A while back I finished watching the first two seasons of The Mandalorian, and as I’ve finally finished with my (written) recaps of the Knightfall Saga, it’s time to get my feet wet again in Star Wars.
One of the things that has worked very well for the MCU is the ability to incorporate multiple genres of story within the framework of Superhero fiction. Whether it’s a ‘70s conspiracy thriller with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or a family comedy with Ant-Man, or a surrealist Doctor Who inspired science fiction thriller with Loki.
We got a bit of that with Rogue One’s Team On A Mission war movie (ala Guns of Navarone), and Solo’s Space Heist. The Mandalorian goes more firmly into this with a very solid space western.
As has been pretty well established by those who have been paying attention to pop culture, The Mandalorian follows the title character, who is tasked with retrieving a child of the same race of Yoda, initially for the Imperial Remnant, but ultimately electing to keep The Child from Imperial clutches.
The writing on the show is incredibly solid, really doing a good job of presenting a Western traveling gunslinger story in the context of the Star Wars setting. The show is effectively Jedi-free for the first season, with more Jedi characters popping up in the second half of the second season, but only as guest appearances. Further, the entirety of the recurring cast is completely free of characters who appeared from the films. There are a handful of characters who had previously appeared in the Clone Wars series, but otherwise that’s it. This is something that even the Legends timeline struggled with.
Additionally, the show’s production “gimmick” – The Volume – a set built with a digitally projected interactive matte painting made using the Unreal Engine. It allows for a sense of verisimilitude that using conventional backdrops lacks, and without headaches of conventional set extension methods like mirrors or green-screens.
The acting performances are really solid across the board. It actually makes it really frustrating that Gina Carano decided to double-down on being a TERF scumbag – because her performances here are some of the best of her career. That said, the rest of the cast is also great, so it’s not like losing her will suck the air out of the room.
That said, there’s a weird bit tonally – the last episode of the show’s first season is directed by Taika Watiti. I like Watiti as a director, and the episode is good, but the episode has a very rapid tonal shift to black comedy. I found myself in need of the ol’ tonal neck brace. The episode is otherwise fine, but it’s a dramatic shift compared to literally every other episode of the show – made even more jarring by the fact that it’s the season finale.
The Mandalorian is currently available on Disney+, with no word as yet as to when we can expect a release for purchase or on physical media.
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