The Mandalorian, the first live action Star Wars show, hit Disney Plus on Tuesday and pulled us into the galaxy's criminal underbelly with a new character in armor similar to that worn by the infamous Boba Fett. It's set seven years after the Galactic Empire's defeat in Return of the Jedi, and 23 years before The Force Awakens,
We meet the Mandalorian (played by Pedro Pascal from Game of Thrones) as he seeks out his prey at a remote cantina on an icy world. As soon as he enters, he's falsely accused of spilling some guy's drink. Of course, this guy happens to be the ringleader of a group planning to harvest the glands (yummy) of the Mando's bounty, so that won't do at all.
Their greedy eyes land on the Mando's helmet -- which is made of precious beskar steel -- and the bartender slides him a drink, George McFly-style, before he beats them down like a bunch of suckers. He even slices a Quarren in half with a door, just in case you weren't convinced that he's hard core.
With them fools taken care of, the Mando hails a taxi to take his bounty, a Mythrol, back to his ship, the Razor Crest. Just to highlight how dangerous this world is, their cabbie gets eaten by an ice monster and they barely escape.
Stuck with the near-silent Mando, the Mythrol yammers constantly and goes for a wander around the ship under the guise of answering nature's call -- giving us our first real look at a Star Wars toilet. He also checks out the Mando's collection of blasters, suggesting that he plans to try taking out his captor.
The Mythrol also mentions being sad that he won't get home to his family for Life Day -- a reference to the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special -- just as he comes across the mildly horrifying sight of a bunch of previous bounties encased in carbonite, like Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. The Mando shuts the guy up by doing the same to him. Looks cozy in there.
Haggling with clients
The Mando lands on another new world and we enter our second cool cantina of the episode. (This show really could use title cards showing us planet names, like Rogue One did.) He turns in the bounties to Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), who tries to pay in Imperial credits.
The Mando's reaction suggests those credits have lost their value since the Empire fell, and he ultimately accepts payment in Calamari flan -- presumably this is the currency on Mon Cala, home world of Admiral "It's a trap!" Ackbar. Carga then tells him about a big job, but the client will only give out the commission face to face.
Arriving at a door, the Mando must pass a TT-8L/Y7 gatekeeper droid (a security camera on a stalk like the one C-3PO and R2-D2 met at the entrance to Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi) using a credit chit given to him by Carga. Inside, he finds himself surrounded by a bunch of stormtroopers in filthy armor. When everyone prepares to get their shoot on, the troops remind the bounty hunter that he's outnumbered.
"We have you four to one," a troop says.
"I like those odds," the Mando shoots back.
Before the badassery can escalate, the Client (Werner Herzog, with his gloriously intense accent) calms things down. The Imperial medal around his neck hints at his past -- it seems likely that he was previously with the Empire and some of his troops stuck by him.
He gives the Mando a small slab of beskar before offering him a full container if he brings in a mysterious 50-year-old bounty alive. Beskar, aka Mandalorian iron, is what their awesome armor is made of. It was previously seen in Rebels. The Client's nervous associate, Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), balks when he tells the Mando that the bounty can be brought in dead for a lower fee, but soon calms down.
"The beskar belongs back in the hands of a Mandalorian. It is good to restore the natural order of things, after a period of such disarray. Don't you agree?" the Client says as the Mando leaves.
There's probably some dark subtext there. Perhaps the Client is working toward the formation of the First Order?
The Mando steps out into a Mos Eisley-style marketplace, where we see a Kowakian monkey-lizard (like Salacious Crumb in Return of the Jedi) cooking on a spit and another cowering in a cage behind him. Since these guys are pests who pull droids' eyes out, it seems kinda fitting. Nom nom.
In one of the most fascinating parts of the episode, the Mando enters a basement (we've seen a little too much of him just walking from place to place) and it's revealed that he isn't the last of his kind. There are a whole bunch of Mandalorians, including kids in helmets, hanging out here.
Fascinatingly, there's also a guy who looks just like Boba Fett. We last saw him becoming Sarlacc food in Return of the Jedi, but the second armored figure the Mando passes in this area (to the right of the shot) has armor with the same colors as Fett's. We don't know if this is the infamous bounty hunter, or some kind of fanboy -- former slave Cobb Vanth claimed Mandalorian armor that's heavily implied to be Fett's in Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy of novels.
The Mando meets an unnamed Armorer (Emily Swallow), and he hands over the credits and beskar to her. She notes that it must have been gathered in the Great Purge (this may have been an Imperial crackdown after the Mandalorian uprising seen in the final season of Rebels) and uses it to craft a pauldron -- shoulder section -- for the Mando's armor.
"Has your signet been revealed?" she asks him, but apparently it hasn't yet. They don't offer any explanation about this.
There's apparently some beskar left over too, and the Armorer says it'll sponsor many "foundlings" -- presumably Mandalorian-speak for children or young warriors.
"That's good. I was once a foundling," the Mando says, before having a stereotypical dark flashback. We see parents running through a war zone (maybe during The Clone Wars) and hiding their child (likely the Mando) in a container.
His scarring memories are interrupted when the Armorer affixes his shiny new beskar pauldron to his shoulder. Defense +5!
Trekkin' through the desert
The Mando lands on a desert world and starts tracking his prey, before a pair of large blurrg attack him. He's rescued by Kuill (Nick Nolte), chatty member of the piglike Ugnaughts. (You might remember them as the workers seen on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back.)
Back at Kuill's hut, he reveals that a bunch of others have sought out the same bounty and died trying. The Mando must learn to ride a blurrg to cross the plains and reach the mercenary encampment where the bounty is being held.
"I have spoken," says Kuill periodically. Apparently it's his way of ending a conversation. (Note to self: Use this in real life.)
Once the Mando masters blurrg riding, with a little Yoda-style encouragement from Kuill, they ride to the mercenary base. Kuill also turns down payment for his help -- apparently he just wants to be rid of the mercenaries to restore peace on the planet.
The Mando spies IG-11 (Taika Waititi), a bounty hunting droid, taking out a bunch of goons at the encampment. When the survivors retreat, the Mando suggests they team up and split the reward.
"This is acceptable," IG-11 says, in his droid version of a New Zealand accent.
When more bad guys show up, the pair get their shoot on and the Mando-IG kill-fest begins. This is a wildly cool sequence, with IG-11 effortlessly taking down loads of mooks.
However, when the mercenaries get the upper hand, IG-11 reveals himself to be a bit of a nervous Nellie and prepares to self-destruct. The Mando stops him, then commandeers a massive cannon to finish off the baddies.
As the dust settles, they find their 50-year-old bounty: a super cute baby of Yoda's unnamed species. Apparently they age verrrrry slowly -- Yoda told Luke Skywalker he was 900 years old -- and each stage of their life lasts a long time. We've only seen two members of this species before now, Yoda and Yaddle (a member of the Jedi Council in The Phantom Menace). But we've never had an indication that they were the last of their kind or anything.
IG-11 prepares to blast the quinquagenarian infant, and the Mando tries to stop him.
"The commission was quite specific -- the asset was to be terminated," the droid says, implying that he got his contract from a different client.
With that, the Mando blasts IG-11 in the head and reaches out to touch the lil BB's lil green hand. Everybody say "Awwwww!"
It's also worth sticking around for the credits, since they showcase what looks like concept art for the episode.
We'll be back Friday for episode 2, where the show will presumably start riffing on the manga Lone Wolf and Cub.