It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that everybody but you watched the first season of The Mandalorian. Or assuming that, since today is the start of Season 2, the first thing your neighbors did when they rolled out of bed this morning was watch the new episode. You can be forgiven for wondering if you are the only one who doesn’t know what, in fact, a Mandalorian is.
The reality is that 60 million or so homes have a Disney+ subscription, and in lots of them people had other things to do besides watch yet another Star Wars project. But trust me — The Mandalorian is better than all those mediocre Netflix and Hulu shows you’ve whiled away the lockdown watching. So don’t feel bad if the whole Baby Yoda hullabaloo simply passed you by, like the Google Street View car you forgot to pose for. It’s not too late to catch up with The Mandalorian. We’re only eight episodes in, and with this handy-dandy catch-up guide you’ll really only have to watch two of them, as I’ll explain.
If you’ve already watched Season 1, which ended more than ten months ago, your memory might be a bit sketchy — not to worry, I’ll get you ready for Season 2 as well.
The story so far
For sure watch Episode 1, one of the most talked-about television pilots of all time. In it you’ll meet our cast of regulars. First there’s the mysterious bounty hunter who never takes off his helmet and does a killer Clint Eastwood impersonation. This is the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal from Game of Thrones and Narcos), and over the course of the season little pieces of his backstory are revealed.
When Mando’s bounty dispatcher Greef (Carl Weathers, aka Apollo Creed) starts treating him like an Uber Eats driver, Mando asks “where can I make some real bitcoin” and Greef sends him to the Client (Werner Herzog, aka The Great Werner Herzog). The Client gives him a GPS to find his next bounty, but tells him little else other than the target is about fifty years old. Action ensues, and then, in one of the all-time great reveals, the middle-aged man turns out to be a member of the same species as Luke Skywalker's master in The Empire Strikes Back (although Yoda he is not).
The show’s creator, Jon Favreau, wrote six of the eight episodes and worked in a lot of exposition about the origin of the Mandalorian tribe, the New Republic (no, not that Jon Favreau who hired a guy from the New Republic). It’s really not that important, at least until the season finale, although it may be interesting to know that The Mandalorian takes place on the Star Wars timeline a few years after Return of the Jedi. All that really matters is that by the end of Episode 1, the Mandalorian is on baby duty and he’s going to spend the rest of the season keeping the little green man safe.
If time is short, you can skip right to the season-ending Episode 8, where Mando, Greef/Apollo, and new ally Cara Dune — a tough-as-nails mercenary fighter played by Gina Carano — shoot their way out of a jam involving a lot of heavily armed but still pretty dumb storm troopers. The general in charge of these robotic soldiers is Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito, another great reveal), who leads what is left of the old Empire that fell at the end of Return of the Jedi. Gideon needs Baby Yoda to advance whatever galactic agenda he has in mind. But, of course, the Mandalorian has other ideas.
Every single episode of Season 1 is action packed, so if you like westerns, watch them all. If not, catch the bookends of Season 1 to get prepared for Season 2.
New for Season 2
Remember that blah-blah-blah backstory I mentioned? It’s likely to factor more in Season 2, because one of the new trailers hints that Mando wants to get all of the other members of his ancient tribe back together. Otherwise, it appears our helmeted hero and his pudgy charge with the magical powers are going to continue exploring space and getting into trouble.
Some faces to look for during this season, which was produced virtually, include Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano and Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze, two popular characters from the Clone Wars series that recently wrapped. Although it started off as a spaghetti Western, The Mandalorian is also part of a meta-franchise called Star Wars that wants to keep producing new generations of fans, girls as well as boys, and the addition of two Clone Wars characters helps with that.
For us old-timers, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Biehn, and Boba Fett (played by Tamuera Morrison) are also scheduled to make Season 2 guest appearances.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian begins October 30 on Disney+ with new episodes every Friday through Dec. 18.
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Aaron Barnhart has written about television since 1994, including 15 years as TV critic for the Kansas City Star.