This piece contains spoilers for The Mandalorian 2.03. Precede at readers own risk.
Released on Disney + last week in the company’s continuing attempts to keep the Star Wars franchise taking over between theatrical movie trilogies here’s another LEGO effort. Ray uses a time portal key to hop around various films and events from the Star Wars universe. The special also acts as something of a tribute to the infamy of the original Holiday Special. Those fans that want to can debate if Life Day is now canon considering it’s one of the narrative groundings for this new product released in 2020. There’s not a great deal to say about the special itself. If viewers have seen a piece of Lego visual media rendered in the Traveller’s Tales style they have has a good idea what to expect. The use of the portal as an excuse to have a comedic greatest hits of the Star Wars franchise is mostly good fun. That said much as this is far from the worst piece of Star Wars media released in the last 18 months when the Rise of Skywalker exists there were three main thoughts this critic had when watching the special.
- Attempting to ground the narrative in characters from the sequel trilogy showcases just how bland and underdeveloped they are. This isn’t the fault of the animators making the special or any of the cast in the live-action films. There’s a level of cold corporate assumption from Disney and the people that put the special together that audiences will care purely because it’s Star Wars. Regardless of the fandom being one of the most toxic around the Rise of Skywalker showed that certain audiences correctly will refuse a product when it’s fed to thems.
- The next claim may seem somewhat bold. Disney may not understand why The Mandalorian (especially at its best) is so good. It’s one of the few bits of Star Wars visual media to have its own distinct brand identity. It’s got a certain level of the expected fanservice but also strong core strengths that enable it to be enjoyed by a much wider audience. The reveal of Bo-Katan in episode 2.03 is the perfect example of this. It works for the fans invested in all elements of the universe. It’s also effective within the context of the narrative and moves the episode forward. For a viewer whose knowledge of the character is that Katie Sackhoff was reprising her animated role in live-action.
- The new holiday special puts focus on dialogue-driven gags. As a stylistic choice, this is fine. It does feel like something of a betrayal for the original Traveller’s Tales style. The special probably would have worked better as a slapstick based 22-minute affair as opposed to a narrative effort at double the length.
Regardless of these thoughts, the new special is perfectly fine. It will keep fans engaged for 46 minutes as they wait for the weekly Mandalorian fix. This critic may not be a massive fan of the overall Star Wars franchise. That said if streaming enables the higher-ups at Disney to produce more distinctive Star Wars content like the Mandalorian he can very easily get on board (as he has done with the latter show.)