“Star Wars” That Fans Love: Looking Back at “The Mandalorian” Season 1

by Hunter Johnson

“The Mandalorian” is returning for a second season, which means fans are gearing up for an explosive return of the first live-action “Star Wars” television series ever made.

Last year, Disney released “The Mandalorian” as the flagship series for its new streaming service, Disney Plus. Not only did the show succeed but it was also largely responsible for the over ten million subscribers the service received on the day of its launch.

The show abandoned the popular method of releasing entire seasons at once for viewers to binge-watch, opting instead to follow a more traditional method of weekly episode releases. This approach allowed the show’s popularity to gradually build over its two-month release calendar and beyond rather than being limited to one release week.

That said, the reasons for the show’s success reach far beyond its release schedule. Disney knew “The Mandalorian” would attract much attention, so they had to double their efforts to create a high-quality, well-crafted show. Its cinematic visuals supersede the vast majority of TV shows, the characters and story are delightfully reminiscent of old Western and Samurai films, and Ludwig Goransson’s music is inspiringly original and adventurous—reminiscent of John Williams’ iconic score while not borrowing a single theme from it.

And in an act of pure inspiration, they brought together Disney veteran Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “The Jungle Book,” “The Lion King”) and “Star Wars” veteran Dave Filoni (“Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Star Wars: Rebels”) to create an experience that would end up uniting a fandom divided since the release of “The Last Jedi.”

Fans have been hoping for a “Star Wars” property that pleases both sides of a harsh debate. Fans of “The Last Jedi” loved its ambitious creative decisions and its emotionally charged story, while fans of “The Rise of Skywalker” much preferred its focus on bombastic visual fanfare and fun-spirited adventure that has always been a part of “Star Wars.” The issue is that both of those films lacked something much more important, something that “The Mandalorian” accomplishes in stride: a devotion to something bigger than a single director’s vision.

Both directors of these films set out to bring their own fresh takes to “Star Wars”: “The Last Jedi” is a Rian Johnson film, and “The Rise of Skywalker” is a J.J. Abrams film. But Jon Favreau doesn’t make Jon Favreau films (or in this case, TV shows); for him, “The Mandalorian” is first and foremost a “Star Wars” property.

As showrunner, Favreau brought a brilliant crew of directors on board, but he also collaborated with them to make sure their own personal styles never distracted viewers from the story and the world of “Star Wars.” As a result, this show actually feels like “Star Wars.” Whether it’s Rick Famuyiwa’s deft depiction of the classic Jawas or Deborah Chow’s delicate handling of the relationship between Kuiil and IG-11, these directors focus their efforts entirely on character and story before even beginning to infuse their episodes with hints of their own directorial flair.

Even Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok,” “Jojo Rabbit”), known for his signature dry humor, is mostly reined in for this show. Favreau allows him a few moments of classic Waititi humor, but for the most part, the focus remains on the story at hand, something that both Rian Johnson and J.J. Abrams had difficulty maintaining in their respective films.

This intense collaboration between Favreau and the directors resulted in a show that feels tonally consistent throughout while also existing as eight separate miniature movies, each jam-packed with their own fully fleshed-out stories and characters These individualized stories all add up to create one epic undertaking of a season.

The two characters who are the focus of the show have already become an iconic cinematic duo. As the titular masked protagonist, Pedro Pascal leads the show with a captivating grit, while his tiny green companion (lovingly nicknamed “Baby Yoda” by his fans) brings a quiet adorability that has become the object of worldwide love and acclaim.

For Season 2, Mando and Baby Yoda are back, as are mercenary guild leader Greef Karga (“Rocky” star Carl Weathers) and former rebel shock trooper Cara Dune (former MMA fighter Gina Carano), and returning behind the scenes are showrunner Favreau and his right-hand man, Filoni. They bring with them a fresh lineup of all-star directors ready to take on a new season, including Robert Rodriguez (“Spy Kids,” “From Dusk Till Dawn”), Peyton Reed (“Ant-Man”), and even Favreau himself.

Over the last year, rumors of bonkers storylines and appearances of classic “Star Wars” characters (such as fan-favorite Boba Fett and “The Clone Wars” lead Ahsoka Tano) have been spreading throughout the internet like wildfire.  Thankfully, it’s finally time for “The Mandalorian” Season 2 to hit Disney Plus and hopefully shatter streaming expectations, just as the first season did.

Episode 1 begins streaming Friday, October 30.

Hunter Johnson is a Senior Theatre Performance Major and an A&E writer for Cedars. He spends his time gobbling up all the Star Wars that Disney pumps out, followed by daydreaming about his future dog Jojo, all while giving endless attention to his beautiful fiance.

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