It’s November 13th which means Disney+ has premiered and along with that comes the premiere of the long-awaited show THE MANDALORIAN. Set in the Star Wars universe, THE MANDALORIAN follows a mystery man bounty hunter as he traverses the galaxy. I’ll be splitting each episode review into two parts: Overall review of the episode and some expansion into some of the Star Wars lore presented throughout the episode. That being said these will be spoiler-ish reviews, so if you haven’t seen the episode yet I’d turn back now.
In the show’s opening, we meet our Mando at a seedy bar somewhere in the galaxy. His entrance is so reminiscent of old spaghetti westerns, complete with a whistly theme similar to Ennio Morricone’s iconic theme song for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He’s cool, he’s got a sweet cape, and he doesn’t say a word. His entrance is silent and mysterious, seemingly coming in to rescue a poor Mythrol who is being pushed around by some unsavory types. After he saves the Mythrol we realize that he wasn’t really trying to save him. This Mythrol’s got a bounty on his head.
From the get-go, the show has a very western type feel which really works for the story writer and executive producer John Favreau is trying to tell. We get a lot of standoffs and shoot out scenes that are really impressive, and the sweeping views and terrains of different settings show us a darker side of Star Wars, which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the things that I really love about Star Wars is how vast the universe is and how many different species, monsters, and planets we have yet to discover. The way Director Dave Filoni has shot this first episode conveys such a feeling of tension throughout the entire 40 minutes. Although we never see The Mandalorian’s face, Pedro Pascal’s gritty voice encompasses the cool badassery that we’ve come to love from past bounty hunters Boba and Jango Fett.
Throughout the episode, we are shown various elements seasoned Star Wars fans will recognize, like a Mythosaur skull, classic Mandalorian armor, familiar ships and one IG-11 bounty hunting droid voiced by Taika Waititi. The great thing about THE MANDALORIAN though, is that you don’t have to be a Star Wars vet to enjoy it. It helps you catch little things here and there, nods to past movies and Star Wars lore but overall THE MANDALORIAN can be enjoyed by anyone.
As we follow our Mandalorian after capturing the Mythrol and collecting the bounty, we see him take up his next hunt, a bounty so important that there is no bounty puck (a puck-shaped chip of information that shows who the bounty is and how much its worth) and no other discernable information other than the bounty’s age and the last four digits of a tracking number designed to go along with a tracking fob he is handed. All very mysterious. He sets off in search of this mystery bounty and along the way encounters an Ugnaught named Kuiil played by Nick Nolte. Kuiil saves Mando from an angry band of Blurggs before teaching him to tame and ride one. If you’re not familiar with Blurggs, they were last shown in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and they look like really big tadpoles with tiny t-rex arms.
Once he’s Blurgg riding ready he sets off following his tracking fob and runs into trouble when he sees that another bounty hunter (a droid, ugh) has beaten him to the punch. Facing enemy fire, they decide to work together and ultimately split the bounty on this very important mission.
At the end of the episode, we are treated to something that I really didn’t see coming and that I won’t mention here because remember, I said this was going to be a spoiler-ish review and I don’t want to give away the boom big reveal.
I want to go back for a second and talk about the soundtrack to this episode which is currently available to stream on Spotify and is really some of the coolest Star Wars music I’ve heard recently. It mixes western themes with techno and even some tribal beats to give the episode a gritty raw sound, without losing some of the familiar fanfares we’ve come to expect from Star Wars. Written by Ludwig Göransson who also wrote the soundtrack to Black Panther, the soundtrack really adds to the overall tension that is present throughout the entire episode.
There are quite a bit of things to catch if you want to get a deeper understanding of just where and when we are in the Star Wars timeline.
The show is set after the fall of the empire but before the emergence of the First Order, so the Storm Troopers we see in dirty armor throughout the episode aren’t really Imperial, they’re just sort of a reminder of what was.
In the scene where our Mando takes the tablet of Beskar to the welder to have it melted down and made into a sweet new shoulder piece, she mentions him receiving a signet at some point, this can mean anything from a symbol on armor to some sort of association with a clan. Adding to this, Beskar is a type of Mandalorian steel that is very resilient. Here we get a flashback to his origins and see snippets of how he came to be.
Although a lot of the settings we see throughout this first episode look familiar; the cantina, the outpost he walks through before meeting “The Client”, played by Werner Herzog, the sand dunes where he learns to ride the Blurgg, I don’t think these are places we’ve been to before.
The Myloth mentions life day before he is thrown into carbonite and honestly, who wouldn’t throw him in after hearing him mention life day.
These are just a few of the things I caught that connect to the deeper Star Wars canon but honestly, I probably missed a bunch more. I’m hoping we see more and more familiar themes, ships and faces as the series progresses but as of now I think the series-opening was a strong one. I look forward to reviewing the rest of the series and can’t wait to watch next week’s episode. For more on THE MANDALORIAN, check out our coverage of the press junket here. Each episode of THE MANDALORIAN will be released weekly each Friday on Disney+.