The Mandalorian – Star Wars on Disney+ Season 1, Episode 1, Review
Star Wars, The Saga itself, has often been described as a space-western. And characters like Boba Fett, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Jabba the Hutt, fit nicely into that mold. On the other hand, those same characters could fit squarely into an intergalactic mob story.
If you aim in the middle, you get The Mandalorian. That’s a good thing because it matches what reasonable people expect from Star Wars – as a whole.
However, here’s the rub, if you didn’t like the two Star Wars stories, Rogue One or Solo, you’re probably not going to like this show. And I feel sorry for you all around.
But that leaves more in the way of discussion and dissection and, well, fun for the rest of us.
So, feel free to get off at this stop. And, by the way, I intend to make this a spoiler-free review, but the rules on spoilers remain hazy; so, if you want to watch the episode completely unperturbed, you might want to wait here, too.
Still here? Good.
The overall aesthetic here is “Spaghetti Western” awash in Star Wars lore; think the “Star Wars: Bounty Hunter” video game with spare, Emmy-quality dialog, sets, and gorgeous design.
And “bronco-busting.” Don’t forget the bronco-busting.
Sure, having watched and read much of canon’s Mandalorian materials helped. However, it wasn’t necessary. In theory, you could pick up on the story of The Mandalorian without having seen any Star Wars.
In essence, we walk into The Mandalorian on the fringe of the “civilized” galaxy. There are bad guys, and really bad guys, and a whole lot of folks whose motives are not certain.
Through 95% of the show, our protagonist (Pedro Pascal) falls squarely into that category. Wearing the cowboy trope — minus the hat — full-on throughout the 40-or-so minutes, he, like everyone else, might’ve walked out of one of the Westerns or mob/cop shows Quentin Tarantino pines after in his movies.
And our main character, based on his reputation, could have been bounty hunting for decades – but his m.o. and methodology remains to be seen.
Along the way, we meet many of the cast of characters we were promised over the past year, and all of them deliver. Again, read: “They’re fun.”
But, believe it or not, we finish “Chapter One,” not sure if many we became attached to through the trailers will continue into Chapter Two.
Star Wars Rebels/Clone Wars showrunner Dave Filoni directs a stark, desolate episode (which was annoyingly bright at times), which fits perfectly into the spare episode synopsis, “A Mandalorian bounty hunter tracks a target for a well-paying client.”
And that’s precisely what we get — until the final minute.
Therein lay “the McGuffin” we were promised, and it looks nothing like what you’ve imagined. We’ve only seen its like twice (?) before. And, in the end, I promise you that you’ve not seen The Mandalorian’s-like previously, either.
The last few moments, tied into the rest of the show’s montages and flashbacks, make it clear that our new hero isn’t a Hollywood cowboy. He’s actually something much deeper, more interesting, and more important.
I can’t wait until the next episode. “I have spoken.”