Forging Madalorian iron; great props and costumes; reportedly costing 1/8th of the total $100 million dollar budget. All this plus more in the pilot episode of the new Disney+ exclusive Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, which met, if not exceeded, my expectations! For a 38-minute long episode, there was a lot packed into it as far as story/character introduction and action. For starters, we learn right away when this story takes place in the Star Wars timeline, which is shortly after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, as mentioned by the Mandalorian himself when he says, “…the Empire is gone.” Although we don’t yet get to see his face, Pedro Pascal plays the part wonderfully, in my honest opinion. He didn’t have a plethora of lines but when he speaks you really get the rough-and-tumble Mandalorian warrior vibe, shoot first ask questions later.
Let’s take a minute to address the Mandalorian culture we are introduced to in this pilot episode. About two-thirds through, the main character walks into a hidden Mandalorian hideout where others in his tribe are holed up, and he meets with their armorer who is forging beskar, or Mandalorian iron, into pieces of armor. A quick tidbit about beskar: it is resistant to blasterfire and lightsabers, meaning a Jedi would have difficulty attacking a Mandalorian head-on. Seeing the actual forging of metal in this futuristic universe, albeit briefly, was one of the coolest moments of the whole show for me, as I am an amateur blacksmith myself. We also learn that Mandalorians rarely remove their helmets, and are very closely-knit as a clan or tribe, and their warriors begin training at a young age; they are called Foundlings. The final element of the story that blew my mind was the revelation of an infant of Yoda’s species! You read that right, Yoda’s species! This is only the third we have seen in the entirety of the Star Wars movies or shows, and it is apparent that this baby will have a major impact on the story and characters.
The costumes, props and set-dressing were also very well-done. It truly felt like a Star Wars story, as I was seeing a war-scorched galaxy made real by the detail given to everything, both real-life and CGI. Normally in a TV show inspired by a movie or series of movies, the CGI is not up to par with the film’s, but the visuals in The Mandalorian appeared to be cinema-quality which I appreciated. The costumes and makeup made the characters come to life, be them human or alien; the Mandalorian’s armor looked phenomenal on its own! This episode definitely shows good use of the 1/8th of the show’s total $100 million budget; there will be 8 episodes total this season. Hopefully this sets a positive tone for the rest of the season as the episodes come out.
All in all, based on this pilot alone, I give The Mandalorian a 5/5! Generous? It deserves it as far as I’m concerned. The show’s attention to detail with the physical and story-related elements alone give it credit and potential to be a great series, such as the very real look of the props, costumes, alien makeup and physical set dressing. Beyond that, the story’s post-Jedi timeline, the revelation of an infant of Yoda’s kind, the insights into Mandalorian culture, and movie-quality visuals serve to make this a spectacular show to watch, and my expectations for the rest of the show are very high from this point on.