As promised — at this point, too long ago — here are reviews for the rest of The Mandalorian‘s first season.
I’ve unfortunately found very little time to write due to a slew of home improvement projects that have kept me extremely busy for the past three months. So hopefully these reviews, although they may not seem like a lot to account for the past two months without any update here, will be something to tide you over until I can get back to something on a more consistent basis. Fortunately, it looks like there’s still some time before any shows that I cover here return.
For now, you can revisit Mando getting perpetually double-crossed, whether it’s on Tatooine, on a prison ship, or back on Nevarro. This guy just can’t trust anyone, can he? I wonder why he still bothers.
I swear I did not plan to post these reviews on May the Fourth day; it just happened to work out that way. Happy coincidences.
In my effort to get caught up on The Mandalorian before new content buries me (whatever it is and whenever it arrives; many TV show schedules are still very uncertain with all the COVID-19 shooting delays), I’ve posted reviews for the first four episodes of the first season. These follow the shorter format established in my reviews of much of the second season. The last four reviews of season 1 will be posted at a later date.
Overall, I’m more bullish on season 2 of The Mandalorian (with its forward movement of storylines and tie-ins with the larger Star Wars universe and its bringing together of characters) than on season 1, which was good and entertaining, but with a much looser (and sometimes repetitive) overall narrative structure.
Anyway, here they are. More to come.
Discovery‘s third-season finale is an episode that alternates excessive, choppy, overwrought, and interminable action sequences with a Trekkian plot that would be perfectly fine if not for all the arbitrary technobabble and junk-science extras that are bolted onto it to explain other things. This is a mess for 50 minutes, and then exceedingly tidy for 10.
This is also an episode that cements (although it was pretty clear by the time "Su’Kal" got here) that this season is barely about anything it seemed to be when it started. The season started as "Rebuild the Fallen Federation!" (The cover art had Burnham holding a tattered Federation flag on a barren planet.) But then a few episodes later, in "Die Trying" (the season’s best episode) it became "Rediscover the Current Diminished Federation!" Now, at the end of the season, it’s "Kill Osyraa!" The season gradually went from potentially grand to painfully reductive and unambitious.
"There Is a Tide" tries to do what should’ve been done many episodes ago: some world-building within this century. It may be too little, too late, but I guess I’d rather see it attempted rather than not seeing it at all.
After having exploited Tilly’s tactical weaknesses and seizing Discovery, Osyraa takes the ship back to Starfleet Headquarters, where she uses the subterfuge to get inside the base’s shield perimeter where she demands … an audience for peaceful negotiation. I admit I did not see that coming. Turns out there’s more to Osyraa than previous episodes — in which she, say, fed her nephew to giant worms — had indicated. She wants to form an alliance between the Federation and the Emerald Chain, providing a new economic model for the Federation through its mercantiles in exchange for access to Discovery‘s spore drive, which she believes the Emerald Chain has the scientific resources to reverse-engineer and mass produce. This could be a benefit for the entire galaxy, possibly solving a lot of problems posed by everyone’s dilithium shortage.
"Su’Kal" would be a reasonably okay sci-fi story in the standalone tradition of Star Trek if the circumstances were different. This is an alien contact within a holographic simulation that has some things to recommend, including notable atmosphere and characters trying to use psychology and storytelling to communicate with someone who has endured a lifetime of isolation. The problem is, this is tied into the season’s central mystery of the Burn in a way that’s crushingly disappointing. (At least, so far. Specifics are not yet revealed, although I can’t imagine any technobabble explanation could salvage this general idea.)
I’m reminded of DS9‘s "Extreme Measures," in which a big piece of the fate of the Dominion War was riding on a virtual-reality probe to explore the mind of Section 31 operative Sloan, but the device was mostly used as an excuse to give O’Brien and Bashir one last buddy adventure. The idea of one last buddy adventure was fine, but the vehicle was inappropriate and the timing was terrible.