7/10 A step down from its debut season, “The Mandalorian” season 2 excels in some areas and is certainly fun to watch but the formulaic writing, filler episodes and fan service ultimately takes the show down a few notches. The first season was more so able to get away with what I will refer to as “side quest” episodes because it was establishing characters and world building. However, when you keep repeating these types of episodes in the second season, it just becomes lazy and repetitive. So many episodes of this show take this repeated formula: The Mandalorian needs something for his mission so he goes to a planet. He comes across the locals who can help him but in order for them to help him, he first must help them with a problem they are having. The Mandalorian helps them with their problem (side quest), they give him what he needs and he is off to the next planet to do the exact same thing all over again. The first two episodes of the season, while fun, copy this lazy formula from some episodes of the first season. These side quest episodes are essentially filler that provide fan service by highlighting an obscure “Star Wars” character that die hard fans know about for usually just one episode and once these fans have had their fill of nostalgia, these single episode characters are abandoned and it is onto the next filler episode. Halfway through this season, we finally start to get a connected, coherent plot line that isn’t just filler, making the second half of the season much stronger than the first half. Besides the repetitive, lazy episode structures, there are a few other minor problems. Ludwig Göransson is back to compose the score for the entire season and although he puts in more great work, I found that the Mandalorian’s main theme gets overused a Hell of a lot, which took away from the strength of all the new music composed for this season. I’ve written about how Storm Troopers are one of the worst elements of “Star Wars” in past “Star Wars” film reviews and here that problem continues. I never felt our heroes were ever in any real danger whenever they fought Storm Troopers, no matter how many of them there were because Storm Troopers’ armor does absolutely nothing and the Mandalorian’s armor can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ no matter what. Finally, a character makes a big appearance in the final episode of the season and although de-aging technology has improved a lot even since 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, this character still looks like a deep fake version of himself and you can tell we are still a few years away from getting this de-aging technology where it needs to be. Despite all of these problems, there is a lot to admire about this season. New characters are introduced, the episodes have fantastic pacing, moving things right along and as I stated earlier, the show is just fun to watch. Filler episodes may be pointless in the grand scheme of the overarching plot line, but they are a blast to watch and will genuinely put a smile on your face (Baby Yoda is still the cutest thing ever). The performances are great, the mixture of practical creature effects and state of the art CGI technology make the season look phenomenal. The production design, costume design, sets, props, environment, tone, mood, action, etc. feel like they are all in their groove and firing on all cylinders. For as much nostalgia and fan service that is shoved into this season, I would much rather have that than the Social Justice Warrior nonsense and unplanned, “let’s make it up as we go along” garbage that episodes 7-9 insulted us with. This season is a step down from the freshman season and I hope Jon Favreau can hire some additional writers for the third season to shake up the episode structure so he can eliminate all of these filler, side quest episodes. The show is a blast with a ton of potential but some changes need to be made for this show to sustain further seasons.
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