I love Star Wars, and dads love Star Wars, but it wasn’t until the end of the first-ever episode of the first-ever live-action show from our favorite galaxy far, far away that I had a concrete reason to cover Disney+’s flagship show for The Dad. We’ll get to that in a bit, but first, let’s cover our bases by slapping a big ole’ Spoiler Warning on this here piece of content. Since I wasn’t thinking we’d do this when the show premiered, I was…not prepared for this column at first. So this article will cover the first episode, immediately followed by a recap of chapter two here. I’ll have coverage of the rest of the episodes as they release.
Meet The Mandalorian. He’s a Mandalorian. On a mission to collect the bounty on Blue Horatio Sanz, whom he first must rescue from the standard-issue scum and villainy. The two quickly head back to The Mandolorian’s ship, the Razor’s Crest, which is no Moldy Crow, but I’ll take it. (CAST ME AS KYLE KATARN, DISNEY+ YOU COWARDS).
The opening sequence establishes two things: First, this show will capture the much-coveted “dark and gritty” tone in the Star Wars universe, and #2: they’re bein’ silly. Brian Posehn shows up as a Star Wars Uber driver, but his landspeeder is immediately eaten by a monster. It’s a comic beat for sure, followed by the second action sequence in the first ten minutes of the show. Despite the “Spaghetti Western” influence, a lot of things happen very fast in The Mandalorian.
Once we get into space, Blue Horatio Sanz is quickly frozen in carbonite after finding the first toilet ever seen in Star Wars. If it sounds like a lot is going on, brace yourself cause we just got started. The Mandalorian meets with his guild rep, Carl Weathers, who only has Empire credits to offer as bounty for former SNL cast members. The Empire is about 5 years done at this point, so the exchange rate there is less than ideal. To compensate, Carl says “Go talk to Werner Herzog, he’s a weird asshole with an under-the-table job and possible existential crisis for you.”
Werner turns out to be an Imperial. Perhaps a disgraced Grand Moff like Peter Cushing’s Tarkin or something similar. There’s a squad of dinged up stormtroopers adding nice weight and texture to what’s going on. With little spoken exposition about what the galaxy has been up to since Return of the Jedi, we still get plenty of information if you pay attention. Werner and his goon squad don’t reveal what they’re up to – just that they will pay in a Super Special Metal™ for a special bounty, alive or dead. Werner suggests that it’s time to put things in the galaxy back to order, in very Werner fashion. In the grand scheme of Star Wars, I’m very curious if we’ll see the seeds for the First Order planted in this series.
Before heading out on his mission, Mando takes his new Super Special Metal™ to his Mandalorian village, where it gets turned into a shiny new shoulder pad. But more importantly, here we learn everything about our boy’s motivations. He’s not just Boba Fett clone, he’s fighting to help rebuild his world. If you follow director Daven Filoni’s previous Star Wars work, you know that Mandalorians are tribal warriors who keep getting the short end of a lot of deals; learning that our protagonist is working in service to a higher cause sets him up for a hard choice at the end of the episode, and (deep breath) makes him way more interesting than Boba Fett ever was *ducks from various tomatoes and furniture thrown at me.*
We get flashes of a traumatic event from Mando’s childhood, and I honestly hope we never hear more about his past. The whole mystery box structure, where a character’s backstory is the main dramatic question doesn’t serve the immediate nature of Star Wars or spaghetti westerns. I think people forget that Vader being Luke’s dad wasn’t a big deal just because it was a reveal, it mattered because that reveal meant Luke couldn’t kill the bad guy, which is a tough pickle to have at the climax of a movie. Star Wars is best when its problems are rooted in the moment.
About halfway into the episode, Mando heads to some planet to get his job going. If I have one criticism of the show so far, it’s while the locations are gorgeous, the planets themselves are lacking some personality. I want some pulpy sounding locations like “Third Planet In The Hoth System” or “Forest Moon of Endor.” Let’s get some fun geography here, The Mandalorian.
Once on the ground, we meet Ugnaught Nick Nolte who teaches our hero to ride a Frog Dragon. It’s a cool sequence that shows the resiliency of the Mandolorian people and gives a bit more setup to their whole “be stubborn” way of life. Essentially this sequence is a lead up to Ugnaught Nick Nolte showing Mando the bad guy’s lair, which is right out of a Clint Eastwood movie. Our hero reluctantly teams up with a droid bounty hunter, IG-Taika Watiti, to take out the oddly huge band of generic bad guys. This is the money sequence of the show, and it’s a shame they showed it in the trailers. If you created IG-88 way back in 1980, seeing that character design in action like this must be as satisfying as a cold beer on a freshly mowed lawn.
The episode ends with our bounty bois finding the source of all this commotion – a Baby Yoda! He’s not Yoda, I know, but his name is still Baby Yoda, I don’t care if the show ever says otherwise. IG-Taika Waititi wants to kill the lil’ bub, but that’s not gonna happen on The Mandolorean’s watch. With an ice-cold pull of the trigger, our hero makes the choice to become a dad (and give me the opportunity to write about Star Wars for work.) The faceless warrior reaches out to the innocent child. Perhaps things won’t be put back in order quite so soon, after all, Moff Herzog.
- If dads everywhere don’t start saying “I have spoken” to get their kids to do chores, what are we even doing here?
- I’m so disappointed that we only get one episode of IG-Taika Waititi. The Thor: Ragnarock director showed great comedic acting chops as Korg, and more recently as Imaginary Hitler in his latest film, JoJo Rabbit. It’s a real shame we won’t see him get to play with this restrained character more.
- The fan service is almost obnoxious at first. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing Cthulhu Chin Boys, Long Snout Dudes, and the Eyeball Door Knocker Guy* too, but the whole thing with Star Wars was that it’s a sprawling galaxy of infinite creatures and gizmos. I get that people like seeing their favorites, and Filoni and Favreau are nailing it, but it does remind me how much I appreciate the new movies’ design department for not just playing the hits.
If you’re all caught up, check out The Dad’s recap of The Mandalorian Chapter Two: The Child. New episodes drop every Friday, and I’ll be recapping them in a much more timely fashion here on out.
*Yes, I know what Quarrens, Kubazes, and TT-8L/YZ Gatekeeper Droids are, I have all the Essential Guides To Star Wars Bullshit, do not come at me.
I have spoken.