The Mandalorian is set five years after Return of the Jedi in a period of change for the galaxy. The Empire has fallen but remnants remain in many systems with varying levels of power and control. The New Republic has been established but is still dealing with the fallout of decades of dictatorship, restoring democracy doesn’t happen over night!
This sets us up to follow the titular ‘Mandalorian’ working as a bounty hunter in the mostly lawless fringes of the galaxy.
He is takes on an off the books job as it is the only one paying a respectable amount.
The reveal of who is target actually is at the end of the episode complicates matters and will presumably be the driving factor for this first season.
Okay, spoilers ahead. If you’ve not seen this episode yet and are interested, bail now, I won’t hold it against you.
I loved this! This is exactly what I was hoping for with a show set in the Star Wars universe. It is, it seems, completely separated from the stories we’ve seen in all the movies and only has tangential ties to plot points from the animated shows, The Clone Wars and Rebels.
Despite that separation, from the very first scene the show feels like it belongs firmly within the universe George Lucas created and we’ve spent countless hours exploring.
The characters all feel like they could easily have occupied the same seedy cantinas and star ships as the heroes and villains we all know and love. It wouldn’t surprise me if I’m future episodes there is a name drop of existing characters and that some of these knew people have had past dealings with them.
There are tons of references, nods and Easter eggs to existing material. Some are blatant and overt, intended to be seen and recognised by everyone. Others are much more subtle or obscure and despite being a self confessed Star Wars mega-nerd I’m sure there was stuff that I missed.
It’s not just visuals either. There is world building galore through dialogue, some of which is most likely throwaway and some that is hopefully either laying seeds or following up on previously established lore that will be further explored as the series goes forward.
While some may scoff at some of the more blatant visual call outs and feel the show leans too heavily in the ‘fan-film’ direction I challenge anyone to find many flaws in the look and sound of the show. All of the design work is great, using original trilogy aesthetics and ageing them appropriately. The mix of practical and visual effects is superb and never takes you out of the scene.
The sound design matches the work created by Ben Burt perfectly and Ludwig Göransson’s score is completely unique and different for Star Wars but helps create the perfect tone and mood for the show.
What he’s doing is nothing like John Williams original music, but instead works much better to set the series up more as a spaghetti western in space, matching the plot of the show perfectly.
I’m sure everyone and every media outlet have their own take on this groundbreaking first episode, but I wanted to make sure I got my thoughts out as soon as possible before I start reading and listening to those so that I don’t just end up echoing everyone’s sentiments.
There’s a lot to enjoy for everyone and even more for those who ingratiate themeselves in Star Wars as much as I do... and I didn’t even mention the ‘Yoda-baby’! What the fuck!?
I’m so glad the next episode is out this Friday.