After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.
On October 20th 2012 a cataclysmic metaphorical bomb went off in the film industry. Disney had bought Lucasfilm. Since then we have gone from having six films and two animated TV series over a period of roughly 35 years to five films, one animated TV series and five in development series (that we know of) for Disney+. Yeah, that is quite a turn around in eight years. The reason for bringing this all up is that over those eight years we have had stunning new insights into the Star Wars universe (The Force Awakens and for this writer, The Last Jedi) and extraordinarily poor and unneeded products *cough-cough SOLO*.
But towards the end of 2019, a new series launched on Disney+ in the US that may be one of the most unique pieces of SW media thus far. After a few months and an almost delayed Disney+ launch, it’s finally time for the UK to get a piece of this action. Welcome, The Mandalorian.
So who/what/is Mando? Our leading character (Played by Pedro Pascal) is the anchor of the series and is the gravity that everything else revolves around and sticks to. Mandalorians were not a race, but a clan within SW who were all about taking in the forgotten and lost of the universe and training them to be some of the best warriors, and later bounty warriors, in the galaxy. Mando is a final example of this clan, with the series showing a few other ‘brothers’ supporting him (if you want more info the Mandalorians downfall I highly recommend The Clone Wars TV show).
Like many other mercenaries during this period of time after the Empires destruction, Mando has become a bounty hunter, one of the best actual, and the whole series follows him on one bounty after another. It is the first bounty we encounter with him which is so key, for the introduction to one Baby Yoda or the child, as he is often referred to.
Would this series have brought in so many ‘non-SW’ fans without this cute idol? Whilst not actually baby Yoda, but a baby form of whatever race Yoda is, this character is the ship that Mando is anchored to. Baby Yoda becomes key to Mando’s character arc, turning him from your average bounty hunter to a father figure looking to protect a good side in the galaxy. Baby Yoda’s and Mandos’ relationship proves fascinating at parts, watching this armoured, helmeted, well trained hard-nut crack under the intrigue and vulnerability of ‘The Child’.
This core relationship is vital to understanding who Mando is, but also driving forward future plotlines in the series and most likely the many series to come. What is specifically brilliant about this show, and this most recent version of Star Wars, is its look and feel, however.
It’s very rare that look and feel can be so in-built and integral to production outside of the indie scene, but this show has ‘gone in’ on making sure it both harks back to the original look and proves fresh in feeling completely unique in its looks and sounds. This is down to the perfect balance in acting, prosthetics, practical and computer effects alongside the groundbreaking new Stagecraft techniques used which add beauty to much of the cinematography. Bravo to Jon Favreau (showrunner and writer) for balancing character and style within this so perfectly.
There are some issues that season two and beyond could work on to perfect this formula. Having watched the series next to my girlfriend, who although has watched all the Star Wars with me and enjoyed many aspects of them, did lose interest at some parts due to a certain key issue, this being the episodic nature of the series and the somewhat un-linked stories within it. For those not fully invested or knowledgeable in the series, the middle 3-4 episodes can feel like filler that doesn’t add much to the series as a whole but just shows one bounty after another, as individuals they work perfectly but as part of a series, it is difficult to ignore this siloed nature to the story as a whole.
Overall though, the Mandalorian feels unique and fresh, and that to me is what is so great and exciting about it. A fresh perspective, full of intrigue (who is Baby Yoda, what lays ahead for Mando in protecting this child?), great characters and beautiful shots that feel unique within what has been created since Lucasfilm’s takeover. Now we just have to wait to see where season two and beyond takes us.
Possibly the most unique and fresh take we have seen on Star Wars since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, with beautiful filmmaking and wonderful characters (hello Baby Yoda) helping to cement this series. Hopes for more linked stories and episodes in future series.