Force Friday: The Mandalorian Episode 1

Welcome back to The Real World According To Sam! Today is Force Friday and I'm doing something I've never done before. Today, we are going to talk about a TV show. Specifically, the first episode of the Disney + original series, The Mandalorian.

Why? Well, the first season has 8 episodes total, and the second season is supposed to be released in we'll spend the next 7 Force Fridays talking about each episode of the first season, as we eagerly await the eventual arrival of season two, SOMETIME in October. 

Reviews for this first season will be FULL of SPOILERS!!! If you have not watched this show, and want to, then I recommend you just go watch it, and then come back. If I decide that I like doing this and want to talk about the second season, I will do so without spoilers. However, I'm not yet sure if I will do that. I just want to talk about some more Star Wars stuff right now. 

The Mandalorian Poster

Chapter 1: The Mandalorian

Directed by: Dave Filoni
Written by: Jon Favreau


A Mandalorian bounty hunter tracks a target for a well-paying, mysterious client. 


So, let's really quickly talk about the directors and writers of this show. The show was generally written by Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau. For anyone who doesn't know, Dave Filoni has worked on many Star Wars media projects, including The Clone Wars, Rebels, and Resistance. He wrote some episodes for The Clone Wars, and created both Rebels and Resistance. Personally, I have enjoyed each of these shows greatly, although I have not yet finished watching Resistance. The other two I have seen completely. He also spent some time directing a few episodes of Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I unfortunately have not watched yet. I never had the chance when I was younger (I didn't have cable), but I might eventually since I keep hearing nothing but great things about it. 

Jon Favreau is a very familiar face around the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as he has executive produced a few of the movies, he directed Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and he has also starred as Happy, Tony Stark's chauffeur and friend. Additionally, he recently directed the two Disney live action remake films, The Jungle Book (2016), and The Lion King (2019). Now, he also has a writing credit for The Mandalorian. 

The Mandalorian is a spin-off, independent show that takes place within the Star Wars universe. It is unconnected to the films and other shows, so far. It takes place five years after Return of the Jedi, and twenty-five years before The Force Awakens. It is classified as a space western and it isn't hard to see why. The show tells the story of a Mandalorian bounty hunter and his adventures. 

This first episode, we meet the Mandalorian, who is often referred to as simply "Mando." Mandalorians are a group of people from the planet Mandalore. They are known for being a warlike people, whose culture and religion is centered around combat and a warrior way of being. They are easy to tell apart from other planet's residence, because they are most often depicted wearing Mandalorian armor. This is the same armor that Boba Fett and Jango Fett have been known to wear, as well as Bo-Katan Kryze from The Clone Wars and Sabine Wren from Rebels.

Chapter 1: The Mandalorian starts off with the titular Mandalorian walking into a bar. He gets into a scrap with a few guys and slices one in half, expertly, using the door. None of this is graphic, which makes it perfect for me. I love intense action, but I hate when violence is shown graphically, so this is a great blend for squeamish, action lovers. After this squabble, the Mandalorian picks up a bounty he was after, and then is tasked with a new bounty. He tracks it to Arvala-7, a very barren kind of planet. At least on the part of the planet that we see. On Arvala-7 he meets a vapor farmer named Kuill, gets into another major fight, and locates his bounty. We get to see an IG droid in action, which is awesome, and we get our first look at the adorable bounty that has captured the attention of the internet. 

I have nothing bad to say about this episode...or anything bad to say about this show in general. This is a different kind of story telling than most things I've watched and than most things I've seen as being currently popular. The story is pushed visually and through action, moreso than by anything else. There is some dialogue as needed, but for the most part, the episode lets you just sit back and watch, without being burdened by a lot of expositional chatter. There are intense combat sequences, as mentioned, and these aren't bogged down with a lot of strategy talk or negotiation. We get straight to the blaster shooting. Sound wise, this is a quiet, but engrossing show. There's music and lots of sound effects, but again, very little talk. This makes it very different from many pilot episodes I have seen of other shows in general, that make it a point to drop a lot of exposition, or where the story is predominantly built upon dialogue between characters. This is not a show about politics or social dynamics in the way some shows are. This is a show about a guy, with a strict cultural background, who can kick major butt, and who is shown to have a heart that interferes with his ability to "just do a job." 

As I mentioned, this show is visually driven and on that note, it is visually striking. The characters are all distinct and have their own looks. The worlds are huge and distinguishable from one another. These are planets we haven't seen before, and yet they feel familiar because they have ecosystems we are familiar with, or they may remind us of other planets we have seen in this universe (ex: Arvala-7 in some ways is reminiscent of more deserted parts of Tatooine). The Mandalorian's ship, Razorcrest, looks amazing. There are distinct aliens and alien creatures, such as Kuill, who is an Ugnaught. There are also rideable creatures called blurrg, which were first shown in The Clone Wars. Each of these species are well-done. They look insanely realistic, like most Star Wars aliens, and they seem to breathe organically, as though they were humans right in front of you. They emote well and are memorable. IG droids are also visually distinct and have a wide range of motion that allows for an incredible combat sequence at the climax of this episode. I was really glad they included one here, because it is incredible to watch. 

As far as pacing goes, this show is on top of it. The episode doesn't drag or rush. It reveals things layer by layer, at a smooth pace. Sometimes things speed up, like when there is combat, and sometimes things slow down, like when Kuill has Mando learning how to ride a blurrg. Neither of these seems to take too much time or be rushed through. They just fit into the story naturally and things play out organically. Nothing in this episode feels out of place. There are lots of questions that arose in my mind as scenes came and went, but over time a lot of them were answered throughout the course of the show. Some weren't, but there is another season coming and I feel like this is the kind of show that invites viewers to have questions and wonder about things. The world basically begs us to speculate about what exists in it, what will happen next, and why things are the way they are. This is a show that feels like it invites curiosity and wonder. 

To sum things up, I think this is a very strong pilot episode for a new, highly anticipated Star Wars show. It sets the tone for a space adventure, in a wild west style, very quickly. It has combat, it has quiet, and it has strong characters that can emote even though they are alien or even if we can't even see their actual face (the Mandalorian). The settings are diverse and entertaining, the world feels just as big as ever, and it is visually stunning to see the sequences unfold. Another thing I love is the score. The score was done by Ludwig Göransson and it is already feeling iconic and distinct. It doesn't sound like every other Star Wars movie or show, or like anything that I've heard from other shows and movies. It has its own sound and identity and I am loving it. Göransson composed the scores for both Venom (2018) and Black Panther (2018), which I also greatly enjoyed watching. I'm always excited to see familiar names on the composer part of the production crew, particularly for superhero films and other science fiction films. This episode starts off strong and got me super excited to keep watching the show. Now, I can't wait for season 2. 

I give Chapter 1: The Mandalorian a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯✯. If you haven't watched it yet, I highly recommend getting Disney + and checking it out, even if you have it just for a month for the purpose of watching it. It's a great show that Star Wars fans can really be happy about, and that might entice some non-Star Wars fans. If someone has never seen Star Wars, this is definitely what I would show them to try to get them interested in the universe in the fastest and simplest way possible. While Star Wars fans will see a lot of potential references and be familiar with talk of the Empire or trooper presence, there isn't too much required background knowledge needed to enjoy the episode. There isn't too much that will be confusing to the point of making the show inaccessible to new viewers. 

Thanks for joining me for another Force Friday here at The Real World According To Sam. I'll be back with book reviews next Monday and Wednesday, and a review of the next episode of The Mandalorian, next Friday. Have a great weekend!