SPOILER REVIEW: Episodes 1 & 2 of The Mandalorian usher in new era of Star Wars storytelling
I have a problem. My problem is not with Disney Plus or The Mandalorian show itself. It is not with Kathleen Kennedy or Jon Favreau. My problem is not in the magical way that this new entry in the Star Wars mythos has felt fresh and new and yet captured the feel and the heart of Star Wars. It’s not in the cool, gunslinger swagger of our mysterious Mando or the cute baby alien who floats on a magical air of mystique and innocence by our hero’s side.
It’s not in the call-backs in the premiere episode to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or even Gunfight at the OK Corral. My problem is not in the inspiration in the second episode to George Stevens’ classic Western Shane or the obvious inspiration from Kazuo Koike’s classic Japanese tale Lone Wolf and Cub. My problem is a simple one: How do I turn a review where I just want to say “I love it!” into something of length? Balance, I suppose.
From the moment I saw the first teasers and trailers for the Mandalorian, I knew this would be something I would enjoy watching. In the premiere episode, we get to meet our titular character, a character steeped in mystery and intrigue. We dive in to his world immediately as we are introduced to him in the middle of a bounty retrieval. Played by Pedro Pascal, Mando (as he’s been nicknamed by his friend) is selected by Werner Herzog’s well-paying Imperial client to hunt down an “asset” which turns out to be a baby of the same species as Yoda.
This first episode was a fantastic introduction to this new entry into Star Wars lore. It struck a delicate balance between the new and the old, the fresh and the nostalgic.
We meet this mysterious Mandalorian whose Beskar armor and his weaponry are all call-backs to Boba Fett’s rifle from the much-maligned Star Wars Christmas Special and to Jango Fett and his forearm flamethrower. We meet the scum and villainy of this story in a scene that is very reminiscent of the old cantina scenes from previous stories.
We also meet Werner Herzog's character and Doctor Pershing. Herzog plays what appears to be a former Imperial diplomat who seeks a bounty dead or alive. Pershing would much prefer the bounty arrive alive.
He is a simple looking man except he has a Kaminoan clone symbol on his one shoulder. It may indicate a connection to those infamous cloners who were recruited to build the Grand Army of the Republic. This could tie into a plan of The Emperor during The Clone Wars to find force-sensitive youth to become agents of the empire. If you want a better understanding of what I am inferring, check out Season Two, Episode Three of "Children of the Force," from the 2008 Clone Wars series. To us this makes sense because a tie between that series and The Mandalorian is none other than Dave Filoni.
And then there’s the IG droid who is commissioned to bring in the same bounty and when we fully see his capabilities, and hilarious willingness to self-destruct, we also get an epic climax in a grand gunfight in the style of the best westerns.
During this same launch week, we also got to watch episode 2, an episode that dives deeper into the story of our heroic Mando.
Again we have reference to bounty hunters from the original trilogy when we see a duel with a pair of Trandoshans. In this episode, he is seemingly on the planet Tatooine, a desert planet full of moisture farmers and Jawa sandcrawlers. Even in this time period set just a few years after the Empire fell in Return of the Jedi, the Jawas are still a pain.
They strip his ship, dubbed the Razorcrest, of its parts and equipment and to get his ship back in flying order, he is forced to strike a quid pro quo deal with the Jawas to retrieve an egg for them in exchange for all his parts.
This is when we are introduced to the fearsome Mud Horn but also to the mysterious force-wielding powers of our young baby "Yoda." And so the episode ends with a sleeping child, a fully repaired Razorcrest, and a beaten and worn but battle-ready Mandalorian, heading off planet in a visual style that calls back again to the original trilogy.
This entry was a natural follow-up to the premiere episode. While episode one gave us an introduction to this new part of the Star Wars world, episode two gave us a better look at the direction the series will take in the weeks to follow. It was a rather straight-forward story but packed with so much that we love about Star Wars from a display of Force powers to the Jawas to
Mandalorians and some really great looks inside of that Sandcrawler. It also gave us more of a look at the strong moral code that this Mandalorian follows as well as a stronger emotional connection with the Child.
Lets talk about this 50-year-old baby that reminds everyone of Yoda and at the same time has fans asking if Yoda and Yaddle went on a date or two. This was a shocking reveal at the end of the first episode. It's not surprising this is something that Filoni and Favreau would attempt in the pilot episode.
Between the two episodes, Twitter was rampant with speculation. Could it be force sensative? That seems like an assumption. Sure Yoda and Yaddle were great Jedi but...wait...it uses the force in the second episode of The Mandalorian? Wait, the infant saves The Mandalorian's life? WE GOT THE FORCE IN THE MANDALORIAN? Damn. I guess my expectations for the series have already been surpassed. I can get behind the idea of an imperial faction trying to take a page out of the Emperor's book and create an army of clone sensitive beings...but we'll see.
After two episodes, I find myself fully invested in this story. It is all too familiar from a stylistic and thematic perspective yet it is wholly new and mysterious and leaves much to the imagination.
As far as what the future holds for this season, I am sure a great more will be revealed about the child "Yoda." Werner Herzog's character will surely be sending a great many more bounty hunters after our hero. Could we see additional references to other Empire Strikes Back-era bounty hunters like Zuckuss or the Corellian bounty hunter Dengar? Possibly even Palliduvans such as Aurra Sing who went on to train Boba Fett after his father died at the Battle of Geonosis? I also suspect that that Kaminoan clone connection will come into play very soon.
Whatever happens, I will surely be there to enjoy it every step of the way.
I have spoken.
If you want more Star Wars conversation about The Mandalorian, check out the latest episode of Streaming Star Wars! ABC News' Clayton Sandell joins David Amelotti and Pete Fletzer to talk about the sights and sounds of The Mandalorian.
Streaming Star Wars with Ammo and Fletzer goes live every Friday night at 10 pm EST, 9 pm CENTRAL on the Beyond The Blast Doors YouTube Channel. Updates on Twitter @StreamingSW
Jesse lives in Fort Lauderdale Florida and enjoys the beach, film, Star Wars, and creating content for YouTube.
He is thrilled to join the Beyond the Blast Doors crew to share his love of Star Wars with everyone else who lives in the Dagobah System.
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