A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, there was an idea that a live-action Star Wars TV series could not come to fruition. Whether the concern was over budget or it not being able to live to the standard and quality (excluding those God awful prequels) of George Lucas' vision, it just wasn't done. The closest we received was two very well received 3D-animated series but they were mostly aimed at kids.
What would the show be about anyway?
Prequel-era stories, maybe a live-action Clone Wars series? What happened in the 30 years between Episode 6 and Episode 7? Would we see Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca or Anakin as starring characters?
They all seem likely since the Star Wars franchise had gone back to the same well over and over again, even-more-so now due to the toxicity of fans bitching about Episode 8 being too different than the previous films and sycophants wanting to strike it from canon.
Dave Filoni (left) & Jon Favreau (right)
When Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni were announced to helm The Mandalorian, excitement boiled over because if there are two men in Hollywood who know Star Wars, it's Favreau and Filoni. Disney+ launched yesterday with The Mandalorian being its flagship show, and despite a few rough edges (normal for a show's first episode), it's not an overstatement to say that The Mandalorian can be a franchise-changing show for Star Wars.
One thing that must be praised as much as humanly possible is the visuals and cinematography. It is very apparent that Disney put $120 million into this budget. Every shot and scene is cinema quality and even puts the prequels to shame with its beautifully crafted shots and angles. Filoni really flexed his directorial muscles with his first foray into live-action film shooting. Even though it was his first go-around at it, it seemed natural to him and inherently as if he was meant to have directed live-action Star Wars.
Favreau had writing credits for this episode and the writing shined throughout the episode. Painting vivid scenes with tight Star Wars-familiar dialogue, this felt how people in a Star Wars series should be speaking to each other.
Werner Herzog as The Client. Herzog apparently didn't watch, read or listen to any Star Wars related material for the role.
Pedro Pascal delivered a really captivating performance despite being underneath the Mandalorian mask for the entirety of the episode. Pascal was able to deliver everything with conviction and a quiet-confidence. Werner Herzog plays an unnamed client who gives Pascal a job to capture alive an unknown target. The only information we are given is that the target is 50 years old. Herzog might've stolen the whole episode. The entire 5-10 minutes he's on-screen is absolutely attention-grabbing. Not much is said from him but his stoic expression and delivery draw you in even more as you realize there's more to this target than he's letting on.
Taika Watiti (left) as IG-11,
Taikia Watiti makes an appearance as IG-11, a bounty hunting droid, and teams up Pascal to acquire the target. A battle ensues and the two make it into a compound where the target is. As far as lightsaber-less battles go, this one is immediately amongst the best in the franchise. It's hard to convey the danger of a situation when a bunch of lasers are being shot across the sky. The visceral grittiness of the on-ground battle really gives it a charm.
Ewoks had their run as the cutest beings in the franchise. Baby Yodas are all the rage now.
The two are inside and the target is found and it is revealed the target is an infant, the same species as Yoda. IG-11 proposes to kill the infant but is killed by The Mandalorian before being able to shoot the infant. The final shot of the episode shows the Mandalorian reaching out to the infant's hand and the infant reaches right back to him.
This is the closest we'll get to Boba Fett fucking playing with the baby Yoda.
That's pretty much the plot of the story. Little bare bones but for a series that seems to be hinting at a way bigger plot than just bounty hunting, this can be forgiven, maybe extended the episode an additional 15 minutes and we could've gotten more. We get a nice look at some exposition and background on our titular character which will we get to see later.
The episode was near perfect.
Nick Nolte as Kuiil.
The multiple references to previous Star Wars works are always a nice touch, especially when they're not shoved in your face. Nick Nolte delivered as Kuiil, a moisture farmer, in a role that seems almost like it can be a mentor role. The opening act set-piece inside a bar where the Mandalorian makes quick and easy work of some bar hoodlums in an Indiana Jones type scene. The pure ease of it all is fabulous to see the professional he is and for them to not even be his main target.