The Mandalorian - Season 1
Having clearly grown up with Disney, as you can tell by some of my reviews as of late, I was super excited about Disney+, the latest in the long line of up-and-coming streaming services. The idea of getting to watch many classic movies and TV shows was already good enough, but getting to see new movies and TV shows made just for this service was the icing on the cake.
Interestingly, one of the most hotly-anticipated TV shows debuting on the service was The Mandalorian, the first live-action show made under the Star Wars name ever.
Set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the story is about a bounty hunter, simply referred to as the Mandalorian, who lived off of the rewards he received for the criminals he brought back. The rewards he collected were mostly meant to be used as embellishments for his armor suit. One day, on a special mission, he was requested to reclaim a special quarry, dead or alive, and it turned out to be a baby who was the same species as Yoda. As soon as he ran into him, a bond started to develop between them, as did the Mandalorian‘s suspicions over the intentions of even the Mandalorian’s closest affiliates meant for the baby, or, as the show’s fans called him, ‘Baby Yoda’. So, stricken by his conscience, the Mandalorian aimed to protect the baby from anyone who wanted to exploit him for their own means, even if it meant putting himself in danger against leaderless Stormtroopers and betraying some of his comrades. In the process, he and his other real friends started to discover why Baby Yoda was so special and coveted, and along the way, their ensuing adventures led them to cross paths with a particular nemesis who wronged the Mandalorian, or Mando, in the past.
The first thing I’ll talk about that blew me away was the scenery. The shots were just stunning, and the way the show took me, the viewer, through different, unexplored parts of the galaxy, including new planets, sometimes left me in awe during my investment in Mando’s journey. Other times, it even went out of its way to take its viewers back to familiar locations. One episode involved Mando scavenging for criminals starting in Chalman’s Cantina on Tattooine from A New Hope. While it didn’t contribute to anything in a big way story-wise, it was still nice to visit that spot again.
The visual effects — what can I say about them? Since this is Star Wars, I already knew they were going to look good. They brought every space creature in the show to life and made them look like they were really there.
Another big highlight about the show that helped it stand out was the action. Every time Mando fought someone, whether he did it on a different planet or in space, they all captured the thrills and high-stake scenarios that made the action scenes in the movies so memorable.
Even the wardrobe established a sort of creative uniqueness to it. Maybe it had something to do with how different it was depending on the planets, as well as depending on the characters. The Mandalorian’s outfit I especially admired for showcasing a sense of both familiarity and intimidation, while also emphasizing some cultural uniqueness of its own. It was familiar because the outfit reminded me of the outfits worn by Boba and Jango Fett.
Speaking of whom, what’s a good TV show without a good collage of characters to hitchhike us along for the ride? And trust me, they were all unique for what they stood for.
First up, Mando himself. Labeled as a Clint Eastwood-inspired character, his intimidating demeanor clued the viewers in that he was a top ranking bounty hunter and was not to be messed with. But as he found his particularly unique quarry, his commitment to protecting him at all costs gave him a layer of honorability that made the viewers stick to his side through thick and thin, even if his motives still came across as questionable at times. And there were two more things about him that made him more interesting. One, his mysterious nature. You can almost never tell what he had on his mind or what motives he decided to stick with for the sake of accomplishing his goals. And second, his communications with his secret tribe: a band of fellow Mandalorians in hiding. His connections with them, their collective goals, their priorities of secrecy, and their reliance on the mantra "this is the way" when upholding certain tasks, they all made them look resilient yet sympathetic and vulnerable, and made the viewers hope that no one who was out for their blood were to find them.
The quarry in question, “Baby Yoda”, was just a bundle of joy. He was probably the biggest contributor to the show's otherwise light and humorous scenarios, and despite the show being meant for older audiences, they made him feel like the child-appeal character, similar to the Sultan or Olaf. And frankly, I found it funny how everyone kept calling him 'Baby Yoda'. Ever since I first saw him, I could've told from the get-go that he was just a baby who happened to be the same species as Yoda. In fact, this left me wondering at one point, what was it about him that made him so sought after in the eyes of others? I wondered if it was because his species was possibly endangered, or if it was for a certain skill that I’ll bring up soon in this review.
The female soldier, Cara Dune, was pretty cool to watch. A former Rebel shocktrooper, her resilience against any opposing force established her as using whatever skills she obtained in her battle experiences for the forces of good, and she was just as easy to root for for that reason.
The guy who Mando met with for his missions, Greef Carga, was more unpredictable with his methods than Mando was. He showed more commitment to the prerogatives of the missions issued, and this caused him and the Mandalorian to butt heads on occasion. It was only when they both expressed shared interests on the issues at hand when they allowed themselves to partner up for the sake of correcting the issue, so you can expect their chemistry to keep you at the edge of your seat.
The droid, IG-11, went through… quite an interesting journey over the course of the season. First, he was introduced as a killer robot whose only prerogative was to follow orders commissioned by others, detail to detail, with no second thoughts. And later, he was re-introduced as a maiden robot whose new prerogative was to serve and aid other people in whatever way he knew.
For what it started off with, The Mandalorian had a handful of memorable episodes throughout its first 8-episode run.
There was one episode where Mando’s ship was sabotaged by a group of Jawas. In order for Mando to retrieve the parts they stole, the Jawas requested to him that he retrieve a Mudhorn egg for them. As Mando struggled to get the egg from the actual Mudhorn protecting it, the viewers got a taste of what might have made Baby Yoda so special: he had the ability to master the Force. This was something beyond the Mandalorian’s understanding, and it was fascinating to watch as he tried to wrap his head around how this was possible.
Another episode involved Mando and Baby Yoda looking for lodging near a remote village, on a remote planet, which had been constantly ransacked by incoming plunderers, including ex-Stormtroopers. After he, as well as Cara Dune, heard of these calamities, they all set off to defend the village and to ready its citizens for battle, all while Mando considered letting Baby Yoda stay and live with them in their normally peaceful village.
Yet even another episode involved Mando getting together with a rogue band of bounty hunters whom Mando was acquainted with in the past. This one was interesting because ever since his encounter with Baby Yoda, Mando’s collaboration with his old confidants tested their relationships with each another. Who’s changed since the last time they were together? Who hasn’t? Who held onto their profession for selfish reasons? How about for selfless reasons? All those questions came into play among these characters as the episode progressed.
The first season was especially terrific with regards to its stage setting. The first three episodes did a fantastic job of establishing the characters, the challenges presenting themsleves, and how the characters were all effected by them depending on their motives. And the last two episodes raised the bar with personal stakes for Mando, and in so doing, they teased even greater things to come for the show.
What I found interesting was that for many, many years, fans of Star Wars have been begging for a live action TV show based off of the Star Wars universe. And the closest we got were a slew of animated TV shows, which, regardless, still came out good. But when The Mandalorian came along, it fulfilled everyone’s wishes… and then some.
As I treaded along through this first season, it did not once feel like a Star Wars show meant for TV. It instead came off more like a new installment of Star Wars that just happened to be formatted as a TV show. It was that good, as well as that faithful to the Star Wars universe. And as soon as I reached the last few minutes of the first season’s last episode, my excitement over how far the show has come and where it intends to go soon reached its peak.
I actually remember reading a comment about the show by someone who was complaining about Jon Favreau’s Lion King, and he said:
I have the theory that The Mandalorian would be made with the only condition to make this movie, and make it sell millions. Maybe that's why it feels so rushed.
Being an optimist, I think that might be true. And if it is, Jon Favreau, then you’ve done well. The Force is clearly strong with you, as it is with your show.
My Rating: A-
Mama Luigi. (2019) The Lion King (2019) - DisneyCember [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kERuIaJN44Q&t=96s