The Mandalorian promises a lot…and delivers.
Just the name alone raises expectations among Star Wars fans who know the legend of Boba Fett. Mandalorians are among the most popular cosplay in the Star Wars universe. And the culture of Mandalore is steeped in mythology and mystery. So to name the first ever Star Wars live action series The Mandalorian stands out immediately. But this series helmed by Jon Favreau with help from the likes of Dave Filoni and Taika Waititi does not disappoint.
Favreau has developed a wonderful exploration into the lore of the bounty hunters and explores both their culture and life in the Outer Rim after the fall of the Empire. Those who have described this series as a Western set in the Star Wars Universe have nailed it – at least after the first episode. The opening scene was reminiscent of a saloon showdown with a space age twist. Watching The Mandalorian (no name given) “end” one of his opponents by slicing him in half with a circular door was clever and inventive. Then comes The Mandalorian’s first spoken line in the show as he talks to the bounty he has contracted to bring in, “I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold.”
We don’t ever see Pedro Pascal’s face in the first episode. True to form, The Mandalorian keeps his helmet on virtually at all times. But Pascal does a great job creating the atmosphere of the character with both his voice and the way he holds his body. He also has a bunch of great lines – especially for a guy who doesn’t speak too much. When Carl Weathers, who portrays Greef Carga, tries to pay for the bounties The Mandalorian has collected with Imperial credits, The Mandalorian says, “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Empire is gone.” Pascal’s intonations are perfect for this character. We learn that The Mandalorian is extremely good at what he does, is resourceful, owns a pre-Empire starship, and is extremely generous while being also ruthless. We literally get a glimpse into his past through flashbacks, presumably with more being understood in the coming episodes.
The other actors in the show do a fantastic job of rounding out the universe. Other than Carl Weathers, we meet Werner Herzog as the Client who offers The Mandalorian a bounty. Herzog plays his character with mystery, a bit of foreboding, and a touch of evil. It’ll be interesting to see how he will fit into the larger scheme of things. I love Nick Nolte as the Ugnaught, Kuiil. His character reminds me of Ben Kenobi. Like “Old Ben,” Kuiil finds The Mandalorian up against a native lifeform who is giving him some serious trouble and steps in to save him. Like Ben, Kuiil offers his help and the two journey together to their destination. From there the similarities end, but it’s nice to have allies on planets with rough terrain. And of course, Taika Waititi brings his brand of humor to the voice of IG-11, a droid bounty hunter after the same target as The Mandalorian.
Overall, Favreau and Filoni (who directed the first episode), do a wonderful job of spinning an intriguing tale while being true to the Star Wars universe. With Filoni around, you know you are in good hands. Filoni worked directly with George Lucas while developing and producing The Clone Wars and was responsible for the work in Star Wars Rebels. Filoni is as steeped in Star Wars lore as any fan out there. So it was no surprise to see familiar species like the Quarren or a Kubaz in the show or to hear references to Life Day from the Star Wars Holiday Special. Will there be other surprises? Could Boba Fett show up? How about other Mandalorians like Sabine Wren (would be so cool to have Sabine portrayed by Tiya Sircar)? We know Sabine survives to this point from the final episode of Rebels. That would be fitting. What else will we see? We will have to find out together since starting Friday these episodes will drop weekly instead of all at once. If you’re a Star Wars fan, be sure to check out The Mandalorian.