While waiting for the second season of The Mandalorian, I decided to put some of my reasons for loving the first season into writing, by getting a head start on reviews for episodes that might or might not exist in the next season. On the day that Lucasfilm dropped the first S2 trailer, Disney+ also dropped a strong hint that one of those episodes will indeed exist. So, I’ve decided to share a peek at the introduction of my coverage.
I’ve fallen in and out of love with Star Wars many times since childhood, finding that the movies could only overcome their potential for cheese when they deliver fascinating characters and worldbuilding. I’ve seen all of the franchise’s live-action theatrical movies from A New Hope to The Last Jedi, and would choose The Empire Strikes Back as my favorite of the nine. Surprisingly, Jon Favreau’s TV show The Mandalorian has held my interest more firmly than many of the movies could, drawing intrigue from the contrast between bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal)’s intimidating persona and his capability for compassion.
The Mandalorian also earned praise from me for its understated efforts to diversify Star Wars. In front of the camera, actors of many races deliver performances that prove important, fleshed-out, and/or unforgettable at the least. Although none of the first season’s Asian cast members portrayed major characters, many of them did land roles whose decisions and actions influenced the plot, and performed while retaining a human physical appearance. Behind the camera, nonwhite and/or female directors supervised live-action Star Wars projects for the first time. Half-Chinese-Canadian director Deborah Chow’s supervision of Chapter 3: “The Sin”, and Chapter 7: “The Reckoning”, appealed very strongly to my Asian pride, when those chapters proved two of the best and most important from the first season.
During the first season of The Mandalorian, Iranian-American Omid Abtahi became the show’s first Asian-descended cast member to appear in multiple episodes (and a carryover from another Star Wars TV show, as he previously voiced Cadet Amis on The Clone Wars). In Chapter 1: “The Mandalorian” and Chapter 3: “The Sin”, Abtahi portrayed the Imperial scientist Dr. Pershing. He initially comes off as merely the Client’s timid lackey, but shows some fortitude when he disagrees with the Client’s orders to destroy the Child. When Din Djarin embarks on a self-imposed mission to rescue the Child, he spares Pershing after the scientist stammers that the baby would’ve died without his defiance. Pershing doesn’t seem to have become one of the most popular Mandalorian characters [I don’t think he appears in the placeholder picture]; I didn’t think much of him until his concern for the Child’s life put his motivations and morality into question. In any case, when Disney+ posted the first trailer for The Mandalorian Season 2, the page listed Omid Abtahi among Pedro Pascal’s returning co-stars. By then, I already realized – with help from material that other Mandalorian fans posted online – that the chance of Din and Pershing meeting again seemed especially strong when considering that Pershing might possess knowledge that could benefit either Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito)’s efforts to claim the Child for himself, or Din’s search for other members of the Child’s species.
[insert actual review]
You might wonder by now if I’ve ever seen The Mandalorian‘s biggest Japanese inspiration, the movie adaptations of Kazuo Koike’s Lone Wolf and Cub manga. No offense to that series’ creatives or fans, but I could barely stomach the first installment.