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The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian (The Mandalorian - S01E01) - Live Action Series

Series: The Mandalorian

Title: Chapter 1: The Mandalorian

Season: One

Episode: 1

Original Air Date: November 12, 2019

Runtime: 39 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

"This will begin to make things right" SPOILERS.

A Mandalorian walks into a bar...

The quote in the article headline is never said in the first episode of The Mandalorian. As you certainly remember, this line was the first-ever spoken in The Force Awakens. Four years later, we can say that for quite a few fans nothing (or only very little) was made right. With one major box office flop, several fired and replaced directors, and a somewhat uncertain future of the Star Wars movie franchise after this year's The Rise of Skywalker, one might say that very little seems right with Star Wars at the moment.

But The Mandalorian is proof that Lucasfilm and Disney are willing to make things right. Because this show feels and looks like a love letter to fans, especially somewhat older fans. Fans who have been with the franchise since the 1970s or 1990s. Now this doesn't mean new fans who joined fandom with the sequels can't enjoy the show, they certainly can. But, with The Mandalorian Jon Favreau is targeting long-time fans. The Mandalorian looks and feels like Rogue One or Solo did, which means it's instantly familiar, has the Original Trilogy aesthetics, and is filled to the brim with well known aliens, droids and little nods that fans will greatly appreciate. But looks and aesthetics are one thing. How is the show? So let's talk about the very first episode!

The fun is about to begin

The episode begins quite ominously with the Mandalorian on an icy planet, walking towards a building. It is here that the show not just introduces us to the main character in a very fitting way, it also sets the tone for the show. And Star Wars fans will feel right at home. The first few minutes give us the Mandalorian version of the Cantina scene in A New Hope. A Mandalorian walks into a bar where some ruffians are about to bleed some alien. You get to see aliens and shady humans, everything the Cantina all those decades ago also gave us. It seems as if Favreau wanted to reassure fans right from the get-go: Trust me, I know what you like, I am one of you, here, let me show you!

And, it is here in the very first minutes that the Mandalorian also differentiates itself from A New Hope. While the Cantina scene in 1977 was quite tame (only one limb was remove), we are treated to a very violent altercation when the ruffian accuses the Mandalorian of spilling his drink. The scene ends with an alien getting cut in half by the iris door to the bar as it closes. And while this is not an R rated show, you see how the legs flop to the floor. And right here you know that The Mandalorian is as far removed from things like Star Wars Resistance as it could be without getting too gross, as most is left to the imagination. No blood is spilled at all. These first few minutes introduce us to the character by showing us him in action. And we know several things right away: the Mandalorian is not the most talkative person, he's extremely competent, doesn't hesitate to shoot, and knows what he's doing. In other words, he's the typical badass character from any Western movie, maybe not too unlike Clint Eastwood's character in the Sergio Leone movies. I think most people will consider him to be the best live-action Disney Star Wars protagonist yet.

What follows is a somewhat humorous sequence with the Mandalorian's bounty, some alien who is very talkative, but it's not in your face humorous, unlike some Star Wars movies in recent memory. It's subtle but also funny. We also get our next action sequence: a short fight against some monster that lives underneath the ice and tries to take a bite out of the Razorcrest. The Mandalorian uses his rifle to dispose of the creature.

This Rodian was apparently caught extremely unaware...

The scene is resolved when the Mandalorian carbon freezes his bounty, and we see that he has gathered quite a few unlucky souls already.

The Mandalorian's home base

What follows are some more dialogue-heavy scenes with Greef Carga and Werner Herzog's character, in which the Mandalorian receives his new and mysterious bounty. You have seen the scenes in the trailers and other footage already. We are also treated to several visual references to things fans will like. It's not in your face like the scene with Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan in Rogue One, but mostly just a quick shot like the Offworld Jawas, a Gonk droid, or a Monkey Lizard roasting on a spit.

Tastes like chicken?

We also get a glimpse of more Mandalorians who have a tribe on the planet. And here we find out that the Mandalorian has a mysterious past. Not only does he not yet know his signet when he is asked about it when the female blacksmith forges a new pauldron (which means that the armor version of the Hasbro action figure is only seen for about 20 minutes in the series), we also see short flashback scenes to a fight in the street, blaster fire, and two parents trying to escape with a small child. It's heavily implied that the child is the Mandalorian

The Mandalorian unmasked!

The Mandalorian finally travels to yet another desert planet, this one named Arvala-7. The show does provide you some sweeping vistas every now and then to set up the location, and the Western vibe of the show is further strenghtened by the desolate canyons of this new planet

Not Tatooine?

The Mandalorian lands on the surface and is immediately attacked by Blurrgs, and while he does try his best to defeat them, he is about to get chewed quite a bit when Nick Nolte's alien character saves the day. The alien proves to be quite helpful because he points the Mandalorian in the right direction to his target; he wants to be rid of the scoundrels who have made a base on the planet. But before the Mandalorian can get there, he has to learn how to ride a Blurrg first. And The Mandalorian once more strengthens its wild west feeling when we see how the Mandalorian tames a Blurrg, but only after some encouragement by Nick Nolte's character Kuill

The Blurrg Whisperer works his magic

With only 10 minutes more to go and a calmer middle, the show then gears up for the grand finale. When the Mandalorian arrives at his target, he finds that some other bounty hunter has also just arrived, IG-11. What follows is an epic shootout with the Mandalorian and a somewhat suicidal IG-11 (who wants to destroy himself several times during the shootout because his directive forbids him from being captured) on one side and what feels like two dozen bad guys on the other side. You have seen bits and pieces of that in the various reels that were shown in the past months. IG-11 proves to be a formidable fighting machine, and the Mandalorian is once more shown to be quite resourceful when he finally manages to best the scoundrels by capturing a laser Gatling gun.

No one lived to tell the tale

We're almost at the end now. The quarry is behind a locked door. IG-11 and the Mandalorian enter and discover their target, and this will certainly keep fans talking for quite a while...

The 50-year-old not Yoda

It's a 50-year-old infant belonging to Yoda's species. Now, this is, of course, NOT Yoda, but who is he/she? And what do the former Imperials and Werner Herzog's character want with it? Was the Empire after the secret of Yoda's race? Maybe all of his kin are very strong in the Force? Now, all of a sudden, some rumors make a lot of sense. It is said that the Mandalorian will explore Yoda's species, that it may even get named, and that George Lucas received a writing credit for one of the later episodes. With baby not-Yoda, this suddenly seems much more likely

IG-11 is not so taken with not-Yoda and wants to kill it. But then we discover that the Mandalorian, despite having killed dozens of people already in the span of one episode, also has a heart of gold. He blasts IG-11, and then we see the final shot of the very first episode... a touching moment that humanizes the anti-hero, which shows he is not only about killing people or fetching bounties.

So cute

So that's the end of Chapter 1, Which was surprisingly short (only 39 minutes). Anyone who thought the Mandalorian might follow the Stranger Things or Game of Thrones formula with hour-long episodes may be disappointed. However, the short runtime also guaranteed that the episode was all meat. There was no filler, not a second wasted. Everything either propelled the story forward or built-up characters. There were zero paddings. This is also Dave Filoni's first foray into directing live-action, and that man hopefully has a bright future at Lucasfilm when it comes to live-action! The action scenes were brilliant; everything was clear to see, no herky-jerky shakycam to hide less than stellar stunt performances, and the cinematography was beautiful. This was a powerful directorial debut.

All in all The Mandalorian is in many ways similar to Solo, which may be a surprise, because Solo flopped. So making a show similar in tone may be a gamble perhaps. Just like Solo, The Mandalorian feels like a Western set in space. But where Solo had several things going against it, The Mandalorian has an all-new character who manages to capture the essence of Boba Fett, without being Boba Fett. He's personified coolness, he's extremely competent, smart, very mysterious, he's probably everything fans thought Boba Fett was back in the day. But the fact the Mandalorian is not Boba Fett gives Jon Favreau the freedom to give the character a unique backstory. What is also quite refreshing is the fact that this episode was only about the Mandalorian and no one else. Other shows may have introduced the main cast right away, but Cara Dune was absent, with Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog and Nick Nolte portraying only supporting characters.

The show has movie quality. The effects, set pieces, and scenery would not feel out of place in a Star Wars movie. The icy planet, small town, camp, and various vistas all look great. We are lucky technology has come so far that what George Lucas wanted to realize for so many years is finally possible on TV. The Mandalorian could not have been made before. One word about the music: don't expect any John Williams. The soundtrack is very different from what you are used to, but it works.

I believe that The Mandalorian will be the most favorite Disney Star Wars release, at least among older fans. The entire show feels like a love letter. Only if you dislike Western movies set in space with bounty hunters and scoundrels you may have some difficulty enjoying this. Anyone else will probably enjoy this immensely, and I say hats off to Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and everyone else who brought The Mandalorian to life. If the other live-action shows are about as good as The Mandalorian, then we are in for a treat!

So how did you like the episode? Leave your feelings and thoughts in the comments!

Added: November 12, 2019
Category: The Mandalorian
Reviewer: Thomas
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