With the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian just hours away from hitting Disney+, we asked Ringer staffers to unleash their most prized takes from the season. Join us below as they reflect on the last nine episodes, the next installment, and the expanding Mandalorian universe.
Let George Direct
The Mandalorian thrived in its second season despite taking risks that could have sabotaged a lesser series. Incorporating characters and mythology most viewers had to Google? Introducing a frog family and making the cutest character eat their eggs? Sidelining Baby Yoda for an entire episode? Forcing us to start calling him “Grogu?”
None of that could slow the series’ roll. Which sets up an even more audacious Season 3 heat check: bringing back George Lucas.
The time is ripe for the Flanneled One’s return. Hayden Christensen is reprising his role as Darth Vader. Ahmed Best is hosting a Star Wars game show. The prequels have undergone a critical rehabilitation, aided by nostalgia and the comparative timidity of J.J. Abrams, whose sequels paid a price for their lack of vision. Eight years after Lucas let go of the reins, fans’ frustrations with his latter-day work have faded. And even in absentia, Lucas has helped the franchise find itself after a rocky interregnum. Via Underworld, his scrapped live-action TV project, Lucas laid the groundwork for a series that focused on the seamy side of Star Wars. He created The Clone Wars—which continues to seed the expanding Star Wars universe—helped craft the character of Ahsoka, hired Dave Filoni, and picked Kathleen Kennedy to take over the production company that bears his name. Through his influence on Filoni, his advice to Jon Favreau, and the example he set as a storyteller, Lucas’s conception of Star Wars still animates the franchise. And doesn’t Disney owe him a favor for parting with his golden goose of a galaxy for $4 billion—in retrospect, a total steal?
I don’t know that Lucas would want to take on a minor role in the franchise he started and once oversaw, considering how painful he found it to walk away, and how betrayed and disappointed he felt when Disney strayed from his plans for the sequels. But we know he was willing to visit during the making of The Mandalorian, and if he has the itch to take a turn behind the camera, I would welcome him back as wholeheartedly as I have Ewan McGregor or Temuera Morrison. Let Lucas take a victory lap on the set of the series he spawned. Let him wallow in the limitless CGI playground he envisioned (but couldn’t quite construct) with early-aughts technology. Let him live out his live-action, small-screen dreams.
Just don’t let him write the dialogue. —Ben Lindbergh
Clone Wars Fans … This Is for You!
The end of the first season of The Mandalorian was somewhat of a mixed bag; on the one hand, casual Star Wars fans were drawn in by a seemingly siloed story, while on the other hand, hardcore fans were left wanting more. But now that we’re nearing the end of the second season, fans of the Dave Filoni–verse—especially fans of Clone Wars and Rebels—are being rewarded for their patience.
It took only three episodes into the new season for the world of The Mandalorian to expand with the introduction of Bo-Katan Kryze, an extremely important figure in Star Wars lore. Bo-Katan has not only had a profound relationship with the Darksaber, which is in possession of Moff Gideon, but she also has a relationship with Ahsoka Tano. Speaking of Ahsoka, the real bombshell moment of the series came in the fifth episode of this season, aptly titled “The Jedi.” Ahsoka is one of the most adored characters in this universe, let alone from Clone Wars, a character we all watched grow up from young padawan to ousted Jedi to eventually going toe-to-toe with Darth Maul and Darth Vader. Seeing Ahsoka in a live-action role was a dream come true for Clone Wars fans, and now they’ll be rewarded even further—Ahsoka’s getting her own series coming in the near future.
The Filoni-verse, with its foundation built by Clone Wars and Rebels, is growing rapidly. We’ve already gotten a mention of Grand Admiral Thrawn, a villian in Rebels, and who knows how many more characters from those shows will enter the Mando universe? Will we see live-action Jedi Ezra Bridger? How many members of the Ghost Crew will show up? The one thing we know for sure is that Kathleen Kennedy and her crew values Filoni’s vision—having that confirmed has been one of the greatest joys of watching Season 2 of The Mandalorian. —Sean Yoo
An Important Discussion About Baby Yoda’s Diet
Anyone who’s ever raised, been, known, or even seen a growing boy knows they eat. Constantly. Baby Yoda is no exception, and in Season 1 of The Mandalorian, Baby Yoda’s culinary hijinks—like everything else about him—was adorable and played for laughs. Toting around his soup, gulping down frogs, that sort of thing.
But Baby Yoda’s eating in Season 2 is starting to cause problems. Using the force to steal his classmate’s macarons, treating Frog Lady’s tank of eggs like a jar of extremely valuable gherkins, almost getting Mando and Frog Lady eaten by a giant spider because he’s just waddling around gobbling up babies like a heavily swaddled Galactus—this is not a tenable long-term situation. And it’s not going to get better, by the way. Remember Adult Yoda? He was hardly in the midst of a pubescent growth spurt and, like, the second thing he did after appearing on screen in The Empire Strikes Back was steal Luke’s dinner. Yodas are big eaters.
Obviously the top priority is rescuing the Child from Moff Gideon’s clutches. But once that’s done, Mando’s gotta sit down with his ward and have a talk about the difference between food, fare, and foe. I know it’s tough to raise a child as a single parent under the best of circumstances, but Mando has to do a better job getting Baby Yoda’s nutritional needs met in a more appropriate manner. —Michael Baumann
Was Season 2’s Main Purpose Just to Launch More Series?
Star Wars has always been selling us something, whether that’s fantasy or action figures or further investment in its content machine. The best of those sales pitches feel natural, or even welcome; it’s telling that in response to the riveting premiere of The Mandalorian’s first season, fans were so desperate to buy Baby Yoda merchandise that they took matters into their own hands and created it themselves. It was almost pavlovian. When the Star Wars faithful were exposed to a new corner of the galaxy, they fawned, they cheered, and they opened their wallets.
The second season continued in that rich tradition by making itself a running commercial for other shows. Its fifth episode, “The Jedi,” was a backdoor pilot for the forthcoming Ahsoka—a spotlight on one of the canon’s most engaging characters, starring Rosario Dawson in an inspired bit of casting. The Mandalorian’s fourth and seventh episodes made sure to knock the audience over the head with the fact that Mando sidekick Cara Dune has gone into law enforcement, presumably to set up a leading role in the newly announced Rangers of the New Republic. (Can’t say I’m looking forward to the episode where Dune tries to reinstate zombie Palpatine as Emperor by alleging voter fraud.) The show then went out of its way to dig up the wisecracking Mayfield, played memorably by Bill Burr, and set him to banter with Dune in such a pointed way it would be shocking if they didn’t cross paths on another series.
None of this stops The Mandalorian from being entertaining, or even dazzling. The installment built around Ahsoka is one of the series’ absolute best: stylish, revelatory, expertly designed, and genuinely moving. But I look forward to the day when this moody Western serial is allowed to tell its own story, which I guess means I’m already looking forward to Season 3. Debts can be paid to the lore with a Boba Fett appearance here and an Alderaan reference there, but at a certain point, the storytelling suffers when the entire goal is to divert our attention to what’s coming soon on Disney+. There’s a difference between world-building and marketing—even in Star Wars. —Rob Mahoney
How Long Will Pedro Pascal Be on Set for Season 3?
Is that actually Pedro Pascal inside the Mandalorian suit?
You might recall that the issue originally flared up late last year, after Brendan Wayne—the grandson of John Wayne and one of Pascal’s body doubles—revealed the extent of his work on Season 1: With Pascal tied up with multiple competing projects, Wayne said he worked on every single episode of Season 1. Bryce Dallas Howard—who directed “Chapter 4: Sanctuary,” a heart-wrenching episode that sees Mando maybe-kinda-sorta develop a crush on a plucky villager, with whom he maybe-kinda-sorta contemplates starting a new, beskar-free life—said she never even saw Pascal on set; the leading man was busy with rehearsals for King Lear. Instead, it was Wayne inside the suit. “[T]here’s one point where [Omera] goes to take my helmet off,” Wayne told Vulture, “and if I didn’t have the helmet on, you’d have seen tears in my eyes.” As pivotal as “Sanctuary” was for Pascal’s famous character, his involvement ended at voiceover work.
Recent weeks have seen a rash of fresh rumors about Pascal’s involvement. After offseason whispers of trouble that Pascal had threatened to leave the show if he had to keep the helmet on, he finally whipped off ye olde bucket in “Chapter 15: The Believer,” when his character was forced to ditch his armor to infiltrate an Imperial mining hub. This week, Pascal insisted that the drama was overblown and that he’s A-OK keeping the helmet on:
@GraceRandolph something that may interest you. Pedro Pascal just got asked a Mandalorian question about wearing the mask and rumours on live UK tv just now. pic.twitter.com/ttWVO7FgN9— Aaron Corr (@aaron_corr) December 15, 2020
Fair enough. But “The Believer” ends with Mando back safely in his helmet, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it will really be Pascal in there for the season finale, let alone Season 3. Anyway, it might be a moot point—everyone knows that if you really respect the Mando creed, you’ll do whatever you can to never find out who’s in there. —Claire McNear
Baby Yoda, Season 3 Villain?
We’ve laughed along nervously at Baby Yoda slurping up frog eggs like they’re tapioca balls in bubble tea; we’ve dismissed the moment when he Force-choked Cara Dune for the crime of arm-wrestling Mando as a simple misunderstanding; we’ve mostly focused on how awful it must be to be imprisoned by Moff Gideon instead of the little guy tossing a couple of Stormtroopers around like they were rag dolls. But the evidence has been mounting for two seasons. The adorableness of Baby Yoda—I’m not calling him Grogu; sue me, Disney—belies something a bit more uncomfortable to swallow. As Ahsoka Tano warned, fear mixed with Baby Yoda’s innate Force abilities is a pathway to the Dark Side. Perhaps The Mandalorian ought to accept the inevitable, and let Baby Yoda break bad.
To be clear, I don’t think The Mandalorian has the backbone to go through with such a dark and devastating twist. But I also couldn’t blame Baby Yoda if it happened. The impressionable creature has been exposed to his fair share of violence throughout the series. This season, he was swallowed by a goddamn sea creature, and only survived unscathed thanks to his Magical Floating Space Crib (official Star Wars terminology). By all accounts, he’s had a hard life. One of the biggest recurring themes of Star Wars is fatherhood—or in the case of The Mandalorian, surrogate fatherhood. But dads in the franchise don’t have a great track record, and despite his best intentions, Mando continually puts Baby Yoda in harm’s way. If The Mandalorian is really going to explore the darker and freakier side of Star Wars, then the show should embrace the fact that actions have consequences. —Miles Surrey