Let's sit here by the fire and discuss The Mandalorian



Before we get started,  this is the mandatory warning that everything below is filled with spoilers.  If you have not yet seen the first two episodes of The Mandalorian , then stop reading now. You've been warned.

The Mandalorian is basically a western. It opens with a scene that would fit in any Sergio Leone film. Inside a rather dank looking saloon, obvious baddies are harassing a meek fellow, and threatening violence.  The doors open and the hero of the piece saunters in. The Mandalorian is a silent, lanky presence.  He brings to mind a young Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood.

Within moments he has killed the bullies,  and revealed himself as a bounty hunter.  The twist in the scene is that he is here to capture the milquetoast man that he just saved.

We follow our now obviously more antihero than hero as he goes to get paid and seek out another job. He is led to Werner Herzog, who adds gravitas to a character that we would expect (this being Star Wars, after all) to be some sort of Muppet with a funny accent.  Herzog famously has never seen a Star Wars movie and that seems appropriate.

The new job involves tracking down someone about whom little is known. The Mandalorian is given his quarry's approximate age and a tracking fob that should lead close to his location.  That, and a downpayment.  Then he's off.

On his journey he is nearly killed by big pig-lizard creatures * and saved by Nick Nolte playing another western trope that we will all recognize.

We then get the obligatory scene of breaking a horse, here the horse is a pig-lizard, but what of it. We need to see our man with no name gallop across a desert landscape while the music swells. All we are missing is a sunset.

The Mandalorian comes to a compound,  where he teams up with another bounty hunter (a droid voiced by Taika Waititi) and begins a siege.

We know that they'll make it inside. We know that it will be close and they will seem outgunned , but this isn't The Wild Bunch. Our guys will prevail. Once they do, that's when the show will give us it's big twist; the whole point of this thing.

It turns out (remember that spoiler warning above? This is your last chance to bail out) that the person The Mandalorian is hunting is a baby Yoda (yodarian? Yodette? Who knows. What species is Yoda anyway?).

The Mandalorian's partner wants to kill it and collect the bounty.  He gets dead instead (at the hands of our Mandalorian,  naturally),  and our hero takes the child. Is he planning to deliver it to Werner Herzog? Is  he planning to protect the child? We don't know , but let's be honest here. We can guess.  This is more of a Logan type story than a Madea story.

The Mandalorian and his charge find themselves stranded as Jawas have stripped their ship of some important parts. They have to make a deal to get those parts back. This involves fighting a big beastie that is more than a match for our hero.

And (more spoilers) Baby Yoda saves the day with his Force powers. It lifts the creature high in the air and drops it allowing our hero to kill.it. Then they fix the ship and head out to adventure.

It seems like everyone loves this show.  They aren't wrong. It's very good. I would say that it is unexpected,  but if you saw Rogue One you know that Star Wars can do gritty, dusty looking, slightly dark stories. It's clear that Jon Favreau steeped himself in the best of Westerns before writing the script for this show.

The casting is great.  Pedro Pascal (best known as The Viper on Game of Thrones) brings some real style to a role that doesn't allow him to show his face. Earlier I mentioned young Charles Bronson and that comparison really is apt. Pascal is able to communicate a lot with the angle of his shoulder or a head tip.

The rest of the cast is very strong as well.  Waititi, Nolte, and Herzog could have been used for laughs, but here they are well deployed.

Two episodes in, The Mandalorian looks to be the best thing Disney+ has to offer.  Here's hoping this level of quality continues.

* I am a casual Star Wars fan and as such rarely remember things like what the pig-lizards are called. Please forgive me.

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