The Rise of Skywalker is almost here, and it’s supposedly the conclusion to the Skywalker Saga. So, I’ve decided to attempt a full canon rewatch before it releases, reviewing each chapter as I go. That’s all the movies, as well as the Clone Wars, Rebels, and Resistance TV series. We continue today with The Mandalorian.
I’ve never really understood the fascination with Mandalorians. Boba Fett was a nothing character who died like a chump. Jango Fett didn’t exactly hold up to Mace Windu all that well either. They’re neat design, but I don’t get the level of fandom associated with them. Having now tirelessly marathoned the entire Star Wars saga to this point though, I must admit that the Mandalorians have a pretty interesting past. They were a warrior race who placed an almost religious amount of reverence on their weapons and armor. The history of the Darksaber introduced in The Clone Wars and later explained in Rebels is super cool. Their shift to pacifism and the formation of extremist group Death Watch is fascinating. Their war-torn status quo in Rebels is also great, as is just about everything about Sabine Wren. I still don’t know how we got here from Boba Fett, but I’m glad we did. Mandalorians are cool.
So this show picks up after Return of the Jedi and gives us a great look at what the galaxy is like post-Galactic Empire. The Mandalorians aren’t doing so great, mostly living in secret and now seemingly unwilling to remove their helmets in front of others. The first episode of the show captivated me pretty quickly because aesthetically speaking, it looks like Star Wars. In all these years there has never been a live-action Star Wars on TV that actually felt like it took place in the Star Wars universe. (No, Lumpy and the Star Wars Holiday Special don’t count). And this is very much the Star Wars universe we know and love. Things are angular and worn in. There are practical effects behind most of the weird creatures out and about. It’s gritty, but not emo-gritty, if that makes any sense.
This show comes to us from Dave Filoni (and obviously a bunch of other people too) but I bring him up specifically because I feel it’s important to show just how much this dude gets Star Wars. He isn’t a perfect storyteller. The Mandalorian, for all its wonderful positives, has wasted some time on some rather tired plots, which is only really problematic because either A. He has already done these stories better on his other Star Wars shows (the episode where he teaches a bunch of farmers to defend themselves in particular was not only done better in other TV shows, it was done better in HIS OWN TV show, The Clone Wars) and B. The Mandalorian doesn’t’ have a whole lot of episodes per season, so I kinda feel like it’s extra important to make the few we have count, and rehashing TV tropes isn’t the best use of our time. Granted, even when they are doing old tricks, they’re exceptionally entertaining. But it does speak to the slight whiff of missed opportunity this show likes to flirt with.
The first episode introduces a Bounty Hunter droid (Not IG-88) and it’s awesome. But then main character guy (he doesn’t have a name that we know of yet. They just call him The Mandalorian, or Mando) blows him to bits. A few episodes later we get Ming Na as an assassin. She’s dead by the end of the episode. I like how the cast is revolving like this. I like meeting all sorts of weird new characters on all sorts of weird new planets, and I will grant that we haven’t had a chance for some of the one-off characters to come back yet, but I hate seeing characters full of potential get killed off so quickly. Especially droids who were featured pretty heavily in the marketing.
Mando himself is a really interesting character. He doesn’t seem to have been born a Mandolorian, but he was raised as one after surviving some sort of attack. Pedro Pascal’s delivery is spotless. He’s dead serious and just a little snarky, which makes the few scenes where he contributes to comedy all the more effective. I’m also really glad they didn’t just make him an invincible badass all the time. This dude gets beat up. He struggles to win the fights he gets in, and it’s always fun to watch.
Of course you can’t talk about this show without mentioning the Baby, or as the internet calls him, Baby Yoda. I had seen the memes and images of this little dude before I got to see the show itself, but I was not prepared. The Baby is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, and I love him with all of my heart. Cute jokes aside, he’s a really neat little thing. Not only is he a great-looking visual effect, (I’m assuming a combination of CG and puppetry), but his story is very interesting. The remnants of the Empire have put a hit out on him. He looks like a baby but he’s 50 years old. He is very powerful in the Force, and he loves Mando, which is great. Where did he come from? Why does the Empire want him? Just how powerful is he? I can not WAIT to find out more, and that’s the hallmark of a good show. I’m hooked.
At the time of this writing, there have only been 5 episodes, meaning there are only 3 left. I have no doubt that this show will be picked up for a second season, and I’m all for it. I’ve seen what Dave Filoni is capable of, and if this show winds up half as good as Rebels turned out, we’re all in for a real treat.
The last stop before The Force Awakens is the animated series Star Wars: Resistance. It’s managed to surprise me a little, but it got off to a rocky start. Let’s see if it can make itself into a win before I write my review.