For the longest time whenever someone was to mention Star Wars the original three films came to mind, as well as the prequels that followed later on in the early 2000s. Television was never really in the minds of audiences aside from some die hards who would ponder about hat little possibility but nothing more. And then in the late 2000s we were finally introduced to the Clone Wars era. First was the version made by Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack) which was made up of animated shorts that helped bridge the gap between “Attack of The Clones” and “Revenge of The Sith”. As great and nifty as they were, they weren’t enough to satisfy fans completely.
Until late 2008, when an animated film named Star Wars: The Clone Wars came on the scene, followed by the debut of an animated series of the same name a couple of months later, and from that point on, the rest was history.
For six seasons, audiences were enthralled with the stories that George Lucas and his protege Dave Filoni brought, for they not only validated the prequel trilogy tremendously but they also expanded on the Star Was mythology ten fold, and with George Lucas at the helm. Sadly the series was cancelled and put on the shelf for a long while, until this year as of this post, when an official final season was placed on Disney Plus, thus finally giving a definitive conclusion to the series as George and Dave envisioned it to be.
Now there have been other series that have followed Clone Wars – Rebels, The Freemaker Adventures, Resistance – with some series being more compelling than others, but there was always that lingering question: Is a live-action Star Wars TV series possible? Can a live-action series still deliver the spectacle/myth-building epic fans have come to expect and demand, and with a TV budget at that?
Well, with this series, I think we more than have the answer to our question: Yes.
With the way the story starts, you are immediately introduced to the protagonist (Pedro Pascal). He doesn’t go by any name at all, aside from a nickname some bar thug calls him, but I – and many other fans can agree – the nickname “Mando” works just as good as his full title, The Mandalorian.
Much like the protagonists from classic spaghetti westerns, Mando is a man of few words, but his actions can more than make up for that. Taking place some years after the events of “Return of The Jedi”, the Galaxy far far away is pretty much like what one would expect with a crippled government – a great deal of lawlessness is raging across star systems, but with that comes opportunities that only a Bounty Hunter can take full advantage of, but even that brings its own set of complications, as a mysterious client relays to our protagonist.
“Bounty hunting is a complicated profession.”
Taking on what appears to be yet another job Mando finds himself on a journey that will ultimately change the course of his life once he acquires the bounty he was sent to retrieve, but what the show does best – among many things – is that even getting to that point is a journey in and of itself, because as Mando is making his way to his bounty he ends up encountering characters that at first may seem secondary or just flat out insignificant, but they too have a part to play in guiding Mando, specifically the character Kuiil (Nick Nolte), and his help goes beyond just saying three simple lines.
But perhaps the biggest reveal was at the end of the first episode, which was definitely a surprise, but a welcome one, and it is nothing short of amazing that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, as well as the rest of the cast and crew kept their mouths shut about this surprise, but all the same it was incredible.
And that reveal was of course the bounty itself, or should we say, himself.
No, you are not seeing things, the bounty is a 50 year old toddler who is of the same race as the now late Grandmaster Yoda in this timeline, but since nobody knows what sentient race he is, the Internet has come forward and nicknamed him “Baby Yoda” until further notice, and I’m glad they have.
To everyone’s surprise, this reveal went viral, thus leading to all sorts of things from new internet memes to tattoos and even a song (?). The fact that the creators are using an actual animatronic puppet on set makes this even more special.
But even with this child’s age he is no dead weight, for it is seen shortly after his reveal that he is extremely gifted with the Force, as his saving Mando a few times over the season has shown.
Unable to simply leave the Child in the hands of the client – and whatever may befall him after – Mando then has a change of heart and goes to retrieve him, and with the unexpected help from fellow Mandalorians manages to achieve this goal and heads off to get “Baby Yoda” as far away as possible, thus truly kickstarting the season.
For the rest of the season that follows, Mando is trying to do everything he can to safeguard Baby Yoda while still trying to take whatever jobs he can, and avoid detection. Along the way he runs into an old acquaintance named Cara Dune (Gina Carano) who becomes a big help.
But trying to stay under the radar is easier said than done, because at one point just when it seems like Mando can leave Baby Yoda in a safe place Cara manages to take out a bounty hunter who is tracking the child, thus forcing Mando to take the former with him.
Of course, nothing lasts forever, and Mando’s constant evading of capture and refusing to turn Baby Yoda over catches up to him, for the client isn’t even the real person who wants the Child, rather it is an Imperial Moff named Gideon.
“You have something I want. You may think you have some idea of what you are in possession of, but you do not. In a few moments it will be mine. It means more to me than you will ever know.”
And even with help from Kuiil, Cara and even Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) things don’t look good. However, a reprogrammed Assassin droid named IG-11 comes to the rescue and through this Mando’s real name is revealed: Din Djarin. He also meets up with a Mandalorian armorer from earlier episodes who, upon meeting Baby Yoda decrees to Din that until the latter can find a way to reunite the Child with his own kind or “until it is of age.” Gifting Mando with a jetpack the latter and his makeshift group make their escape but a squad of Stormtroopers are awaiting them. Knowing that there aren’t any other options IG-11 makes a decision and self-destructs, taking out the group and giving the others time to escape.
After an intense fight with Moff Gideon, Mando manages to take the former down and escape but as is the case with the big bad – unless it’s the final season, they always come back, and Moff still turns out to be very much alive, and with a weapon that no one expected him to have in his possession, which begs the question how he got it given that said weapon was in the hands of someone else (spoilers for Star Wars Rebels).
In all, this season has definitely been a strong start to what appears to be an incredible series. It is a great throwback to serialized adventure, as well as spaghetti westerns and Samurai movies by Akira Kurosawa, all of which inspired George Lucas as a child, and yet the series is able to stay true to the essence of what makes Star Wars Star Wars, and that’s thanks in no small part to Dave Filoni, who learned from George Lucas during the Clone Wars days, and with the help of one of the architects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Jon Favreau, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch that the series is in good hands with these two at the helm. Plus bringing in other talented folks like Bryce Dallas Howard and Taika Waititi to help behind the camera is an even bigger plus.
It may be a while before we see any more Star Wars movies, but that doesn’t mean the story won’t continue in other ways, and with Disney Plus Star Wars has a way to expand the story and make it richer than what has been done before, and The Mandalorian is doing exactly that in spades.
So yes, this series gets a recommend from me, and here’s to the next season!