The Mandalorian Chapter One
Disney+ is finally here! And with it comes the brand new, live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian. As your resident Star Wars Super-fan, it was my duty to stay up late last night and watch The Mandalorian Chapter One as it went live. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you’d like to add Disney+ to the ever-growing pile of streaming services available on your local Smart TV, I hope I can help make up your mind. At least as far as Star Wars is concerned.
What is The Mandalorian?
This isn’t about Boba Fett. I’ve seen other stories say that it was, but let me put that silly idea to rest. Although the character goes unnamed through the first episode, until further canonical evidence to the contrary, Boba Fett died in the Pit of Carkoon some period of time before the events of this series. This guy, played by Pedro Pascal, is someone else wearing similar armor. He, like Fett, hunts down other sentients for money. The similarities probably end there. Jango Fett raised Boba among the cloners on Kamino, whereas it looks like this show’s hero lives among a pocket of other Mandalorian refugees. Except for a casual attitude toward the sanctity of life, I wouldn’t expect the Mandalorian to remind fans of Boba Fett too much.
When does it take place: Post-return of the Jedi, but maybe not as far along as The Force Awakens.
Where does it take place: A galaxy far, far away, duh. Honestly, we saw three different planets and none of them were named.
Why should you care: Disney plans to back off of Star Wars movies for a while. If you want fresh, live-action Star Wars, The Mandalorian is what you’re going to get.
Who’s involved: Jon Favreau created the show. You know him. The guy that made Iron Man and Elf. He managed to wrangle a couple famous names to come on the show as directors you might know: Dave Filoni (The Clone Wars and Rebels), Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), and Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) among them.
Is the Episode Any Good?
I think the best way to answer that is to speak to the potential this pilot showed us. On its face, this pilot featured a very by-the-numbers shoot ’em up plot. Don’t let that throw you. The episode ends with a nice twist, which gives us an idea of what the season’s overall story arc will concern. And it’s a pretty good twist, especially for old-timey fans like me.
The episode kicks off with the Mandalorian having tracked down a blue alien played by Saturday Night Live alum Horatio Sanz. Watching Star Wars over the years, I’ve wondered about the wisdom of having alien species simulate a stilted quasi-English language rather than use a completely alien tongue. I got my wish to see a new take on this issue as Sanz basically plays Horatio Sanz in blue makeup and makes no attempt to sound like anything else. I think I prefer the stilted English (but still enjoyed Sanz’ character). Brian Posehn guest stars as an ill-fated taxi driver.
Sidenote – I’ve seen a little guff online concerning the usage of carbon freezing for bounties and that not matching canon. This series takes place well after The Empire Strikes Back. It’s fair to assume that word spread across the bounty hunting community that carbon freezing makes for a no-fuss, no-muss way to collect troublesome bounties, like Han Solo.
The guest and recurring star hit parade kept churning as we met Greef Carga (Carl Weathers). If you don’t know, in the Star Wars universe, a guild regulates bounty hunting. Greef is like the local guild rep, responsible for doling out bounties and then paying up. After watching the episode again, I’m pretty sure Greef played the Mandalorian and manipulated him into taking the bounty he did. That was no accident.
From there, we met The Client played by legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog. You might not know him, but take it from me. This guy is no joke. Like tried to set one of his actors’ trailers on fire with him in it back in the day. Anyway – that’s the man, not the character. We don’t know anything about the Client yet except two major pieces of info. One – he’s ex-Imperial. And maybe not so ex- as he should be. Did you notice that he’s still got at least four loyal stormtroopers AND wears a giant medallion sporting the Imperial insignia on it? I think he’s still Imperial. The second thing we know is that he wants what the Mandalorian found at the end of the episode. But what for?
The next scene showed us what the Mandalorian society has come to. After ruling their own planet, now they group together in small clans like the one we saw in this episode. What we saw here was probably something like a ceremonial rite among their people. Adding to his armor like that matches up nicely with acquiring certain tattoos in other groups – as in, if you haven’t earned it, you shouldn’t wear it. That our hero is still achieving these rites lets us know that for all the badassery he displays, he’s still some distance from the top of the Mandalorian heap.
Another scene, another famous guest star. Nick Nolte played the Ugnaught (you might remember other ugnaughts in the Empire Strikes Back). Although the blurgg-busting scene might seem a little on the fluffy side of storytelling, we got some characterization out of it. The Mandalorian is not instantly good at everything he does, but he’s highly adaptable. Plus, he can emote something other than anger or dangerousness when needed. He’s deeper than other shoot ’em-up heroes that way.
The final scene features the voice-work of Taika Waititi as the bounty hunting droid IG-11. If that droid looks familiar, you might be thinking of its sibling unit, IG-88 from The Empire Strikes Back. This scene actually ran a little long for me, but we got to see some cool droid action and the Mandalorian in maximum-effort mode. Although the Mandalorian works within the Bounty Hunter Guild system, he shows a willingness to break the rules when the rules conflict with his own personal code. My take: They mentioned that he was a “foundling” earlier, needing someone to take him in and protect him as a child. Finding another possibly orphaned child brings his own baggage into the job, making it impossible for him to allow IG-11 to harm the child.
And there’s our season-long story arc. What does a faded Imperial want with a baby of Yoda’s species? Back in the day, George Lucas never let any book or comic ever talk about Yoda or his species, so very little is “known” about the little one, even by fans. Could he be betting on potential force sensitivity in the child and wanting to bend it to the will of a new empire? Given how long it takes his species to age, that’s a very long term plan, but you never know.
Needless to say, I’ll keep watching. Did you like it? Will you sign up for Disney+ after seeing this? Or did it just feed your former fandom fueled hatred of the Disney-era Star Wars efforts? Let me know. I can talk about Star Wars all day.
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