Brief Thoughts On The Mandalorian, Episode 1

by Erik Amaya

After all the hype and wonder, The Mandalorian has finally debuted alongside the Disney+ service. And like the platform, the title character (Pedro Pascal) brushed up against a few hiccups in his first outing as he attempted to retrieve a bounty placed by an Imperial client (Werner Herzog). Unlike the connection issues plaguing the service Tuesday morning, The Mandalorian’s problem with animals, his sudden friendship with an Ugnaught, and his plan getting literally blasted to bits by assassin droid IG-11 (Taika Waititi) only aid the episode’s key objective: getting you to like this new Star Wars protagonist.
For his part, Pascal plays the character by adopting the most appealing traits of many classic Star Wars characters. He has the swagger of Boba Fett — and, indeed, part of his original 1980 voice — and a no-nonsense approach to his work. But he’s also sort of a goofball when the unexpected comes his way. This melding of the Boba Fett and Han Solo archetypes is a great choice as it seems The Mandalorian will often have to be his own straightman and jokester. We’re sold on him as a leading man at this point; particularly as Pascal must play the character without the aid of his face.
But beyond the more action-oriented or quippy elements of the character, we also saw a little bit of pathos in the reason for his relentless pursuit of bounties. From what we could glean, the Empire purged the Mandalorians — or, perhaps, one tribe was purged by a clan loyal to the Empire? — scattering the warrior race across the stars. Now with the Empire in shambles, the nameless Mandalorian seeks out credits to help reestablish some semblance of their culture. Note the use of the word “foundlings” and The Mandarlorian’s admission that he was one himself. It would seem a whole generation grew up disconnected from their way of life during the reign of Sheev Palpatine and some are ready to take their iconic look back from Boba Fett.
Although, as some eagle-eyed viewers have noted, Fett — or someone wearing his armor — was skulking around the Mando encampment The Mandalorian visited to drop off the credits and the Beskar ingot. Since we’ve wanted Jodo Kast to appear on the show from the moment it was announced, we’ll be happy to assume this is the infamous Extended Universe pretender from a storyline we thought executive producer Jon Favreau might co-opt for his series. If nothing else, it may be a subtle nod to the various Boba Fett histories littering the EU.
Meanwhile, we’re also happy The Mandalorian’s bonfides were vouched for by the nameless armorer (Emily Swallow). Discovering he is true Mando by blood removes at least one easy source of mystery. But that same scene replaces it with something far more intriguing: what is his signet and why hasn’t it been revealed to him? Is it something lost when he family was purged? Or is it something a Mando discovers as they fight their way across the galaxy? In the era of the Clone Wars, we know Mandalorians adopted clan sigils; is this the same thing?
Then there’s the big mystery revealed at the end of the episode: the baby from Yoda’s species. As the Imperials told The Mandalorian, the infant is fifty-years-old, an idea which tracks with Yoda’s very long life. But why do they want the baby alive while IG-11’s client wanted it dead? The easy guess is, of course, access to the Force. But considering how rare this species is, maybe it is their longevity the Imperial Remnant wants to unlock.
Granted, that does not explain why IG-11 was anxious to kill it, but hopefully, we’ll learn more about the baby — and its species — when The Mandalorian moves to its regular release date this Friday.

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