The first trailer for The Mandalorian’s second season, which Disney dropped on Tuesday, is the sci-fi-franchise equivalent of a safe approach shot by a golfer who’s built a large lead and is playing for par. This first footage assures us that whatever disruptions this spring and summer have wrought on release schedules, TV viewers can count on The Mandalorian to make late 2020 briefly feel like the comparatively less apocalyptic period of late 2019.
Thanks to a fortuitous filming schedule and remote postproduction, the flagship show of Disney+ and the gleaming jewel in the tarnished circlet of Star Wars is still on track for its fall release, despite the pandemic disrupting most every other production. When it returns, the trailer promises, Baby Yoda will still supply adorable GIF fodder, and Mando will still say his four-word catchphrase and beat up underworld scum. Those familiar looks at the endearing duo that netted 15 Emmy nominations don’t leave Lucasfilm a lot of time for new details: The trailer contains only a few hints of the rumored expansion in scope that’s in store for the series’ second act. But those glimpses are tantalizing enough to tide us over until the next trailer arrives or the season premieres on October 30.
Much of the less-than-two-minute trailer features old dialogue between The Armorer and Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin, recycled from the first-season finale. The Armorer’s words remind us of the jetpack-packing Mando’s mission: to bring Baby Yoda to whatever remains of the Jedi Order. No longer is the helmeted mercenary trying to turn in or abscond with The Child; now he’s trying to solve the many mysteries of who and what he is, where he came from, and why everyone wants him sedated or dead.
In the season preview published last week in Entertainment Weekly, The Mandalorian’s creators and confirmed cast members talked up the evolution of their series, which was somewhat self-contained and semi-episodic in Season 1. “The new season is about introducing a larger story in the world,” said creator and showrunner Jon Favreau. “The stories become less isolated yet each episode has its own flavor, and hopefully we’re bringing a lot more scope to the show.” Favreau also comped the upcoming season to Game of Thrones, seeming to suggest that Mando may have to share the spotlight: “As we introduce other characters, there are opportunities to follow different story lines.” Executive producer, director, and Star Wars scholar Dave Filoni doubled down on the hype, teasing that “everything gets bigger” and “the stakes get higher.”
Disney didn’t divulge that Baby Yoda existed until fans discovered the secret for themselves on the screen. Unsurprisingly, the people who pulled off that improbable feat of spoiler prevention are still playing their sabacc cards close to the vest. The trailer looks great, showcasing the variety in terrain that makes The Mandalorian a feast for the eyes and a treat for galactic tourists. We see a bantha and a Tusken Raider riding on what appears to be Tatooine, in addition to shots of a water world that could be Mon Cala (judging by the tentacle-faced Quarren who are also native to Admiral Ackbar’s home planet) and a graffiti-filled industrial setting that’s tougher to place. The Mandalorian has repeatedly let us linger in the seedy settings that most of the Star Wars films whisk us past, and the trailer doesn’t disappointment in that department, serving up a crowded dock, a banged-up barge, and a roomful of unsavory sorts (including cycloptic Abyssin Gore Koresh) watching and wagering on Gamorrean duelists.
Returning characters and occasional allies Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano) make cameos, but the trailer is more notable for its absences than its inclusions. Giancarlo Esposito told EW that Darksaber-wielding villain Moff Gideon, who emerged as Djarin’s antagonist and The Child’s primary pursuer in Season 1, would go “toe-to-toe with Mando” in an “iconic battle,” but we don’t see him here. We do get a glimpse of an Outland Tie Fighter used by Gideon’s Imperial remnant, as well as Stormtroopers, speeder bikes, an Imperial base, and the eternal nemeses of the Empire and its offshoots, X-wings, which appear to be chasing, escorting, or flying in formation with Djarin’s damaged Razor Crest. Mando doesn’t have any known ties to the New Republic, but he and the Rebel Alliance’s successors may have mutual enemies, even though the sequel trilogy established that the Republic allowed the remnant to recover its strength and morph into the First Order.
Still-unsubstantiated reports have linked Rosario Dawson, Temuera Morrison, and Katee Sackhoff to the second season. Dawson is supposedly playing Clone Wars and Rebels fan favorite Ahsoka Tano, while Morrison and Sackhoff will likely be reprising roles they’ve inhabited before. Sackhoff played Mandalorian warrior Bo-Katan Kryze in The Clone Wars and Rebels. Morrison, meanwhile, could be bringing back Boba Fett, Commander Cody, Captain Rex, or some assortment of multiple characters cloned from Jango Fett, whom he portrayed in Attack of the Clones. Although the first season’s near-stand-alone status helped it sidestep the weight of tradition that plagued the sequel trilogy, the potential for the second season to amplify Filoni’s world-building efforts in the animated realm is exciting for fans who’ve grown attached to his creations.
The Mandalorian trailer doesn’t confirm or refute the involvement of that trio or the presence of rumored guest stars such as Timothy Olyphant and Michael Biehn. But it does offer a fleeting look at a character played by WWE star Sasha Banks. The character appears right after The Armorer says “Jedi,” wears a cloak and a hood, and vanishes suddenly, which would seem to indicate that she’s one of the “sorcerers” Mando is trying to find. Even assuming that Banks didn’t forget to take off the cloak and hood that the actors have worn on their way to the set in the interest of secrecy, those hints may be misdirects: It’s possible that Banks isn’t playing a Jedi or a Force-sensitive Nightsister, but Rebels’ Sabine Wren.
When we last saw Sabine on Rebels, she was teaming up with Ahsoka to search for Jedi Ezra Bridger. As both a Mandalorian warrior and a friend of Force users, she’s a natural choice to assuage Djarin’s doubts about the Jedi and connect him to Ahsoka. She’s also a former wielder of the Darksaber, which means she may be able to help with Mando’s Moff problem. And she’s a graffiti artist, too, which could account for some of those colorful scrawls on the walls.
Whether Sabine or someone else helps put Mando in touch with the Jedi, the trailer’s second-most-intriguing tidbit tells us that he’s on the right track. The ice planet that Djarin and The Child visit in the trailer looks a lot like Ilum, the source of the kyber crystals that Jedi younglings plucked from the planet in an ancient, sacred rite of passage and used to power their lightsabers. After Order 66, Ilum was occupied by the Empire, and the First Order eventually carved out the trench that turned it into Starkiller Base, a system-destroying superweapon that drew on the planet’s crystalline core. Five years after the Empire fell and before the First Order consolidated its power, perhaps it’s safe enough on Ilum for some surviving Jedi to slip on and off of the ice world when they need to replenish their crystal supply. Or maybe Mando is merely following a trail of lore that eventually takes him to Tano.
For most viewers, though, the takeaway from the trailer is that Baby Yoda opted out of a fight by encasing himself in his crib. (Expect many memes that say some variation of “Me in 2020.”) It’s a moment that measures up to his Force-healing, switch-flipping, and soup-sipping highlights from Season 1. Clearly, The Child has learned some survival skills from his past proximity to combat with the whistling bird. And Disney hasn’t forgotten to get out of the Way of its ultra-cute crossover star.