The day is finally here. Disney+ has released and The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars series is available. I have been looking forward to this show so much, so there was no way that I wasn’t going to watch this as soon as I could. Unfortunately, living in the UK, Disney+ is not going to be available over here for a while, so I’ve had to channel my inner Hondo Ohnaka to see this!
I’ve really enjoyed writing my episode reviews of Resistance so there was no way I was going to miss the chance to do the same here. The reviews will take on the same format: an overview of the plot (so be aware, there will be spoilers!), my review of the show, then a few “Moments in canon” – references that link to other media and the galaxy as a whole. Today, we look at Chapter 1.
The episode begins on an icy planet, where the Mandalorian is following a tracking fob to a bar. His arrival interrupts a trio of goons who are causing problems for a Mythrol patron. One of the goons accuses the Mandalorian of spilling his drink, but the Mandalorian doesn’t respond. The 3 goons begin threatening the Mandalorian, who dispatches them with ease. The Mythrol thanks the Mandalorian for his help, but the Mandalorian then reveals that he is a bounty hunter… and the Mythrol is his bounty.
The Mandalorian takes the Mythrol back to his ship, where one of the native creatures attacks them. The Mandalorian uses his rifle to shock the creature, which releases the ship, allowing them to escape. As the Mandalorian flies to their destination, the Mythrol tries convincing the Mandalorian to let him go, with no success. He says he needs to use the vac tube and goes to search for it in the ship, but this is just a pretence to find a way to escape. While doing this, he finds 3 bounties in the hold, all frozen in carbonite. The Mandalorian sneaks up on him and pushes him into the carbon freezing machine, activating it to freeze his 4th bounty.
“I can bring you in warm… or I can bring you in cold.”
The Mandalorian arrives at his destination and meets with Greef Karga to take payment for his bounties. When he asks for new bounties, he finds that the options are limited and low paying – the most expensive bounty will barely cover fuel. Greef directs him to speak to the Client, who has one other job available, high paid but with limited information. The Mandalorian goes to the Client, a member of an Imperial remnant, who is working with a scientist named Doctor Pershing. They instruct the Mandalorian to acquire “the Asset” and return it to them, preferably alive but the Client will accept proof of termination for a smaller reward. The client gives the Mandalorian some Beskar as a down payment and says that the reward will be a full camtono of Beskar. Unlike a usual job, there is no Bondsman Guild puck or full chain code for the Mandalorian to use, just a tracking fob, a last-known location and the target’s age – 50 years old.
Before leaving the planet, the Mandalorian visits an underground area full of Mandalorians, including the Armorer. The Mandalorian gives the Armorer the Beskar and the money from his recent bounties and she creates a new pauldron for him.
Arriving on Arvala-7, the Mandalorian is attacked by 2 Blurggs while trying to survey the area. The Mandalorian is saved by an Ugnaught named Kuiil, who agrees to help the Mandalorian get to the Asset. To get there, the Mandalorian will need to ride a Blurgg, so with Kuiil’s help, he breaks in one of the Blurggs that attacked him. Arriving at a spot that overlooks the compound where the Asset is hiding, Kuiil takes his leave and the Mandalorian surveys the area. He finds the area full of Niktos, but before he can plan a way in, a bounty droid – IG-11 – arrives attempting to claim the bounty, leading to a fight with the Niktos. IG-11 takes out the first wave and the Mandalorian makes a deal with the droid: they will work together and split the bounty in half.
“Please lower your blaster.”
“Have them lower theirs first.”
“We have you four to one.”
“I like those odds.”
The rest of the Niktos attack, but IG-11 and the Mandalorian work together to take them out, before blasting through a set of locked doors to reach the Asset. The pair discover that the Asset is in fact an infant – the same (currently unidentified) species as Yoda. IG-11’s commission was specific that the Asset be terminated, but The Mandalorian shoots him in the head and the episode ends with him reaching out towards the infant.
OK, I’m hooked! This was an incredible start to the season and if the rest of the show can carry on in this vein, then this could very quickly become one of my favourite stories in the entire Star Wars canon!
I must admit that I was surprised with the length of the episode (not even 40 minutes), but on reflection I feel that the episode progressed at a good pace that I never felt it was bogging down and also never felt it was too rushed. I’ve been a big fan of Dave Filoni’s work on the animated shows and was excited to see how he would get on directing live action for the first time. Having watched this, I am so confident in his ability and can’t wait to see more from him – he is directing another episode later in the series.
I have always been very positive about the look of live action Star Wars content since Disney took over and this is no exception. The show looks so good and modern, but has the feel of the Original Trilogy, which makes sense as it is just a couple of years after Return of the Jedi. I loved little touches like the stormtroopers’ armour being so dirty as the time for pristine polished armour is long gone. There were a few shots where the CGI didn’t look quote right, but never enough to throw me out of the episode.
Is it true that you guys never take off your helmets?”
And now for the music. John Williams did such a good job of setting the tone of Star Wars with his scores, so there is always the risk that a different composer may struggle, but I think that Ludwig Göransson did a fantastic job. The score was familiar enough to still feel like a part of the wider Star Wars galaxy, but also very different to evoke a different feel. Between the music and the visuals, there were a number of moments that reminded me of another great space western, Firefly. There were a few moments where I felt that the music transitioned quite abruptly, but on the whole I really enjoyed it.
I loved Pedro Pascal in Game of Thrones so was super excited to hear that he would be playing the lead role. Having finally seen him in the show, I think that the casting was spot on as he does a great job for a character that never shows his face and at times has limited dialogue. I also really like how he is clearly an accomplished fighter, but not so over the top that he could take down all the Niktos on his own and had to take advantage of the surroundings and work with IG-11 to defeat them all. I also really love how his distrust of droids is set up early in the episode (and continues throughout), with us then getting flashbacks to him as a child with his family being attacked by battle droids, giving us a clear reason for why he feels this way. It’s also very clear that we will learn more about his character, with mentions of his past as a Foundling and the questions of if his signet has been revealed already setting up for development in future episodes.
“Ah that was fast! Did you catch them all?”
I thought the rest of the casting for this episode was also great. Carl Weathers was wonderful as Greef Karga and I absolutely loved Werner Herzog as the Client, while Kuiil was also a fun character that felt perfect for Nick Nolte. And then IG-11! When I first heard that Taika Waititi would be voicing the droid, I was worried that it would be too comical, but he did a great job of getting the tone just right and I enjoyed the recurring gag of IG-11 initiating self-destruct during the battle far too much. Will these characters return? Well the episode finished on Arvala-7 so I think the chances are high that Kuiil is in the net episode, while it is obvious that Greef and the Client will have larger roles throughout the series. The one I wonder about is IG-11. I would love him to have a larger role and think that it is highly possible an IG unit could “survive” the damage he took, but at the same time I think the Mandalorian would make sure IG-11 is out of the picture given their different instructions. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Friday’s episode.
And now to the ending… and it becomes clear why the full episode was not being shown to anyone ahead of time. Who would have expected that an infant of Yoda’s species would be the Asset? We know barely anything about the species at the moment, but the only 2 characters of this species until now have both been Jedi (Yoda and Yaddle). Is this infant Force-sensitive? It would explain why the Client and Doctor Pershing want it alive. I can’t help think as well that they are not the only ones after the infant either, as IG-11’s instructions to kill the Asset makes me think that he has been sent by someone else – potentially Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon, who does not appear in this episode. Is this infant what sparks the Mandalorian to turn away from the job? Or was the decision to destroy IG-11 merely to ensure that he got the full bounty for bringing the Asset back alive. Only time will tell and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
“I will initiate self-destruct.”
“Do not self-destruct! We’re shooting our way out.”
A few final thoughts from the episode:
- I loved the artwork over the first half of the credits and hope this continues throughout the series and also in other future shows
- The scene of the Beskar being forged into a pauldron was brilliant and I loved the way this was interspersed with the flashback images
- It was interesting to see barely any characters actually get named in the episode – Greef’s name was only said by The Asset, who also named Doctor Pershing. Everyone else was just called by their role or some description (eg. The Client, The Asset, IG dorid, Mandalorian) which helps the interactions feel more natural in the circumstances
Moments in Canon
- Apparently Kowakian monkey-lizards are edible
- Some people are saying that Boba Fett was in a scene as they noticed his armour. The Aftermath Trilogy heavily suggests that Fett’s armour is in the possession of Cobb Vanth, a man on Tatooine
- Kuiil mentions that the Mandalorian’s ancestors rode the Mythosaurs. The sigil seen outside the Armorer’s forge and on Boba Fett’s armour is a Mythosaur skull
What did you think of the episode?
Thanks for reading. I have spoken.