To prepare for the October 30th return of Disney’s The Mandalorian, The Second Stylus Network is retrospectively reviewing Season 1. We’ll be releasing my first four episode reviews today and the subsequent four episodes and cumulative season review by the end of next week. These will appear on The Blog of The White Wolf, then be republished on our main site when it launches With that said, lets get down to business.
In its first episode, The Mandalorian struggles to find its footing. While the quality of the season will dramatically increase in the next few installments (I am writing this review last of the first four despite watching the episodes in order), the pilot often feels a bit limp. We open on an icebound planet as bounty hunters in a bar harass some fishman motherfucker. In the middle of this tense, er, discussion, an armored Boba Fett-looking warrior strides in and orders a drink. By his armor he is immediately identifiable as a Mandolorian, a secretive human ethnoreligious group whose culture centers on warfare and who have, in the wake of oppression by the Galactic Empire, been reduced to a diaspora of bounty hunters and mercenaries. The protagonist, unnamed as of this point, shall henceforth be referred to as “Mando”. In short order, the space thugs begin to violate Mando’s personal space and are promptly beaten up, stabbed, and blown away. The elated alien fishman is soon crestfallen to discover that yes, Mando is himself a bounty hunter and, no, he’s not buying his way out of this one. After returning to his ship and dispatching a submerged megalodon type thing that erupts out of the ice covering this world, Mando and the hapless bounty hurtle through space towards the seedy underworld planet of Nevarro. En route, the criminal discount Aquaman attempts to finagle his escape and is promptly frozen in carbonate Han Solo-style. Not well played.
Landing on Nevarro, Mando drops off the bounty and then rendezvous with underworld Bounty Hunters Guild boss Greef Carga, a.k.a. Carl Weathers. Carga informs him of a client with ex-imperial connections who will pay top dollar (top credit? whatever) in Beskar steel for the acquisition or termination of a mysterious lifeform on Tatooine. This client, henceforth The Client, is played by Werner Herzog, not all that believably, mind you. The Client gives him an ingot of Beskar steel, a rare and extremely resilient substance holy to the Mandalorian culture, which Mando subsequently takes to the Armorer of the Mandalorian community on Nevarro to fashion into the first piece of a new suit. More on this in episode 2.
Mando flies to Tatooine, where he tussles with some local wildlife before a native ugnaught alien and former slave named Kuiil (played by Nick Nolte) leads him to a mercenary encampment, telling Mando he hopes that he will with deal with the local ne’er do wells and discourage others from showing up. As Mando heads into action, a bounty hunter droid with a suspiciously kiwi accent arrives on the scene and beats him to the punch. The mercenary riff-raff aren’t feeling it and attempt to gun them both down, causing Mando and the droid to form a temporary ass-kicking alliance. There’s a little too much plot armor in this overwise serviceable action scene to make it resonate, but the suspiciously kiwi-accented droid’s obsession with “initiating self-destruct” mid gunfight while right next to Mando is good for laughs.
Eventually, the low rent riff-raff bring up a turret-mounted gatling blaster, accuracy in shooting not being their strong suit, and provide Mando and this suspiciously accented droid the necessary fight hack to kill them all by hijacking it. The two bounty hunters proceed into the mercenaries’ stronghold and uncover their quarry. Yes, its BABY YODA. The droid informs Mando that he is ordered to kill BABY YODA but before he can kill the little green fuzzball, Mando unceremoniously caps him in the head. So it was that IG-11, who is totally not voiced by Taika Waititi, and totally not having a eulogy sung in his honor by a husky-voiced hologram girl somewhere beyond the depths of known space, did not get to “live that fantasy.” Almost brings a tear to one’s eye: https://youtu.be/xguIYNjYU1A. Mourn.
New Zealand-themed dad jokes aside, Mando episode 1 is underwhelming.The opening fish dude extraction is ponderous, prolonged, and boring; Werner Herzog can’t act; the tussle with the wildlife is lame; the gunfight cool but not particularly gripping. Compared to subsequent episodes, the pilot is poorly paced and plays it way too safe. Better things to come.