12 months ago, I preordered Disney+ for one singular reason… The Mandalorian. As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I was anxiously awaiting this Jon Favreau produced series that followed the origins and creed of my favorite Trilogy Character, Boba Fett. I mean the guy had the coolest armor, the best ship, and was simply put, a bad ass.
Following in the footsteps of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), Disney figured Star Wars deserved the same treatment. The Trilogies introduced us to a multitude of characters and cultures from all over the galaxy across the 9 movies which set up an opportunity for further exploration in future tv/fim adaptations. The Mandalorian is not their first foray into this expanded universe as many people often think. The animated Clone Wars and Rebals series have a loyal following and have been critically acclaimed over the last several years.
How-evah… we are hear today to talk Mando and get ready for the Season two premiere this Friday.
So let’s start from the beginning. We meet our titular character five years after the fall of the Empire. A Mandalorian Bounty Hunter (Pedro Pascal), seeking more work, takes on a secretive bounty for a former officer in the Empire (Warner Herzog). On his way, he meets Kuill, voiced by Nick Nolte, who assists him on his journey. As he reaches the location of this mysterious asset, he is confronted by a bounty hunter droid IG-11 (Voiced by Taika Waititi) as they storm the building where the asset is held.
Speaking of the asset… Welcome to the world, Baby Yoda! The cute little green guy took the internet by storm. How impressive is it that they managed not to leak a single picture or hint over the course of production? I mean honestly, Jon Favreau knew the gold mine he was sitting on, right? Next thing I know, I’m pre-ordering the Baby Yoda stuffed animal which was set to be shipped 6 months later. Instant superstar, meme legend, and powerful with the force to boot; Baby Yo helped this show gain appeal with the general public. A quiet but important step for Disney to gain subscribers to their new streaming service.
Back to the story, After retrieving the Child and fighting off some additional bounty hunters, Mando is stranded on planet after Jawas scrap his ship, The Razor Crest. After a fight with the remaining empire troopers upon his return with the Child, he realizes he’s been set up and elects to raise Baby Yoda as a Foundling. Just like he was found when he was young.
Through flashbacks, we see a young Din Djarin being hidden by his parents while battle droids terrorize his home planet. These flashbacks are parsed throughout the season until we find he was rescued by the Mandalorians.
Seemingly upset about leaving the Child, Mando upgrades his armor with his bounty, and plots to retrieve him from the Buyer. Wouldn’t we all do the same though? He tears through the stormtroopers with ease, however he needs the help of his Mandalorian peers to escape from the Bounty Hunters Guild and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers).
Following his escape, Mando and Baby Yoda must evade their pursuers. They hop from planet to planet, avoiding their hunters. At each stop, we get a more or less standalone episode, learning more about our mysterous hero and his world. He lends support to a local tribe, fighting back against former imperial troopers. He mentors a younger fellow bountyman to catch a lethal assasin. Lastly, he links up with some old associates to break a collegue from a prison transport. The Child is along for the ride and leaves us with gif-able moments along the way.
The penultimate episode, The Reckoning, brings us back to the main storyline and sets up much of what is to come in season two. Back in his Razor Crest following the attempted betrayal by his heist crew, Mando is greeted by a message from Greef Karga to return to Nevarro, deliver the child, and help the Guild take the city back from imperial control and the Buyer.
Not before making a stop to pick up a couple friends. Back in episode four, Din Djarin met Cara Dune, a former shock trooper with the rebellion, who fights alongside him to save the villagers. He needs her help to ensure the Child’s safety. Reluctant at first, she learns that they would be up against Imperial forces and jumps at the chance to get back at her former adversaries from the war.
We also reunite with our short friend Kuill and his newly reprogrammed nurse droid, IG-11, who are tasked with playing babysitter while the rest of the team makes their way to the city Simple plam… Infiltrate the room, kill the buyer and shoot their way out. The Buyer recieves a call from his boss, Moff Gideon, played masterfly by Giancarlo Esposito, who ends up to be the true man behind the curtain. While his intentions are unclear, we know he has the group surrounded in a tavern and no way out. To make matters worse, the Child has been taken and Kuill has been killed.
The finale picks up right where we left off. The scout troopers that scooped up Baby Yo are awaiting their orders but not before IG-11 is able to intercept. He takes down the guards and blasts his way through the town to reach the trapped heros. They try to fight their way through but there are too many opposing forces so they are forced to retreat through the ventilation shafts and sneak out through the lava river. IG-11 saves the day by sacrificing himself to head off an ambush and Mando gets his jetpack on to shoot down the Moff in his Tie Fighter. The last shot of the season shows the Moff wielding the Dark Saber, a weapon of deep lore in the Star Wars Universe. We wil learn more in the coming season how the Moff was able to secure such a rare relic from the Mandalorian people.
So what comes next? The story really only picked up in the last two episodes. Season one asked way more questions than provided answers so expect to get some real plotdumping on Friday. We will learn more about who Baby Yoda is, and why the Empire is so interested in him.
But before I ask those questions, I want to explain what made season one so great. It comes down to three things for me: The Directors, the cast, and the music.
Jon Favreau enlisted Dave Filoni, Bryce Dallas Howard, Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, and Taika Waititi to direct episodes throughout the season. I highly suggest watching The Gallery on Disney+, it highlights all the behind the scenes efforts by the crew and special effects companies that made the show so great. These directors all grew up as Star Wars fans, and they used that fandom to inform their creative process. That leads to a truly familiar, yet new and exciting TV show. It had all the fan service that we needed but brought new and fresh stories to the Star Wars Universe.
The music throughout is ominous, mysterious, yet somehow exactly the perfect tone for this sci-fi western venture. The directors wanted something that had the Star Wars sound, but was also unique. The recorder melody with the tribal drums underneath gives the scenes that perfect kiss of gritty authenticity that elevates everything around it.
Lastly, we have to talk about the cast. Pedro Pascal shines without showing his face once, save for a little bacta spray from IG-11. His supporting cast did the damn thing as well. But what really stuck out to me were the cameos and spot roles from familiar faces throughout the season. Taika lends his voice to IG-11, Richard Ayoade brings Droid Zero to life in episode 6. The Buyer is the indomidable Warner Herzog and none other than Gustavo Fring as Moff Gideon? Disney came to play with these castings. Bill Burr brought the wisecracks alongside all time “that guy” Clancy Brown. We even get Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally as underacheiving Scout troopers who can’t hit a can from 10 feet away.
In season two, we have confimed that Rosario Dawson has joined the cast to Play Jedi Asoka Tano and Katee Sackhoff is set to play Bo Katan Kryze, a dangerous Mandalorian Leuitenant who has ties to terrorist groups. Also joining this season is Timothy Olyphant although his role has not been announced.
It is safe to say that season two will raise the stakes for Mando and the Child (who should get a name soon). There will be new enemies to outrun, maybe we figure out if the Child is actually related to Yoda? Wherever they take this series, I’ll be along for the ride.
Until next time…