Don’t Self Destruct
I have a real love/hate relationship with Star Wars. I loved the original Trilogy, disliked the prequels, enjoyed Rogue One and Force Awakens while flat-out hating The Last Jedi. With this topsy-turvy level of quality in mind, I remained on the fence when The Mandalorian was initially announced. As Forrest Gump so eloquently put it all those years ago, when it comes to Star Wars, “You never know what you’re gunna get”.
Based on the first episode alone though, The Mandalorian gets off to a very good start, with plenty of clever nods to the original trilogy and some nicely implemented, iconic edits between scenes. The result is something that feels very Star Wars-y, ending with an interesting twist that’s sure to keep you coming back for more.
We begin on a snowy world with a scanner beeping in the hostile, whistling wind. In a remote bar nearby, a man is forced into giving up credits while held at knifepoint. However, our assassin Mando arrives and the men square up to him, attempting in vain to unsettle our antihero. Instead, Mando fights them off and saves the creature, quickly revealing he actually wants to cash in on the man’s bounty.
After a close encounter with a monstrous leviathan on the ice near Mando’s ship, he flies his ship off into the cosmos. Able to breathe a sigh of relief, the prisoner is quickly frozen into carbonite, alongside numerous prisoners that have succumbed to the same fate. Touching down, Mando trades off the prisoners after some tough negotiation. Lamenting his lack of credits from the transaction, Mando is told about a lucrative bounty by Greef Carga which he decides to pursue instead.
After a tense encounter with a group of stormtroopers, Mando sits down with the client and begins laying out terms for the job. Eventually they come to a mutual understanding, prompting Mando to return to the tribe of Mandalorians taking refuge underground, preparing for his trip before eventually arriving at a desolate, desert planet where he begins hunting his prey. After a tricky encounter with the wildlife, a strange local promises to help him after asking if he’s a bounty hunter. Back at his hut, they talk about the mark and here he learns how to tame the wildlife that so hastily attacked him before.
Finally able to ride the creatures, he heads to the base but finds a bounty droid named IG-11 instead. After single-handedly destroying all the guards, Mando offers an alliance in exchange for half the reward money which they agree to. However, another shootout ensues as reinforcements arrive. In the aftermath of this visual spectacle, the two bounty hunters head inside and find a baby. Although the species is 50 years old, its actually a baby of Yoda’s ancestry. Shooting his comrade in the head, unable to kill a mere child, Mando refuses to go along with the directive and holds his hand out to the child.
With an interesting twist at the end and Mando’s cold exterior slowly dissolving throughout the episode, The Mandalorian gets off to a great start here. The blend of practical effects and nods to the original trilogy really help this feel like Star Wars and a lot of this is thanks to Jon Favreau whose clear vision really helps this feel like a post-original trilogy Star Wars story.
The editing is great too, including a welcome return of the iconic fade edits so synonymous with the original trilogy, helping the show nestle itself into that iconic Star Wars style. It’s still early days though and I’m reserving my judgment for now but a very strong opening episode offers up a lot of promising signs for the season ahead.