After a slew of bizarre choices, The Mandalorian is posting a strong entry to the Star Wars canon. Having just binged through the whole season of the show, I can honestly say as a Star Wars fan, I’m impressed on a variety of levels.
First, gone is the CGI-heavy veneer of the prequels and the new era Star Wars films; the aesthetic of the show returns to the 70s grimey, scavenged “junk” technology of the original trilogy, juxtaposed against the sleek, clean whites of the Empire. It’s a world where X-Wings, the Millennium Falcon and other junkers make sense again.
The Western-style plot structure is perfect for The Mandalorian. It fits the vibe of the universe well; after the fall of the Empire, disparate planets are free and, like the wild west, disconnected. Each planet or space station acts as its own free-state township. The structure also fits the main character who, just like classic Western-era film stars such as Clint Eastwood and John Wayne or, more specifically, Lucas McCain of The Rifleman, our neutral good protagonist has to “do good” in an outlaw-laden no man’s land while juggling a profession that aligns him with the scum of the universe.
There are some truly great TV moments in this show. The oft-talked about prison break episode is definitely the most worthy of mentioning. Classic, compelling TV with a cast of just 5 characters who expertly command attention, made intriguing not by special effects, but by acting, writing, set design and cinematography. The Mandalorian “stalking his prey” scene was probably the most memorable moment of the show overall, at least in terms of photography direction.
The cast of characters delivered here outshines anything else we’ve gotten from the Disney series. Our heroes, The Mandalorian himself, played by Pedro Pascal, the rebel shocktrooper, the bounty hunter guild leader, and of course, who can forget Baby Yoda — all welcome inclusions to the Star Wars canon.
At no point in the show does the lore, technology or aesthetic feel out of place with the greater concept of “Star Wars” — unlike much of the rest of the Disney Star Wars material which seems to take enormous pride in attempting to rewrite what Star Wars looks like, acts like, and is about.
The creator of this show, John Favreau, most likely will receive a great deal of goodwill from Star Wars fans and Dave Filoni, the showrunner for the Star Wars Rebels animated series, who directed several episodes here, will probably be the secondary recipient of that goodwill.
Anyone else whose name is attached to this project (Bryce Dallas Howard, Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa) is likely now attached to the ‘correct’ path for Star Wars from this point, and considered to be the Star Wars A-team, contrasted with the other creative squad whose names are now infamous to the Star Wars fandom: Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Ryan Johnson.
And Pedro Pascal, as The Mandalorian himself, is likely the first, perhaps only actor, who will join the likes of the original cast in being accepted as a new, great Star Wars main character — a new and improved Boba Fett.
The Mandalorian is an excellent show that deserves the praise it’s been receiving. It airs on Disney+ and just finished its first season. A second season is already confirmed and will be released sometime in the near future, probably within the next year/year and a half.