Now that is how you bring Mandos to the screen.
We’ve enjoyed the sparse tone of The Mandalorian‘s first two episodes. We definitely loved last week’s Lone Wolf and Cub tribute. But this week brought the series into a proper Star Wars context with the title character (Pedro Pascal) making an important choice and — for the first time in live action — seeing the Mandalorians as a culture. In doing so, the fabled warrior race finally feels vital to the Star Wars experience.
Returning the asset to the Imperial Client (Werner Herzog), The Mandalorian experiences a tinge of conscience. While it’s clear his soft spot for younglings is as prominent as his distrust of droids, we assumed his Beskar-shielded heart only extended to Mando foundlings. Even if that were the case, it is hard to look at the asset and not want to protect them. Everyone involved in the production engineered the creature for maximum cuteness. Reportedly, Herzog cried when he interacted with the puppet on set and called creator Jon Favreau and executive producer Dave Filoni cowards when they suggested filming scenes without it. Like so much of this show, the asset is one of those things you never knew you needed in a Star Wars story but now wonder how the universe existed without it.
The Mandalorian’s feelings, however, are countered when the Client reminds him of the Bounty Hunter Code (no questions asked) and provides him with an ice cream maker full of Beskar steel ingots. The container is a nod to one of the Internet’s favorite memes — an Empire Strikes Back extra fleeing Cloud City with an obvious late 1970s ice cream maker under his arm — and further reveals the playfulness with which Favreau and the episode directors (this week: Deborah Chow) view the Star Wars galaxy. In-jokes are in play as fans can now make official product for fans without worrying if it breaks immersion. To a certain extent, there were always some in-jokes, but we still appreciate this level of detail in the series.
Upon taking his payment to the Mando camp, The Mandalorian gets a new suit of armor and we learn a little bit more about the culture. We cannot recall how much of it was established on Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels, but considering Sabine and her clan had no problems taking off their helmets, it seems Mando society was greatly altered after the purge. Now, Mandos cannot take off their helmets and seemingly chose their signet after a fair fight with an animal. One has to wonder how much of this emerged after Boba Fett became a famed bounty hunter during the Imperial Era and was (for the moment) defeated by a Sarlacc. Outside of the narrative, it is clear to see Favreau employing all the things fans hoped Fett would be in these New Republic Mandos, but we hope we get some in-universe reasons why they behave this way soon.
Of course, we may have to wait awhile as they made themselves known to the Imperial Remnant in order to protect our Lone Mando & Cub. We hope Chow will bring this sort of action sequence to the Obi-Wan series she’s developing because the Mando fight only improved upon the battles we’ve seen in the series so far. It’s fan service, to be sure, but it’s some excellent fan service as we finally got to see the warrior race do their thing in live action. Hopefully, some of these faceless warriors will become characters in the episodes and seasons ahead because, much like Boba Fett, the visuals invite questions about the people under the masks.
In the meantime, though, we wait patiently for The Mandalorian’s next move. Where can he take the asset and keep it safe from Imperial hands?
The Mandalorian streams Fridays on Disney+.