Gretchen Lee—Staff Writer
In a strange moment of absolute sensationalism last year, a tiny green alien somehow won over the entire world.
With his cute noises, adorable facial expressions, and his love for soup, this 50-year-old toddler from a galaxy far, far away has gained near deific status in popular culture around the world. Much to everyone’s relief, The Mandalorian returned on October 30 to provide audiences with more Baby Yoda content, excellent storytelling, lovely little morsels of fan-service, and plenty of suspenseful flute music.
While we joke about Baby Yoda (more professionally known as The Child) being the center of the show, the main character, Din Djarin (also known as the Mandalorian or, simply, Mando) absolutely shone in this season’s premiere. At the end of last season, Mando was tasked with returning The Child to his people, whom Mando has been told are a race of sorcerers that are considered ancient enemies of the Mandalorians.
In his attempts to find these sorcerers (whom we all know to be The Jedi Order), Mando finds himself in a near-ghost town on Tattooine, where he discovers a non-Mandalorian wearing Mandalorian armor. In order to acquire the armor that rightly belongs to his people, Mando must help the town face the monster that threatens to swallow the entire settlement whole.
Mando is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting protagonists Star Wars has produced, which is a high compliment indeed as Star Wars excels at creating fascinating characters. He is simultaneously driven by his culture’s dogma, a healthy sense of self-preservation, and an inherent kindness that often gets him in trouble.
The fact that the audience can clearly see his emotions and struggles while never seeing his face speaks to the acting and writing skills behind this series. His character development over the previous season was evident in the most recent episode; he has become more aware of others and less apt to take lives without first negotiating. That being said, he is still a terrifying warrior who will leave devastating carnage if threatened.
Fan-service is something that must be carefully balanced lest it become a crutch. In order to use fan service, a movie or show must first have excellent writing or else it will feel like all dessert with no meat. The Mandalorian has very skillfully found the sweet spot in terms of referencing older Star Wars material, which made this episode incredibly fun to watch.
From references to Boba Fett, to a sand speeder made from one of the twin engines from young Anakin Skywalker’s pod racer in The Phantom Menace, the Easter eggs and hints of returning characters were a delight for long-time fans of the Star Wars universe without dominating the entire episode. Hopefully, this status quo will be maintained as certain old characters make reappearances.
The set design, music, and side characters were also, as always, excellent. The way The Mandalorian manages to use such a small set to tell such a big story is incredible. The music sets the perfect backdrop to each scene and truly established the show as a “western.” The secondary characters and the way their stories are separate but interwoven with Mando’s makes each moment in the show feel significant. Overall, this show is excellently crafted, and this season premier was no different.
As somewhat of a side note, I love the fact that The Mandalorian has introduced a form of sign language into its canon. Non-verbal languages are criminally underutilized in pop culture in general. The fact that it isn’t used more often in stories with nearly endless kinds of sentient aliens of varying abilities to use human languages is somewhat ridiculous.
I’m really happy that Star Wars is allowing more of its alien characters to be truly alien in the fact that they aren’t speaking English, while also providing some much-needed representation for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities in real life. The fact that the Sand People communicate through hand signals was hinted at last season during one scene, but seeing it used in an entire episode during the season two premier was incredible.
Overall, this season of The Baby Yoda Show is off to a strong start and has left me craving more. Hopefully the intensity and storytelling will be able to keep up with expectations and the hints of characters and storylines to come will pay off in the way fans are hoping.