Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.
I’ve had a rough few days. I feel better now. I knew they’d be rough, so on Wednesday I watched The Return, the third-season finale of The Mandalorian, under my covers while Aly and our 7-month old slept next to me. I could’ve watched it in my office, I guess, but didn’t want to get out of bed. I also didn’t want to be spoiled. I knew it would probably happen if I waited and I knew the day was probably going to suck the life out of me so badly that I wouldn’t have the right mindset by the time both boys were in bed. I was right about all of that. My decision to watch the finale in the morning gave me that high only good Star Wars gives me — a high this entire season of The Mandalorian has gifted me week in, week out for the past couple months.
This is the best and most consistent the show has ever been. This finale is the best they’ve ever done, and I think for me it all boils down to one truth: This is the first season to have the confidence in its own world-building and its own characters.
I wrote pretty extensively about the first two seasons, which I mostly adore, either in essays or Serial Consumer articles. The latter have always been mostly larks to start conversations around these shows I love so much each week, but occasionally I have big thoughts to express about the shows as a whole, like when I ripped apart the The Rescue (the season 2 finale) or The Book of Boba Fett.
The former is what I want to discuss here again, briefly, to put my feelings into context: I’ve always felt The Rescue was a massive anti-climax that took the coward’s way out, bringing out the most important character in the entire Star Wars franchise in lieu of giving any of this series’ characters any real development. It was obvious the conclusion of the Season 2 arc with Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) finding the Jedi was the two of them deciding to stay together; pretending otherwise for the sake of a cameo was silly, and creator Jon Favreau tacitly admitted as such when he hijacked another show to reunite them.
Compare The Return to The Rescue: In this episode, everyone in our new ensemble gets a great time to shine. Din and Grogu battle to protect one another, while Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) fights for the honor of Mandalore and personal redemption. Even Axe Woves, a relatively minor character, gets a big moment. We get a photo-finish ending in the Star Wars tradition. (It’s hilarious to see people complain about the “Looney Tunes” ending when George Lucas employs the same focus-in-to-black during the Original Trilogy.) Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) gets his big moment and possible demise, making explicit his plans across the first three seasons without the show being taken over by his energy or feeling the need to focus too much on misplaced “drama.”
I also feel vindicated by the fact that none of the finale hinged on the types of twists that have become standard in genre fare. Online chatter for the entire week between The Spies and The Return was filled with crackpot ideas. Some suggested the Armorer (Emily Swallow) was a spy. Others expected Din to die. Hell, the entire season saw fanboys believe the story was going to be following Din as he grew into the role of the leader of Mandalore. None of these ever seemed remotely grounded in what this show is about!
Do you know what this show is about? It’s about a man who finds a son, and all he really, truly wants to do is wander around being honorable and shit with his boy. He’s not born to be a king, but he’s a hero. The most badass kind.
Anyway, again: What can I do here? Do I really need to recap all of it? I just don’t feel like it.
- This is the only show to which my friends from across the entertainment taste spectrum excitedly made comparisons to The Rocketeer.
- It’s a show still fundamentally based around how goddamn cool Boba Fett looked in 1980, that still finds ways to make Mandalorian armor look cool, and operate in unbelievably cool ways, onscreen. I’ve seen an entire decade of Dave Filoni-penned Mandalorian fan-fiction and still saw new, creative uses for their gear here.
- It’s a show where Bo-Katan and the Armorer mess up Imperials in midair with melee weapons in a sequence that seems profoundly influenced by anime.
- It’s the only show I’ve seen that manages to really ape the same level of action-humor as John Wick has been doing recently — especially during the sequence where Din must fight through the different laser walls while scrambling to keep hold of whatever weapon he can use.
- A show where Grogu taunts his nemesis with the Force and then uses it to protect his dad and queen / mommy from a warship, well … it’s basically just the show I’ve always dreamed of. I’m gonna shit my fucking pants, I love Star Wars so much.
Nothing this week!
What I’d Buy
I’d buy most of what I mentioned last week — Gideon in his new armor, Beskar Stormtroopers, assorted cool new Mandalorians. I guess I’d buy R5, too. I want to buy all this shit. Give it to me.