By Michael A. Pedowitz
This is the way.
At least, that’s what millions of captivated viewers are likely to tell you if you ask them if they’ve seen the hit Disney+ show “The Mandalorian.” The “Star Wars” series, now several episodes into its second season, is a space-western created by Jon Favreau that first premiered on Disney+ last November. The show, set five years after the events of “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” follows the adventures of the titular character, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), and his life as a lone bounty-hunter.
A Mandalorian, for those who aren’t invested in “Star Wars” like I am, is a member of the warrior clan tied to the planet Mandalore. As the series’ main character emphasizes, weapons are part of their “religion” — as are the arts of war, honor, and secrecy. Pascal’s character, referred to as “Mando,” is sworn to this code, and is even unable to remove his identity-concealing helmet in front of others. In the aftermath of the fall of the Galactic Empire, much of the galaxy has fallen into lawlessness, and viewers navigate through the chaos with the stoic bounty-hunter.
The real popularity surrounding “The Mandalorian,” however, is The Child — more colloquially and affectionately known as “Baby Yoda” due to his resemblance to the Jedi Master — who has been the inspiration for countless heartfelt posts and memes across social media.
In the first season, the Mandalorian is tasked with locating a target of “special value” to the remains of the Empire, which happens to be none other than The Child. “Mando” chooses to protect the infant as his own instead, and faces the fury of both Imperial and bounty-hunter armies, the former led by the relentless Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). But the Mandalorian is not alone, and his efforts to protect “Baby Yoda” are aided by a former Rebel shock trooper (Gina Carano), an Ugnaught moisture farmer (Nick Nolte), and a bounty-hunter leader (Carl Weathers), all who join the fight to free the galaxy once more.
The episodes of Season 1 follow both the Mandalorian’s encounter with The Child, as well as his quest to bring it to safety. Season 2, which is several episodes in, follows his continued quest to protect the infant, as well as conflicts with characters old and new. Several “Star Wars” fan-favorites, including Boba Fett and Bo-Katan Kryze, have made exciting appearances thus far, and even more cameos are rumored to come next, with former Jedi Ashoka Tano set to play a key role in this season.
“The Mandalorian,” by all accounts, is a visually stunning and entertaining masterpiece. The show’s use of both practical effects and cutting-edge technology make for an amazing watch, but the rich character plotlines and “underground” look at the “Star Wars” universe provide an equally fresh perspective. While many of the recent films set “in a galaxy far, far away” have been met with controversy and a divided fanbase, almost all viewers agree that the new series is not only a refreshing take on the entire franchise, but is almost flawless.
Even the critics agree, and for good reason. The show follows a highly-developed and captivating protagonist in “The Mandalorian,” and includes the winning formula of “Star Wars”: big-budget action and special effects paired with the stunning landscapes, creatures and stories that have brought George Lucas’s galaxy to life for over forty years.
Of the many compelling reasons to watch “The Mandalorian,” the show’s charm is its greatest. While the settings vary between planets, the series emulates the rustic appearance of an old Western movie, facing the chaotic galaxy as is: a lawless world that rewards knowledge and resilience, and punishes ignorance and laziness. As much as the story is about Baby Yoda and laser fights, it centers around a protagonist who embodies the grit, determination, and bravery that a great hero needs.
Most of all, the ambitious storytelling within the show is compelling, including the action, humor and heart that Disney is known for. The show is captivating, inspiring, and most of all, just plain fun — something all audiences today can appreciate. It is not only among my favorite shows, but perhaps one of the greatest of all time.
I have spoken.