The Mandalorian: Season 1 Review

The Mandalorian Brings in the Bounty

Main Cast: Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog
Created by: Jon Favreau

The Armorer:When one chooses to walk the Way of the Mandalore, you are both hunter and prey.

“The Sin” (Season 1, Episode 3)

The Mandalorian is the most popular Star Wars series in years. It trades the quasi-mystical Jedi for a gritty bounty hunter. Grandiose battles between good and evil are replaced by a smaller, but more personal quests. The characters are not easily separated into heroes and villains, Jedi or Sith.

So is The Mandalorian worth the hype or do we need to put a bounty on the show? Let’s find out.

The Good

The Man(do) With No Name

The Mandalorian:I can bring you in warm… or I can bring you in cold.

“The Mandalorian” (Season 1, Episode 1)

The Mandolorian’s titular character is a very different Star Wars protagonist. He’s no moisture farmer turned Jedi, that’s for sure.

The Mandalorian, often shortened to Mando, is introduced as a taciturn bounty hunter. He is straight to the point and constantly moving from contract to contract. He hates droids and avoids them whenever possible. Despite acting aloof, Mando goes out of his way to aid the few people who earn his trust.

Mando uses many weapons, such as a blaster, a wrist-mounted flamethrower, and a whip attached to his other wrist. He soon earns a suit of armor made from Beskar, a nearly indestructible metal that is sacred to Mandalorians. Mando is an expert fighter, often using ambush tactics and dirty tricks to overcome foes.

Imperial remnants led by The Client (Werner Herzog) hire Mando to recover an asset for them. After a lengthy battle, he discovers that the asset is a young child who strongly resembles the Jedi Grandmaster, Yoda.

The Real Star of The Mandalorian Season 1

The Armorer: “[The Child] is too weak. It would die. You have no choice. You must reunite it with its own kind.
Mando: “Where?
The Armorer: “This, you must determine.
Mando: “You expect me to search the galaxy for the home of this creature and deliver it to a race of enemy sorcerers?
The Armorer: “This is The Way.

“Redemption” (Season 1, Episode 8)

The Mandalorian is popular, but it has nothing on The Child, colloquially known as Baby Yoda.

Mando struggles to return The Child to his client. Many bounty hunters try to kidnap the kid and several creatures want to turn the duo into snacks. Mando protects his meal ticket, slowly coming to care for The Child and question whether he should complete his bounty.

The Child is quickly revealed to have strong Force powers by lifting a rhinoceros-like monster with little difficulty. He frequently pulls interesting things to him, usually food or a knob from Mando’s ship that is his favorite toy.

Mando gives The Child to The Client, but quickly returns for him after a crisis of conscience. Mando is charged by another Mandalorian to protect The Child. The duo begin traveling the galaxy to find The Child’s people, eluding bounty hunters and Imperial agents all the while.

Outcasts

Cara:Well then, until our paths cross.
Mando:Until our paths cross.

“Sanctuary” (Season 1, Episode 4)

Mando and The Child are the focus of The Mandalorian, but they aren’t the only major characters.

Rocky’s Carl Weathers plays Greef Karga, the leader of Mando’s bounty hunting guild. He’s an affable and savvy manipulator who supplies Mando with contracts. He won’t turn on his guild members for money, but anyone who breaks their rules or crosses him is in for a world of trouble.

Gina Carano plays Cara Dune, a former Republic Shock Trooper and Rebellion member. Following the Empire’s defeat in Return of the Jedi, Cara found that she wasn’t able to adapt to peace. She traveled the galaxy searching for fights, eventually going into hiding after making too many enemies. 

Three-time Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte voices Misty Rosas’ portrayal of Kuiil, a former Imperial slave who serves as a guide to Mando during his search for The Child. Kuiil also repairs an assassin droid called IG-11, reprogramming it as a servant. He eventually loans IG-11 to Mando as extra backup for a mission.

Emily Swallow plays The Armorer, leader of the Mandalorians on Tatooine. She often stops arguments and disputes between her subordinates, using lessons about The Way of the Mandalore to convince them to stop fighting. The Armorer is an expert at molding Beskar and forges the majority of Mando’s weapons and armor.

Lower Deck

Mando:What’s your highest bounty?
Greef:Not much. Five thousand.
Mando:That won’t even cover fuel these days.

“The Mandalorian” (Season 1, Episode 1)

The Mandalorian season one characters spend more time exploring planets than saving galaxies.

Unlike most Star Wars protagonists, Mando must account for logistics. He constantly works around being a little short on money, ammo, or time. Several episodes focus on him accepting missions to get resources to continue searching for The Child’s people.

Mando’s missions allow the show to experiment with different styles. The majority of them give the show a space Western feel a la Firefly. Mando might help a rookie gunslinger take down an outlaw sniper or join a crew planning a prison break. The episode introducing Cara is pretty much a Star Wars adaptation of The Magnificent Seven.

Focusing on smaller scale situations gives The Mandalorian room to focus on character interactions, explore new settings, and foreshadow future plots. There’s still plenty of action to interest fans, but the pace is more relaxed than Star Wars movies.

The Bad

What’s A Mandalorian?

Mando:I haven’t heard that name spoken since I was a child.
Greef:On Mandalore?
Mando:I was not born on Mandalore.”
Greef:But you’re a Mandalorian?
Cara:Mandalorian isn’t a race.
Mando:It’s a creed.

“Redemption” (Season 1, Episode 8)

Mandalorians have a storied history in the Star Wars universe. There are dozens of books, games, and comics detailing their history, culture, and traditions. Unfortunately, The Mandalorian assumes that you’re walking in with at least some knowledge of them.

From the first episode, we hear several references to Mandlorian culture, such as The Armorer asking if Mando has discovered his Signet or commiserating about “The Great Purge.” Several traditions and tools are name-dropped throughout the season with little explanation for newcomers.

Viewers unfamiliar with the Mandalorians will understand some things, but will miss a lot of context. The only things the show hammers on are that Mandalorians consider Beskar sacred, hold their armor in high regard, and will never willingly let themselves be seen without their helmets. A lack of details does not make the show unwatchable, but does make it more difficult to understand Mando’s actions.

The Verdict

The Mandalorian season one mixes Star Wars and westerns to create a brilliant spectacle. The diverse cast and familial threats keep viewers’ attention even when there aren’t explosions or space magic. Mando’s creed could use some more exploration, but The Mandalorian is worth your time.

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