The current situation has prompted something of an issue with the whole ‘moviegoing’ aspect of this site’s raison d’etre. In an effort, therefore, to keep things going in among the chaos, reviews and articles will be going up with a focus on home entertainment. Please enjoy these for as long as they’re being published, and stay safe.
The higher-ups at Disney must have been unable to believe their luck, when the UK launch of Disney Plus ended up coinciding with the government-announced lockdown on the 20th of March. What better way to get people onto your home entertainment platform, but to have an audience who absolutely need to be at home?
Anyway, after more than a month since its release here, Disney Plus has proven itself to be mostly alright. The majority of the original content is easily missed though, save for one show: Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian, a series set in the Star Wars universe, following a bounty hunter making his way through the galaxy’s burgeoning hives of scum and villainy, after the fallout of the end of the Empire.
The show’s first season finished up a few days ago, and it’s safe to say this is easily the best of Lucasfilm’s live-action output over the past year. Since Disney took charge of the company, and began work on new Star Wars films, the most common valid response from their critics has been the films’ tendency to rely overly on familiarity with the Original Trilogy; a criticism which was particularly prevalent in the critical response to The Rise of Skywalker. With The Mandalorian, although some of those elements are still present, the first season at least presents its audience with the living, breathing galaxy behind the convoluted operatics of the “Skywalker Saga”, with almost none of the baggage beyond needing to know how Return of the Jedi ends.
Character- and story-wise, Favreau and friends have gone for broad, Western-inflected strokes, which feels pretty in keeping with the throwback style that George Lucas seemed to be going for with this story in the first place. The eponymous Mandalorian, played by Pedro Pascal, is basically Clint Eastwood in space, drifting from one bounty to the next without any desire to get personally attached to whichever helpless villager or band of outlaws he’s caught up with on any one episode.
That is, of course, with the exception of the cute little green elephant in the room.
It’s hard to believe that nobody in Disney or Lucasfilm’s marketing departments didn’t know that The Child would be the show’s ace in the hole, to the point where no merchandising was even considered until late in the day. For a juggernaut of a franchise like Star Wars, to have stakes as small as the welfare of an alien toddler makes for really interesting storytelling in this universe.
The relationship between The Child and The Mandalorian is the main narrative thrust for the first season’s eight episode run, but the best of these ‘chapters’ may be the one which touches on this dynamic the least. “The Prisoner”, the sixth episode of The Mandalorian‘s first season, not only gives the perfect summary of The Mandalorian’s nature and ability, but also the cutthroat world in which the bounty hunter finds himself; all wrapped up in a standalone jailbreak story, with great set pieces and a healthy dose of Original Trilogy callbacks.
A second season is meant to be on its way later on this year (current situation dependent, most likely), and with revelations at the end of the finale, as well as some…interesting casting rumours, it seems as though The Mandalorian will be plotting a course deep into established Star Wars lore. Whatever happens, and how it’s received will become apparent when new episodes manifest, but one can only hope that the show continues to plough its own furrow away from the marshy ground which other properties have already explored.
Much like its title character, The Mandalorian is all the better as an outsider looking into this messy universe. Fingers crossed that this is the way for the show’s future too.