Disney+ is finally here, and if you are a subscriber who a) is an adult, and b) didn’t succumb to the platform’s various launch-day glitches, then surely that can only mean one thing: You’ve finally seen the first episode of The Mandalorian. The anticipated series was unquestionably a tentpole title for the baby behemoth streamer. It’s the first live-action Star Wars series ever, and it’s stuffed full of more talent than a tauntaun with a half-dead Jedi in its belly. However, despite all that excitement, very little was actually known about the show before yesterday. Part of that is probably because Disney refused to release screeners to press, and aside from a few trailers and the names of the actors and directors attached, it stayed pretty mum about the plot. But the other part of the problem is that… well, the Star Wars universe is a complicated place. It’s not enough to be just a casual fan who has watched the films a few times. There are cartoons and novels and comics that all shed light on the convoluted timeline of that galaxy far, far away and its complex array of characters.
What I’m trying to say is: What even IS a Mandalorian, anyway?
(Thank you for your service, Robot Chicken)
Anyway, if you’re like me then you probably enjoyed the first episode of The Mandalorian quite a bit. The ragged humor, the Western vibes, the throwback wipe transitions and the time Werner Herzog had to say “parsec” with a straight face — all of it felt both familiar and fresh. But you also probably walked away with a lot of questions — and that’s what I’m here to help with. SPOILERS AHEAD!
In no particular order…
No Really, WTF Is A Mandalorian?
Oh you know, those Boba Fett dudes with the armor and the masks. They’re usually bounty hunters, I guess? Though according to Wookiepedia they’re from a war-torn planet called Mandalore where they used to be warriors, but then some of them wanted to live peacefully, and then the two factions fought about it a lot until Darth Maul showed up or something. Fun Fact: Obi Wan used to hook up with a Mandalorian Duchess! But I digress.
Really, the big question is who THIS Mandalorian is, and that’s something we’ve only got the barest glimpses of so far. Played by Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian is a nameless bounty hunter (typical) and a bit of a mystery. He’s got a whole “lone gunslinger” vibe going, and the people he meets are both fascinated and intimidated by him because it seems there aren’t that many Mandalorians walking around anymore. In fact, in the first episode we only meet one other Mandalorian — a female who forges a new piece of armor for him out of a piece of Beskar (a.k.a. fancy super duper Mandalorian Iron) he received as a downpayment from his client, Mr. Werner Herzog (I don’t think the character has a real name yet, and even if he did I wouldn’t use it). She says that the Beskar bar was gathered during “The Great Purge” and that the excess metal will be used to “sponsor many foundlings.” It’s clear from flashbacks that our Mandalorian was himself one such foundling, likely orphaned during that Purge, and I imagine as the season progresses we’ll learn more about his backstory.
Will The Mandalorian ever take his mask off?
I’m not sure! Maybe not. And I kinda hope he doesn’t, because I gotta be honest: the mask is REALLY working for me. However, we do see in that flashback that he was an adorable little boy, and it’s not like I’m ever opposed to seeing Pedro Pascal’s face on my screen. What I’m saying is, no matter what they decide, we’re all winners here.
When Does This Show Take Place?
Supposedly The Mandalorian is set about five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, so after the fall of the Galactic Empire — hence why the universe is in such “disarray,” as Herzog notes. Mostly we see this reflected in small ways, from the shabby Stormtroopers protecting Herzog to the way The Mandalorian accepts a smaller bounty payment rather than being paid in Imperial Credits, which are largely useless these days. Offhand, this series would appear to be a smaller side story rather than a bigger political one, but the reveal at the end of the episode makes me wonder whether our scrappy bounty hunter may be facing some larger political forces as the season wears on. After all, the First Order is gathering out there somewhere, and The Mandalorian has clearly just saved the life of a very important person…
Yeah, What’s Up With Baby Yoda?
See, THIS is why Disney didn’t want to send out screeners! Herzog hired The Mandalorian to chase a high-stakes, well-guarded bounty, offering very little information on the target beyond the last known location and the subject’s age (50 years old). The goal is to retrieve the bounty alive, but for a lesser fee he can bring it back dead if he has to. After storming a nearly impenetrable bunker guarded by a posse of armed goons, The Mandalorian finally reaches his bounty… only to discover that it’s a pod with a 50-year-old, big-eared green baby inside of it.
Now, that’s probably not actually Yoda. After all, Yoda is already dead at this point in the continuity. It’s more likely that this is another member of Yoda’s mysterious, long-lived species (which still hasn’t been named in the Star Wars canon). Not many of his kind have been shown to my knowledge, but there must be some reason why this baby is important enough to send multiple bounty hunters after it — and I’d bet it’s because there’s a high likelihood that, just like Yoda, this child will be a powerful Jedi. Or maybe not! Heck, maybe it’s Yoda’s reincarnation! We know nothing about this species, so all speculation is welcome.
Whatever is up with lil Not-Yoda, the baby has triggered The Mandalorian’s curiosity — and his honor. After partnering with that hilarious bounty hunter droid, IG-11 (Taika Waititi!), in order to get into the bunker, The Mandalorian decides to shoot the droid rather than allow the droid to kill the child. But will he deliver the baby to Herzog and collect the full bounty, or will they go on the run together? I mean, this is basically a Western, so I think we all can guess the answer to that question.
Wait, THAT was Taika Waititi? Who else was in this?!
Look, the cast in this show is SICK — and because it’s a Star Wars joint, half of them we’ll probably never even see onscreen, including the lead actor if he never takes off that mask! So let me walk you through it: Waititi was the droid — and though he was shot at the end of the episode, I imagine he’ll either get fixed up or another identical model will come chasing after The Mandalorian as the season continues, meaning he’ll be back for more silliness. Herzog was the client, and Omid Abtahi (American Gods) plays his cohort, Dr. Pershing. Carl Weathers plays Greef Carga, the man with the Bounty Hunter Guild who managed The Mandalorian’s assignments. Emily Swallow (Amara from Supernatural!) played the female Mandalorian armorer. Horatio Sanz played the blue-finned target The Mandalorian picked up at the start of the episode, and yes: that WAS Brian Posehn piloting that landspeeder! Hope you didn’t get too attached, because… yeeesh.
As for that friendly nature guide, leading The Mandalorian safely to the bunker? That was Kuill, voiced by Nick Nolte.
We have yet to meet the characters played by Gina Carano, Giancarlo Esposito, or Ming-Na Wen yet, though I am definitely looking forward to it — and kudos to Disney for making sure Ming-Na Wen is never out of work because truly, she deserves everything and more.
When’s the next episode dropping?!
Episode 2 will launch on Friday, November 15, and I think Fridays will be the rollout day moving forward. So luckily you don’t even have to wait a whole week for the next installment! Assuming, you know, the platform doesn’t glitch on you again.
Header Image Source: Disney/LucasFilm