Live-Action TelevisionStar Wars: The Mandalorian

MakingStarWars.net reviews Star Wars: The Mandalorian S01E01!

Jason Ward's thoughts on the first episode of the new Disney+ Star Wars series.

Finally Live Action Star Wars is Here! Episode 1 Spoilers!

The first live action Star Wars television series has finally arrived. I remember wading through tidbits of Star Wars: Underworld hoping for a long form Star Wars saga that never arrived. Thankfully The Clone Wars satiated that thirst and then Star Wars was sold to Disney and with new films hitting  rapidly,  it was another seven years until tonight when I watched the first episode of a Star Wars television show.  Appropriately, the episode was directed by Dave Filoni who brought us those underrated cartoons while I waited for live action Star Wars TV all those years ago now thanks to Disney+.

What I loved about The Mandalorian is the obvious spaghetti western influence. But I would not say I love spaghetti westerns as much as I love the idea of spaghetti westerns and Star Wars has generally been really good about taking what was fun and compressing and condensing the time between those fun beats so it doesn’t become boring. The first episode of The Mandalorian succeeds in what it attempts to do on this front. 

The first sequence where our “man with no name” enters a small tavern, causes a thug to spill his drink, in which the thug picks a fight with The Mando and he promptly beats the shit out of everyone in the room, leaving with his bounty is the thesis statement of the series: we’re here to make badass action filled Star Wars.  

I found the “Garindan” speaking Kubazian plays a little flute and land speeder approaches immediately to be delightful. On my first viewing, I found it kind of confusing that The Mando rejects the droid driven speeder but later works with IG-11. However, upon reflection I’m guessing it has to do with The Mando not wanting to be eaten by the creatures on the planet more than some kind of droid prejudice. I was delighted to see Brian Posehn in a small role as the speeder taxi driver but also as bummed to see him so quickly. However, it was a pretty hilarious death. Also he was driving the speeder I reported on last year!

The First Bounty and The Razor Crest

The fast talking bounty “Mythrol” was well performed by Horatio Sanz. The Mando is so dry that the people he meets have to be entertaining so we the audience do not get bored. Mythrol trying to outsmart the Mando by being personable and using the bathroom to find a way out was solid. The Mando lets his bounties hang themselves and Mythrol falls right into a trap of his own making essentially. 

On a side note, I really liked our hero’s ship The Razor Crest. When I first heard about the ship, it sounded neat but it had so much going on, I didn’t know if it would connect. The first shot where we are introduced to it really nice and I liked the design the more I saw in action. I also liked that we saw got to see a space toilet. Don’t act above it. You’ve wondered about it. My kids were pleased with it too. And the carbon freezing chamber on the ship is a fun and nice touch to the Star Wars lore (and remember this takes place after the famous war hero Han Solo was frozen in carbonite at Jabba’s palace for a year in front of all of his court of weirdos). Seeing the Mythrol character explore the ship briefly was cool and I dig the setting more than I expected. When we see four or five carbonite beds floating out of The Razor Crest,  Boba Fett lost a bit of his “bountiful” luster until  I remembered it was Han Solo in Boba’s and not some blue fish faced shyster. 

The Show is Pure Star Wars Candy

When I was three years old, I saw Star Wars: A New Hope for the first time as it aired on SelecTV. The signal was scrambled. My dad banged on the TV, called the cable company screaming obscenities at the person on the other end of the line. The signal unscrambled as Luke Skywalker entered the cantina and my life was changed. The Mandalorian has two of those Mos Eisley cantina moments in the span of the first ten minutes. The kid in me loved that. The adult Star Was fan loved seeing the classic aliens with modern masks not done on the cheap. 

How rad is it that we have Carl Weathers in a Star Wars series? When I reported that rumor, I really wanted it to be true and Weather’s Greef Karga isn’t in the first episode as much as I would have liked but what we got was spot on. It had a lot of what I loved about my childhood in it from Action Jackson, Dillon in Predator, and Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. He’s so close to a nostalgic nerve embedded somewhere  deep inside of me that he interfaces with Star Wars seamlessly.

As we’re introduced to Werner Herzog’s character, I loved that the Stormtroopers aren’t pristine and white as we’ve classically seen them. The Empire has fallen and these that are left are rugged. The first episode even boldly states that things aren’t so great after the fall of Empire. Herzog’s character looks grimy but has a Flavor Flav sized Imperial medallion around his neck while Doctor Pershing is out of his element in the Wild West of outer space. It has a Deadwood vibe to it, I subtly appreciated. 

The Mando’s Past

When we later meet the Mandalorian armor forger we get a sense as the importance of Beskar and why The Mando is so keen on the gig that seems to be a bad idea without enough information. Clearly a “camtono of Beskar” is going to allow our hero to finish his armor and begin to make things right agin for his people who are scattered and displaced after a purge by the Empire presumably. Because he was once a foundling, it would seem he became displaced sometime around the end of The Clone Wars (Pedro Pascal is around 40 years old and the kid playing the young Mando appears to be around ten years old so this could line up to some degree since we’re nearly 30 years out from that war). I’m curious to see how this history plays out. 

When I first heard that Pedro Pascal was The Mandalorian, I was really jazzed by the casting choice he didn’t let me know down. I should also mention that Pedro Pascal’s voice works. It sounds like the old Boba Fett before the voice change in 2004, while still sounding like a good guy.  We should also note that the rumor John Wayne’s grandson played The Mando on set appears to have panned out as well (although I misreported the rumor as John Wayne’s son on Now, This is Podcasting!).

Familiar Star Wars Settings

Seeing The Mandolarian land on Tatooine was strangely nice. When we see Jakku in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jedah in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it feels like the desert planets are a bit overdone and I’m not saying they’re not. But seeing modern Tatooine is different enough that it would be hard for fans to not see the difference. All of the criticisms still stand, but I can tell the difference as a fan. 

For me and my kids, it was strange to see the sets we had looked at near our home, but now they’re Tatooine.

door comparison
Photos of the door we shot at the location last year.

The Old Master and the Test

How impressive was the Nick Nolte ugnaught mask? When I first learned of it, I was told the Stan Winston Company built it and Nolte recorded his lines in a makeshift recording studio that was a converted closet. I thought he looked amazing and his “I have spoken” lines were hilarious. The Mr. Miyagi trope of the old master type who has a knowledge well beyond his size was masterfully executed. I can’t wait to learn more about this character who seeks peace but clearly has an interesting past. 

I don’t think the four year version of myself that saw The Battle for Endor on television would have ever thought I would one day watch a Mandalorian learning to ride one. I particularly enjoyed this really trope filled moment because up unit this point, our hero is flawlessly badass with very little to actually stand in his way. He actually overcomes something and proves he’s ready to meet the final challenge of the episode in this moment. I should also note that I thought The Mando was going to mount the ice creature in the beginning of the episode like Boba Fett in The Star Wars Holiday Special but I can see why they didn’t do that beyond the visual effects cost. Nick Nolte reminds the Mando that his people used to ride the great Mythosaur and he can clearly do this. But it also in a strange way helps bring The Mando back in touch with his ancestry as he proves himself worthy of a part of his past in a small but tangible way. It was cheesy but rad at the same time which is how I like my Star Wars. 

The Showdown

The final action sequence was really fantastic. It really liked the IG-11 character or the bounty droid as he calls him. Continually wanting to self destruct when he finds himself in a rough situation makes me think that death is nothing to the droid as he will just be loaded into a new body or something. I believe it was said he’s mistaken for IG-88 which doesn’t happen in the episode so we’ll clearly see more of director Taika Waititi’s voiced droid in the series. They sure shot a lot of Niktos that day. 

The “baby Yoda” moment was a rather cool and surprising ending to the episode. With the species aging differently than a human, 50 is still a baby for a little green critter like Yoda who was 800 when he died. In a weird way, that baby might be the next Yoda as it matures sometime after sequel trilogy, if I had to take a wild guess. I had previously reported on this addition to the series but I’m not sure how big it is overall in the series.  When I first reported on the premise of The Mandalorian it said the series was about a baby and the restoration of Mandlore itself. But here we have this baby and it is like Yoda. Did a story element change? Either way, it would seem the series was always going to make a huge contribution to the future of Star Wars lore and this how the story appears to have developed and I find it just as satisfying in spirit.

The Mando is a heartless show with heart

If had a major criticism of The Mandalorian, it would be that it generally lacked heart for most of the episode. It was very cold for the most part by design. But that criticism is fixed by the end as we learn he was a foundling and that he later saves the green baby because they’re the same and there is humanity behind the mask. For being as action oriented as it is, The Mandalorian does an excellent job of still managing to end with some heart and it never felt forced or or shoehorned in which I think is commendable. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what the next seven episodes bring overall. Is this concept sustainable for another seven episodes? Is the man of little words stuff going to get annoying? Or will the new characters we’ve yet to meet and the characters we have met become even more interesting and make it all work? I hope so. As a fan, I think it will work and I can’t wait to see more. 

What’s Next for The Mando?

I’m left questioning why does Werner Herzog’s character want a “baby” Yoda killed?  And what is the significance of the Mando’s signet not being revealed and what will it mean when it is for The Mando when it is? Also, I hope Ludwig Göransson delivers more musical moments like what we got with the Blurrg sequences. 

I’m happy with The Mandalorian. It had a really fantastic start.  

Check out my season two scoops for Star Wars: The Mandalorian as well as all the photos of the sets we took during the first season’s filming in The Mando section of MakingStarWars.net 

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Jason Ward (EIC)

Owner, Editor and content supervisor of MakingStarWars.net
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