THE WASHINGTON POST – We already know how far Disney and the producers of The Mandalorian are willing to go to keep a secret: They left money on the table. A disturbance in The Force if there ever was one.
Not a single Baby Yoda, ahem, excuse me … not a single ‘The Child’ toy was put into production, despite the undeniable cuteness and marketability of such a creation, until the newborn Star Wars legend (as newborn as a 50-year-old can be) made his finger-pointing debut in the final seconds of The Mandalorian’s first chapter during the launch of Disney Plus almost a year ago.
And now the most meme-able/gif-able baby in the galaxy (remember when he drank some tea?) and his Beskar-amoured bounty-hunter protector are back.
The first episode of The Mandalorian’s second season (Chapter Nine for those keeping count) is now streaming on Disney Plus, a relief to Star Wars fandom and the reporters tasked with covering such a momentous occasion in this far, far away galaxy. Screeners were not made available to the press until the Season 2 premiere dropped on Disney Plus. And that will be the case all season.
Why? Because the secret ingredient in the sauce of The Mandalorian is secrecy, remember? So if a super-powerful, wanted-across-the-galaxy, half-century-old alien baby was the big surprise at the end of last year’s premiere, what was the big surprise at the end of this one to justify so much stealth?
We’ll get to that in a second.
Second season of The Mandalorian starts off giving you what you want. Dat baby. After your eyes are treated to the flickering coolness of Disney Plus’s Star Wars intro of flashing helmets (Vader, BB8, C3PO, Kylo Ren, R2D2 and more, until you get to the shiny helmet of the Mandalorian), we see the child and Mando coming out of the shadows digging up dirt on where they can find other Mandalorians that can possibly help the Child get home to his people.
Inquisitiveness by intimidation leads the two to Tatooine, a planet whose sole existence, it seems, is for hiding things (the chosen one, a retired Obi-Wan Kenobi, the chosen one’s kid).
The dusty and dry planet helps augment The Mandalorian’s space-western vibes. They pair the bartender for information upon entry into a saloon. The locals give the new guy a look as he comes into town with the tiny green kid. But Mando isn’t the only helmeted gunslinger in town with a rocket on his back, which leads to a good old-fashioned Wild West stare-down, and an unmasking that sparks more questions than answers.
The Mandalorian assumes you’re caught up on all the casting news that made waves in the Star Wars fandom. In the season’s first episode, we come upon important puzzle pieces not seen in quite a while, while others still lurk in the darkness waiting to make their live-action Star Wars debut.
But when you think you’ve had your “aha” moment and found one of those characters, you realise you’re wrong, and you begin hanging on the every word of a person you barely know and are not sure you can trust until your eyes tell you you’ve found the expected icon you were looking for.
There’s a new spaceship smell to this season – new monsters, and more vibrant and adorable goo goo gaga-ness from the child. (Is he growing? Will he soon speak?) But it also drips with the familiarity of what made last season work so well. The Mandalorian, fuelled by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni’s encyclopedic knowledge of this universe and Ludwig Göransson’s next-generation musical score, is Star Wars storytelling at its best. This show’s top feat continues to be telling a Star Wars tale that doesn’t need Jedi or Sith to be top notch.
Think back to last season. The only lightsaber seen was the Darksaber Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) wielded in the final moments of Season 1 during his continual hunt for the child. Other than that? Nothing? A Star Wars story so good it doesn’t need lightsabers? That’s a card only Favreau and Filoni have up their sleeves. Episode one of the second season is more of the same. But the thought of Moff Gideon having to light his saber up because another one could be lunging toward him? That’s giving a show that doesn’t need any help more ammunition to obliterate expectations.
But what about all the secrecy? Why no screeners? What could be waiting in the final seconds of the second season premiere? Does the moment deliver?
Is there even a moment? Yes. And it doesn’t disappoint. This is the way.