London Conservatives first uttered ‘May the Fourth’ in May, 1979 as congratulations to the United Kingdom’s recently-elected Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Huge Star Wars fans, they must have been.
By any reckoning, that’s a long, long time ago.
So how is it that Star Wars fans have seen only six seasons of live-action television in all that time?
In the spirit of our favorite holiday (no, not Life Day), let’s take a look at the available seven seasons. We’ll find out which live-action season should get a gold medallion, and which has to stand there roaring.
Like poor, shafted Chewbacca.
#6 THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT
December 2021-February 2022
As one of the most anticipated live-action series, The Book of Boba Fett is the first close look into a character who’s been around since George Lucas’s ill-fated Star Wars Holiday Special.
Boba Fett was a mostly visual character during the original trilogy. He only delivered four lines during Episodes V and VI, but his commanding presence–reminiscent of Darth Vader’s faceless menace–made an impact whenever he was on screen.
The Book of Boba Fett (BOBF) adds depth, peeling aside layers of mystery to show a broken soul struggling with loss and searching for a better path. Fennic Shand serves as Fett’s muscle and a necessary, if occasionally harsh, voice of reason.
That reasoning, paired with flashbacks of lessons learned during his time with a tribe of Tusken Sand Raiders, guides Fett’s quest to shake up the status quo on Tatooine.
The strongest criticisms for The Book of Boba Fett are the (re)use of Tatooine as a setting–a common complaint in live-action Star Wars–and a shift in focus in the latter part of the season from Boba Fett to Din Djarin.
That move has led some to label BOBF as The Mandalorian Season 2.5, though, I’m hard-pressed to understand why anyone would get upset over seeing more of Luke, Ahsoka, and R2D2.
#5 THE MANDALORIAN; SEASON THREE
It was the highly-anticipated return of Din Djarin to the series that first put live-action Star Wars on TV. The Mandalorian’s third season seems like an olive branch from Disney+ to fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU), after post Return of the Jedi stories were relegated to non-canon.
Seeds are planted for more stories from the EU’s legends, suggesting their possible resurrection within the canonical Star Wars universe.
In this season, Din seeks redemption after removing his helmet and violating the Mandalorian code. His quest reunites him with Bo Katan from Star Wars: Rebels, culminating in an all-out assault to reclaim Mandalore from Moff Gideon and the Imperial Remnant.
Expanding the title’s definition to include other Mandalorians pulls the focus away from Din. This move helps build a larger world, though it puts the formerly titular character in the back seat.
That expansion pulls some of the focus away from the series’ core relationship between Din and Grogu. Though the ending ultimately refocuses on our favorite pair, it takes its time tying the many plotlines together.
#4 THE MANDALORIAN; SEASON ONE
Where it all started. The first three episodes of The Mandalorian premiered when Disney+ went online in 2019.
We were hooked on Baby Yoda the moment those big, green ears appeared. The first season kicks things off with a rescue, followed by a moral dilemma. Audiences quickly realized that The Mandalorian has a lot going on.
From introducing Fennic Shand to bringing back Moffs and Death Troopers, The Mandalorian takes a closer look at the uglier side of the Star Wars universe.
Premiering around the same time as Star Wars’ divisive ninth cinematic episode; The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian’s first season manages to avoid the trap of giving too much. Instead, we’re left with more questions than answers.
Throughout the first season, the titular main character draws a great deal from the Boba Fett well of mystery. Constrained within a helmet for most of that first season, lead actor Pedro Pascal could only emote through body language.
Some view The Mandalorian as an intergalactic spaghetti western, especially during its first season. And that’s neither entirely wrong nor right. The Mandalorian does employ several elements of that genre; including the mysterious stranger or small towns isolated by desert.
But more than that, this first season establishes a world that is at once very similar to the films and also just a bit different.
An absentee government means few ties to institutions like the Republic or the Empire. This plays well with the spaghetti western trope, but it’s also a sharp contrast to the original or prequel trilogies.
#3 OBI-WAN KENOBI
May – June, 2022
It’s true that some audiences criticize this season as unabashed fan service. They’re not wrong. Obi-Wan, Princess Leia, Senator Organa, and Darth Vader come together on a ride with more nostalgia than a reunion special.
Emperor Palpatine even gets a small piece of that action.
Obi-Wan Kenobi detractors can miss an emotional journey that sets its tragic roots in the cataclysmic Order 66. From the opening moments its clear Obi-Wan Kenobi has something to say about ghosts from the past.
Kenobi begins this season as a reluctant hero. Ten years after his duel with Anakin, his pain and guilt have made him a shadow of his former self. It’s a clever way to rebuild an arc for such a well known character.
Leia’s youthful hijinks and mature perspective offer a light balance with Kenobi’s heaviness. As a contrast, Reva and Vader’s relationship vacillates between deception and loathing. The two pairs play against one another like opposing sides of the Force.
Whether it’s the fan service or the layering of stories, one criticism is that Obi-Wan Kenobi pulls the curtain back further than some viewers may have wished.
The catharsis Kenobi gains at the end is certainly earned. It does, however, reduce some of that mystery about the years between Kenobi’s first duel with Vader and their last.
#2 THE MANDALORIAN; SEASON TWO
It might be unfair to compare The Mandalorian’s Season Two with The Empire Strikes Back, but some parallels are hard to ignore.
Like Empire, this season expanded both the cast and its galaxy. From ice spiders to Frog Lady (and her apparently tasty offspring) to Dark Troopers, this season introduces new threats in each episode.
Building off the action-packed ending of its inaugural season, Din rockets back into action on his quest to return Grogu to the Jedi. Boba Fett nails his entrance, entering the story proper in time to rescue our stranded hero, and Bo-Katan leaps from animated Star Wars: Rebels to live-action.
The story is well constructed in this season, as insight leads to threat, building to last-minute rescues. Many of the set pieces are reminiscent of Rogue One, and that cameo in the final episode neatly parallels Vader’s slaughter of Rebel troops aboard the Profundity.
The season ties up some plot threads while leaving a few dangling for later seasons and new shows. Don’t miss the mid-credits scene that leading directly into the events of The Book of Boba Fett!
One possible reason to rank Andor at number one is its relatability. While other seasons center on a character, Andor offers different paradigms of a society trying to function under imperfect conditions.
In this way, the first season isn’t dissimilar to other successful series like Mad Men or Breaking Bad. The flaws are not only part of the world, they are the world.
This first season introduces Cassian Andor as a ne’er-do-well searching for news on his sister. While that plot thread is quickly dropped, along with flashbacks that do little to service the story, it does its work to characterize the titular protagonist.
The overarching plot is built from several different stories. Cassian gets himself into trouble and is subsequently rescued, leading to his involvement in a heist. He’s then thrown into prison (on a strangely unrelated charge) and the story shifts to a prison drama.
Andor’s time in the prison is puts to good use in driving his changing motivations. By the time the climax rolls around we see a hero who is not so different from the one we meet in Rogue One.
Another reason that Andor works so well is its depiction of the Empire as a bureaucracy based on enmity and control.
As disgraced lawman Syril obsesses over capturing Cassian, coldly professional Meero uses the Imperial Security Bureau to crack down on growing dissent. Meanwhile Mon Mothma and Luthen scurry undercover while putting together the scraps of a nascent Rebel Alliance.
It would be criminal to forget Luthen’s outstanding monologue at the end of the penultimate episode.
Stellan Skarsgård’s performance comes with such ferocity, regret, and self-loathing that each word lands like a blow. That scene alone stands as perhaps one of the best dramatic deliveries in all of Star Wars.
A Star Wars for Every Mood
The wonderful thing about the Star Wars universe is that it’s always expanding. Upcoming series like Ahsoka, Skeleton Crew, and The Acolyte all offer something different.
We’ll always enjoy celebrating every aspect of the Star Wars universe, from Skarsgård’s Luthen to Bea Arthur’s Ackmena.
Check back with us next year to see where your new favorite season of Star Wars TV lands!
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