Settling in on my couch with a cozy blanket to watch new Star Wars for the first time is how it was always meant to be. The era of Star Wars live-action TV show began yesterday, and it was a short – but fun introduction. Let’s dive in.
What Chapter 1 did right
Ludwig Goransson’s music. That opening scene is elevated by the fantastic music composed by Ludwig Goransson. It’s not the sweeping orchestras of John Williams that will be forever etched in Star Wars, but it sets the perfect mood for a show focused on the grittier side of Star Wars.
Goransson talked to the LA Times recently about what he wanted to bring to Star Wars.
“The way I approached it was to try something completely different. The loneliness of a single solo flute. The bass recorder became the sound of the Mandalorian. That’s how I started. I wanted the core sole to be organic. Then I wanted to add a tech sound to it. And I also wanted to add on a cinematic orchestra, which makes it feel like ‘Star Wars.’”
Have a listen.
The Mandalorian. “I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold.” Those first words from Pedro Pascal’s character tell us the bounty hunter is all business. Later on, we learn some of his motivations.
Carl Weather’s Greef Karga (head of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild) arranges a meeting with The Client (played Werner Herzog) to take on an off-the-books job. The Client appears to represent some faction of the former Galactic Empire, and he’s paying in Beskar (a metal used in Mandalorian armor).
The Mandalorian accepts the job, and then we see him enter a small enclave with other Mandalorians. Here, a blacksmith accepts the piece of Beskar and comments that it was gathered in “The Great Purge.” The blacksmith begins forging the metal into shoulder armor. She then says, “the excess will sponsor many foundlings.” The Mandalorian then says he used to be one. We don’t know what a foundling is, but based on the flashback sequence that plays during this part – it could mean he was orphaned and then brought into the ‘tribe.’
Whatever the case, this sequence shows us that the ‘tribe’ means a great deal to the Mandalorian. I can’t wait to see this play out more as the season goes on, especially with what happens at the end of the episode.
Nick Nolte’s Kuiil. Go figure one of my favorite characters would be played by Nick Nolte. Kuil is a vapor farmer on Arvala-7. He’s looking for a quiet, peaceful life, and bounty hunters like The Mandalorian and his target are getting in the way of that. He agrees to help The Mandalorian in the hopes that he can finally complete the bounty many before him couldn’t. “I have spoken.”
IG-11 and The Mandalorian become buddy bounty hunters, temporarily. The contract The Mandalorian accepted wasn’t exclusive. As he approaches the compound where the target is located, an old face from the original trilogy shows up.
IG-11 is also here to collect the bounty. The pair end up joining forces with IG-11 constantly threatening to self-destruct as The Mandalorian looks for a way to complete the bounty. Watching this action sequence play out is an absolute blast.
Unfortunately, the buddy bounty hunters don’t last for long, which leads to the final reveal.
Big spoilers ahead. The Mandalorian and IG-11 finally find their bounty. A 50-year old baby of Yoda’s species. Holy crap! I was not expecting that. IG-11 says his bounty was a kill order, but the Mandalorian shoots him in the head before he could carry it out.
The reveal and IG-11’s reaction open up a whole bunch of questions. First, who and why are they after a member of Yoda’s species?
We’ve only seen two of them before, and both served on the Jedi Council in the prequel trilogy. That would suggest that the species is naturally force-sensitive. We know there is an Imperial doctor allied with The Client, so experimentation is one likely motivation.
Also, why the different contracts? The Client wanted the bounty alive if possible while IG-11 was told to kill the target. Who hired IG-11? Are there various Imperial factions at play here? We know Giancarlo Esposito’s character is Moff Gideon. But we don’t know that character’s motivations yet.
Plus, will the Mandalorian turn in the bounty? It seems unlikely, but The Client was paying in Beskar – and we know how much the Mandalorian tribe means to the Mandalorian. Can the second episode hurry up and get here already?
Throwing a member of Yoda’s species is a massive curveball and brings one of Star Wars’ biggest mysteries to the forefront. We don’t even know what to call it besides baby Yoda. Are they all force sensitive? Who wants him/her?
Where Chapter 1 stumbles
36 minutes, really? Ok, it was a good 36 minutes – but I hope that’s not the length for all the episodes. Shows like The Last Kingdom or Peaky Blinders are 55 minutes long. Hell, even The Expanse was 45 minutes, and that was on regular TV with commercials.
That also means I’m not a big fan of scenes that could be ok filler. The blue alien talking about having to use the bathroom at the start, and the Mandalorian learning to ride a blurrg should go. I would rather those couple of minutes be spent on learning who was defending the baby Yoda, or a longer scene between the Mandalorian and the blacksmith.
Hopefully, we see the runtime get a bump next episode.
Where are we? We went to three different planets in the first episode. The icy planet at the start, a temperate planet in the middle, and a desert planet at the end. And I have no clue what they are called. I shouldn’t have to go to the Star Wars wiki to figure out where we are. It’s not a big complaint, but I like knowing which planet is which and how it all ties together into the galaxy.
The Mandalorian is not a fan of droids. He didn’t want a droid-piloted cab from the Kubaz at the start, and he even appears to side-eye the GNK Power droid when he was going to the meeting with The Client. Was his family attacked by Separatists’ droids?
Who is The Client? Having Stormtroopers means he’s aligned with some Imperial faction. But he also says he has access to more Beskar. That should make him an influential leader in whatever Imperial faction he represents.
Who is defending baby Yoda? The reveal raises more questions. Who were the aliens protecting it, and why?
The Mandalorian is off to a solid start. Chapter 1 proves that Star Wars can be just as compelling without any ties to Skywalker or the Rebellion/Resistance. Chapter 2, and hopefully some answers to the first episode’s finale, is coming on Friday.