Spoilers will remain at a minimum setting.
Jon Favreau chose his setting both in time and space well. The Empire has fallen. The galaxy is still recovering. In the backwater worlds (the Outer Rim?) staying alive sometimes means hunting other people down. That is the way of the bounty hunter. This is definitely a fresh take on the galaxy far, far away as we follow the life of one of the mysterious folk that never take off their helmets. This is Disney’s the Mandalorian, and rather than give us a grand epic tale of fight against tyranny, this story goes into the criminal underworld of the people willing to cash in the wanted.
The Mandalore is Disney Plus’ first live action Star Wars property. Written and created by Jon Favreau, this story puts the focus on a member of the Mandalorians, a bounty hunter not unlike Jango or the infamous Boba Fett. In a very Sergio-Leone-Clint-Eastwood fashion, the Mandalore (Pedro Pascal) does not have a name. The leader of the local bounty hunter’s guild, Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) refers to him as “Mando”.
Mando takes an mysterious assignment in which he has to retrieve a living asset, one he can only locate with a fob. His client (Werner Herzog), a man who seems to have some connections to the Imperial Remnant, entices him with a sample of the reward: Beskar steel, a material revered by the Mandalorians. Mando as it turns out, is hardly the only one left. There’s a small community of Mandalorians that operate in the shadows, including The Armorer (Emily Swallow) who makes a pauldron for him out of the Belkar steel.
The adventures of Mando will take him to new worlds with some similar faces. As he tracks down the asset, he will run into the scavenger Jawas, violent Trandoshans, a bounty hunter droid IG-11 and a very friendly Ugnaught called Kuiil (Nick Nolte). That is not to say there’s also an abundance of new species, but the show seems to know not to reveal all of its cards at once which is a welcome change. The starships also seem destined to be well-thought so far we’ve only seen the gunship Razor Crest used by Mando. Besides some glances to some new craft and the appearance of a Jawa Sandcrawler. I have high hopes we’ll get to see more vehicles soon.
The story is obviously a space age take on a western, with gunfights, ambushes, shady deals and double-crossing for good measure. You’d think that with a character that always has a helmet on, the chances for character development will be null. And yet, we’re getting to know the character through flashbacks recounting some traumatic event in his childhood. The Mandalorians themselves live by some sort of code, albeit one that allows them to take money for hunting people down. Pedro Pascal has his work cut out for him as supposedly his people never take off the helmet.
Highly recommended if you’re looking for space action without the opera. The show is taking a rather grittier and yet more humble approach at the galaxy far, far away by aiming its sights at an individual story instead of a grand sweeping epic. The story has less grandiose implications, but feels stronger and more focused. The western genre is alive and well here. Only three out of eight episodes in, and it does feel like the show knows how to have fun. Follow it we will.
That will do for now.