So here’s the tea on Disney+’s highly anticipated original series, The Mandalorian.
The entire internet has banded together to unanimously adopt this absolutely precious little creature — unofficially dubbed Baby Yoda. He is our child, and there is nothing more to be said on that matter. Oh, and the show is pretty great, too! With each new episode, The Mandalorian lives up to the hype.
Though the show had a lot to live up to. With a position in an already beloved franchise, an all-star production team, and the massive power of Disney behind it, you could say that expectations were high. The first four episodes were all written by show creator Jon Favreau. Who will also be writing the final two episodes of the series, as well? Minus a few minor complaints, The Mandalorian is taking the live-action Star Wars universe in a refreshing direction.
Honestly, just the fact that it isn’t about the Skywalkers, alone, is enough to make it feel new. Though it does manage to distinguish itself in other ways as well. The Mandalorian gives viewers an on-the-ground perspective of the Star Wars universe while utilizing the classic Western and Samurai tropes that inspired the original trilogy. This combination feels fresh enough to stave off fatigue for this ever-growing franchise while still maintaining the classic Star Wars vibe to a tee.
The Mandalorian: Chapter 1
This first episode introduces the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) as a lone bounty hunter at the top of his game. He somehow manages to pull off the bounty of the century with the help of a friendly local and a nearby bounty droid (Taika Waititi). Unfortunately for the droid, the two bounty hunters had been given quite different instructions. The Mandalorian takes the bounty alive, leaving the droid dead in his wake.
The episode’s director Dave Filoni is a Star Wars veteran, having written for a number of the franchise’s animated shows. He is also one of the few people, other than Favreau, who wrote an episode himself. The series didn’t exactly start with a bang, but this episode did a good job establishing all of the necessary elements and nailing the lone ranger feel to the titular character.
Chapter 2: The Child
In this episode, Mando finds himself stranded on an unfamiliar planet with his new companion after Jawas strips his ship for parts. In a bid to trade back for his own ship pieces, he goes on a quest to retrieve a mudhorn egg, which is apparently a Jawa delicacy. The fight doesn’t exactly go well for Mando, until “the Child” manages to save him by using the Force. Suddenly, this baby’s high bounty makes a lot more sense.
Episode 2’s director Rick Famuyiwa also worked on the pilot episode of The Chi but is best known for having directed and written the 2015 film Dope. Which, side-bar, is highly underrated and you should definitely go watch it, like right now. The directing of this episode was well done, but the episode itself feels like an unnecessary addition to the series. Realistically, this episode exists to give the big reveal that the adorable baby Yoda is a Force-wielder. Which could have happened at the beginning or end of any other episode. Although the Mando and baby Yoda high jinks throughout it are adorable, that’s about the only thing this otherwise boring episode has going for it
Chapter 3: The Sin
The Mandalorian returns victorious to his imperial employer (Werner Herzog), but his victory feels somewhat less than sweet. He retains some lingering regrets about his captured target. But his King’s ransom in sacred Beskar steel, for which he returns to an enclave of fellow Mandalorians, seems to be enough to satiate him. Until it isn’t. In an epic shoot-out, the newly paternal Mando manages to rescue “the Child.” But he leaves a trail of bounty hunters behind him.
Deborah Chow, who has directed episodes of several acclaimed television shows such as American Gods, Better Call Saul, and Jessica Jones, knocked this one out of the park. Undoubtedly, this is the best episode yet in the series. The Mandalorian underground, the fight scenes, and the baby Yoda jokes in between all hits just right. This is a combined triumph in both writing and directing.
Chapter 4: The Sanctuary
In this episode, Mando and “The Child” attempt to lay low in a small backwater planet. But, of course, that doesn’t last for long. They get roped into protecting a small village of fishermen alongside a new companion, former rebel Cara Dune (Gina Carano). Though they have been successful in training and arming these country folks, the episode ends with a failed assassination attempt on “The Child,” forcing the pair to abandon their brief bucolic lifestyle.
You may recognize this director from the Jurassic World movies or the famed Black Mirror episode “Nosedive.” Bryce Dallas Howard has been making her way into directing through a number of shorts. Though this is her first foray into major television directing, I would definitely call it a success. This episode feels like a miniature Western dressed up in space costumes.
Though the general structure did feel very paint by numbers at times. Reluctant hero + podunk town in need + beautiful village girl who’s also a crack shot = movie magic. Despite the cliches, the episode manages to introduce a new character and give some meaningful insights into others, expanding the universe and entertaining viewers along the way.
What’s Next For The Mandalorian?
The remaining four episodes, as of yet unnamed, look promising based on the directors alone. Filoni, Famuyiwa, and Chow will all be returning to direct one more episode each (in that order). The final installment of the series will be directed by Taika Waititi. Fan predictions abound for The Mandalorian. But if the first four episodes are any clue, then whatever happens next is sure to be entertaining. Hopefully, it will include many more meme-able Baby Yoda moments!