So much can be said about the Star Wars franchise after Lucasfilm was purchased by Disney. Two new movies were added to the list of the overall Star Wars arc with the Skywalkers and Han Solo, as well as a couple of standalone movies that served to help flesh out this universe. Unfortunately, these have not been met with the same universal appeal that the original trilogy received. Even the last standalone film, Solo: A Star Wars Story performed poorly in the box-office forcing Disney/Lucasfilm to announce that there would be no more side-stories out of the Star Wars universe. However, the House of the Mouse had an ace up its sleeve with the introduction of the Disney+ streaming service, and among the new shows that the service would offer would be The Mandalorian, a series about a loner bounty hunter that takes place roughly 5 years after the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
We met this Mandalorian (beautifully voiced by Pedro Pascal) as he’s grabbing his latest bounty. He appears to be a man of very few words, which adds to his already somewhat scary reputation. After he delivers, not only his latest bounty, but a collection of them (Apparently he IS that good!) he is given one more assignment, but he has to meet with the individual who is after this specific bounty face to face. When he arrives on the planet where his bounty is located he is befriended by an Ugnaught (one of the workers in Cloud City from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), and his name is Kuiil (played by Nick Nolte who practically steals every scene). He helps the Mandalorian (Kuiil calls him “Mando”) to the stronghold where this bounty is being kept, and after dispatching those there with the help of a bounty hunter droid named IG-11 (voice by the oh so versatile Taika Waititi) he goes in to claim this bounty. What he finds appears to be an infant, despite being 50 years old. It is also of the same species as Yoda.
The title of this review states it is a three-episode review, but I’ve chosen to leave the synopsis on only the first episode. Nonetheless, three episodes of this series have so far aired (it is reported that there will be 9 for the season), and the consensus has been that “Star Wars is back!” I find that to be somewhat odd in that, aside from universe elements such as Jawas, Mandalorians (which never appeared in the movies aside from bounty hunters Jango and Boba Fett), and even the infant that has been lovingly named “Baby Yoda,” the tone of this series is unique from previous Star Wars entries. Created by Jon Favreau, what helps here is an odd sense of minimalism. Even in episode three when there is a nasty shoot-out between Mandalorians and what few remaining stormtroopers are around, the setting is intimate and bleak. The stories so far, when taking place on any specific planet, each scene is shot in a tight manner. There are the occasional big shots, but they only help to push the story narrative along until we get to the next scene, and then again it is one that is told intimately between just a handful of characters, and most of them only between two. However, because it is part of the Star Wars universe this series does take a dip into the pools of mysticism when we see the Baby Yoda do some pretty amazing things, even at the age of 50, with The Force. The mere presence of this infant, along with the fact that it is already a Force-practitioner, raises plenty of questions, but not the least of which is Mando’s feelings regarding this specific bounty. Even in flashbacks, we see that there is something to Mando’s past that we don’t fully know yet, and now after three episodes, it appears his fate is presently tied with that of Baby Yoda.
The series so far has been extremely interesting, and that speaks to the genius of Favreau, who has already proven himself to be quite the designated hitter with his successes with both Disney movies as well as the world of Marvel. If Disney can continue to hire brilliant people and visionaries such as Favreau, who can also create these shows that help to flesh out and give further depth to the Star Wars universe, then the franchise could still be bright for this universe that George Lucas gave us, and may even serve as a tent-pole franchise for the Disney+ service.