Finally, after more than a decade of speculation our first live-action Star Wars show has arrived. After having seen this episode it feels Star Wars is back being relevant again. With eight episodes in the first season there is a lot riding on this show for Disney, especially as it is intended to be the flagship series for their streaming service Disney+.
Chapter 1 of The Mandalorian
Chapter 1 of The Mandalorian does what it needs to do. It raises questions and it sets the stage. The first third of the episode establishes that the main characters The Mandalorian (played by Pedro Pascal) is indeed a bounty hunter. He does not loses his cool even when things do not go as planned and he rarely talks. Instead the people around him talk and create much of the backstory.
The Mandalorian receives his contracts from Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), the leader of the bounty hunter guild. The story that follows is familiar. Greef lacks high-paying bounties, except from a mysterious imperial known as The Client (played by Werner Herzog). The latter offers a reward for tracking down a target of which little is known. Only that they are carrying a tracking device and their age – 50.
To give more of a background story to The Mandalorian we visit the underground lair of his people. There we watch as the Armorer (Emily Swallow) fashions a new element of Mandalorian armor made from the down payment of The Client. With every beat of the hammer we see a brief flashback to when The Mandalorian was just a boy and the day his parents were killed. This establishes how his race has been hunted down for centuries.
In the final third of the episode The Mandalorian sets out to find his quarry. Its on yet another backwater world. Here he meets Kuiil, an Ugnaught played by Nick Nolte. Kuill guides The Mandalorian to his target in the hopes to be rid of a bunch of mercenaries there. The Mandalorian identifies the compound only to be beaten to it by a droid called IG-11 – also sent by the bounty hunter guild. In a action packed and hilarious scene we see the two team up to mow down the entire mercenary army.
The target is revealed to be a juvenile of Yoda’s species. IG-11 decides to kill the juvenile but The Mandalorian shoots him through the head. In the last shot The Mandalorian touches the juvenile before the screen fades to black.
The Mandalorian does so much right, it may well be the best TV hour in years. And yet, the show is also very understated. There will be obvious comparisons between The Mandalorian and Clint Eastwood’s characters The Man with No Name trilogy by Sergio Leone. In fact, while watching this episode I already called the protagonist El-Mando.
The Mandalorian packs in a lot during this hour, just when you think things are settling down for some exposition El-Mando moves forward. The world of The Mandalorian is one of violence and decay. The New Republic might be gaining the upper hand against The Empire in the three years since The Battle of Endor, but nobody in this story stands to benefit. Instead, we see lean and grimy stormtroopers accompany The Client. We see semi-intelligent species being roasted on a spit. In everybody’s eyes, from Greef to The Client to Kuill, we see weariness. And this show has only just gotten started.
I think writer and show creator Jon Favreau has done a marvelous job with this first episode. Director Dave Filoni has managed to pack in a lot in relatively short amount of screen time. Some may criticize of the show being too vague and its ending too open-ended, but you would have the mind of goldfish if you agree.
Despite chapter 1 not detailing too much we don’t have to wait long for more. This Friday (November 15th) will see the release of chapter 2. Afterwards the remaining 6 chapters will be released every Friday from then on.