Tuesday, November 12, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Mandalorian' - The Mandalorian's Latest Mission is Defined by a Mysterious Target in 'Chapter 1'

Disney+'s The Mandalorian - Episode 1.01 "Chapter 1"

A Mandalorian bounty hunter tracks a target for a well-paying client.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Disney+'s The Mandalorian.

"Chapter 1" was written by Jon Favreau and directed by Dave Filoni

The Star Wars franchise is exceptional at world building. Each trilogy creates a new set of wonder and characters where the core conflict is essentially fighting for the future of the entire galaxy. It's such an expansive world. As such, it has always been fitting that it would eventually produce a television show. This is a world that a creative mind could have a lot of fun working within. That's what makes it notable when The Mandalorian uses its premiere to focus on the small scale nature of stories in this universe. It simply follows one character as he goes from place to place. The Mandalorian is a bounty hunter who isn't exactly thrilled by the bail jumpers and smugglers he is chasing after. He is a man of few words as well. There is a fair amount of distance between him and the audience too because he never removes his mask. Pedro Pascal provides the voice for the character but the physicality of the role is completely covered. That is a huge creative choice in the early going. It mostly helps establish a mood for the piece. This drama is inspired by traditional Westerns just as much as it is by all the Star Wars feature films. It's impressive to watch as this one bounty hunter operates in the world. He collects his targets and gets paid for the job. It's not difficult nor is it very lucrative. Meanwhile, there is a fair amount of mystery to the proceedings. That is prevalent throughout this premiere. That could be really annoying because there is a slog of fantasy shows out there that want to delay providing the audience with any sense of what's going on. And yet, viewers most likely to watch this show probably already have some fundamental understanding of the Star Wars world. It may not be a requirement. It's just nice to have some frame of reference for the various species and that the narrative is set after the fall of the Empire and before the rise of the Dark Order. It's a perilous time where there isn't a clear power structure. The Mandalorian is working within a guild of bounty hunters managed by Greef Carga. But it's mostly just a routine thing. A system has been created in order to try to bring some structure to this radically changed galaxy. It's really not until the end that the show starts to tease what its story may actually be about. The Mandalorian is assigned a very cryptic mission. He is given vague details about the latest bounty he is chasing. The priority is to bring the 50-year-old subject in alive. However, it may not be a requirement. That's all that The Client and his doctor are willing to share at the moment. It's delightfully odd to see Werner Herzog in this world. But again, the show is choosing to remain coy about what's going on. The only adversity placed in the Mandalorian's way is his ability to ride a Blurrg which he eventually masters because he needs to at this specific moment in time. There is the brief suspicion that he is about to team up with the latest delightful druid voiced in a memorable way - this time by Taika Waititi. However, that action sequence highlights the fun stakes of the world while also showcasing the Mandalorian's mastery of fighting skills that allows him to achieve what so many others have failed to do. It's all leading to the reveal that his bounty is actually for a young creature of the same species as Yoda. That is very intriguing. This doesn't present the way the Mandalorian was expecting given the 50 year old age. He doesn't share the same willingness to eliminate the target. That may prove that there are competing agendas when it comes to this creature. It's just a narrative full of mystery at the moment. That isn't inherently bad. This premiere keeps things clear and concise. It was unexpected that the premiere would be less than 40 minutes long. However, it does a solid job in bringing an intimate focus to this world in a way that hasn't been done before. Sure, the stakes may increase significantly know that the Mandalorian is in possession of this baby. But even that has the ability to be fun and captivating as well while showcasing a new side to this universe.