In the headliner show for Disney+, The Mandalorian treats Star Wars fans to a spaghetti Western in a galaxy far, far away. Over the course of eight episodes you watch the titular hero make friends, chase quarry across the galaxy and encounter a heaping helping of scoundrels.
Tom Awesome’s Review Score: 8.5
Having watched 11 Star Wars movies in the last couple months, my biggest fear for this show was that it would blend into some sort of prequel-trilogy mediocrity with fair space action. Set after the events of Episode 6: Return of the Jedi, The Mandalorian exceeded my expectations and stands on its own as a different type of western in the Star Wars Universe.
Over the course of eight episodes you follow the Mandalorian, often referred to as Mando, as he scratches out a living as a bounty hunter in the far edges of New Republic space. The show opens with him taking out some lowbrow thugs that were moving in his quarry. He collects the bounty and is directed to a new target by the head of the local hunter’s guild. Things are immediately off – the client requires a face-to-face meeting as opposed to the standard protocol. He’s protected by storm troopers, even though the Empire has been dissolved. It sets an ominous launching point for the series.
The pace is definitely slower than what you expect from Star Wars. While Solo had a look and a feel that was unique to itself, The Mandalorian has style in spades. From the titular protagonist and his iconic armor through his young ward and past/present pals, this show paints frontier space as a dusty, gritty place where the strong take what they want and the weak live in oppression.
If you’ve been anywhere nerdy on the internet or have social media channels, you are aware that Baby Yoda is a thing. I’d seen approximately 10,000 memes of the little guy going into the show and was fully prepared to despise him in spite of the cuteness factor. Unless you have a heart of stone, it’s nearly impossible not to like the little fella. At times it feels like a glorified escort mission, only the little one is a useful ally instead of a hindrance. Think PS4-era escort missions, as opposed to early-WoW.
- The main story arc gets a satisfying conclusion and the series sets up well for future seasons.
- The helmeted hero nearly never takes his helmet off.
- You get to learn more about Mandalorian culture.
- Storm Trooper jokes.
- Baby Yoda.
- Some episodes are a little weaker than others. I’m specifically thinking of one where Mando joins up with some former allies.
- In another episode, the main story line is a big rip-off a samurai tale and failed to make any sense on a tactical level. Basically, the heroes cause a big diversion when they could have just taken out the entire enemy force in their sleep.
The Verdict: The Mandalorian is no Game of Thrones. It’s a fun western and I am personally excited to see where it goes next, but it’s hard to see this taking off as a pop-culture phenomenon. If your Venn diagram includes overlapping Star Wars and Western circles, it is certainly worth a watch.
Is it worth getting Disney+ for? Maybe. Eventually the new streaming service is going to have some interesting Marvel content, but at the moment here are some of the heavy hitters: