TODAY IS THE DAY!!!
With the launch of Disney+ today, the series premiere of the very first live-action Star Wars TV show ever made dropped, the first chapter of the highly-anticipated The Mandalorian.
And let me just say: I had high expectations coming in, but this first episode exceeded them. I love it. Let’s jump right in to a review of the episode – and be warned, ***spoilers are ahead.***
The episode begins with the Mandalorian on an icy planet, arriving at a cantina (it’s the clip that was released on Monday Night Football last night). A few guys cause him trouble, and he winds up taking them out. An alien thanks him for rescuing him, but the Mandalorian reveals that he is there to collect the bounty on the alien’s head. So he takes the alien back to his ship, and the driver of their landspeeder on the way warns them not to stay on the ice too long – very soon after which he is devoured as he drives away by a large creature emerging from the ice. This creature grabs on to the Razor Crest, the Mando’s ship, but the bounty hunter fights it off.
While on board the Razor Crest, the alien looks around, only to be ambushed by the Mando and encased in carbonite. The Mandalorian arrives on another planet and turns the bounties over the Greef Carga, the head of the bounty hunting guild. It is here that he gets his next assignment: one that has no puck and is a deep pocket one. The Mando is sent to see Werner Herzog’s character, who gives him the tracking data. Before leaving the planet, the Mandalorian visits a Mandalorian section of the planet, meeting up with a Mandalorian blacksmith. This other Mando crafts a new piece of armor from the beskar given to the Mando by Herzog’s character, and as this happens the Mando has flashbacks to his childhood, when his planet was attacked and his parents seemingly killed.
He soon leaves – with his upgraded armor – to a desert planet in search of this bounty, but he is ambushed by a couple of Blurrgs. He is injured and overpowered by one of them, but as the other charges the Blurrgs are taken out by Kuiil, who appears riding another Blurrg. He offers to help the bounty hunter in his search. He takes him back to his hut and explains that he has helped other bounty hunters too, but they all died. He teaches the Mando how to ride a Blurrg, saying that they’ll need to ride them to get there, and then he takes the Mando to a compound where the enemies live. Kuiil says he wants peace again, so he wants them eradicated. The Mando crouches to look at the enemy post, when he sees IG-11 appear and start taking them out. He quickly befriends IG-11 (despite disliking droids) by proving that they are from the same guild.
They team up to fight the enemy, who soon bring out a massive gun. IG-11, meanwhile, continues to want to self-destruct rather than be captured, which the Mando has to keep ordering against. The Mando soon commandeers the gun and proceeds to take out the remaining forces, and they blast their way into the compound. There they find the bounty: a fifty-year old “baby” of the same species as Yoda! IG-11 raises his blaster to kill the bounty as ordered, but the Mando blasts IG-11 first. He raises his finger to play with the baby as the episode ends.
This episode is basically everything I could have hoped for in the series premiere of a Star Wars live-action show. It looks amazing, Ludwig Göransson’s score is great (I’ve been listening to “The Mandalorian” on repeat), the action sequences are incredible, the plot is very interesting, and I found the characters quite enjoyable. All of that together made for one heck of a series debut – the first live-action ever directed by Star Wars guru Dave Filoni, I might add.
Everything about this truly feels like a Star Wars movie, and that’s maybe the highest compliment I can give. The folks at ILM have done incredible work in bringing this to life in such a way that this project feels just as big and as visually seamless as any of the films. It’s a really impressive effort, and I continually felt just like I was watching a new Star Wars movie – albeit, one that will just release in hour-long installments weekly.
And I thought the plot was a really good one to introduce us to the show:
First, we saw the Mandalorian in the middle of another bounty, which does a couple of things for us: it shows us that this guy means business and is good at what he does; it shows that he’s no nonsense and will get the job done; and it shows that he’s been bounty hunting for a while now. It’s a very Indiana Jones-esque opening in that we’re thrust right into the middle of another adventure before we begin this one.
Secondly, then, we see the Mandalorian take a new job, all the while establishing the climate of the galaxy – the Empire has fallen (so Imperial credits aren’t of much use to the Mando), Mandalore has seemingly fallen on hard times, etc.
Thirdly, we get an intriguing glimpse at the Mando’s backstory that (I think) plays into his motivations in this episode. It seems that he was orphaned at a young age as his parents were killed, but not before they hid him away. It appears this was probably a Separatist attack (thus during the Clone Wars), which would easily explain his distrust and dislike of droids. And him being orphaned at a young age would also explain why he doesn’t want to kill the baby Yoda species at the end.
And I really think that ending was so perfect and important for this episode. First of all, it was a thrilling surprise to see another of Yoda’s species – as a cute baby – be the target! But seeing this bounty hunter who has had no problems killing and capturing in this episode be so tender toward a baby goes a long way toward bringing this complex character to life. It’s a superb choice, and a great way to end this episode.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fight in which the Mando and IG-11 team up, because it was absolutely awesome. And in pretty much all of his scenes, IG-11 stole the show. I found it hilarious how often he wanted to self-destruct, and how frustrated the Mando kept getting at him for this. It was really well-placed and well-done humor, and I loved it.
I think this episode raised a lot of questions moving forward. Will the Mandalorian actually turn in this latest bounty? Will we find out more about the Mando’s backstory? Will we learn more about Mandalore post-Empire? I loved this episode, and I think it was a perfect way to start the series. I can’t wait for the next chapter.
My grade: 10/10