So, here is the thing.
You were very excited when Disney brought back Star Wars and choked on your food when the Millennium Falcon took flight at the end of the first ‘Force Awakens’ teaser. Correct me if I am wrong.
Then you went in, watched it, cried, realized it was a nostalgia piece, but it was still your favorite thing in the Universe. Last Jedi rolled in and you either went to the group that hates everything about it, because it is NOT ‘Star Wars’ enough and god forbid forced new things down your throat… or… you were in the other group where you loved it so much, because of the new perspective and new introduction, that you celebrate it to this day. There’s no middle ground (or high ground) in this conversation, but let me remind you all, that when it first came out ‘Empire Strikes Back’ was just as dividing among fans.
And then… Rise of Skywalker arrived. You heard the Emperor’s laugh at the end of the first teaser and you facepalmed yourself so hard that your head actually fell off. Disney got scared. Brought back, Abrams. They basically rewrote every change that Last Jedi invented and chose the safest route with Palpatine. What were the results? The most painful Star Wars movie to watch with unnecessary fan service. So, all together we can say that Disney’s renewal of the Skywalker-saga wasn’t as successful as they hoped it would be. I mean… It was successful when you were looking at the box office, but you know what I mean. Sure, they released Rogue One separately from the Skywalkers and it was like a breath of fresh air (and for yours truly was the best thing since the original trilogy) and they brought in Solo as well, but that was nothing but a fun entrance really.
We can say that Star Wars fans were not really hopeful. But then! Something truly magical happened. In between ‘The Last Jedi’ and ‘Rise of Skywalker’ a new series snuck into view about the cutest being in the Star Wars Universe… wait! Hold on. What? It’s not about the cutest being? It’s not even called ‘The Child’? Have I been living a lie? Fine… A new series came into view about The Mandalorian. You know, Boba and Jango Fett, Sabine, etc. You could tell from the very first episode that the Mandalorian will finally be something that makes all hearts beat together.
Why? You may ask.
Well, first and foremost, yes it does have a nostalgia feel to it, just like the new trilogy (Force Awakens especially). What makes it different from those though is the balance that they were able to hold throughout the episodes. It always had enough to make fans smile and gasp, but at the same time was able to introduce new stories and characters that you can grow to love later on. Meaning: Nostalgia did NOT overshadow the new world.
They were also able to expand the Universe, something that many fans were looking forward to while keeping the familiar feel to everything in it. Just like they did in ‘Clone Wars’ and ‘Rebels’ so smartly they included enough familiar places and also races for us to be able to adjust to the new things, exactly how they did with the nostalgia feel. On top of that they started to bring in things from the animated shows that many people fell in love with. If you watch an episode more mindfully, even the structure they have is very similar to Clone Wars, but it obviously does have a more continuous-nature since it only follows Mando and the Child’s journey. Disney, if you ask me, learned from the mistakes of the new trilogy and trusted Jon Favreau enough to give him much needed free reign over the series. Favreau is a Star Wars fan, just like Abrams is a fan too, but for me personally, it is very visible which one of them had much more freedom with what they were given.
It brings in the cutest being as well, who immediately builds up a cult following, and no, I will not shut up about it. The Child, or shall I say, Baby Yoda came in like a thunderstorm and lifted Star Wars up into new heights and brought in new fans. The relationship between him and Mando became the stuff of legends. What is a better recipe for success than a kid stuck together with a grumpy old man as they go on new adventures every week? And on top of that, the kid is actually a mini Jedi… Say WHAAAT? I remember that there were a lot of speculations before the series came out if it will include any Jedi or not. I can safely say that none of us were expecting what we’ve got, but we are very satisfied. For a very very long time, George Lucas didn’t really let anyone touch on the questions around Master Yoda, we were never introduced to another one of his kind and there were a lot of questions about it. This points right back to what I said before: The Kid himself is familiar, fans quickly put the name ‘Baby Yoda’ on him, therefore, it builds on the familiarity and nostalgia, but we are finding out different things about him therefore it brings in the new. Perfect balance.
We arrived at the pivotal point here. Where everything comes together smoothly and it does not feel forced or too much. The Mandalorian introduced Bo-Katan (played beautifully by Katee Sackhoff) and connected it to the season 1 ending with Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and the Darksaber. Then it brought in Ahsoka Tano with the perfect choice for the role: Rosario Dawson. And on top of all this, we got back Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Familiar names, right? Fan favorites, right? Fan Service. Done. Right. Yes, I said it. All these beloved characters came back for a reason, they had a purpose and it wasn’t JUST done in the name of fan service. Example: The Darksaber, known by fans from Clone Wars and Rebels, showed up at the end of season one. It made sense that someone from Mandalore would come for it and the safest bet was Sabine or Bo Katan. We got the latter. The search for the Jedi. Candidates? Luke Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, a big maybe on Ezra. We got Ahsoka. Was it fan service as well? Yes. Does it still make sense? Also yes. Fennec, we knew she would be alive as it was shown at the end of her season one episode that someone picked her up. That someone happened to be Bobba Fett. Fan service? Yes. Does it work? Yes. Where the new trilogy went completely sideways with this was the fact that they opened a new storyline with Last Jedi, it was different, it was innovative, but it did have backlash. What happened? It scared Disney. How did they want to sort it out? By bringing in the well-known even if it doesn’t make any sense at all (nostalgia) and pump it up with fan service but going completely the wrong way about it.
Jon Favreau shall be forever praised for his true understanding of the Star Wars Universe and what makes it work exactly. He came in and he was able to pull off something that seemed impossible: Create something Star Wars related that can appeal to everyone in One Way or Another. A New Hope is on the horizon.
The Child (sorry, now we know his name) Grogu and Mando’s journey will continue on Friday only on Disney+ and they will return with season 3 next year Christmas day.
How do you feel about the Mandalorian? Do you feel that it has saved Star Wars or just added to the magic?