Review by C.J. Bunce
In the hour-long second “season” of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian–Making of Season 2, executive producer/director Jon Favreau says he hoped to bring all the kinds of Star Wars fans together for a special moment, and he seems to have done that in this year’s superb second season of The Mandalorian, although it’s difficult to compare Disney Gallery‘s eight-episode first season of behind the scenes glimpses to the single, albeit packed, episode fans got from Disney+ this year, released on Christmas Day. As far as making all the groups of fans happy, expect that fans of the last episode’s special climactic scene won’t get to see a “making of” feature on that component yet.
For fans like me that’s okay. For me the first seven episodes of the season highlighted by the re-introduction of bounty hunter Boba Fett to the franchise was all you could ever hope for. In many ways the entire season is a springboard for the rest of the television Star Wars franchise: first propelling Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan from animated character to live-action star, no doubt to become a large part of season three of The Mandalorian now that Din Djarin wields the Dark Saber; second, launching Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano from the animated universe’s biggest character into the live-action realm for the title role of her own new series; and third, bringing in Temuera Morrison, once the father of Boba and all Clone Troopers, to play Boba in the new series The Book of Boba Fett. Ultimately if this diversion from the Lone Wolf and Cub-inspired story was necessary to move forward the story we think we’re watching in The Mandalorian, so long as we’re focusing on Mandalorians, it makes sense. And hopefully season three gets Din Djarin re-united with Grogu (aka Baby Yoda).
For those whose excitement centered around the return of post-Return of the Jedi era Luke Skywalker, voiced by Mark Hamill and portrayed via motion capture with CGI enhancements with body double Max Lloyd Jones, unfortunately you’ll see no mention of the actor or character in this episode of Disney Gallery. As we’ve seen with behind the scenes books released around the time of big Disney projects before for the likes of Marvel movies and Star Wars movies, the creators didn’t risk further production leaks by including the arrival of Luke in the season’s episode. So maybe we’ll see that footage in a later season of the series. But just remember: Kylo Ren kills off all Luke’s Jedi students-in-training in the next decade or so of continuity, so you better hope Din Djarin comes back to take him away in time.
That said, as we mentioned a few weeks ago, not many minutes of television or big-screen time can hold a candle to director Robert Rodriguez’s episode of The Mandalorian titled “The Tragedy,” which brought back Boba Fett and took many awards for the series in this year’s final round-up of the Best of TV–it was even better than the last episode of the series. Rodriguez, who like director Martin Scorsese, is a film historian and film buff as much as a director in his own right, is also host of The Director’s Chair on the El Rey Network, so he knows what we fans want to know about the production of our favorite shows. He, like many of us, including Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, grew up with Star Wars, so listening to his influences and seeing him share his excitement provides some fantastic access to this series and why it works so well. And you’ll learn that even the big directors use action figures to mock-up their stories!
Highlights of the Disney Gallery episode/season include commentary by Djin actor Pedro Pascal, and interviews with directors new to helming the series, including Rodriguez, actor-director Carl Weathers, and Peyton Reed, who is known for his complex action-heavy work directing the Ant-Man movies, directing two episodes of The Mandalorian this season including the finale. Production designer Doug Chiang always seems to ooze with excitement discussing his incredible creations. Misty Rosas’ work as the Frog Lady looks even more incredible behind the camera. The eager Temuera Morrison sounds like he has the energy to make The Book of Boba Fett and then come back and play his Clone Troopers in more live-action series. The section on Matthew Wood reprising his Bib Fortuna from the prequel movies is great fun, too.
Also interviewed were returning directors Favreau, Filoni, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Rick Famuyiwa, who has now helmed three episodes of the series. Creative department leads Andrew L. Jones, Amanda Moss Serino, Shawna Trpcic, Hal Hickel, and more provide their own stories behind their work. Others interviewed are co-stars Temuera Morrison, Gina Carano, Ming-Na Wen, and Giancarlo Esposito, Djin body-doubles Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder, and guest stars Bill Burr (who plays Mayfeld) and Michael Biehn (who plays Lang), and many more from makeup, prop (Tano’s lightsabers! the Dark Saber!), model (Gideon’s ship!), photography, and special and visual effects departments. Hopefully Rosario Dawson, Katee Sackhoff, Amy Sedaris, Horatio Sanz (who played Mythrol), Timothy Olyphant (who played Cobb Vanth), John Leguizamo (who played Gor Koresh), Misty Rosas (Frog Lady) and, of course, Mark Hamill, get tapped for future interviews in this behind-the-scenes series.
In case you miss it, “the Volume,” referred to extensively in the show, is the recording studio of giant screens that utilize 360-degree panosphere cinematography to re-create real-world settings and enlarge digital scanned creations behind practical effects and physical actors for a much lower cost than previous filming methods.
Even at only an hour, this season’s Disney Gallery is a nice holiday gift for your favorite Star Wars fan, well worth watching. Both seasons of The Mandalorian and the first season and single hour of the second season of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, are streaming now on Disney+.