Friday’s Season 1 finale of The Mandalorian‘s brought Star Wars’ first live-action TV series to an epic conclusion, so let’s review Disney+’s smash hit.
Between a compelling central character, an incredible surprise in the pilot episode and intriguing plot twists throughout, this corner of a galaxy far, far away is definitely one fans want to see explored further.
Read on for a full review of The Mandalorian‘s eight-episode debut season, which will spoil very little for the uninitiated!
The Mandalorian is awesome — but relatable
Mandalorians are reputed to be among the best warriors in the galaxy. Based on the trailers and clips, the eponymous character seemed almost too badass so as not to be compelling.
This couldn’t be further from how the show presents the Mandalorian, and in review of all his skirmishes, he doesn’t get the upper hand as often as you’d think.
The archetype of an indestructible action hero tends to plague big modern franchises. It’s not often big IPs are able to nail down a vulnerable protagonist and still make him or her “cool.”
Herein lies one of the main reasons as to why The Mandalorian works so well. Every episode, there’s a real sense of danger. Mando often encounters foes who he can’t quite defeat on his own.
This only builds the conflict, dramatic tension and mystery as to what will happen next. There’s also a lot left to the imagination regarding Mando’s origin, along with what the Mandalorian race is all about. Only morsels of backstory are given throughout Season 1, so stay tuned on that!
Props to lead actor Pedro Pascal for his work in this. He’s hidden behind a mask constantly, yet brings humor and excellent subtext to the role. It could easily come off as goofy or, um, nothing happening. Pascal’s Clint Eastwood, Man with No Name-esque delivery plays into the Wild West type of genre the show is going for.
Baby Yoda IS Star Wars now
Speaking of that pilot episode twist, this is a mild spoiler for the show. However, if you’ve been on the Internet or social media for the past couple months, you’ve almost certainly stumbled upon “the child.” Aka Baby Yoda.
How popular is the little tyke? This meme from Imgur accurately describes the current state of affairs…
Yes, the titular Mando is fun to follow. He goes on all these neat quests to different planets. That said, once he discovered the 50-year-old child at the end of “Chapter 1,” the adorable creature has been an Internet sensation.
It’d be awesome if someone from Yoda’s unidentified species merely existed in the show. Instead, Baby Yoda becomes a primary character who’s already strong in his own ways. That’s an intentionally cryptic description.
This strength first shows in “Chapter 2,” when Mando is in grave danger while fighting a gigantic Mudhorn creature. The baby does something to save Mando’s skin that’s too sweet to spoil here!
Instead of unveiling the rest of Baby Yoda’s awesomeness, trust that he has plenty of cute moments sprinkled in with glimpses of…special abilities. This will indubitably be explored further in Season 2, which creator Jon Favreau confirmed is in production.
Post-Empire politics bolster world-building
Whereas George Lucas’ work on the prequel film trilogy got somewhat bogged down by politics, The Mandalorian actually uses the post-imperial political landscape as an effective storytelling tool.
In this particular part of the galaxy, New Republic control hasn’t really gone into effect. Imperial remnants are still running the show, and self-interested bounty hunters are capitalizing on the destabilized central power structure.
Mando is loosely affiliated with the bounty hunting guild, but kind of operates under his own rules. There are certain cliques within the guild, and anyone can betray anyone at the drop of a hat.
Baby Yoda ends up being the most prestigious bounty target in the galaxy. That puts Mando perpetually in the line of fire, and further complicates his already tense relations with the guild.
Between the lingering presence of the Empire and the bounty guild, Mando has some serious external forces to battle. Then of course, he’s thrust into the role of father figure to Baby Yoda.
The Mandalorian verdict: BINGE
- Streaming on Disney+
- Created by Jon Favreau
- Starring Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog
It’s probably not much of a surprise to see the review verdict go this way, but The Mandalorian is a definite binge. The only drawbacks are a somewhat slow “Chapter 4” and underutilized supporting characters.
Overall, though, I envy those of you who’ve held out this long. Now you can plow through the first season all at once instead of waiting a week between episodes. Whether you’re a Star Wars nerd or not, this show is so much fun. It appeals to a wide range of ages thanks largely to Baby Yoda.
Yes, The Mandalorian is grittier and more morally ambiguous than other Star Wars fare, yet it has wholesome heart and plenty of levity and humor to be suitable for younger audiences. There isn’t any gore or anything off-putting like that, either.
The show takes place roughly five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Anyone who’s disenchanted with the sequel film trilogy can find hope in The Mandalorian.
This is indeed the way.
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