'The Mandalorian' delivers a satisfying 'Star Wars' finale that shows promise for the franchise's future

the mandalorian

Disney Plus

"The Mandalorian"

  • Friday's episode of Disney Plus' "The Mandalorian" delivered a satisfying finale for the "Star Wars" show's first season.
  • "The Mandalorian's" first season was far less divisive than "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which is now in theaters, and shows that the franchise still has a promising future.
  • The series showed that there is still plenty of story to tell and fun to be had with "Star Wars" outside of the Skywalker Saga, whether it be on the big or small screen.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," now in theaters, has been touted as the long-awaited conclusion to the Skywalker Saga. But another "Star Wars" finale this week showed more promise for the franchise's future.

Disney Plus' "The Mandalorian" wrapped up its first season on Friday with its eighth episode, titled "Redemption" and directed by "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Jojo Rabbit" director Taika Waititi. The episode saw the titular Mandalorian (played by Pedro Pascal) and his allies, Greef Carga (Carl Weathers) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano), up against Mof Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and an army of Stormtroopers who want them to hand over "the child," which fans have dubbed Baby Yoda.Advertisement

the mandalorian baby yoda

Disney Plus

Baby Yoda in "The Mandalorian" season one finale.

"The Mandalorian" is the most in-demand TV show in the world and the most in-demand original streaming series in the US, according to Parrot Analytics, breaking the 21-week streak of "Stranger Things."

The show has a 94% critic score and a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The Atlantic's David Sims tweeted that he "cackled with glee the whole time" about the finale.

But "The Rise of Skywalker" underwhelmed critics and divided audiences. It has a 55% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ Cinemascore (which surveys audiences on a movie's opening night), the lowest score of any live-action "Star Wars" movie. It earned $176 million domestically in its opening weekend, the lowest debut of any of the new trilogy (it has still grossed over $500 million worldwide in a week).

"What a reassuring feeling it is, isn't it, to be thrilled by the conclusion of a 'Star Wars' story?" Rolling Stone's Alan Sepinwall wrote of "The Mandalorian." "A week after the release of 'Rise of the Skywalker' brought the main movie saga to a disappointingly frantic, muddled end, 'The Mandalorian' wraps its first season in splendid form."
star wars the rise of skywalker


"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"


"The Mandalorian" is far less divisive than its film counterpart, not because it doesn't take risks, but because it takes them while maintaining what audiences love about the "Star Wars" franchise. "The Rise of Skywalker" attempted to answer the lingering questions of the new trilogy while satisfying diehard fans of the original trilogy, resulting in a convoluted plot.

Business Insider's Jason Guerrasio wrote in his review that the movie "tries so desperately to service the fan base that it loses sight of the story it's telling."

While the original "Star Wars" movies had plenty of mythology surrounding their stories, they weren't "convoluted." They told the simple tale of a farmboy achieving his destiny, which just happened to take place in a galaxy far, far away. "The Mandalorian" similarly tells a simple but engaging story: A bounty hunter risks everything to protect an alien child. Advertisement

The Mandalorian

Disney Plus

The Mandalorian and Greef Carga.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has expressed regret about pumping out too many "Star Wars" movies in too short a time. But the company has committed to more "Star Wars" TV shows at Disney Plus, including an Obi-Wan Kenobi series starring Ewan McGregor and a "Rogue One" prequel series starring Diego Luna.

It also has another trilogy on its theatrical release slate beginning in 2022, though "Game of Thrones" creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are no longer writing or producing it and no further details have been announced. The Disney-era "Star Wars" movies have been box-office successes but have been marred in production woes, and "The Rise of Skywalker" showed a lack of a long-term plan for the new trilogy. Advertisement

But "The Mandalorian" creator Jon Favreau had a plan for this season which sets up a promising season two. Throughout its eight episodes, "The Mandalorian" told a cohesive story that suggested there's still plenty of story to tell and fun to be had with this franchise outside of the Skywalker Saga, whether it be on the big or small screen. As David Betancourt, a comic book reporter for The Washington Post, tweeted on Friday, "The Mandalorian" is the "future of 'Star Wars' storytelling."

Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst for Boxoffice.com, told Business Insider last month that the series would "be indicative of how people feel about 'Star Wars.'" The series could be the way forward for the franchise and be a blueprint for projects to come.