For Star Wars fans, the debut of the live action series, The Mandalorian was worth the wait. Set five years after Return of the Jedi, the story of a lone bounty hunter, the titular Mandalorian, jumped strongly out of the gate. This is what captured my Star Wars loving heart 42 years ago, and it looks, feels, and sounds like A New Hope. This IS Star Wars, and a far cry from the billion dollar movies we’ve got over the past decade.
With a western feel, our bounty hunter known only as the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is Clint Eastwood meets Robocop. He’s got the swagger, the husky, low voice, and owns a room (or tavern) when he enters. You need not see the face behind the Beskar Steel helmet to know he means business. The Mandalorian, or Mando, makes swift work of capturing his bounty, a blue alien Mythrol from an ice planet, after neatly dispatching a few unfriendlies at the bar.
With our blue alien in tow, Mando then escorts the prisoner back to his ship, the Razor Crest, via a speeder cab service. And we discover Mando’s distaste for droids, when he prefers the beaten up clunker of a speeder driven by a human (Brian Posehn), in preference to the shiny new droid driven model. After saving his ship from a huge walrus creature that broke through the ice, Mando flies back to collect his bounty reward. During the flight, our Mythrol gets a little too curious, and ends up being frozen in carbonite. Seems that’s now the normal way bounty hunters transport their prisoners. Saves on that in-flight chit chat, for our silent Clint Eastwood-esque Mando.
Mando then meets up with his boss, Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) the bounty guild leader. And the Empire credits he offers in payment are virtually useless now, much to Mando’s annoyance. With very little offered in the way of new bounties, (and Mando needing gas money for his ship), Karga mentions that there is one job, but it’s off book. And as the music turns ominous, you know this is no normal bounty. There is no holographic bounty puck, with the image and info on the asset. This has to be a face to face meeting. So, needing the credits, Mando accepts the job.
He meets with the storm trooper flanked client (Werner Herzog), obviously a remnant from the now defeated Empire. The man is tight lipped about the asset. There is no bounty puck or image, but he reveals the asset is 50 years old, and he wants them alive. Although proof of termination is acceptable, but at a reduced fee, something his nervous companion, Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) isn’t too keen on. Why does this doctor want the asset alive? What are these guys up to? So all Mando has is a tracking fob, the asset’s last reported location, and his wits about him to succeed.
Given a down payment of an ingot of Beskar Steel, Mando promptly has the metal forged into a new shoulder pauldron. While waiting, he’s asked if his signet has been revealed, to which he answers, “Not yet.” Something I’m sure we’ll see in coming episodes. Mando has flash backs to when he was a child, and his parents killed (we assume) during the Great Purge, leaving him an orphan – a foundling. And new shoulder pauldron finished, he flies to the desert planet location of his asset. And there, we get a very familiar scene. As Mando looks through his binoculars, a large creature known as a Blurrg rears up before him in his sights. Very reminiscent of Luke (Mark Hamill) in A New Hope, as the sand people attack.
After the Blurrg drags Mando down, another Blurrg charges at him. But both animals suddenly drop to the ground, stunned by darts. Mando looks up from the ground to see an Ugnaught named Kuiil (Nick Nolte) riding a Blurrg. Having rescued him, Kuiil wants half. But not half of the bounty – one of the blurrgs. Mando will need the other to traverse the landscape and get where he needs to go. And in a very western rodeo scene, Mando tries and fails several times to tame the blurrg. He finally succeeds when taking a more gentle approach (despite not removing his helmet, as Kuiil suggests), and off he and Kuiil go, toward his bounty. Having guided Mando to a large compound, and confidant the Mandalorian can succeed from here, where others have failed, Kuiil then heads back to his vapor farm.
On surveying the well guarded compound, Mando scowls as a bounty droid walks up to the guards. “Droids,” he says in disgust. The IG-11 bounty droid (voiced by Taika Waititi) is after the same asset. When Mando confronts him, they decide to team up and split the reward. And I really liked this ‘gunslinger’ droid. He was fun, with a droll sense of humor, and his gunfighter movements were great. And his desire to enact his self destruct protocol at every turn when things weren’t going well was hilarious. He and Mando had great chemistry. So between the two of them, Mando and IG-11 dispatched all the aliens with a ‘little help’ from a floating space cannon.
As the dust settled after the gunfight, Mando’s tracking fob lit up like a Christmas tree outside a large steel door. Their asset was inside. Utilizing the space cannon to knock down the door, they entered what looked like a storage room. The fob led them to a floating egg shaped container at the back of the room. And when they opened it and peered inside, I defy anyone not to have let out the biggest ‘aaaww!’ For inside that little floating egg shaped bassinet, was a baby Yoda. Yes! The most adorable, cutest little green baby you ever saw. And at that moment, I was in love with this show.
Mando was surprised the asset was 50 years old. “Species age differently. Perhaps it could live many centuries. Sadly, we’ll never know,” IG-11 said. Clearly, Mando and IG-11 had different agendas. As IG-11 raised his blaster to shoot the baby, Mando shot the droid, saving the babies life. And as the credit music began, Mando reached out a finger toward the floating crib. And from it, a tiny green hand reached up toward him. Aaaww! Cuteness overload!
I can’t wait to see where Mando and this adorable little baby Yoda go from here!
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+ with new episodes available Fridays.
Images copyright Disney.