Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints about this season of The Mandalorian from die-hard Star Wars fans and I guess I don’t relate. This is by far the most consistent and interesting story they’ve told in the show, with the best supporting characters and world-building. The first season was unique and felt new, while the second was filled with (partially misused) cameos from fan-favorite characters in lieu of world-building and story. In the ensuing months, a lot of fans expected Season 3 to feature our badass hero, Din Djarin, going up against the world armed with his Darksaber on a quest to reclaim Mandalore. What we’ve gotten instead is a more patient, but no less exciting, look at just what being a Mandalorian actually means in the context of an era post-Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi. More time with Bo-Katan, more time with Din’s found family and more time with the New Republic have created a show that could extend years into the future.

That’s not how the second season felt, particularly the nostalgia-bait ending, which trotted out a goofy-looking Luke Skywalker for points rather than delivering an earned climax. The fact Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni reversed Grogu’s departure as quickly as they could only speaks to how right I am about that finale.

Anyway, I loved Guns for Hire, which sees the Mando family of Bo, Din and Grogu travel to the outer rim world of Plazir-15 to find Bo’s old crew of Mandalorians, who are now privateers. Axe Woves is their new leader, which is a nice upgrade for a character who previously just stood there in one episode looking cool. After deciding Bo’s quest to reclaim Mandalore was foolish, Axe and his crew deposed Bo and took off with all their looted weaponry. But she needs them back to unite the clans. Yadda yadda.

In order to gain a meeting with these Mandalorians, Bo and Din complete a mission at the behest of local leaders on the world where they’re currently stationed. The Duchess (Lizzo) and her beau, Captain Bombardier (Jack Black), run “the last true democracy on the Outer Rim,” which is, of course, just a society of pampered rich buffoons using decommissioned droids to run everything. Unfortunately, some of the droids are unexpectedly turning against the people of Plazir-15, so Bo and Din must figure out why and how to stop it.

The story continues developing the galaxy under the New Republic, where anything outside the Mid Rim is basically demilitarized wild space again. I love it. Not every world on The Mandalorian should be a Western pastiche.

This episode’s little mystery story involves old battle droids, a droid bar and an old separatist (Christopher Lloyd) who has a big issue with authority. I love all of this and I’m glad this season manages to handle the idea of droid sentience in a more thoughtful fashion than Solo: A Star Wars Story. When the droid bartender starts explaining the way nepenthe, the alcohol for droids, works to lubricate program-refreshing sub-particles? Well, just imagine the meme with the grinning sicko standing outside the window saying, “Yes, Yes.” It’s me. I’m the sicko for this shit.

I’ve also seen complaints that this season is more about Bo-Katan than Din Djarin. Good! Din’s a wandering warrior and his role is to live through these larger stories being told around him. He isn’t a king and doesn’t want to be (although it would certainly be a dramatic twist if he ended up leader after everything he’s been through)! He’s just a dude who wants to hang out with his family and his cute little boy. I relate to him. Not everyone in the galaxy needs a grand destiny.

Fans pointed out that Bo was technically the owner of the Darksaber after she retrieved it in The Mines of Mandalore, and I’m glad that came into play again here as Din’s excuse to give her the blade. She’s more interesting with it than he was. One prominent jagoff complained that the plot point feels written by Reddit, but, like, these fanboy YouTubers are constantly coming up with fan theories like this and then complaining when the writers ignore them. This time, Favreau and Filoni actually followed their own rules about the Darksaber. What’s not to love?

Last thought: All the droid and alien stuff is straight out of George Lucas’s concept of Star Wars, and I’m so glad this show isn’t afraid of getting weird. How wonderful. I’ll miss this show so much when the season ends.

Consumer Report

I don’t think I purchased anything Star Wars over the past week. I did finish reading War of the Bounty Hunters, which was a good $40 purchase. I hope the two sequel stories are also collected and subsequently discounted.

What I’d Buy

I have been resisting the urge to buy Axe Woves for a few months now. He’s a $25 figure, and I already own two Death Watch Mandalorians, which are basically the same figure; Woves just has a different paint job and a head-sculpt under the helmet. After this episode, I guess I’d better get one. Not sure whether to throw him in with Koska and Bo-Katan or place him separately with my Death Watch Mandos, though. I guess we’ll see where his allegiance ultimately lands.

Plenty of neat characters here who probably won’t get the 6” Figure treatment. Captain Bombardier and the Duchess are obvious choices for “civilian” figures, but we haven’t gotten Peli Motto yet, so I’m not holding my breath.

My biggest want is one that has been on my list for years — a goddamn Super Battle Droid. They’re an essential part of any prequel display, and now they’d fit well in my Mando section, too. It’s bizarre we haven’t seen them yet. Hopefully this will spur production. I’d buy a couple (on clearance) to throw throughout my display.