his faith. That only gets more complicated when he meets some other Mandalorians in episode 3 that don’t seem to abide by his strict version of the Mandalorian Way, even as they prove to be religious zealots in a different way.
From a person of faith’s perspective, watching that storyline of his faith being tested, tried and adapted as you go forward in your life really stood out to me.
Adkins: Agreed! That was some of my favorite stuff from this season, as well. He’d kinda been a Mandalorian in a very small bubble within his original enclave. “This is the way” rings a little differently to me now – as what “the way” is has fluidity where Mando saw only strict rigidity and adherence.
I for one didn’t know Mandalorians had so many denominations!
JaWS: Why don’t Mandalorians recognize each other in the liquor store? They all take their masks off. (This is the Way.)
Adkins: THAT is a quality joke.
Kerry: Boba Fett’s makeover from Sarlacc snack to deadly fighter was definitely the coolest B-plot. It redeemed him for fans who had to defend him for literally decades for his embarrassingly quick exit in Return of the Jedi.
JaWS: No doubt you are correct on the Boba Fett front there. If we are being our most honest selves, Boba Fett was the coolest action figure that never got a great story in the original movies. To watch them bring on his full redemption is just too good. It was like justifying every 1980s kid’s trust that a dude that looked that cool had to have a better story than what we saw!
Kerry: All that Slave I action would’ve been pure ecstacy for 11-year-old Kerry. The seismic charges he used in “The Believer”, and that reveal as Fett slowly rose in front of the T-4 shuttle in the last episode, were particularly rad.
A ROGUE’S GALLERY OF CHARACTERS
JaWS: This season was slammed with guest stars and characters, new and old alike. Which characters really stood out to you as being one of the highlights of the season?
Adkins: Ahsoka. 100% and all the way. “The Jedi” episode was one of my favorites this season with ease. It oozed old samurai film vibes. Kurosawa might as well have been credited, in my opinion.
JaWS: I have to say that I agree with you on both character and episode. Dave Filoni directed that episode and it is just a masterpiece. When I watched it a second time, I turned off the color on my television essentially and it was so amazing watching what Filoni did on that episode to build tension and excitement using nothing but light and darkness.
Standout episode for me for certain. And I say that as someone that the character Ahsoka is entirely new to.
Kerry: Agreed! “The Jedi” is my favorite episode of the season, too. Ahsoka is the best Star Wars character of the past fifteen years; seeing Rosario Dawson inhabit Ahsoka perfectly, even down to the body language, was delightful.
A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE?
Kerry: I’d like to talk about Luke Skywalker for a second. The internet crackled with speculation over the Jedi who would answer Grogu’s call during the second half of the season.
Would it be Ezra Bridger? Cal Kestis? Kyle Katarn? Luke’s appearance on the bridge of Moff Gideon’s cruiser immediately becomes the biggest moment of a season filled with big moments.
Adkins: I understand making it Luke, but I dislike it being Luke. This is just a personal opinion, of course, but it makes the galaxy feel tiny. Most Star Wars characters only have one or two degrees of separation from a Skywalker–regardless of the medium.
Kerry: Some of the folks in the Nerds On Earth bullpen sighed over what felt like yet another connection to the Skywalker clan – a ”They couldn’t think of any other Jedi?” kind of reaction. What do y’all think?
Adkins: Luke comes burdened with certain narrative limitations thanks to the sequel trilogy. I’d have been fine with leaving the gap in his story as, “He tried a Jedi Academy thing but Ben Solo blew it up.” That was sufficient for me.
Kerry: I understand what you’re saying, Adkins – to some fans, Luke’s presence is proof that Lucasfilm and Disney don’t have any creative chops of their own. But I think the adage “Familiarity breeds contempt” rings true here. Diehard fans might argue that Luke’s presence ties The Mandalorian too closely to the Skywalker saga, but that’s necessary for more casual fans.
Adkins: I just saw it as a largely commercial decision as opposed to a narrative one. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive though. They can still tell AMAZING stories in its wake. And they will. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I’ve just got Skywalker fatigue. Everything’s coming up Skywalker. *in his best Jan Brady voice* Skywalker, Skywalker, Skywalker!
Kerry: After the episode my partner pointed out that without Luke, she’d have no idea when the show is supposed to take place. Luke is a familiar face, and he grounds the show for people who might not know Bo-Katan or Mandalorian history but still enjoy Star Wars.
Adkins: As I said: I understand all that just fine. And I definitely don’t think creative chops are lacking anywhere.
JaWS: I come bearing the scars of the SlackWars of 2017-18. I stand here saying still to this day that Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi is far and away the best of the recent Star Wars movies. I know there are still wars and battles fought out on the edges of the internet galaxy about it that I have had to leave alone.
Kerry: I agree wholeheartedly, Jason. (Rogue One is a very close second, though!)
JaWS: Part of why I like Johnson’s movie so much is it does what Adkins is saying: it expanded out the universe, even if just in terms of imagination. That little kid force flipping that broom isn’t so much about who that kid is but who he could become.
So, for me, Luke showing up wasn’t awful or great. It just was. Having it be Luke sets up a ton of questions and issues and more. Is the Kid a part of the Academy that Ben Solo flips out on? Does he die there? Does he escape?
Then there is the logistics of that story never really being told on-screen. The real world costs of aging back Hamill the actor into younger Luke Skywalker is just impossible to justify in any format but purely animated. How is it all going to work?
LOOKING AHEAD AT SEASON 3
JaWS: I’m very interested in what season 3 of The Mandalorian is going to be now. For two seasons, we had a focused caregiver story. Now, it has to change. Given the state at the end of season, what do you all think might happen in season 3?
Kerry: I think we’ll see a much greater focus on all things Mandalorian: the planet, the culture, the various sects, the role of the Darksaber and the person who wields it. That’s a rich enough vein to distract from Grogu’s absence.
JaWS: They left a lot of meat on the bone for what could be next. Din has the Darksaber that lots of people want to be the leader. Does he become a reluctant throne seeker? How much does he choose to part with the Mandalorians that he knows versus how much does he go back to the loner we met and saw in season 1, episode 1?
Adkins: I’d watch that. The great thing is I have no clue where things are going from here, but I kinda don’t care. Whatever it is, I’ll be there. This is must-see material; full stop. Old guard or youngling. I can’t recall the last time I was this excited about television. It’s been a decade or more, I’d bet.
JaWS: In one way, it is a fascinating move because you just undercut your whole series key relationship and focus. For me, that is exciting and universe-expanding. But if we keep getting cut away to Grogu Skywalker, it will feel like it lost something.
Kerry: You’re right on, Adkins. I love that Disney has single-handedly brought back must-see TV. I haven’t watched a show weekly since the early 2010s. I’m all the way hooked in at this point.
JaWS: By going old school and releasing one episode a week, it has definitely created a buzz around a show that we haven’t seen in a long time. So, I am definitely grateful for this show and the ones that it seems we should see spin off of it, most notably Rangers of the New Republic and the post-credits scene introducing The Book of Boba Fett. Much more great shows in front of us!