‘The Mandalorian’ Season 1 Review: This is the Way


All Image Credit: Disney/Lucasarts

It has finally happened. The small-screen side of Star Wars has made its live-action debut with The Mandalorian, and what a first impression it has made. Spearheaded by Dave Filoni, who was the main man behind beloved shows like The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, along with Jon Favreau, who directed projects like Iron Man; The Jungle Book (2016); and The Lion King (2019), both have worked to produce a show that is both a love letter to long-time fans and an intriguing invitation to a side of Star Wars we haven’t seen before.

The show itself takes place around five years after Return of the Jedi and showcases the adventures of a Mandalorian bounty hunter, referred to multiple times as Mando, who works for a bounty hunting guild in order to support his Mandalorian cohort. Upon taking a very high-risk-high-reward kind of job, Mando happens to find out that his bounty target is The Child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda. We see that he soon starts to care for this mysterious, yet adorable creature, so he refuses to turn him over to his employers. Thus, so begins the shootouts, chases, and endangerments that result from this unlikely duo.

Ever since this series was announced, I was automatically intrigued at the amount of storytelling potential there was. This show being centered around the Mandalorians was already an amazing choice since the expanded lore and history surrounding them is probably deeper than most of the movies. It has been touched upon many times through books, games, and the animated TV shows, but this would be the first time this would be showcased in live-action. With awesome-looking armor, killer weapons and gadgets, and a fierce warrior creed, a show based on these guys was like a fan’s dream come true.

What was immediately noticeable was how different this show’s approach was to the Star Wars universe as we know it. It is very much a departure from the more epic, sci-fi fantasy tale of good vs. evil that we are familiar with in the films. Instead, The Mandalorian gives us a gritty, unforgiving, and lawless lens to look through, drawing some clear inspiration from old samurai films and spaghetti westerns. As a lover of both Star Wars and westerns, the blending of the two styles was done in a way that was both seamless and refreshing. With Mando already embodying the “Man With No Name” persona, we see parallels like him taming a wild alien creature to ride, much like a cowboy taming a horse, as well as asking some Tusken Raiders for passage across their land, much like a gunslinger would communicate with Native Americans.

As for the series as a whole, I am confident in saying that it is a very impressive accomplishment and an important milestone in Star Wars media. I could very much see myself rewatching the show over and over, never getting tired of seeing Mando and Baby Yoda together along with their occasional allies like Kuiil and Cara Dune, each played very well by their respective actors. Additionally, with each episode sporting a massive budget of around $15 million, the show is remarkably beautiful to look at. Each of the planets and their landscapes look wholly unique, the ships and vehicles look and sound awesome, and the creature designs are on par with their film counterparts. My appreciation for this show also extends not just to its visuals, but to its music as well. Composer Ludwig Göransson has given us a soundtrack that doesn’t try to imitate John Williams, but instead, like the show itself, embraces its uniqueness and perfectly encapsulates mystery and the smooth style that The Mandalorian is all about. 

Now, getting into specifics here, certain episodes do end up being more entertaining than others and some are more significant to the story than others. The most common gripe people will have over this show is that they feel like there is no effort to establish an overarching storyline and that each episode just ends up being useless filler. I can understand this, but it must be known that while it is true that each episode feels self-contained, there is still a storytelling reason behind each moment and that, although it may not be addressed right then, each detail will come in to play a larger role later on. Personally, my favorites of this season would have to go to the first, third, and eighth episodes as they are all well-paced and well-acted, with amazing action sequences and directing to boot. My least favorite would probably be the fifth episode as so there was so little advancement in the main story and featured some mediocre performances.

Suffice to say, The Mandalorian was a blast to watch and seems to be the type of content that fans want more of. With such a strong first season, it’ll be exciting to wait and see what new direction the story will take and what kinds of uncharted territories will be uncovered in the future. I have spoken.