The Mandalorian season 2 takes inspiration from Game of Thrones

Check out new images from the second season of The Mandalorian, as the cast and crew talk about what’s next for Mando, Baby Yoda and the rest!

The Mandalorian, the first-ever live-action Star Wars TV show, premiered on Disney+ last October, and it was an immediate hit. How could you not love a lavishly produced Star Wars show about a hard-as-nails bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) protecting an adorable baby alien from ne’er-do-wells like the petty tyrant Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito)? The show was fresh, fun, and fast, and brought some luster back to Star Wars after The Rise of Skywalker, the final movie in the sequel trilogy, landed with a bit of a thud among the fandom.

One of the best things about The Mandalorian was that it kept things simple. According to showrunner Dave Filoni, that was very much part of the mission statement. “Quite simply: We didn’t overthink things,” he told Entertainment Weekly, explaining how the show was inspired by the opening act of A New Hope, the original Star Wars movie. [Star Wars creator creator] George [Lucas] started with these very iconic characters whose relationships are very clear, and then introduced what’s at stake — for us, the [fate of] the Child. An audience tends to enjoy a story by sticking to tropes and characters they understand — like a gunslinger in the Old West. So it was a clear story and a fun adventure even if you’ve never seen anything [in the Star Wars universe].”

“The Child” is better known as Baby Yoda, the aforementioned adorable baby alien. Disney would prefer we call him “the Child,” but the ship has pretty much sailed on that.

Baby Yoda was creator Jon Favreau’s idea, and clearly it paid off. But introducing a new member of Yoda’s species was a risk, something that Filoni — the resident Star Wars expert on the show — was mindful of. “When [Favreau] brought up in the very beginning of doing this child and having it be of Yoda’s species, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s very tricky,’ because there’s never been this before outside of Yoda, and then Yaddle in the prequels on the Jedi Council,” Filoni said. “It’s kind of a sacred thing … We just have to be responsible when we’re telling a story with what we’re deciding to do. The fans want to know things are a calculated, careful decision. Then if you tell a good story, most of the time they go with it.”

Filnoi is the guy behind shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and if any Star Wars fans out there are worried that The Mandalorian will stray too far from the established canon, he’s the guy who will keep that from happening. “I’ll come up with ideas and sometimes Dave will say, ‘You can’t do this in Star Wars,’” Favreau said of his creative process. “Then I’ll cite examples from the movies, or Clone Wars, to try to use as a justification. I’m like a lawyer talking to a judge; I am to him as he was to George. I won’t do anything without Dave’s approval. And to his credit, he understands that Star Wars needs to be fun and ever-evolving.”

These discussions range from wide-angle talks about mythology to whether a phrase like “a dime a dozen” could appear in the Star Wars universe, since dimes don’t exist in the galaxy far, far away. These guys are paying attention to the details.

But what goes on behind the scenes is only part of the show’s magic. The series boasts a terrific cast of performers who bring it all to life, starting with leading man Pedro Pascal, who might remember as the doomed Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones. “We start very directly after the first [season] and he’s going into very dangerous territory,” Pascal said, teasing season 2. “He is very much a passenger to the experience in unexpected ways — not knowing what’s to come, not knowing how much or how best to protect the Child. We don’t know how far he will go to do that, and they’re finding new ways to push the envelope.”

At the end of season 1, after a season spent protecting the Child without any particular plan, Mando — real name Dyn Jarren — made a firm commitment to the little green guy and decided to help him find his people, wherever in the galaxy they are. But he still has a lot of growing to do. “On a moment-to-moment basis, he’s discovering that question: ‘What do you want?’ Filoni said “That isn’t clear to him, or to me. We think we know how the characters are going to react, and it can be surprising how they do react.”

Once the cameras start rolling, Pascal has a unique challenge because Mando pretty much always wears his helmet: he only took it off once in the first season. “A little goes a long way,” he said of his performance. “[A]s far as what I believe works in terms of storytelling, it’s the very small physical gesture, those specific intonations in a voice, that make him compelling.”

For the second season, Pascal did agree to remove his helmet when acting opposite MMA fighter Carano, who plays ex-Rebel shock trooper Cara Dune; just when the camera is on her, obviously. “I really wanted to see his eyes, which really helped,” she said.

Dune is one of several characters from the first season who will be coming back for the second season. Another returning character is Greef Karga (Carl Weathers, who’s also directing this season), the head of a bounty hunting guild. According to Weathers, Karga is “on a quest to be more legitimate, but I’m not sure there isn’t something in the back of his mind that isn’t more self-involved.” He also says he’s grown close to Cara Dune to the point where they “almost finish each other’s sentences.” Interesting. Let’s hope he doesn’t pull a Lando and betray Mando somewhere down the line.

But the character a lot of people are excited to see is Moff Gideon, a former high-ranking member of the Empire (which has crumbled at the time of the show) who wants to get his hands on Baby Yoda for as-yet-unknown reasons. We also know he possesses the Darksaber, an ancient Mandalorian weapon that will surely come into play in season 2.

“I’ll be going toe-to-toe with Mando,” Esposito said. “It’s an iconic battle. I want to disarm him mentally as well. Who knows? Maybe there’s an opportunity to get him to fight some battles for me. You may think I’m a villain, but I’m trying to harness some energy and some powers for a path that could be best for all. You’ll get to see him be somewhat diplomatic and more of a manipulator.”

That sounds pretty interesting; Gideon will fight Mando in combat, but may try to tempt him, as well, playing the role of Darth Vader or the Emperor to Mando’s Luke Skywalker. And since Giancarlo Esposito is playing him, you know it’s gonna be entertaining to watch. “It’s so exciting for me to be in a show where I can wear a cape and own it, and where I can have a lightsaber and really own it,” he said. Esposito also said that Gideon will command “a larger vehicle, hint-hint” and spend some one-on-one time with the Child.

Gideon flew a TIE Fighter in The Mandalorian season 1. Is he going to attack with an AT-AT in season 2? Watch this space.

But it’s not just returning characters. The Mandalorian is going to introduce a lot of new players, as well. We’ve heard a LOT of rumors: Rosario Dawson is joining the show as Star Wars: The Clone Wars favorite Ahsoka TanoStar Wars Rebels characters Sabine Wren and Rex are coming; Battlestar Galactica veteran Katee Sackhoff will play Clone Wars/Rebels character Bo-Katan; Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett in the Star Wars prequels, is returning as Jango’s son Boba Fett; Timothy Olyphant may also play Boba Fett. It’s hard to disentangle the truth from the fiction. “Some of them are true, some are not true,” Carano said, whetting our appetites.

Whatever new characters show up, Favreau promises that the show is going to open up. “The new season is about introducing a larger story in the world,” he said. “The stories become less isolated, yet each episode has its own flavor, and hopefully we’re bringing a lot more scope to the show.”

As we introduce other characters, there are opportunities to follow different storylines. The world was really captivated by Game of Thrones and how that evolved as the characters followed different storylines — that’s very appealing to me as an audience member.

Filoni gave his own two cents: “Everything gets bigger, the stakes get higher, but also the personal story between the Child and the Mandalorian develops in a way I think people will enjoy.”

Personally, I really liked that the first season kept things pretty small, with mostly standalone episodes and a focus kept very tight on Mando and Baby Yoda. There are already a lot of shows trying to be “the next Game of Thrones” and it makes me a little nervous to hear that Favreau and company are going to try to break into that space. But the first season was excellent, so I’ll reserve judgment.

The eight new episodes of The Mandalorian will kick off on October 30.

Next: The Mandalorian tech could help shows struggling during the pandemic

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