After watching the first episode of the much anticipated Disney+ premiere of The Mandalorian, I couldn’t help but ask the question: am I watching an RPG video game? Let’s look at it. Breaking down materials to craft armor? Check. Vast, incredible world to traverse and explore? Check. Companions with varying personalities and character building? Check. Quests and a driving narrative? Oh yes. Big time check. The Mandalorian is Skyrim & I love every minute of it.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
The tone of The Mandalorian is perfect. It’s the right mix of dark and gritty meets joyful and warm. Nothing speaks to that more so than Pedro Pascal, who plays the titular character in the show. Mando’s character is downright terrifying at times. The shine of his armor paired with his brooding silence makes him an intimidating force on the screen. It is beyond obvious that Pascal is having a blast with this role.
More Skyrim & Blade Runner than Star Wars…
A significant section of “Chapter 1” is dark and takes us through the underworld of being a bounty hunter. The first three quarters of the episode were so dark that I had to remind myself that I was actually watching a Star Wars TV show. In fact, the first half of the show felt like I was watching a TV version of “Blade Runner” more so than Star Wars.
This is also represented by the score. This is not your father’s Star Wars music that you’re used to. The score of “Chapter 1,” like Mando himself, is intense and full of tones not previously heard from in Star Wars film or TV. This is by no means a criticism. The score of the first episode sends the message that this is not going to be a Star Wars story that we’ve seen before.
A darker, edgier Star Wars is exactly what the world needed…
This was a stroke of genius by Jon Favreau, the show’s creator. When you think about it, who is the show’s audience? Like many of you reading this, I grew up to the original trilogy and still love Star Wars today. Now that most of us are adults, a darker, edgier Star Wars story is exactly what the world needs, and Jon Favreau nailed it.
Let’s get back to Chapter 1. Through much of the first episode, we learn that the Mandalorian is not at all fond of droids. And then we meet the incredible IG-11, voiced by the great Taika Waititi. IG-11, a bounty droid who belongs to the same guild as the Mandalorian, brings the humor and lightness that makes Star Wars so, so great. IG-11’s desire to self-destruct almost stole the show.
IG-11 brings the heart…
The team up of Mando and IG-11 was perfect and hopefully something we get to see more of moving forward. We’ll get to that in a little bit. The action scenes were brilliant and the chemistry between the two was obvious. The “droid bias” from the Mandalorian only made it that much more effective.
The reveal at the end of Baby Yoda hit in all the right areas. For 40 minutes we are exposed to the Mandalorian as this stoic, emotionless character that was clearly deserted as a child. The last scene of the episode sees our Mando reconnecting with his childhood as he reaches for the young Yoda. What a heart-filled moment.
Mando is one of the best bounty hunters in the universe, raised to show an absence of emotion that would otherwise likely derail any of his missions. But Chapter 1 made it very clear that this isn’t your typical Mando. I cannot give enough credit to Pedro Pascal. You don’t see the actor throughout the duration of the episode. His skin is helmet-to-boot covered. However, the emotion he portrays clearly pulsates through his full body armor, especially at the end.
A true Mandalorian or an orphan abandoned during war…
Thus begs the questions: Is our main character a true Mandalorian or is he an orphan who was abandoned during war? Are we going to see Mando reclaim each piece of his Beskar armor until his identity as a Mandalorian is complete? Is IG-11 really dead? Fingers crossed we get more interaction between Mando and IG-11, one of the strengths of Chapter 1. Between The Mandalorian and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order releasing this week, it is a great time to be a Star Wars fan.
My Grade: 9.5/10
Overall, just a beautiful first episode. The world building, the action scenes, the tone, the score, the costumes…. All of it makes The Mandalorian really stand out within the Star Wars universe. If you loved A New Hope or Star Wars Rebels, then you’re in luck. Disney+ has a huge hit on their hands and quite possibly the best new show of 2019.