Mediocrity – A Star Wars Story

The Mandalorian, mediocrity

Star Wars isn’t just a fad. For many, it’s an entire culture – a cornerstone in many people’s very identity. That cornerstone, however, has begun to erode for much of the Star Wars fandom, although certainly not by the fans’ design. In fact, you can find fans everywhere clinging desperately to the hope that our beloved franchise may somehow survive the catastrophe that is Lucasfilm under Kathleen Kennedy. Many turned to The Mandalorian, praying that the Disney+ series would breathe new life into our treasured galaxy far far away. However, after season one has come and gone, I feel I can definitively state that, thus far, this show can only contribute to delaying Star Wars’ death. Strong fandoms don’t die overnight; they erode over time. It happens when care is not taken with their intricate world-building.

 

Why do you love Star Wars? I’m sure you would come up with many reasons. The hope and bravery displayed by Luke, perhaps? The depiction of a scoundrel turned good guy, or the redemption of a villain thought beyond saving? All these things can be correct, but none of them matter if the universe in which they exist doesn’t have rules. If the world you’ve built isn’t consistent, then your ability to immerse yourself in it will wane. Star Wars sucked us back in time and time again because it managed to expand on the world we knew without undercutting the rules in place. We greedily read the comics, watched the shows, and drowned ourselves in the culture because we could understand it. Countless arguments have taken place across fandom over issues like who would win in a fight based on which lightsaber form they used. Fandom thrives on not just interesting stories, but coherency – rules we can understand and thus play by.

 

To be clear, I would never dispute Jon Favreau’s intent behind The Mandalorian. He clearly understands what Star Wars should look and feel like. No question this show displayed a genuine love for the material, even if not a full understanding. And I honestly believe he hoped that, with an exciting, entertaining show, he might breathe new life into our battered IP. However, The Mandalorian exhibits all the trademarks of a fad, not fandom. Everyone squeals when they see sweet little “Baby Yoda” appear on the screen (admittedly myself included). What they don’t discuss is why an infant (and yes, by all accounts on the show, he is an infant) is able to demonstrate feats of the Force that make Anakin look like a joke. You may not like midichlorians, but they’re canon. While I myself am nonplussed about their existence (though that’s a topic for an entirely different article), I do recognize the sour taste they leave in many mouths. That being said, they didn’t muck with established rules. They served only to enhance our knowledge of the Force and how it works. Why is it, then, that an infant with no Force training can lift a several-ton creature from the ground? How is he able to heal deadly wounds when Anakin displayed no such abilities at the ripe old age of nine? Well, “Yoda’s species is a mystery,” I hear you say.“It’s speculated that they are inherently Force-sensitive.” True, I’ve heard this as well.

The Mandalorian, Baby Yoda, mediocrity

Nevertheless, Force-sensitivity does not equal training. Anakin was noted as having the highest midichlorian count recorded in a Jedi, even higher than Master Yoda, who had the highest prior to that. Given that “Baby Yoda” is from the very species that Anakin dwarfed in Force potential, it makes no sense that “The Child” (as “Baby Yoda” is officially dubbed) should be able to manipulate the Force so deliberately. Not when Anakin himself never exhibited such control pre-training. This is just one example of how fast and loose The Mandalorian has played with established canon, and there is a multitude of others, with many Star Wars fans pointing discrepancies in Mandalorian culture and its depiction within the show.

 

As I said, there’s no question that Jon Favreau intended to make something fans would all enjoy. And it seems that fans did largely enjoy the show. I recently ran a poll on Twitter to get a sense of what people were thinking. I gave three options to choose from:

 

  • I loved it!
  • It had flaws, but I liked it.
  • It was terrible.

 

The consensus was overwhelming. Over 60% agreed that it had flaws, but they enjoyed it. Now, obviously, the sample size is relatively small, given only around 360 people voted. But I do believe this reflects the overall feeling of fans toward the show. It was… okay, but not great. And, of course, I don’t expect any media to be without its flaws. What I do expect is for it to work well within the established canon without having to retcon things in order for it to fit. “Okay” isn’t good enough here, people. Star Wars fandom is staring down its own demise. Terrible damage has been done to our beloved IP. Obviously, I don’t lay the responsibility of that destruction on Jon Favreau. But we need to call a spade a spade here, folks. A mediocre show that harshly bends (if not breaks altogether) the rules as we know them isn’t going to repair anything. I hesitate even to call it a Band-aid fix when I bear the multitude of problems with it in mind.

 

 

At best, the show as it exists in season one serves only to delay a slow death with its “Baby Yoda” gimmicks and ‘member berries. At worst, it is a destructive force that breaks the world-building that is so essential to a thriving and vibrant fandom. Because rest assured friends, when the dust settles and people begin to take a hard look beyond the shiny exterior, they will notice that hollow feeling left when something you consume isn’t substantive. Thus far, The Mandalorian has only proven itself to be capable of generating a fad. It leaves me no hope for the genuine revitalization of the franchise because it displays little concern for the franchise as a whole, only for what hype and chatter it can generate at the moment. And with season two shaping up to be just as pandering to hype and hysteria by relying on the introduction of nostalgic characters, rather than taking the time to build its own, I see no reason to rest faith in this series. 

 

I understand the desperate desire for reconciliation. I, too, stepped into The Mandalorian with hopes pinned on its success. I, like so many of you, espoused the notion that it was better than the sludge we’ve gotten recently. But a mediocre show with an inadequate understanding of the universe it’s working within, that relies on fad, hype, and nostalgia isn’t going to “fix” anything. We, as Star Wars fans, need to demand better. We need to hold Star Wars to a standard, especially during such a crucial period. Cohesion is a bare minimum. Respect and understanding of what’s come before is the lowest bar. Otherwise, we condemn Star Wars to the slow death that is mediocrity.

By Merry Mayhem

Your Mom says hi...

34 comments

    1. Very well worded and expressed, Merry! I haven’t watched the show myself, yet, but based on everything I’ve heard I’m making better use of my time elsewhere

  1. I still haven’t watched it cause I hate Disney Star Wars and haven’t gotten over the tragedy of the Last Jedi. BUT I did buy a Baby Yoda shirt cause he’s cute af. Just sayin….

    1. I enjoyed it overall, but it is flawed without question and not in small ways either. Without the context of what has come before, it would be serviceable, but it does just as much (if not more) to hurt the franchise as it does help it.

  2. Yo, I heard this will be getting more active from the youtube channel. I see you’re lacking some updates in certain categories. I can probably add some anime reviews or something if you want that content (at your moderation), since anime news network basically are dead to me after the whole Vic situation and I was a forum frequent at that place and I haven’t really found any good replacement spots.

  3. I politely disagree. Although, having endured the constant puerile shite that KK and her beta limp wristed sycophants that thrown at us, I totally understand the cautious and considered reluctance to invest enthusiasm or hope in the Mandalorian. After the sequels barged into SW and shat all over the floor and wiped themselves on the couch and the drapes before running out screaming that we were the haters, it is challenging, at least for me, to not feel like we are being offered the proverbial candy by the nice man in the rain coat at the back of the playground before being pushed down into the dirt and violated – yet again.
    But to take one of your points – baby Yoda. This is the first non-animated alien character in Disney’s Nu Soy Wars that has actually played an important role. Yes, the more commercial aspects of the character are obvious. But I believe we should be championing any effort at decent world building, inclusion of aliens and alien cultures and especially a return to the essential core elements of classic SW. I say we keep our minds open and decide after S2. S1, to me, felt more like a series of webisodes rather than a true season in order to set the tone, characters and world in place prior to the real event. And what I have seen, while flawed and inept at times, has been joyful and cemented within the feel/imagery/tone of GL’s SW.
    I’m gonna reserve judgment and cautiously wait for S2 to unfold. Let’s not take a dump on what appears to the first volley thrown out in an attempt to course correct. Let’s not ape the behavior of KK and her ilk and declare anything and everything cancelled/unacceptable because we dislike some aspects.
    There was a lot this show got right.

    1. I so wholeheartedly appreciate your polite discourse! I have no desire to cancel everything they throw at us. And I do inwardly pray the show gets better and finds a way to line up better with the world-building already in place. I just think that will be very difficult with Baby Yoda’s arc being (seemingly) so important to the show. I have concerns. Lots of them. I worry for the franchise. And I don’t want to see it fall apart because fans became willing to accept mediocrity in the place of excellence because we felt we had no choice.

  4. The show is “great” because we are used the rest of Disney’s Star Wars trash. But compared to the original movies or the EU you can see the flaws. Star Wars can’t be just “good” or “ok” it MUST be great.

    1. Kathleen Kennedy: – We need more cute toys like the porgs or BB8 to reach to a female audience.
      Dave Filoni: -Hey, I made Baby Jabba before in the Clone Wars! In my new show I’ll make another baby version of a classic character.

    2. I’m not a star wars fan and I loved the show and after reading this article now I understand why there are many star wars fans who doesn’t like the show as much as a regular viewer who loved the show, great article..

  5. Anakin did display raw force powers at a young age. No ordinary human could keep up in pod racing. That was stated in phantom menace. The Child in the mandalorian is around 40 years old. It might have enough intelligence to have gathered some skill in that time.

    Then again I am only making excuses. They have not explained this yet. They may not ever. Only time will tell.

    1. Anakin never displayed powers remotely in the same realm as “The Child” even as the chosen one. What connection he had with the force, was manifested in passive things such as being able to perceive things “before they happen” which contributed to his inhuman reflexes and therefore his ability to race pods. I may find Baby Yoda adorable as all sin, but I cannot deny his breaking of the canon.

    2. I appreciate your perspective. I just disagree that an infant who is running around sucking on pieces of machinery and eating frogs off the ground has enough wherewithal to understand that level of force manipulation. He’s presented as a baby. I have no reason to believe it has the capacity to understand how to engage in such deliberate acts of the force. And Anakin’s powers were expressed through passive abilities. It states this explicitly in the movie. Qui Gon tells us he can see things before they happen. That’s why he’s able to pod race. It’s no deliberate effort on his end. These things are important because they maintain the necessity for training. If characters don’t require training in order to accomplish such feats they become unreadable. And we as the audience have no reason to be invested in their journey. These choices on the part of creatives are destructive in nature. Thus my argument for a slow death.

  6. the show and after reading this article now I understand why there are many star wars fans who doesn’t like the show as much as a regular viewer who loved the show, great article..

  7. The Mandalorian was incredibly overrated and forgettable. It received such absurd overpraising due largely imo to the lack of good SW content. Lazy, inconsistent writing, characters doing stupid things, skiable episodes in an already short season (felt like a padded movie), a recycled CW episode, and some terrible acting from secondary characters (Dave Feloni’s episode was not only one of the worst in terms of writing, but was plagued by bad acting, music, and terrible side characters). I’m sure with all the cameos they’re looking to jam into Season 2, we’re in for more of the same or possibly worse…

  8. To me at best the Mandalorian is ok, at worst it is meh/mediocre. This show is a good and enjoyable show, but it does have its flaws. I thought the first season was ok though.

    1. I agree after watching the whole first season I couldn’t help but think there was about two hours of really good stuff and the rest was filler

  9. the Mandalorian was a headache for me, I don’t like it at all it was for me adventures in babysitting in space, my headache comes from a 10 year old child who loves star wars, she loves the ot movies, prequels she won’t watch the revenge of the sith scene where anakin kills the kids. so I try not to influence her love of SW negatively. but she knows i don’t like mando and as kids are there’s always a 1000 why’s

    1. Good point, the same arguments are using against Rei palpatine we can use it against baby yoda too but, the baby yoda is more than simple “minicopy” of yoda ,could be a new kind of weapon ,a clone with his altered memories for example .Anyway that should be explained why imperials created ( if that is true) and how babyyoda get too faraway for them. Another explication is how a alien gang decide protect the babyyoda (¿jedi mental control ?). We have to wait to second season to see if that flaws and questions about babyyoda are answered.

  10. I always thought it was a bit overrated. But now looking back on it, it was a great show for what it was and was definitely entertaining. Can’t wait for season 2.

  11. It’s too bad seeing so many here that didn’t like this show that much. It certainly has it’s issues here and there (as most things do), but overall I thought it had a lot of old school charm. Silly in some spots. And yes, episode 5 is a lot to stomach. Overall I quite enjoyed it and look forward to season 2.

  12. Hey Merry! I too have mixed feeling about the Mandalorian. I agree that part of the appeal is due to the fact that it’s a major improvement compared to the crap fest movies we received from Disney, but at the same time the thing that is hard to overlook… Favreau respects the fans.

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