Without a doubt, the most noteworthy piece of new content on Disney+ at launch was the new Star Wars series The Mandalorian. Described as a "space western" that takes place "after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order," Pedro Pascal stars as The Mandalorian, a bounty hunter in the vein of Fetts Jango and Boba that's living that bounty hunter life. The first episode ends with an intriguing reveal, but outside of that, the main question is: how is the show?
Frazier and khal, aka the Vincent and Jules of Complex, dove headfirst into the premiere episode of The Mandalorian and whipped up their thoughts on the latest entrant into the Star Wars lexicon. Spoilers abound, so if you haven't watched yet, rectify that before proceeding on.
[Ed. Note: Major spoilers for the first episode of The Mandalorian are below; proceed with caution.]
khal: Forgive me for not giving the first episode time to resonate, but I’m sorry? I don’t want you or anyone else to think that I feel like The Mandalorian is bad, but I’m also not sure if I’m hype to keep watching. A lone gunslinger lucking into a gig to merk a Baby Yoda? What could any of this mean for the Star Wars universe; more importantly, should I care? I’m supposed to assume this is the Yoda, right? If so, Mando what, saves him and the future becomes the future? Is this the best way to avoid a Solo-esque bomb, by prolonging these integrated stories in TV season format?
Frazier: Yea, is this what, Benjamin Button Yoda or some shit? I’m confused. And not Watchmen-confused, where the mystery is a troll of Russian doll proportions and you just strap-in for the ride. There’s nothing compelling me to keep watching this beyond professional obligation right now, although, one shouldn’t definitively judge a series by its pilot, even in Peak TV. So let’s list the pros. Um, the action is dope? That shootout was pretty fire.
khal: The shootout was the best part. I will say that they’ve definitely nailed the Star Wars feel. It has its quirks, but it also feel very of “a galaxy far, far away.” And keep it a buck: The Mandalorian is pretty damn cool. I like how he instigates a whole fight at the bar to save the guy being picked on, who turns out to be his bounty. Establishing him as being one step ahead of everyone throughout was key; now I want to see how he maneuvers throughout the season.
All of that said...it feels like there are some cons in here outside of “do you kill baby Yoda,” although that might be the biggest letdown. Building the entire episode to this reveal has the internet buzzing, but I hope there’s more baked into this, or it’ll just feel like they wanted to get that Twitter buzz off. What else are you not fucking with from episode 1?
Frazier: It’s an intangible but it just doesn’t feel all that interesting yet. A couple of the beats with the initial bounty mark didn’t land for me either: the one that led to a smash cut of the title card and the ice creature jumping out. It’s not that I’m not fucking with anything per se I just...don't care. And therein lies the problem. Mandalorian is the first Star Wars property with, so far at least, no major tie-ins. There’s no Death Star mission that circles back to New Hope. No appearances by main storyline characters. This isn’t anyone’s origin story. Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm have grand designs to keep spinning Star Wars tales outside of the Skywalker family tree but if this is a sample of the quality they have to offer...they’re gonna have a harder uphill battle than just replacing those two dopes.
khal: Facts, and with this being a post-Solo, pre-Rise of the Skywalker realm, where much of the talk about the future of Star Wars properties is on the negative side, this feels like a bad way to kick a new series like this off. Especially when it’s arguably the biggest series to debut Disney+ with. That’s not to say that The Mandalorian is a bad look overall; the three-episode rule still applies (although, like you mentioned, I highly doubt we’ll stop there). The problem is, they need to knock this series out of the park, so the conversation surrounding this franchise returns to good favor. And to be honest, they’ve barely revealed their hand; we haven’t even seen Giancarlo yet! I’m pulling for this series—I dig the main character enough, and while the Baby Yoda is more of a hrumph than anything, it’s not like I’m all-out abandoning the series. With a debut episode on the premiere date of Disney’s massive new streaming service, The Mandalorian needed a bigger and brighter first episode. Maybe Favreau and company are attempting to pull off a slower burn?
Frazier: As an anti-binger, I can’t besmirch a weekly rollout plan that’s looking to build intrigue and story up in the slow-burn, old-fashioned way. Maybe the next few episodes of Mandalorian will benefit from airing without the pomp and circumstance of it being Disney+ Launch day. I’m intrigued by Werner posting up with a bunch of Stormtroopers like some post-WWII Nazis lost without a cause. Mandy himself is whatever so far but Pedro Pascal is forever gang in my book since Oberyn Martell. Time will tell, but right now, I’d much rather just rewatch Rogue One.