The Mandalorian Season Review

Stephon Spiegel, Contributing Reporter

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My relationship with Star Wars has had its ups and downs (the downs being particularly with the new movies). The series has always been something sacred to me, being an ever present source of escapism and comfort when I need it. The thing that brought me back into Star Wars after a little hiatus from the lackluster films such as The Last Jedi and Solo was the new live action Disney+ series The Mandalorian

The in universe context of this series covers a Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) who tries to make his way in a post Empire society as a bounty hunter, as the series takes place 5 years after the Battle Of Endor seen in Return of the Jedi. This is where the series initially got me hooked, as the era between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens has not been covered in depth. I will cover those episodes chronologically giving my opinions on each of them

 

I will make it clear from the get-go that this series thoroughly entertained me, made me feel, and left me wondering what was going to happen next to our beloved Mando. The series has a ton of positives.

The positives come from the passion behind the camera, with beloved showrunner Jon Faverau (director of Iron Man and godfather of the MCU) and producer Dave Filoni (George Lucas’s protegé and showrunner of Rebels and The Clone Wars). The show successfully introduces new iconic characters such as the titular character Din Djarren A.K.A “Mando” , the IG Unit IG-11 (Taika Waititi), The Client (Werner Herzog), and of course The Child (and no…i’m not calling him “Baby Yoda”).

These characters all have such passion in their performances, particularly Pascal, who with his voice and body language (while he is under the suit and not a body double) conveys so much emotion with small things, such as head tilts, shift in delivery, and stance. Herzog portrays an intimidating, cold, and calculated ex Imperial war lord, whose voice is more than iconic at this point. Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) is spectacular with his prequel-esque delivery of lines (as now it is charming and a quirk rather than everyone acting like weird androids). 

The only episode that I truly despised was episode 5 “The Gunslinger”, as it represented everything I hate about modern Star Wars. The expression I use for nostalgic bait is with “things you know”, as the episode loves to shove in Star Wars landmarks and references just for the sake of the audience saying “I know that, I know Star Wars”. The episode shoves in countless references to A New Hope with Tatooine, Mos Eisley, Dewbacks, Tuskan Raiders, and Pit Droids. Overall this episode provides nothing to the overarching story and is nothing but filler with useless fan service.

The series high points arrive with the first three and last two episodes. The first three episodes create this post Jedi and Empire world with bounty hunters getting contracts just to pay for fuel, ex Empire goons creating militias to hold onto what power is left, as well as Clients searching for an asset (that’s possibly for cloning). The plot drives forward through the first three episodes and it sets up the premise, Space Cowboy protecting orphan child from the bad guys. The growing bond Mando has with The Child is beautiful, as it comes full circle at the end of the season with the once orphaned and taken in Din Djarren is now taking in his own foundling as a Mandalorian. Mando himself is a mysterious figure, as we never see who he is until the end of the last episode, and I loved they showed his face in the most unflattering way possible. The side characters of Kuiil and IG-11 are charming and it genuinely hurt me when Kuill was gunned down by Scout Troopers on Navarro and when Mando let go of his hatred for droids when IG-11 sacrificed himself. The last two episodes created such a tension I haven’t felt for in media since well…forever. The seventh episode introduced a bigger threat by wiping the Client into pulp as a squad of Death Troopers gun down everyone Godfather style, and Ex-Imperial Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) arrives in a new TIE model to confront all of our cast.

The synthesis between the Clone Wars era and Original Trilogy era is amazing, as Mandos character arc is built around his parents being killed by Super Battle Droids, and him being taken in as a Founding by extremis Mandalorian group Death Watch, as well as the utterly awesome live action introduction of the Dark Saber who is now apparently held by Moff Gideon 

The only negatives I have for the season is the lack of propulsion from episodes 4-6, as their events are never really referred to or matter (aside from the introduction of Cara Dune) in the narrative, and the weightless look of the Child when he is held at certain camera angles.

Overall The Mandalorian is a spectacular show and experience in the modern age of television. It has its points where it drags, but even those aren’t unbearable. This show is currently the only hope I have for modern Star Wars.