By Ian Krietzberg
Warning: the following contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of “The Mandalorian.”
Ever since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012, “Star Wars” has largely been marked by a build up of excitement, followed — almost always — by a crushing letdown.
With “The Mandalorian,” Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have recaptured the very essence of “Star Wars,” telling their story with the kind of love and passion that was so sorely lacking in the Sequel Trilogy.
Throughout this second season, which wrapped its eighth and final episode today, the storytelling not only featured the best available visual technology, it also pulled characters in from the Expanded Universe and Legends, adding an exceptional amount of lore to the “Star Wars” canon and rescuing the multi-billion-dollar franchise from the disservice that was episodes 7, 8 and 9.
A sense of familiarity pervaded the entirety of this season — a familiarity around seeing and hearing Storm Troopers once again, seeing Boba Fett’s scuffed, scarred armor in addition to his ship, Slave 1. There was a familiarity to the way the stories were told. Amid the laser blasts, lightsabers and explosions, there was always hope — something Dave Filoni took directly from George Lucas.
“The Mandalorian” also proves that there is a difference between blind fan service and the kind of fan service that “The Mandalorian” provides. The writers never tried to craft a story around fan service. Rather, they wrote their story and if certain elements and characters of that story could involve fan favorites, then they pulled those favorites in.
It made sense to the story to involve Boba Fett, and not only did it serve Mando’s story arc, but it also served to complete and further an unfinished character in a stunning fashion.
It fit the story that Mando would seek out others of his kind — allowing him to find Bo-Katan Kryze furthered his own arc while immortalizing an animated character in the reality of live-action.
It made sense for the story that Mando and Grogu would seek out and find some surviving Jedi; not only did it serve their story arc to bring Ahsoka Tano to live-action, it also served to further her own uncompleted arc, once again, in a truly stunning fashion.
Before I even mention the finale, an episode that shocked me despite my preparedness for it, I have to mention Bill Burr’s performance in the penultimate episode. This was a new character, but it was a character that brought humanity and empathy to the Imperials, something that is both rare and important.
It brought a perspective that had largely been lacking — not everyone that wears the armor of the other side is a bad guy. People can change. Burr’s representation of that was truly amazing to witness.
In the final episode, Favreau and Filoni achieved something that “Star Wars” fans have been seeking since 1983: they achieved the true magic of the franchise.
They built tremendous tension, underscored by a fantastic score. They stacked our heroes against unwinnable odds. They presented brutal close-combat fighting. And they were able to maintain an element of surprise. Despite all the surprise reveals of characters throughout the season, no one suspected that Luke Skywalker would actually make an appearance.
Seeing his X-Wing fly into the Moff’s light cruiser and seeing the cloaked, hooded figure ignite his lightsaber and fight his way to Mando and Grogu was a beautiful recognition of the heroic, good character that Luke Skywalker was, in so many minds, before “The Last Jedi” ruined him.
This is a Luke Skywalker in the midst of rebuilding a new Jedi Order, a Luke Skywalker that is still hopeful, kind and exceptionally powerful.
Especially considering the way the sequels senselessly butchered the core aspects of his character, this reveal was stunning and beautiful, tapping into a wellspring of emotions from fans.
Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau have proven with “The Mandalorian” that there is a right or wrong way to tell “Star Wars” stories. They have proven that their way, one of appreciation and a true passion for the stories and characters, is the way.
In two short seasons, this dynamic pair, in addition to their teams of writers and cast and crew members, have worked to not only recapture the very essence of Star Wars, but have also worked to reshape the future of Star Wars — a future that will follow in those footsteps of appreciation for the universe George Lucas created, as well as a respect for what this universe, these stories and these characters mean to people.
All I have to say is thank you, to George for creating this universe, and to Jon and Dave, for continuing its mission in the truest, most alluring sense possible.