Star Wars is one of those franchises that I struggle to maintain interest in despite having a deeply held nostalgic attachment to nearly anything set in the galaxy far, far away. Although I successfully avoided seeing the latest mainline episodic movie Rise of Skywalker, I’m only a man and could not resist watching Disney’s The Mandalorian when it was released on their newly minted streaming service. After a series of disappointing films, I was fiending for a television show with a budget set in the Star Wars universe that had nothing to do with the Skywalker family and I just didn’t know it yet.
The story follows a mysterious bounty hunter, called the Mandalorian or Mando for short, who befriends a small alien child. Instead of the series’ signature epic space battleship battles and lightsaber duels, The Mandalorian opts for a more steady-paced adventure with plenty of time to stop and smell the roses. The episodic nature of the show gave plenty of room for the writers to develop specific characters and relationships, something that is often lacking in the films with strictly rationed 2 hours and change runtimes. Like most experiments, what begins as a novelty slowly starts to drag in places, but other than a few episodes that felt more like the plot to a videogame than a TV show, the slower pacing was a welcome reprieve.
For a show with an anonymous and enigmatic protagonist who refuses to reveal his face from under an ornate helmet, Pedro Pascal puts in a remarkable performance despite the obvious limitations. All of the actors, the nearly perfect casting, and the special effects combine together to fully capture what it would be like to live in the Star Wars universe outside of the sphere of influence of the main story’s protagonists. The set and costume designs perfectly replicate the lived-in sci-fi aesthetic of the classic trilogy while offering plenty of new twists on old themes, such as the designs of each Mandalorian’s individual set of armor.
If you’ve somehow avoided getting swept up in the Baby Yoda and Kuiil memes and have a passing interest in Star Wars, give The Mandalorian a shot. If you don’t enjoy following the adventures of a ruthless bounty hunter turned babysitter after an episode or two, then wars in the stars may just not be your cup of tea and that’s totally acceptable as well. For everyone else, brace for “I have spoken” and “this is the way” jokes during watercooler conversation again as soon as season 2 is revealed.
The Mandalorian is now streaming on Disney+ with a second season currently in the works.