The Mandalorian

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Cast

Network

Reviewer

Paul Asay

TV Series Review

The Empire had its faults: Its all-powerful leader was the embodiment of all evil; and his attack dog, Darth Vader, wasn’t exactly cuddly. But still, there is something to be said for stability.

It’s been five years since both the Emperor and Vader died aboard their latest (ahem) invincible Death Star (as chronicled in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi), and the Empire has since crumbled into so much galactic dust. And while the good guys won the day, they’re maybe not so good at ruling. The old Alliance’s grip on the galaxy, or at least its outer reaches, seems about as firm as a Bantha’s tummy. Star systems, freed from the Empire’s endless restrictions and tiresome paperwork, have sunk into chaos.

But with chaos comes opportunity. Bandits and pirates roam the stars. Smugglers and assassins ply their nefarious trades. Various warlords vie for control of a planet here, a moon there.

And bounty hunters? They’re in high demand.

If you’re a good bounty hunter—one who happens to come from the planet of Mandalore—your talents are particularly coveted. And expensive.

Vogue One

Alright, let’s back up the geek train here and launch into some explanations. In the Star Wars universe, the Mandalorians have long been known as wildly skilled warriors. Few, it seems, take up accounting. Throughout the galaxy’s recent history (or long, long ago history, as the case may be), they’ve been well regarded as go-to bounty hunters, mercenaries and assassins. Indeed, the Empire cloned one of their number—Jango Fett—to create its clone army (Episode II: Attack of the Clones). Boba Fett, the most famous Mandalorian (in Episodes V-VI), was also a clone, but was raised by Jango as his son.

Also of interest: The Mandalorians are deeply loathe to remove their helmets. How they eat is beyond me. Also, hat hair.

The Mandalorian we meet here is the 007 of the galactic bounty hunter guild—the man everyone wants to hire when they really need to track someone down, be that quarry a war criminal or a guy who cheated them at cards. He’s everything the galaxy expects a Mandalorian to be: professional, lethal and absolutely merciless.

But that was before he took on the most unusual job of his life—one that brought him into contact with a green, long-eared child with some remarkable powers.

He was supposed to just drop the kid off with some bad, bad men and collect his considerable paycheck. Instead, he welched on his contract and is now on a mission of his own: to protect the Child and, somehow, take it back to its own kind.

He just might be the most dangerous babysitter in the universe.

The (Disney) Empire Strikes Back

The Mandalorian is Disney+’s flagship original program, a story that takes place in the Star Wars extended universe between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, filling in the gaps between the old Empire and the formative First Order. And in keeping with both the franchise’s tone and the explicitly family-friendly streaming service, the show keeps its helmet pretty clean.

We don’t need to worry about too much foul language here—at least not crudities spoken in English. Viewers will hear some mild profanities in a few episodes–and even a bit more raw at times than we hear in the Star Wars movies. But compared to your typical Marvel superhero flick, the language by comparison feels fairly sanitized.  (If someone starts cursing in Jawa-ese, well, that’s beyond my ability to critique.) And since the Mandalorian rarely even takes off his helmet, it seems unlikely we’ll need to worry about excessive nudity.

Even the Force—that spiritual power that unites and binds all things in the movies and can feel very much like an Eastern religion—takes a back seat here. This Mandalorian, at least early on, seems disinclined to mysticism.

But we do have a few cautions before you turn on your hyperdrive.

Disney+ rates The Mandalorian as TV-PG, which might be a wee bit permissive, considering both the potential body count (which can be high) and the way those bodies come to be counted. In the show’s very first episode, one unfortunate fellow is cut in two by a door: off-camera, of course, but still, a young imagination can fill in the details quite efficiently.

Viewers will get more reference to bathroom activities than they might expect, too. And while allusions to the Force may be minimal, some of these galactic denizens have their own religions that they reference on occasion.

The Mandalorian feels both gritty and fun, well in keeping with the central film franchise and many of its entertainment offshoots. But for those hoping for a wholly innocuous, worry-free galaxy to explore, this isn’t the show you’re looking for.

Episode Reviews

Oct. 30, 2020: “The Marshal”

In the opening episode of Season 2, the Mandalorian returns to Tatooine, hoping to track down one of his own kind—hoping a fellow armored compatriot might be the first step in taking the Child home. But while he finds a suit of Mandalorian armor in the small settlement of Mos Pelco, the man underneath is anything but one of his own. He’s the town’s marshal, and he has a big problem: a giant wormlike creature called a krayt dragon.

The dragon swallows both humanoids and banthas (elephant-size musk ox-like creatures) whole, and he vomits up what appears to be a green, acid-like substance on occasion. (We see people and creatures caught in its spray, but it’s difficult to tell if it’s lethal or not.) A huge dead creature is shown in all its bloody, bony glory: Explosions wound and kill. A gladiator-type tourney features two Gamorreans (large pig-faced humanoids) with axes, apparently battling to the death. (One does indeed die, though in unexpected fashion, and rather bloodlessly.) The Mandalorian fights with several assailants. A man gets strung up by his ankles, left to be attacked and likely devoured by unseen beasts. In flashback, we see several people shot and killed with blasters. A missile blows up a vehicle with several people on board.

The Marshal invites the Mandalorian to have a drink with him. (The beverage in question is blue and likely—though not positively—alcoholic.) Citizens of Mos Pelco hate and fear the sand people who live nearby (and who sometimes raid their village); it’s a plot detail that intentionally seems to recall the tensions between settlers and Native Americans in the Old West. We hear that Mos Pelco became a “slave camp” after the Empire fell. A man says “h—.”

Nov. 12, 2019: “Episode 1”

The Mandalorian hauls in a ship loaded with carbonited bounty quarry and turns those frozen captives into his guild’s master, Greef Carga. But when the Mandalorian asks for new assignments, Greef points him away from on-the-books bounty and to a seriously shady assignment. His client, if the man’s phalanx of old Stormtrooper bodyguards can be an indication, is a former bigwig from the now-discredited Empire. And he wants the Mandalorian to bring in a very unusual subject—alive if possible, but dead if needed.

Speaking of death, the Mandalorian sends plenty of people to theirs. He teams up with an assassin robot, and together they kill more than a score of adversaries (who, admittedly, are trying to kill them, too). He slaughters a handful of saloon roughs, too—stabbing one in the back with the guy’s own knife and pulling one halfway through a metal door that’s telescoping shut. (We see half of the body fall to the floor in a blurry foreground shot.) He shoots a robot in the head, too, “killing” it. Someone else dies by way of a gigantic walrus-serpent.

The Mandalorian tangles with a couple of big-mouthed, walking tadpole-like creatures known as blurgs. One grabs the bounty hunter’s arm and drags him around as the Mandalorian tries to set the creature on fire. (The blurgs are later knocked unconscious by way of shocking tranquilizer darts.) The Mandalorian also tries to ride a blurg, but is initially bucked off. The Mandalorian encases someone in carbonite, which he stores with several other such victims. (Their facial expressions make it clear that being frozen in carbonite is not a pleasant experience.) We see a monkey-like creature—the same sort of big-eared, beak-nosed beastie that hung out with Jabba the Hut in Return of the Jedi—on a spit, roasted apparently for food. (Another such creature cowers in a cage.)

Someone tells the Mandalorian he needs to use the “back tube.” “I could do it here, but if you’ve never seen a fledgling mithral evacuate their thorax, you’re a lucky guy.” He also says “Thank Ferruck!” after a close call. People drink at various galactic bars. Threats are made. When someone refers to a blurg as a “he,” someone else corrects him. “The males are all eaten during mating.”

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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