Warning!! Spoilers Ahead!
Disney’s The Mandalorian combines the best (and sometimes worst) elements of the Star Wars universe into a single TV show that fans and critics love. The Mandalorian takes on, in a big way, the western influences that are evident in the original trilogy while still giving its audience a different view on the universe itself. Many Star Wars fans are used to the big picture. A small group of rebels fighting against a frighteningly large and powerful darkness. One could call the protagonists of the Skywalker Saga the “Royalty of the Galaxy”. They are the heroes, and often they are very straightforward ones. With the exception of Anakin Skywalker and Ben Solo, the majority of the characters the films follow are hell-bent on helping others and doing good even at the risk of their lives. Again, they are your average heroes. However, The Mandalorian grabs the idea of a Star Wars hero and takes it much deeper. With the big galactic players mostly out of the way, the show takes Star Wars in a different direction. It portrays Din Djarin simply as a being trying to scratch out a living instead of some nobody who is thrust into the fight between light and darkness to become a war hero. Djarin lives on both sides. At times he acts only for himself; To increase his wealth, to protect himself, and to save his own life. At other times, he acts to protect others; To fight for their well-being, and to save them from any danger. Sometimes his selflessness is ultimately a path to selfishness but sometimes it is genuine. It’s how unpredictable his character is that makes him, and to a certain extent, the show, so interesting. So why was I so disappointed with the latest episodes? Where did they go wrong?
Now, I won’t lie to you. Season two got good, and it got good fast, but the first two episodes were so unoriginal and so predictable it was hard to watch. When I sat down to watch it, the first thing I noticed was the bad dialogue. The acting seemed so forced and so unnatural. It shouldn’t be, “WHERE are you going?” but more like “Where’re you going?”, If you catch my drift. Pedro Pascal’s lines just made me feel so uneasy. I don’t know if it was his acting or bad writing, or the clunky metal suit he was wearing but I have a theory that it was a little bit of all three. Moving away from the dialogue, the storylines themselves were just so disappointing. In season two, episode one, The Marshall, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to see where all this was heading. It seems the episode was supposed to appear similar to some classic western films but in trying to do that, it became them. With a run down town in a desert, shootouts, an uncalled for and unfortunate portrayal of native peoples, and a journey into the desert, the episode failed to transform past ideas and instead duplicated them. There’s a big monster which we all know will have to be destroyed from the inside out. We all know our favorite character is going to have a triumphant return from the belly of the beast, and we all know that everything is going to go right back to normal as if nothing ever happened. Now take episode two. I hate to say it, but this episode took Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets and plopped it into the galaxy far, far away. Aragog got some weird teeth, the Weasley’s car became a spaceship and ultimately everyone turned out fine, with the exception of a few of the frog lady’s eggs. Audiences have seen stories like this a million times and I think the showrunners failed to realize that people don’t need to see this again. Mandalorian fans want originality, real suspense, and a complicated storyline. Although episodes three and four still failed on some of those fronts, they began heading in the right direction. So what made these most recent episodes better than the first two?
First off, we finally got some real plot development. Instead of treading water, Mando finally got somewhere, found some useful information, and completed an exciting tension-filled mission. Episode three proved that Star Wars doesn’t need another Death Star to be exciting and the stakes were just as high. Mando once again became the lone soldier we love, facing opposition from the people who were supposed to be on his team and those who weren’t. We got some insight into the greater forces at play in the galaxy and we didn’t even have to hear about the old Rebellion vs Empire feud. This episode became a little bit more unpredictable, added some twists, and some tension. I shouldn’t be one to judge as writing a screenplay is incredibly difficult, but Jon Favreau still has a few linguistic issues to work out.
What about Episode four, you ask. Episode three had a lot going for it but Episode four was probably the best yet of season two. With jokes that landed, characters that have had time to develop in the storyline, an amazing set, and some astounding action sequences episode, four picked up the slack. It hit it out of the ballpark on many fronts except one: Originality. Again, I won’t lie to you, that episode had me sitting on the edge of my seat for most of its run time and I genuinely enjoyed it, but back to the point. Audiences have seen a storyline like this a million times. Characters across literature and film have infiltrated bases not knowing what they were going to find and barely getting out alive. Must I give examples? The Lord Of The Rings, Chinatown, Inception, even within the original Star Wars films. I’m not saying people don’t want to keep seeing stories similar to this one, but they should try to move on a little bit. Although, what really made episode four worth it was what they found. Stories based around infiltration are, at least most of the time, based around a mystery. It is this mystery that makes the action interesting and suspenseful. Episode four nailed the mystery. I’ve been waiting to see how The Mandalorian is going to bridge the gap between The Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens and I think we may have found it. I’m not one for Star Wars lore so I could be completely wrong in saying this, but I think the failed experiments they found were either failed attempts at creating Snoke or cloning a force capable being. This would directly link the originals, The Mandalorian, and the sequels together. I think this is what made the episode so interesting. I always say that if a film or TV show doesn’t leave you thinking, it wasn’t a good one. This episode left me thinking and reasoning out what could be in store for the rest of the season. That excited me. And so did the super cool Tie-Fighter appearance.
So far, I can say that The Mandalorian has not been one for going off-script. It has acted as more of a crowd-pleaser but has failed to please the crowd in some ways. The best advice you could take away from this? In my opinion, it would be to continue going “Off The Script”.