When viewing anything created by Dave Filoni, one must possess the patience of a Jedi, for that diligence will be rewarded. Frequently you will be irritated by his creative colleagues as they’ll make you feel like your time is being wasted for several weeks. With wisdom, you will learn that Filoni has a grand scheme all along beyond what even Jon Favreau has in mind. Hence, why I always mention Dave Filoni in my “Mandalorian” reviews above anyone else involved in the show. At last, Star Wars fans have been given the episode in season 2 they have been waiting for.
There’s not much that can be said in a review for this episode without spoiling it. The title for the episode itself is a dead giveaway for what’s going to happen. I’ll try to be as vague as possible, so I honor my part of the agreement per my master’s trust. From the get-go, my anxieties regarding the show being overly familiar in its formula were quickly put to rest. The internet reactions from the first scene will be on YouTube, probably before you even read this review. The fans finally get to see what some aspects of the Star Wars universe would look like in live-action. I’m happy to say; it continues to look glorious. The dark saber didn’t look dumb in the first season’s final shot; Bo-Katan’s appearance in chapter 11 was a thrilling surprise introduction. Chapter 13 is the icing on the cake with another added name drop that will widely please fans.
I’m a bit skeptical regarding if “The Mandalorian” may become a fan pandering show. I’m hoping it doesn’t turn into “The Force Awakens” of surprise late-night talk show guest appearances. The possibility of this seems very slim. Unlike the sequel trilogy, Kathleen Kennedy doesn’t have her force choke grip on the initial deadlines. If the first season didn’t entirely sell the audience on its delivery, I might be saying something very different since season 2 was being filmed right after season 1 came out. Creatively this is the most artistic “The Mandalorian” has been. Leaning heavily on the themes from the films, this is the most philosophical of episodes. With its discussions regarding aspects of the universe, Mando is blind to; there’s an overall somber yet foreboding atmosphere to this chapter.
The color palette is drabbed in dark browns and desaturated greens. Everything is surrounded by dust or fog. Chapter 13 is a mixture of a Kurosawa film and a Leoni western. Mostly Kurosawa. The planet in this adventure has imagery reminiscent of Feudal Japan. A significant nod to ‘Seven Samurai” without ripping off its plot like so many other knockoff films have. Outside the city walls of this planet are the burnt trees of a destroyed forest, missing any biological life sign. The dead of the forest is reminiscent of Dagoba and Dathomir. Aesthetically, this is the darkest episode yet.
That’s not to say there weren’t some slightly familiar tropes in Chapter 13 that have overstayed their welcome. Once more, Mando is asked to take on a job for a special reward. Again the chapter, like all entries, ends in a climactic fight. Lastly, Din Djarin heads to another planet. How familiar the tropes are here varies unquestionably from how they were used before. Mando isn’t assigned to just any old task this time around. The climactic fight has emotional meaning, and the next planet Din may visit will likely remain for more than a single chapter. As always, Filoni satisfies our faith.
The fans’ engagement unaware of the Star Wars expanded universe might be less appealed from this installment. Aware of how “The Mandalorian” team works the engines of their machines, they’ll fill in the uninitiated audience with enough information to spark their interest to be emotionally invested in these characters they have met for the first time. At least, I hope. When watching this episode with my brother in law on an immensely early post-Thanksgiving morning, I kept shouting at the screen like an excited sports fan during the NFL draft. Meanwhile, my brother in law would ask, “what?” or “who’s that?” By the end of this season, my wish is that fans of his level will react like I was. For now, things are looking promising, with the story finally going towards a concrete, obtainable goal.