Not so long ago in a galaxy that you’re literally living in, we got our first live-action Star Wars series debut, and I think it’s safe to say I’m in love. Jon Favreau, the man who brought you Iron Man, and Disney, the future overlords of all media, presents The Mandalorian. This is one of the few shows that Disney launched with their new streaming service, Disney+. With the Streaming Wars raging all around us, few shows will stand as high as The Mandalorian.
Disney Shot First
With each new streaming service that launches there is a slew of new shows for us to watch. I, in particular, give each of them the good ol’ college try. I have Netflix, Mason, Amazon, Apple TV+ (I have a free year), HBO NOW, and DC Universe. I’ve had Hulu, Crunchyroll, Funimation, and even CBS All-Access. Each service wants to entice you with their original shows to sign up and keep you forever with their luscious back catalog. With the exception of Stranger Things, there’s never been a show that has captured my enjoyment more than The Mandalorian.
We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.
The series takes place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens as we follow a bounty hunter simply known as the Mandalorian. The galaxy is still coming to terms with the fall of the Empire and rise of the New Republic. The world does an amazing job showing remnants of the exchange of power. Minor characters (and a rumoured Easter egg of a fan favorite) from the original films can be seen in a reverse status of power within the New Republic. The worlds, the towns, the people, and the ships show they are recovering from a war that had more casualties than the films let on. The damaged structures littered through towns, each scratch on a piece of armor, and each dent on a ship is perfectly placed to remind you.
The pilot episode might be the most realized thirty-nine minutes of television I’ve ever seen. It’s fair to point out that it has an unfair advantage due to it being Star Wars and all, but not even the films have felt this authentic of a world to me. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the episode; we get to go along for the ride. We’re used to seeing the world from the viewpoints of the Jedi and rarely get to see the Galaxy outside of that lens. But The Mandalorian finally gives us a different insight into the galaxy we all love. The show has a feel to it that is reminiscent of how people probably felt about the original films.
Typically, when you think of Star Wars, you think of George Lucas, and I think it’s safe to say you can feel his influence throughout the first episode. Now, Lucas didn’t create the show, but he is credited as a writer on all eight episodes. The show’s creator is none other than Jon Favreau. Jon is also credited as a writer on the eight-episode season; Rick Famuyiwa and Christopher Yost are also credited for one episode each.
Jon Favreau is most prominently known in nerd culture for bringing us Marvel’s Iron Man. He brought a sense of love and care to a superhero character that hasn’t previously been seen by the fandom. That same love and care can be seen within this first episode of The Mandalorian. The first episode is written with little dialogue from our protagonist. He speaks when needed and his actions speak louder—an homage to the old westerns. The scenery and the supporting characters help flesh out our protagonist by allowing us to see how he reacts to the world around him.
Dave Filoni directed the pilot episode of The Mandalorian. While searching his filmography I noticed he only had six directing credits, but soon realized this wasn’t his first time directing a Star Wars property. Dave has been a director, actor, writer, and producer on most, if not all, Star Wars animated series dating back to the 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He even directed some episodes of Avatar: The Last Air Bender so… yeah, he’s good.
The Mandalorian Himself
The Mandalorian is played by Pedro Pascal. Pascal is probably best known by fans for his role as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones. Even with the helmet and armor, Pascal has a presence about him. Every motion. Every word. There’s a weight to them that just stays with you. An ability to showcase what he’s feeling from just a tilt of his head or a simple hand gesture. A nuance not typically seen with masked characters without the aid of special effects.
Pedro Pascal embodies the character and gives a performance that will leave you in awe.
You can probably already tell how much I enjoyed this first episode. Every minute had me engaged and excited. I felt something I hadn’t experienced before while watching television or a movie at home: a sense of wonderment. I felt as if I were a kid watching Star Wars for the first time. Like a kid, I plan on staying up late tonight to watch it again, and the same thing the next night, till the second episode drops on Friday.
The creative team behind this show made something special. The technical difficulty of producing eight episodes of a show probably at the highest quality we’ve ever seen is a feat in its own right. With just one episode, I’m hooked. A story that enthralls my imagination. This has given me a new love for Star Wars. This is the Star Wars I wish I’d had as a kid. This is now my Star Wars.
Now, The Mandalorian wasn’t the first attempt to give Star Wars fans a look into the world of crime within the Star Wars universe. Before this series there were two other attempts: Star Wars Underworld and Star Wars 1313. Underworld was a series that George Lucas had been writing before the sale of the Star Wars property to Disney. It was pitched as being the Star Wars version of The Wire. If that’s not enough to break your heart, then have this. 1313 was set to be an action-adventure game, in a similar vein to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series; it would have had you play as a young Boba Fett working his way up to becoming a legendary bounty hunter.
I know the Star Wars movies and the animated shows can be divisive among the fan base, with people holding the original trilogy on a pedestal, the prequel trilogy having a weird renaissance of acceptance and love from the people that once hated them, and the new trilogy causing Twitter riots on almost a daily basis somehow. Even with all that noise and distrust towards Disney when it comes to Star Wars, let’s show the creators and the cast of the show, and even the fans, love. Let’s exemplify what it means to be a community and build upon a positive trend of encouragement and constructive criticism that will better future Star Wars projects.