Full disclosure: I am a massive, massive, massive Star wars fan. There isn’t a part of canon OR legends that I dislike. That includes everything from The Clone Wars to Rebels, all the recent Marvel comics to the whole sequel trilogy. My favorite video games include several Star Wars titles. My all-time favorite star wars character is Hondo motherfucking Ohnaka. I regularly wear a pin that reads “Vader Lives”. I LOVE Star Wars. My credentials are unquestionable. Even so, I am biased, subjective even. Despite all this unabashed love for the franchise, I can’t help but feel that objectively, The Mandalorian is the best Star Wars-related material outside of the original trilogy since Knights of the Old Republic II.

The primary cause of this feeling is how The Mandalorian rewards faithful fans of the franchise. Mando’s helping the Tuskens and the Mos Pelgo residents take down the Krayt dragon feels like a direct nod to those old fans who played the first Knights of the old Republic game. They even used Cobb Vanth who made his first appearance in an interlude of Chuck Wendig’s first Aftermath novel. With the third episode of the season, Bo-Katan Kryze makes a triumphant return from both The Clone Wars and Rebels animated shows. Most shocking is Ashoka Tano tease. I am both figuratively and literally on the edge of my seat to see how the galaxy’s favorite Togruta has spent the last sixteen standard years in-universe. The reintroduction of the force through hints feels like a return to the mystery present in those long gone pre-prequel years. By using these characters and elements is more than just a reward for longtime fans, it helps the world feel larger, and more lived-in, despite also making it feel smaller at the same time. It makes every minuscule and episodic event feel important.

This emphasis on episodic storytelling is actually the most genius part of the Mandalorian’s appeal, especially during this season. By focusing on the smaller events going on, a la Firefly, we get a plethora of character building moments that only deepen and strengthen each character. Djin has become much more of a Dad to The Child, evident through the much more gentle and parental interactions they have. Their relationship is the lynchpin of the series, expertly told by a voice behind a mask and a puppet. The physical acting by the puppeteers and by Pedro Pascal is exemplary.

While everything from the episodic story to the reliance on practical effects adds to the feeling of anticipation for what is clearly some of the best Star Wars material ever, for me, it is the absolute religious reverence for the lore and long, long history of the universe that is the primary cause. With the end of this episode with its tease of Ashoka Tano, I watch the future of this series with great interest. The force has great things destined for Djin and The Child and I eagerly await. Once more Star Wars will rise to the top of the science fiction genre, and that time is now.