The Mandalorian S2: Don’t Stop the Planet Hop
It’s no secret that I am a big Star Wars fan. As such, like most Star Wars fans, you would also be forgiven for thinking I’m not a fan at all. There exists an ability almost unique among fans of Star Wars to complain about everything that the franchise produces but also become mortally offended if anyone else slanders it (it’s honestly scary writing opinion pieces on Star Wars for The Internet). It’s like being from Birmingham – I’m allowed to trash talk the place, but you categorically cannot. That was until we met the Beskar-clad holder of my heart and soul, Din Djarin; The Mandalorian. Finally, it seemed, we were all able to agree that this is how Star Wars should be done; with care and attention and the due reverence it deserves. Even G̶r̶o̶g̶u̶ Baby Yoda didn’t grate like I was scared he might (Baby Groot, take notes).
Nothing gold (or Beskar), however, can stay. It was only a matter of time before the masses scratched and scrambled and started to pick. An emerging frustration has appeared, it seems, that Mando just isn’t doing enough. Accusations of a slow series, filler episodes, lack of oomph and plot motivation. In characteristic form, these claims have mortally offended me. You best believe I’ll tell you why. This is where the fun begins…
Guardian of the (Other) Galaxy
I love episodic television, and I have a half-written article about why I am so glad that shows like The Boys and The Mandalorian have taken that route. TV shows allow world-building and characterisation in a way that is simply not viable in feature films. Through instalments, we not only have the excitement and theorising between episodes, the supposition and the suspense, but we also have the chance to bed in with the characters and their environs. This, in the Star Wars universe, in particular, is invaluable. Space, I have been told, is pretty big. You literally have planets and galaxies to explore; why hamstring yourselves in an hour and a half trying to cram everything in?
I don’t imagine I’m in the minority when I say that the Star Wars TV shows are probably better than the films at this point (set your nostalgia aside, y’all). Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Mandalorian are the new Holy Trinity. In each series, we are afforded the opportunity to really get to know not just the characters (some of whom are firm fan favourites and have made some of the year’s best cameos), but the big wide universe for which this franchise is so beloved.
That’s what makes Star Wars, right? It’s a limitless space opera wherein we are able to travel to galaxies far, far away with epic heroes and iconic villains. Surely you can’t begrudge us the chance to explore all that wonder a little more? Imagine trying to tour America in four days – you might have fun but you wouldn’t scratch the surface. Give me Baby Yoda stealing biscuits and spitting up. Give me surprise characters, old and new. I want inept dock workers and egg-based side quests. I want a slow burn because adventures aren’t quick – not the ones worth having, anyway.
The Mandalorian Cinematic Universe
You know what? I don’t actually care that some episodes have not exactly been revelatory in terms of plot. I absolutely lived for seeing Baby Yoda eat Frog Lady’s eggs and unleash a swarm of hideous, snowy spiders while she was in a hot tub. Read that previous sentence again and tell me it isn’t truly amazing. I like seeing and exploring different planets, I like seeing new creatures and meeting new, more minor characters. I like seeing Cobb Vanth take Boba’s helmet off to reveal that scruffy, handsome face as his hair flops over his eyes and I like seeing Mando in frosty Beskar, cape billowing in the icy wind, shooting with cool and nonchalant precision, guarding and protecting those he loves with those big strong arms and gruff voice an-
This is the Return of the Space Cowboy
To a point, I can understand – I love action as much as the next person, but there is a fine line to tread. No one wants a season two episodes short that leaves beloved characters high and dry just so we can watch a dragon burn a city down in the name of cinematic spectacle. The Mandalorian takes its time in setting up, that it drops us clues, that we see hints and nods and mentions before the payoff makes it all the more enjoyable. Set me up, make me wait, and then give me all you got – delayed gratification doesn’t just feel better, but it shows you know how to write and craft a film or TV show. Burning out in a blaze of non-stop action means that you miss the meaningful, and gloss over the gold. Sometimes, it’s the slow silences that count most.
What I’m saying is that I hear you, but I can’t agree. Given the last episode, I think we can all agree that we got that payoff and then some. Every week I look forward to an episode of TV that I know will be executed to the highest, slickest quality. There will be beautiful acting and even more beautiful cinematography. I’ll get a gorgeous score. I’ll inevitably laugh, feel soft about Baby Yoda, and then some other type of way about his daddy, I might even get sad. Mix in the (incredibly cast) cameos and the palpable love everyone has for what they are doing? It can’t be “filler” when it’s so damned good. Anyway, what’s the rush? We have all the time in the galaxy.
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