When Andor came out a few months ago, I asserted that, for all its brilliance, I still preferred The Mandalorian. But I could not adequately explain why until now.
Andor is a heavy show in the best way. The characters are grounded, conflicted, and three-dimensional. Star Wars is a family-friendly franchise. So naturally, the divide between good and evil is clear.
Nonetheless, this is the most captivating The Empire has ever been. Andor shines a spotlight on their workings. It shows you who they are and why they do what they do. The show allows you to understand why hundreds of thousands of rational human beings would join a faction that commits genocide so casually.
Because the villains are so compelling, you empathize with the rebellion’s plight and the moral compromises they must make to survive. I have never seen a better-written story in Star Wars. The dialogue is spine-tingling.
I still can’t get over that whole “I burn my life to make a sunrise I’ll never see” speech from Luthen. But if Andor is so great, why do I prefer The Mandalorian?
That first scene from the season three premiere says it all. Watching the Armorer carve that helmet out of beskar before marching through a crowd of Mandalorians to welcome a new convert to the Children of the Watch was...I can’t even think of a fitting word.
Star Wars appeals to me because it’s sci-fi fantasy. The uninitiated categorize it strictly as science fiction, but that classification falls apart once you meet the Jedi. Mando’s journey through the Star Wars universe thus far is peak sci-fi fantasy, and I love fantasy.
This is why I always elevate The Lord of the Rings over Game of Thrones. I know most of you prefer political intrigue to magical elves and dragons, but fantasy pushes all the right buttons for me, which is why I had such a blast watching The Apostate.
The season three premiere picks up where Boba Fett left off. That is an important note. Some of you abandoned this universe after Luke left with Grogu at the end of season two. The Book of Boba Fett reunited Grogu and Mando in spectacular fashion.
In a way, it was the prologue we needed because the first two seasons followed Mando’s journey to find a home for Grogu. The season two finale brought that story to a close, which left us wondering why Disney had chosen to continue the show after such a satisfying conclusion.
Boba Fett resolved that plot thread and brought Grogu back into the Mandalorian fold. So the question we all had going into this first episode was, ‘What now? What’s next?’
The Apostate answered that question. The Armorer ejected Mando from the Children of the Watch because he broke the religion’s regulations by removing his helmet. Mando must bathe in the mines of Mandalore to redeem himself.
But Mandalore was bombed into the next millennia during the Great Purge, killing millions of Mandalorians and sending the rest into hiding. Mando’s mission is a lost cause. The mines no longer exist, or so Bo Katan suggested at the end.
But what if she is wrong? What if Mandalore is alive and well? Will the other Mandalorians unite behind Mando to reclaim their home? Or will their squabbles destroy them?
I have heard more grumbling than I expected about The Apostate. Apparently, the episode was not as exciting as previous season premieres. And to an extent, I agree.
It was not exactly the most hard-hitting episode of the year, but it was a promising start to what may prove to be the best season of The Mandalorian thus far.