Side Quest Received – Destination: Tatooine
The Mandalorian is the perfect example of a show that starts strongly and fizzles out as the weeks have gone by. While I understand that The Mandalorian is a show primarily aimed at families and sticks closely to the episodic, case-of-the-week feel that late 90’s sci-fi achieved, I can’t help but shake the feeling that some of this material is wasting time. I’m usually quite forgiving of shows doing this and I’m sure The Mandalorian will bow things out with a dramatic finale but the past few episodes have just felt like filler and the rigid structure each adhere to is not helping.
We begin the episode with Mando fighting off several fighter jets out in space before locking in on his coordinates and preparing to land on Tatooine. Once there, he refuses to let the droids near until the local repairer takes a look. Meanwhile baby Yoda walks off the ship and finds himself in the woman’s care while Mando heads to Mos Eisley Cantina to pay his way. Once there, he finds work from Toro. After learning more about his latest target, Mando heads back to his ship and collects up his gear and, with a speeder bike in tow, he and Toro set off across the sand dunes.
After negotiating with the sand people, Mando continues his mission before racing across the sand and trying to outsmart the assassin sniping him in the rocks. With Toro keeping her busy, Mando arrives and manages to gain the upper-hand, subsequently shooting her. Back at the ship, Toro turns on Mando and holds baby Yoda up at gunpoint along with the repairer.
However, Mando outsmarts him and manages to land the final blow. With everything resolved and the credits handed over, Mando bids Tatooine farewell and flies away into space. As the episode closes out, we catch a glimpse of a man wearing a cape crouching beside our assassin.
I commented before about The Mandalorian feeling a video-game and this week absolutely solidifies that feeling. The past few weeks have really felt like pointless side quests and while I understand the show is going for the episodic monster-of-the-week feel, sprinkling fan service and nods to the originals for good measure, I can’t help but come away feeling disappointed. The opening few episodes had a sense of urgency and world-building that’s been lacking in this franchise and this episode in particular lacks that same feel.
There’s never a moment you really feel like Baby Yoda or Mando are in danger and because of this, the dramatic tension of the series completely dissipates. The rigid structure of landing on planets, completing a bounty and flying off again, is starting to wear thin too and while I do appreciate some will love this approach, the show feels directionless because of it, lacking any sense of immediacy given the Guild are supposed to be looking and hunting for them. This is also Tatooine we’re talking about, the hub of villainy scum and presumably the first place you’d look.
Still, it’s not all bad though and the show does look visually stunning. The fan service is a nice touch and the CGI effects blend nicely into what’s shown too. I hope next week we get some more progression on the overarching plot but given there’s only a few more episodes to go in this one and little in the way of run-time remaining, The Mandalorian feels like it really needs to pull out the big guns to avoid this stagnating late on.