Final Thoughts: “The Mandalorian” (Series One)

Set after the events of Return of the Jedi, Disney Plus’ original Star Wars series focuses on a Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) as he accepts an assignment from a high paying client to acquire and deliver a particularly important “package” but when the Mandalorian discovers that the package is, in fact, a small alien child and that his client may want it for nefarious purposes, he makes the decision to steal the child back, resulting in a large bounty being placed on his own head and as he attempts to keep the child safe, he finds himself accepting various assignments all over the galaxy, interacting with various foes and newfound allies along the way.

Obviously, I know that those who were fortunate enough to subscribe to Disney Plus early have completed and reviewed this popular series several months ago, already anticipating the new series and pondering which characters will return, but we in the UK were given the conclusion to the show only recently (though some have apparently pirated it – not cool) so I guess now, we’re finally *all* ready to share our thoughts on the popular series and for me, I’d conclude that The Mandalorian isn’t perfect by any means, but over the course of its eight episode run, it proved to be a continually entertaining series, well worth tuning in for every Friday, as it showcases plenty of very impressive visuals, some colourful new characters, and a storyline that further develops the Star Wars universe, specifically exploring the creed of the Mandalorians, looking at their customs, rules and way of life.

On the surface, the show is a visual delight because it really treats us to plenty of sleek and genuinely cool fight/action sequences that are well staged and often impressively directed, and all of the costumes, creatures, locations, ships and technology are always a joy to look at; you’re never left in any doubt that this is a Star Wars series through and through as it contains so many elements that we’ve become accustomed to in the acclaimed series of films and it’s also clear that creator Jon Favreau and his team know an awful lot about Star Wars because things like the stormtrooper armour and the pivotal Mandalorian armour look perfect and all of the characters and locations look exactly as they would in the feature films. The series also benefits from some excellent music and a memorable theme, which are given to us by composer Ludwig Göransson, and, as mentioned before, the episodes are directed sleekly by directors such as Favreau, Taika Waititi, and Bryce Dallas Howard, who helms a particularly impressive Seven Samurai inspired episode. Her dad would be proud.

The episodes are written really well, though the episodic nature of the series, with its different “assignment” and selection of characters every week may put some people off, and as Favreau and his team are apparently well versed in Star Wars lore, there are plenty of juicy references and in-jokes relating to many of the films in the franchise and it’s clear that the series isn’t the creation of some wannabe fan: Favreau has clearly done his homework and as such, the storyline and characters feel just right and the writers are able to infuse the series with typical Wars humour as well as emotional stakes, without letting events get too saccharine or cheesy. And I don’t know whether this was intentional, but the series appears to reference other movies; there’s that clear Seven Samurai influence in one particular episode but there’s another early episode that had a touch of John Wick 3 about it . . .

The series also has a good cast and in the titular role, Pedro Pascal makes an impressive impact, considering he never takes off his helmet or steps out of his armour, and in the role that is highly dependent on his vocal performance and body language (as it was with the Fetts), he manages to showcase his character’s grit, toughness, intelligence and tenacity while also using those subtle body movements and vocal cadences to let us know that he has a heart and that although he’s incredible at the job that he does, he cares deeply about the child and comes to respect the various allies that he encounters. We also have Apollo Creed himself Carl Weathers as Greef Karga, leader of the bounty hunter guild, and he fits in nicely to the show, Deadpool‘s Gina Carano is a very welcome addition as the tough and extremely capable ex-soldier Cara Dune (and I’m just a little bit in love with those magnificent arms of hers), Nick Nolte gives perhaps one of his greatest roles yet as soft spoken ally Ugnaught Kuiil, and the great Werner Herzog is always entertaining to watch in his antagonistic role of “The Client”. The series also features performances from such actors as Taika Waititi, Ming-Na Wen (LOVE her!), Amy Sedaris, Mark Boone Junior, Richard Ayoade and Giancarlo Esposito and though most of them make all too fleeting appearances (Ming-Na especially, though she may return in the second series), it’s a pleasure to watch them work.

And of course, as many have already stated in those numerous spolier-filled tweets that I couldn’t help but see, the Child, “Baby Yoda”, is quite adorable.

A fun and entertaining series with an incredibly sleek design, good characters, accomplished direction, and imaginative, well informed writing from Jon Favreau and company.

★ ★ ★ ★

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