Look. I’ve given it a few days for my emotions to settle after seeing Chapter 16 of The Mandalorian: The Rescue. Suffice to say that my emotions have not.
I’ve been in awe of what the latest season of The Mandalorian has accomplished across two years that the sequel trilogy has done in four.
If you have not gotten a wink of the Mandalorian’s latest season yet, now is your one and only chance to close the tab and binge the season. Come back later, I’ll still be here, excited as ever.
The Disney Disaster
When Disney first bought over Lucasfilm and committed thousands of sins along the way, I was skeptical; for good reason. The closure of LucasArts; throwing away all the ongoing Star Wars game projects and then completely discarding all Legacy content were a couple of tough pills to swallow. Clone Wars were forced to stop and it was only later that Rebels was there to fill the void.
Eventually, The Force Awakens arrived. And while it wasn’t exactly what we hoped for other than the nostalgia trip, it seemed promising. Then came the real disaster. Rian Johnson came in and ruined it all, completely disrespecting any legacy content, lore and the requirement of hard work with his only focus on selling SJW content and merchandise.
In the wake of The Last Jedi’s phenomenal flop, JJ Abrams had the unenviable task of cleaning up Johnson’s dirt. And unfortunately.
Subverting Expectations instead of Exceeding Them
To me, the premise of destroying all of the Legacy content boiled down to one thing: Laziness.
It seems like JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson simply didn’t want to do the homework of reading through the entire wookiepedia they had available to them. They simply asked to cut their homework by 90% and only deal with the first 6 movies that were “canon” in their own minds. “Freedom” they called it. “To be able to bring Star Wars in a new direction”, they said.
And new direction they did. And Star Wars took a step into the grave.
Enter Dave Filoni and John Favreau, true fans of the franchise, understanding what fans wanted as well as holding reverence to all that came before it. They understand what fans hold dear to them and it shows.
If The Mandalorian Season 1 was anything to go by, it was that they were still trying to figure things out, but even so, they knew exactly what they were doing. They put in the work and made the conscious decision to exceed expectations instead of subverting them.
Were the episodes tropey? Yes.
Did we mind? Not one bit, because it was done well and with so much love.
Fanservice done right
The Mandalorian was definitely structured in a way that a single player RPG would. And while that might be a complaint from some, it worked for me. After all, the Knights of the Old Republic games were my absolute favourites; not because of any large scale spectacle, but because of the little moments.
The interactions between characters and little tidbits that flesh out the world and its characters take priority over pushing from plotline to plotline. Do some sidequests. Not simply because an overpowered item was locked behind it, but because it was an opportunity to expand on what we already know of the world.
Things like the Tusken Raider Sign Language or that a Gaffi Stick is a Bantha Toothbrush. We never really knew all this; now we know. Writers and directors could have simply disregarded the Krayt Dragon Pearl or minute details like the Kamino cloning sigil, carbon scoring on a particular R5 unit or the specific tiny dent on Boba Fett’s helmet. But they did all that, knowing full-well that fans would catch them; because it matters to us.
Even as Bo Katan and Ahsoka came into view, it never felt forced. Narratively it made sense. Din needed to find Mandalorians; Bo Katan is a Mandalorian. Bo Katan knew of Ahsoka; so she led him to her. Since Ahsoka’s still looking for Ezra, we name-drop Grand Admiral Thrawn.
The entire book just seems to follow a random Mandalorian who eventually starts unintentionally getting mixed up in bigger and bigger things ever since he found little Grogu. That’s what some of the greatest RPGs do.
Once we’ve reached a tipping point where we realize that our hero can no longer handle the power levels thrown his way. In comes “The Rescue”. Not just to save Din and his rag-tag dungeon raid party, but the entire Star Wars franchise. Luke Skywalker, in all his Star Wars glory shows up to lay waste on an entire platoon of Phase 3 Dark Troopers. It’s enough to make grown men cry; many of us most certainly did.
I cannot express just how long fans have been waiting for this moment; a moment they most certainly were looking for in The Last Jedi, but never got. Who would have expected to see it in a TV series called “The Mandalorian”?
With the conclusion of The Mandalorian, now we have more to look forward to. One can only hope they all be as good as the past 2 seasons of The Mandalorian. But the hope is now alive and well. Take that foot out of that grave, Star Wars is saved.