This article is a follow up. Make sure to read my previous review of the Cineworld Unlimited screening for Chapter 1 of The Mandalorian.
Now that all eight chapters/ episodes are up on Disney + UK what did I make of the full season.
What I was not expecting when looking at the season as a whole was for it to have such an odd structure. The first three episodes are a trilogy that set up the core of the show, there are some stand-alone episodes in the middle before coming back the central plot for the final two episodes. We have seen 22 episodes network TV seasons use the structure for decades at this point but this seems very strange for a prestige streaming show with episodes that are relatively short buy streaming drama standards (between 30 and 50 minutes.) The strengths of the show remain the same. It looks great, the action is strong throughout and for long stretches of the runtime it is committed to be a solid space western. That said the three stand-alone episodes do vary somewhat in terms of overall quality. Sanctuary is solid enough although something of a step down from the best material in the opening trilogy. It also introduces Gina Caranos Cara Dune who comes into play in the final two episodes. The Gunslinger is very dull despite the welcome presents of Ming-Na Wen (who should have stuck around beyond one episode.) The Prisoner is particularly good and a strong refinement of the shows core elements. That said the only element required in these episodes for the season plot is the introduction of Carano and if you took them out entirely you would have a solid two-and-a-half to three hour movie that’s better than the entirety of the sequel trilogy. That’s with the acknowledgement that Giancarlo Espositos introduction as the seasons main villain comes far too late for him to make as much of an impact as an actor of his talent can deliver (having played one of the best TV villains of all time in Gus Fring across six and a half seasons on two different shows.) That said this isn’t much of a problem if (as implied by the ending) his Moft Gideon turns out to be the main antagonist in season 2 and beyond.) That aside these final two episodes (even from the perspective of someone who is not a massive Star Wars fan) are some of the most confident action/genre TV of recent memory and make the saggy elements of the middle episodes somewhat forgivable. If the show can deliver more of this in season 2 it could develop into something that’s competing for the best show currently on-air position, but we will have to see how it develops in future.