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

Look: The Mandalorian isn’t deep. That’s why I recap it through the lens of Serial Consumer. They’re fundamentally toy commercials. But goddamnit, this season has been better than the other two by a wide margin, and I do not understand the vocal (minority?) contingent who insist the first two seasons were superior. If you break down both of those seasons episode by episode, each had more skippable chapters (respective low points with, coincidentally, the fourth episode in each season), goofier season-wide plotting and sketchier world-building. Last season ended on a massive anticlimax where Luke Skywalker showed up and took Grogu even though everyone knew it was bullshit for Din Djarin to give up his new boy, even the people writing the series. Judging from The Spies, which is one of the series’ best episodes as a whole, The Mandalorian doesn’t seem to be headed in that direction once again. Of course, we’ll see next week. But I’m optimistic because this show simply fucks.

When last we left our heroes, Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) had taken possession of the Darksaber and thus the mantle of leadership for her own clan, the Nite Owls. Din and his Death Watch family do not give a shit about the Darksaber but follow Bo because of her honor and desire to see Mandalore united. Now that the clans are together, they travel to Mandalore to retake the scorched world.

Before all that, though, we get the biggest piece of political lore dumping we’ve seen in this new era of Star Wars — a glimpse at the Imperial Remnant Shadow Council, comprised of the supposedly separate warlords. We meet Captain Pellaeon (Xander Berkeley of 24, holy shit), who we’ll surely see again in a major way; he is, after all, the sidekick to Grand Admiral Thrawn in both Rebels and the classic Expanded Universe books. We meet Brendol Hux (Brian Gleeson), father to the Hux (Domhnall Gleeson, Brian’s older brother) we meet in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We get references to Project Necromancer, the return of Thrawn and other Imperial goings-on in the post-Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi era, all of which are presumably building to Dave Filoni’s new film. I’m so excited about all of this I could positively scream.

All of this stuff, of course, establishes the return of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). He’s been freed from New Republic captivity and decides to rid the galaxy of the pesky Mandalorians messing with his secret cloning project on Nevarro. He requests units from Pellaeon and Hux, who are clearly the Shadow Council’s head honchos. (I imagine Pellaeon’s eventual defeat alongside Thrawn will lead to Hux taking control and building the First Order.) These units include the Praetorian Guards from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which is cool as fuck.

Anyway, I don’t really want to go through the episode beat by beat. Frankly, I’m really tired. I had a long day. I watched 20 minutes of this before my boys woke up, 15 minutes in my car before work and the last 15 minutes on the toilet during my lunch break. It wasn’t ideal, but I really love watching this show and didn’t want to waste away the day avoiding spoilers.

A few notes, then, the same way I ended up summarizing Obi-Wan Kenobi when I got tired of that shitshow:

  • Grogu riding around in IG-12 with a “yes” button and a “no” button perfectly encapsulates a baby growing into a toddler or small child. Din’s exasperated “This isn’t working for me” is perfect.
  • Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) gifting IG-12 to Grogu over Din’s explicit, worried objections is also a parenting experience I recognize well.
  • I can’t gush enough about how exciting it is to see more First Order stuff in this era of Star Wars. The sequels have a lot of problems. So do the prequels. Creators have redeemed the latter by turning great ideas into better stories. It’s time for the sequels to receive the same treatment, and frankly, less retconning is necessary than for the prequels.
  • Esposito is a little much in the role, but goddamn, that armor is fabulous.
  • That said: The Shadow Council could have also included infamous EU Imperial Admiral Daala and her giant ponytail. Just saying.
  • I desperately need so many toys from this.
  • Director Rick Famuyiwa helped produce this season and remains one of the best people they’ve had behind the camera on the show. He’s always a highlight, and this is no exception. As Filoni and Jon Favreau become busier, it’s clear he’s the man for this job.
  • So happy to see yet another Giant Monster in a season full of them. I hope we see Mandos flying the dragons next week, of course.
  • Thank god “Bad baby, no squeeze” returned.
  • I found the death of Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher) incredibly affecting, even as I sat there with my pants down in a public bathroom stall, desperately hoping nobody else would show up and stink up my private screening.
  • Returning to my frustration with the discourse surrounding this show: It’s simply not true that Din lacks motivation this season. He wants to hang out with his family and keep them safe while raising his son. That’s motivation. I know people expected this season to be a single story about him seeking Mandalorian redemption, but we got something much better because he’s about to lose everything he cares about — and we now know why and how he cares about them when he loses them. This season has been more thoughtfully plotted than people give it credit for, and the stakes are actually real now. Nobody paying attention really believed we were saying goodbye to Grogu for any length of time…but what happens tomorrow when Gideon removes his helmet again and, say, destroys access to the springs? What does that do to Din, to his family? That probably isn’t what happens, but we understand the Mandalorians much better now. He has something real to lose.

Consumer Report

I got a 6” Axe Woves this week. Hell, yeah. Nothing else, though.

What I’d Buy

God, I need to rearrange my shelving to incorporate 6” scale figures of:

  • Grogu in IG-12
  • Beskar Stormtroopers
  • Beskar Jet Troopers
  • Praetorian Guards
  • Scavenger Mandalorians (Skinny Pete!)
  • Captain Pellaeon aka Xander Fucking Berkley