The Mandalorian

Disney+ launched this week with the expected archives of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars goodies, but also some new series, including The Mandalorian. It’s about a bounty hunter, well, hunting bounties. He looks a lot like Boba Fett, but that’s only because Boba Fett wore Mandalorian armor (despite not being a Mandalorian). Still, he’s a strong silent type; think Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name trilogy of spaghetti westerns, but in space. So far, there’s only been two episodes, but some assorted thoughts are below (Spoilers ahoy!):

  • I’m enjoying it. It’s not perfect, but there’s lots of potential, and we’re finally getting new Star Wars that isn’t hyper-dependent on what came before. It’s true that we get little references and “I recognize that thing” pretty frequently, but they’re mostly minor fan-service and the series appears to be making good use of the extended universe beyond characters we know.
  • I guess they’ve generally decided that the opening crawl is a numbered-entry thing only going forward, but it’s weird, I feel like this series (or at least the first episode) could have made good use of it. Dropping into the story the way we did is fine, to be sure, but the opening crawl could have maybe better contextualized things.
  • The series basically had me within 5-10 minutes when it did the whole iris door gag, which I’m not going to spoil, but which was eye opening for sure.
  • Funny that in Empire the whole carbon-freezing process was untested and no one was even sure if a human being would survive, but now it’s standard practice for all bounty hunters or something? Darth Vader: great innovator and technology disruptor.
  • Werner Herzog is always welcome and his speech cadence just works in situations like this, but it’s a short scene. Hopefully we’ll get more of him.
  • The first episode drags a bit in the middle and appears to be almost literally a video game when he first gets to the planet and must figure out how to ride a Blerg. I swear I’ve played this sequence a hundred times in a hundred different games. The Blergs don’t exactly look great either, but they’re a small part of the episode.
  • The best part of the episode is the appearance of the IG bounty hunter droid (presumably not IG-88). It’s great to see him in action, and there’s some humorous bits with him attempting to self-destruct. I was kinda hoping that he’d be a recurring character and that he’d always be triggering his self-destruct mechanism at even the faintest obstacle. This clearly won’t happen, but I suspect we’ll see other IG droids.
  • The “reveal” at the end is pretty good. I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s not exactly a surprise either.
  • The second episode is only 33 minutes long, which is interesting. It doesn’t really progress the story much, but it’s still entertaining, and we learn more about baby-Yoda-alien-thing. It also has a very nice Lone Wolf and Cub vibe that works well.
  • Basically, I’m quite entertained. It mostly meets the needs I set out in my Humble Star Wars Wishlist: It’s not a prequel, it’s got completely new characters (though it still relies on the worldbuilding of the movies), and so far, it’s relatively low stakes. As mentioned above, it’s got a lot of potential. I’d love to see some process-dork stuff about bounty hunting, but so far, that’s been a bit sparse. The action is reasonably well done and the acting is good, especially given that our hero has not taken off his mask (and probably won’t).
  • Disney+ is pretty good so far, but right now it’s basically just “The Mandalorian” service, as the other interesting original content doesn’t come until next year and the year after. It’s great to have most of the MCU movies archived, but it’s not like they weren’t widely available before. Ditto Star Wars and Pixar. Some of the older Disney animation stuff is cool, but there’s some inexplicable stuff too, like what they did to The Simpsons (which is abysmally cropped, but also somehow feels stretched?) All in all, I’m not sure if this service is a keeper or not, but for now, it’s decent… I’d probably recommend waiting until the Mandalorian is finished, and binging during the free week or first month or something.

And that covers my initial thoughts. Really interested to see where we go from here…

3 thoughts on “The Mandalorian”

  1. …despite not being a Mandalorian…

    I squeed. NOBODY remembers this anymore, not even official Star Wars properties like Star Wars: The Old Republic which is loaded with Fetts being one of the great historical Mandalorian families. Mandalorians (Mandalorian Knights, at one point) were an ancient order opposed to the Jedi, and defeated by the Jedi, long before any relevant history. Who Fett really is, and where he got the armor, is a mystery. SW:TOR *also* has the carbonite problem. Apparently 4000 years ago carbonite was primarily used for freezing people; they even had freeze guns.

    The Mandalorian has me intrigued. They seem to mostly be getting this right, which is a welcome breath of fresh air.

  2. The structure of the third episode, The Sin, is wildly predictable. As I sat watching the episode whilst munching on my breakfast, I projected possible narrative routes the episode could take.

    It followed all of them, barring one or two little surprises.

    What the show does really really well though, despite its streamlined plot structures, is world-build and character-build.

    And of course display an amazing amount of atmosphere.

  3. It’s pretty clear, intentional or not, that the series is VERY similar to watching someone play a video game. I’ve seen some people decry that, but MILLIONS of people enjoy that (including me), so I don’t think that’s really a problem. As long as they don’t try to make the series about something BIG and IMPORTANT, like the Jedi Order, or the Sith, or the Emperor, or Skywalkers, I think it will continue to be fine.

    And congratulations, Disney. I despise you, and yet you found a way to make me get Disney+.

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