Okay, so, I started writing this post a few weeks ago, and was pretty pleased with it, but put it aside for a bit – in the time between then and now, there was a big casting shakeup on the show with the firing of Gina Carano. Let me clarify upfront that this post has nothing to do with that.
However, this will have spoilers for the second season of The Mandalorian
The Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian wasn’t exactly perfect, but it was a whole hell of a lot of fun. Some people decried it for being too focused on fan service, some said it was the best thing for Star Wars in the 21st Century. Yeah, I thought that the presence of Luke Skywalker came at the cost of having good visual effects, but it offered some thrilling action and an incredible emotional conclusion to this season – and arguably, the one before it.
In particular, the most amazing moment came when Grogu and Din shared their tender goodbye, with Din taking off his helmet in front of everyone. This moment was a beautiful moment shared between a found father and son, and was a beautiful conclusion to the ongoing discussion throughout the show about the Mandalorian’s custom of not taking it off. In this scene, we see how he loves Grogu enough to symbolically and literally reveal himself in front of everyone. There’s no other words to describe it other than “deeply personal,” which is impressive for a character whose whole disposition has been largely impersonal and cold. And it makes the separation of the Child and the Mandalorian a beautiful, heart-wrenching moment.
This brings us to what troubles the separation of the show’s two main characters could mean for the series’ overall quality. My worry is that the show going forward is in trouble if it doesn’t reunite Grogu and Din, it could be in considerable trouble for its third season. These two characters are the heart and soul of the show. Nearly every great moment of genuine emotion has either come from these two or their personal connection was in some way involved. The story so far has been almost entirely about the relationship between them; if we separate them, what do we have?
There’s a delicate balance that needs to be struck – what kind of character growth can the Mandalorian have without the Child? Alternatively, what kind of show would the Child have without the Mandalorian?
Yes, the two were separated at the end of the second season – but that was different, since the focus of both characters was to find a way to get reunited. It was still about the relationship the two shared. In that way, their reunion in the last episode was the logical emotional payoff. On the other hand, separating the two takes that away.
I worry that season 3 will involve a rather tedious separation of our main characters. Nearly every genre story in every medium does this, but it can so often feel tedious. How unnecessary does it feel when one of the Harry Potter books or movies sidelines Ron or Hermione for a significant portion of the story because they’re mad at Harry or each other? Are the Avengers movies better when the Avengers need to split up? If there’s a franchise to be blamed for this, it might, in fact, be Star Wars – Empire Strikes Back proved that you could split characters up and still tell a good story if you play your cards right.
It worked then, but the prequel trilogy suffered tremendously from this, to the point where I could write a whole post about it. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan arrive on Tatooine in Phantom Menace and go to town where they’ll meet the most significant character in the trilogy, Anakin. Obi-Wan stays with the ship for literally no reason – in the long run, Obi-Wan’s relationship with Anakin is more significant than Qui-Gon’s, so why wasn’t he there to meet him? And this goes on and on until the end the trilogy, which is almost seven hours long – and while I haven’t tallied the amount of combined scenes they have together, Anakin and Obi-Wan probably share about an hour of screentime together – and if the whole tragedy of Revenge of the Sith ends up being the fact that these two people who had such a strong bond have fallen out and find themselves in direct conflict with one another, it would be more emotional if the two shared more screentime. They’re barely together in Attack of the Clones, and again, Revenge of the Sith keeps them separate for most of its runtime.
Now, it gets hard to compare The Mandalorian to those three movies, because in sixteen episodes they’ve already well exceeded the Prequel Trilogy’s total length, and the main duo was together for most of that, so they’re already off to a better start. Hopefully, with the relationship between these two characters as the guiding light for this series, they don’t lose the direction.
Is the Child just expected to go to Jedi school while Din goes back to bounty hunting, only for the two to never see each other again? As I say that, plenty of Star Wars fans probably don’t think that’s a bad idea, and I’m sure it would be fun to watch, but it would lack the moments of deeper character development that these first two seasons manage to hint at. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious about the Child’s Jedi training was going to be like, but I don’t want that to be the focus of the whole show – just like I don’t want Mando’s bounty hunting to be the sole focus, either. One of the weaker episodes of Season 2, I thought was Chapter 12: The Siege, which had Din chasing a bounty with Cara Dune and Greef, while Baby Yoda went to school and ate macaroons; I just wasn’t compelled by or interested in either story. And yes, this did end up tying more into the main story than the second episode of the season with its Frog Lady character – but I just got the sense that something was missing from “The Siege,” I just couldn’t get into it.
This is all a rather long-winded way of saying that I think the bond that these characters share is the show’s greatest strength. By separating them, in theory for a longer amount of time or permanently, the show will find itself in uncharted territory. By doing this, they risk their greatest assest. Despite the title officially being The Mandalorian, for its fans the show has always been The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda.