The Mandalorian, season two

I imagine folks associated with the Skywalker saga look at “The Mandalorian” and wish they’d been given the same narrative freedom.

The Star Wars universe is vast and there are tremendous stories of all kinds to be told. But when it comes to the movies, there are limitations that prevent secondary characters and locations from coming to the fore.

What’s most impressive about “The Mandalorian”–and this was really on display in season two–is that the creators have found a way to tap into the aspects of Star Wars that attract the masses while simultaneously expanding and enhancing the scope of the narrative. Here’s a few examples:

Ahsoka – A key character in “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” TV series (which you really should watch), Ahsoka made her live-action debut in this season of “The Mandalorian.” Her “Mandalorian” introduction was masterful because if you had no idea who Ahsoka was, you’d still immediately understand she’s a formidable presence who has mastered Jedi training. And if you were already familiar with Ahsoka, her arrival was a huge thrill (I didn’t realize how much I wanted Ahsoka to be part of the live-action world until she was in it).

Thrawn – He doesn’t appear on screen, but a single mention of Grand Admiral Thrawn hinted at a new big bad and a dramatic return for an important book and TV character. Again, those unfamiliar with Thrawn can presumably recognize he’s a key character and those who have followed Thrawn’s exploits can revel in the story possibilities he creates (e.g. If Thrawn is back, does that mean Ezra is around too?).

Mandalore – Mandalorian culture and intrigue was a big part of “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels,” and it seems like we’re going back to Mandalore in season three of “The Mandalorian.” It’s impressive how well–yet unobtrusively–the threads of Mandalore have been woven into “The Mandalorian” from the beginning. Example: The Mandalorians in “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” took their helmets off all the time, yet for Din Djarin helmet removal is a huge No No (though less of a No No in season two). This discrepancy is quickly mentioned and partially addressed when Bo-Katan (a staple of “Clone Wars” and “Rebels”) notes that Din must have been raised by the orthodox Children of the Watch. Lesser shows would have built an entire episode around this, yet in “The Mandalorian” it’s a casual line that sets up future world building. That’s smart. Going too deep into Mandalore’s culture, without being on or around Mandalore, would have pushed casual viewers away.

(A brief tangent on the missing Mandalorian: Let’s hope Sabine Wren makes an appearance in season three. This fun theory suggests she’s already on the show!)


Luke – Whether you’re immersed in the entire Star Wars canon or you’re just a fan of the films, you understood that Luke’s arrival in the season two finale of “The Mandalorian” was a huge deal. But beyond seeing Peak Luke doing Peak Luke things, his presence in “The Mandalorian” timeline opens up a host of questions for people like me who love to fill in Star Wars story gaps (you can go deeper into Luke’s post-“Return of the Jedi” life here).

One last thing: While no one will ever eclipse John Williams’ movie scores, the music on “The Mandalorian” is thrilling and distinctive.