This article contains spoilers, you’ve been warned.
Three years ago, almost to the day at the time of writing this, Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released in cinemas. It had these strange things called “themes” and “character development” in it, which was very scary and controversial for some reason. Such things couldn’t stand, and a vocal minority of entitled male Star Wars ‘fans’ decided to throw a fit because their precious Hero’s Journey saga dared to do something genuinely new and interesting with the series: make it about more than just Luke f***ing Skywalker.
LucasFilm – and by extension Disney – in its infinite wisdom decided that this creative decision was a misstep, and sought never to do anything Star Wars related again unless it involved one of maybe a dozen characters, who will all inevitably interact at some point or another.
At the beginning of this year, the first season of The Mandalorian finally made its way (legally) to UK audiences with the eventual launch of Disney+. With a lack of new movies to, well, go to, I covered the first season in a round-up which was by all accounts optimistic. Mainly this was because those eight episodes were the best Star Wars output of the last 12 months, and after watching the show’s second season’s finale, it’s sad but safe to say that they still are.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian sees the eponymous bounty hunter become a background character in his own show, for the benefit of countless backdoor pilots to shows which Disney could announce en masse. His mission, given to him at the end of the first season, is to find a Jedi, and judging by the rate at which they end up appearing this time around, Mando’s quest turns out to be easier done than said.
Along the way there are some flashes of what made The Mandalorian so promising, these are however few and far between, and very often consigned to the less plot-centric episodes of the season. Pretty much the only consistently enjoyable original element of The Mandalorian‘s sophomore effort is Ludwig Göransson’s score, which does its best to try and make the series’ events mean anything more than shameless Clone Wars and Rebels fan service.
Of course, it’s Star Wars, and fans have been conditioned to expect the occasional nod to past stories over the years, for better or worse. The Mandalorian‘s bare-faced pandering to the fanboys is on another level though; from Boba Fett’s tedious yet inevitable return, to uncanny-valley Luke Skywalker slicing through some robots to save the day.
No matter how far things have been pushed though, the reception – especially on social media – has been nothing short of rapturous.
It’s not bad enough that Star Wars as a series has become creatively bankrupt, but LucasFilm and Disney are being actively praised and encouraged to carry on the trend of making its galaxy far, far away feel so very, very small.
To bring it back to The Last Jedi, the worst thing about Star Wars in its current state is that everyone was shown just how good it can be. Given the aforementioned reaction since its initial release, maybe the ouroboros that the franchise has become is what its fans deserve.