The first season of Star Wars: The Mandalorian has concluded. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the series existing. Season One started really strong and then aimlessly meandered a bit, feeling a little like a 90’s television show with the episode of the week. Even during the aimless episodes, I enjoyed it for what it was and each episode did bring a little bit of flavor to the table. I would have preferred more depth to the final arc of the series but the final two episodes were really strong for what they were.
Taika Waititi’s direction in the final episode is really pretty stellar. It was cinematic and strong. That really isn’t a surprise considering his film career so far. What was surprising was that he made IG-11, a generic reiteration of IG-88, into a character worlds stronger than IG-88 ever was. He began as a generic kill bot and by the end of the season he was a nurse who sacrificed himself so Baby Yoda aka The Child could live. Without Waititi’s direction and performance the season wouldn’t have really worked. His death wasn’t exactly Terminator 2 strong and I didn’t cry like when E.T. went home, but it was satisfying and it did give the final episode some weight and proved fun characters can die.
Moff Gideon is really fascinating. But he feels a bit under-cooked in the first season. The regional governor has a lot of backstory given to us. Hell, even the Mandalorian’s name Dyn Jarren is revealed in relation to him having been an ISB officer with access to intelligence that allows him to know everything about the cast of the series. Giancarlo Esposito is a fantastic actor with a lot of creepy charisma when needed. I love everything about him, but I also could have used a lot more this season about the character beyond just circumstantial plot elements that build him up. That Darksaber reveal was fantastic. Those Death Troopers were cool to see with him. Now, I want to see him be interesting rather than having interesting attributes and backstory connections. I think they’ll pull it off but season one left a lot to be desired on that front and filled that crucial time which could have been used to deepen the character with episodes that didn’t contribute much to the overall arc of the season, and when you’re only doing eight episodes and only six really matter, it makes it less than what the season and characters like Gideon could have been by the end of chapter 8.
It was really weird in the final chapter, Kara Dune says she doesn’t do the whole kid thing, and yet she does the kid thing. They didn’t do that to her the whole season so it was strange that it happened in the end, especially when Greef Carga really didn’t do much but pound drinks for a lot of the episode. Almost everyone takes care of Baby Yoda in the episode, so I’m in no way calling it sexist as much as a misstep to even acknowledge the terrain they were walking on in the final chapter.
I am disappointed that the rumor that Ewan McGregor was going to be in the episode to pull Dyn Jarren out of the bunker didn’t pan out, but it was pretty rad to see that he was saved by Death Watch Mandalorians. These Mandalorians aren’t exactly like the people that we saw in The Clone Wars on Mandalore. These are more of a creed based type of warrior or mercenaries, and Dyn was raised in the Fighting Corps. We see Mandos in a state of heroic triumph and then we have it confirmed that things do not go well for Mandos after the events of Star Wars Rebels. That Darksaber was in the possession of Bo Katan (The Clone Wars, Rebels) but she has either died or was disgraced by Moff Gideon.
Those scout troopers that killed Kuiil sure are a couple of dicks. I was hoping Baby Yoda was going to heal Kuiil and he would get medieval on them, as the episode progressed, it was obvious that it wasn’t going to happen that way. Then they started hitting Baby Yoda and I was happy to see those dicks die by IG-11’s robot pincers.
Dyn Jarren isn’t really my favorite Star Wars name to be honest. It sounds rather generic. The night after making a video, my lady friend and I went to have a breakfast burrito at Pepe’s. Interestingly, the name of the restaurant before it was renamed to Pepe’s sounded almost exactly like Dyn Jarren. So it is clearly playing on some Western trope like Jango Fett to D’Jango. I took a picture of it to note for this review, but I can’t find it., So I guess that if it’s an excuse to get a breakfast burrito at Pepe’s Finest Mexican Food, then fine Mexican food it is.
It was pretty crazy watching this episode, as it was chalk full of scoops obtained from the series. I remember visiting the location of the set a year ago this Christmas and seeing the crashed TIE Fighter that Gideon flies, just sitting out there. We saw the lava boat and the tunnel constructed and used over many days. I saw the droid that drove the boat and drew a detailed image. On the podcast we revealed that IG-11 would be riding speeder bikes and actually having action sequences. The best day of, according to my kids, was the day we saw Death Troopers filming with tons of Stormtroopers. It was fun, and a bit crazy, to see all of these things coming together in this episode. One of the coolest moments was seeing Taika Waititi direct the scene where Dyn walks out of the door to fight the Stormtroopers and the Death Trooper.
When I first heard that the series was going to be about a Mandalorian after the Empire fell,it was going to be about a kid, and that kid was going to be what restored Mandalore. That kid ended up being Baby Yoda, but it wasn’t until this episode that I thought that it might not have changed. This kid is not a part of the two man clan. It is wacky, but it is also really rad, because it is so insane that it makes me giddy.
I enjoyed the episode. I enjoyed the season. The Darksaber is back. Baby Yoda lives. We still don’t know why they want Baby Yoda. Is it to heal Palpatine on Exegol? There’s a lot going on with the post-Return of the Jedi universe, and I can’t wait to see it develop with this series. I hope that season two uses the episodes at its disposal more effectively than the first season,, but I loved pretty much every moment of it. So far, Star Wars on Disney+ has depth, and it doesn’t feel like it only serves a superficial existence, and I love that. I hope that the show continues to grow, gets even better, and further expands upon the foundation that shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars already started, by continuing to bring cinematic storytelling to the small screen.
Random Stuff I saw on set:
When Fav and Filoni say hello. pic.twitter.com/2jMKRHFekp
— Jason Ward (@MakingStarWars) November 13, 2018