Greetings my Mandalorians!
Beware of Spoilers – Review will go into details from Episode 1 & 2
Disney plus has arrived (well, for the most part) and with it came the first live-action series set within the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian. Set between the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi and the rise of the First Order. The show follows the titular Mandalorian played by Pedro Pascal. With a budget that would make Game of Thrones blush The Mandalorian is attempting to make a big splash in online Streaming Media.
The Story so Far…
Taking elements from the likes of the spaghetti westerns, and even nods to Indiana Jones. The story follows a Mandalorian bounty hunter. We see The Mandalorian capture an alien in a bar scene that reminds us nicely of A New Hope. Local bar flies challenge him, but Pascal silently stands his ground. Being attacked as a result. Having Jon Favreau writing and Dave Filoni directing they have established the Mandalorian as a Clint Eastwood type character. Meaning he only speaks when he needs to.
But, this is Star Wars and from the outset, we get a whole host of strange creatures, aliens and planets. From gun racks to space toilets, we get to see the underbelly of the galaxy. There’s familiarity as we’ve touched upon this world in the movies.
The Mandalorian with No Name
He goes to his Guild leader Greef Carga played by Apollo Creed himself Carl Weathers. Carga can only offer him low paying bounties. He asks for a higher paying bounty to cover his costs. Carga gives him the address of another client with a big bounty that is not widely available.
This scene is quite reminiscent of earlier Star Wars movies. The streets look like those used in Mos Eisley in A New Hope and Jedha in Rogue One. There are numerous references and Easter eggs that fill up the scenes. We see Jabba’s little mate Salacious B. Crumb in one scene being cooked.
But then we meet Werner Herzog’s The Client who is guarded by ex-Storm Troopers. He offers The Mandalorian a bounty but only gives him limited details including that the bounty is 50 years old. Despite The Client not caring if the bounty is brought alive, Dr Pershing insists on the bounty brought in alive. The Client gives The Mandalorian a bar of Beskar Steel as an incentive; he takes it to an armourer who turns it into a Pauldron for his right shoulder. This felt like a cut scene from a video game, where the payer has to build his or her own armour. It does serve to fill in the backstory, mentioning The Great Purge, and incorporating flashes to the Mandalorian’s past, but if every so often we come back for a new piece of armour, it may get slightly tired.
Bring On the Desert Planet
The Mandalorian travels to Arvala-7 and after being saved from two Blurgg creatures by Nick Nolte’s moisture farmer Kuiil, he set out to find his bounty. He teams up with a Bounty Hunter Droid IG-11 to clear the camp of criminals so they can share the bounty. It’s a fairly entertaining action set piece that again evokes memories of the old western shootouts. Once they gain access to the compound they realise that the 50-year-old bounty is an adolescent of the same species as Yoda. From here on in I will be referring to it as “Baby Yoda”.
IG-11 has orders to kill Baby Yoda, but The Mandalorian shoots the droid and reaches out to Baby Yoda.
Chapter 1 was slightly slow, with not really much happening. There was the attack on the ice planet, the fight in the bar, and the shootout at the compound, but it felt long-winded and meandering. As the first episode of a new series, I’d have expected it to have been all singing and all dancing, but it was just a long establishing shot.
Chapter 2 – The Child
Falling into a standard 30-minute episode runtime is a clever way to approach a show like this. It doesn’t hang around too long and it’s just enough time to keep the audience’s interest. Chapter 2 was far better at establishing the world. There’s no planet-hopping and the time we spend on Arvala-7 is utilised with pinpoint precision.
There are some gorgeous visuals of The Mandalorian leading Baby Yoda in his hovering egg capsule through desert and crevice. He is attacked by a trio of Trandoshan warriors whom he easily beats disintegrating one. Turns out he and IG-11 weren’t the only ones looking for baby Yoda as they were also carrying a tracking fob.
Attack of the Jawas
Returning to his ship he finds it being ransacked by Jawas and its parts being taken into their Sandcrawler. Again, it’s a great way of reminding us what Star Wars was, and that this is set not too long after. But, and I say this having really enjoyed this episode, it almost makes the galaxy smaller by having the same species on a similar desert planet doing exactly the same things they did elsewhere.
We get a battle where the Mandalorian tries to take back his ship’s parts from the retreating Sandcrawler only for him to be stunned and knocked unconscious. It again shows how he is just trying to survive in a galaxy that doesn’t take prisoners. Luckily for him, Baby Yoda is sticking with him.
Making his way back to Kuiil, he is taken to the Jawas to trade for his things back, only to be forced to fight for an egg. This is where we get the video game feel back, and despite it fitting quite well within the Star Wars universe, it does feel like we’re getting side mission after side mission. The Mandalorian fights a rhinoceros type creature for its egg, because that’s what the Jawas want. We see him being thrown around, being completely outmatched by the creature.
It comes down to him on his knees holding a small knife as the creature charges. But he is saved at the last second by Baby Yoda, who is strong in the Force. He lifts the creature off the ground to the Mandalorian’s amazement. Baby Yoda collapses and the Mandalorian kills the creature.
A New McGuffin
He takes the egg and the Jawas return the parts. He rebuilds his ship using montage and says farewell to Kuiil. Baby Yoda recovers as they leave the planet for whatever comes next.
It worked in so much as it introduced us to the characters, it told us who everyone is and where they fit in the vast Star Wars universe. The aesthetic is great and does feel like it is part of that 70’s lived-in universe. The Mandalorian himself has already established himself as a far better bounty hunter than other Mandalorian Bounty Hunters seen in the movies. But he is extremely fallible, being outgunned and almost being eaten twice in Chapter 1. He is just a man trying to survive in this universe.
Baby Yoda is the main McGuffin of the series. We don’t know who it is, we don’t know where it has come from, but we know Herzog’s The Client wants it dead or alive, and Dr Pershing wants it alive. Is it a clone of Yoda? A relation? Only time will tell, and despite my reservations from the first Chapter, after Chapter 2 I am all in and looking forward to Chapter 3.
If only I had Disney+!
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