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Katee Sackhoff as Bo Katan

While I attempt to remain somewhat objective when watching and critiquing something, it’s never entirely possible. Anything from the mood I’m in while consuming a piece of media to what’s happening in the world at the time can skew how anything is viewed. For something like The Mandalorian, it’s carrying with it the weight of my 37 years on this planet, most of them as some form of Star Wars fan. The most recent iteration of my relationship to Star Wars was watching through the Clone Wars animated series, which, while still flawed, remains one of the best pieces of Star Wars media, perhaps even beyond most of the films. 

What I’m saying is, the inevitable introduction of Clone Wars and Rebels characters was always going to shift this season of The Mandalorian. And it has. The third episode of the second season was, by almost any metric, a better episode and the actual start of this season’s story arc. How? Let’s get into it in quick bullet points.

  • There’s actual movement in the story. While bits and pieces came up in the first two episodes, they were mostly asides. Yes, characters and parts of them will most likely come into play later, but that doesn’t excuse the poor pacing and jumbled plots.
  • There’s actual movement in the story. While bits and pieces came up in the first two episodes, they were mostly asides. Yes, characters and parts of them will most likely come into play later, but that doesn’t excuse the poor pacing and jumbled plots.
  • There’s actual movement in the story. While bits and pieces came up in the first two episodes, they were mostly asides. Yes, characters and parts of them will most likely come into play later, but that doesn’t excuse the poor pacing and jumbled plots.
    • There’s actual movement in the story. While bits and pieces came up in the first two episodes, they were mostly asides. Yes, characters and parts of them will most likely come into play later, but that doesn’t excuse the poor pacing and jumbled plots.

There’s also something to be said about the right director being attached to the right episode. The writing is always going to be what it is as long as Favreau is running the show. Jon Favreau directed the first episode and, well… I know people like to point to Thor as the worst MCU movie, Iron Man 2 is a complete mess. The second episode was directed by Peyton Reed, who before taking on the Antman films has mostly rom-coms and comedies under his belt, which might make sense of the weird Baby Yoda eating eggs stuff as comedic relief that felt so… off. Bryce Dallas Howard handled this third episode in only her second television directorial role, but again, just like her first (last season’s clear Seven Samurai homage), it worked. A director with the right vision can take a sparse script and make it work. Period. 

So we finally end up with the right pieces in place and are reintroduced to Bo Katan from Clone Wars. The best part? Katee Sackhoff, best known as Starbuck in BSG, was the original voice actress and continued the role in live action. Her and her cohorts (one of which is Sasha Banks, who most likely isn’t Sabine from Rebels) are castoffs from Mandalore that are more than happy to help Mando out and show him that “the way” he follows isn’t the only way. They take their helmets off! You know, just like literally every Mandalorian that wasn’t Boba Fett did! Even the Black Watch took their helmets off. We get some backstory about Din being from some cult spun off from the Black Watch and him not knowing more about his own culture and people beyond what Bo explains are “religious zealots.” At first he’s resistant to them, but later he goes with them on a quest that sees them snagging weapons from an Imperial ship being helmed by Titus Welliver of Bosch fame. There’s something hilarious about Bosch, a cop, being an Imperial, but maybe that’s just me. 

Bo Katan is on a quest to retake Mandalore, a place that Din thought was “toxic” and essentially unlivable. A part of that quest? Finding the Darksaber, which we, the viewer and he, the Mando, knows is in the hands of Moff Gideon. We get a cool moment where there’s this overlap where we want Din to realize they can work together, and that he knows who has the Darksaber, but it doesn’t happen. Not yet. She points him to the location of Ahsoka Tano, a Jedi (cough), of which Din is looking to return Baby Yoda to. 

This is where it’s difficult to separate the fan from the criticism. Bo Katan is cool enough. Sure, we already knew Ahsoka was happening, but knowing her appearance is just on the horizon is even better. I do have to wonder what kind of impact this episode and the tease of Ahsoka has on fans watching this show blind, though. Ahsoka’s representation outside of Clone Wars and Rebels is mostly stuff for uber fans, from comics to books and a disembodied voice in Return of Skywalker. The core parts of this episode work no matter what: there’s movement, connection and weight behind everything. This feels like it matters. 

This is more what The Mandalorian should be. 

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