Happy Disney+ Day, friends. The streaming platform has officially arrived and with it, its most highly anticipated attraction: The Mandalorian, the first live-action series set within the Star Wars universe.
The series opens on an icy, remote location on the outer rim. Inside a cold tavern, a trio of Trawlers harass a blue being named Mythrol. They’re interrupted by the titular helmeted bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal), and after a brief confrontation with him, the Trawlers are dead.
While Mythrol offers him credits as a reward for saving him, the Mandalorian shares some bad news: There’s a bounty on Mythrol, and he’s come to collect. The dangers of this chilly remote planet are established pretty quickly as Mando and his captive venture to his ship, a pre-Empire Razor Crest, when a large monster breaks through ice and swallows their transport vehicle and makes a grab for the ship, only to be zapped away by Mando.
In the ship, Mythrol immediately searches for a way out of his situation. Using the excuse to evacuate his thorax, he nervously explores the depths of the ship, stumbling across the Mandalorian’s extensive stockpile of weapons… and a trio of captives encased in Carbonite. If Mythrol was hoping to escape this fate, he was in no such luck. Mando suddenly appears and the blue being becomes the fourth member of his Carbonite collection.
The Mandalorian may be a famed lone gunslinger, but he’s also part of a larger organization of bounty hunters. He arrives on an unnamed planet (though the ominous music certainly suggests an Imperial association), where he meets with Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), the leader of the bounty hunter guild who brokered the bounties of Mythrol and the trio of other beings encased in Carbonite. Mando passes along his retrieved assets and inquires about another job. Greef Carga offers a number of low paying bounties before teasing a final, ominous assignment. It pays a lot but there’s no puck; the mission requires a face to face meeting with person requiring his services.
Mando arrives at an inconspicuous-looking hideout. Upon gaining entry, he’s startled to find himself in a room with a quartet of weathered stormtroopers and the mysterious client, played by Werner Herzog. We don’t know who this man is, but based on the massive Imperial Medallion he sports and the hord of stormtroopers at his command, this man is no good.
The haste arrival of his associate Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) nearly leads to a standoff between Mando and the stormtroopers, but Herzog commands the stormtroopers to stand down, though it does little to quell the tension.
The pair reveal very little about the asset, only that it is 50 years old and they have a tracking fob. And, it needs to be returned alive, although, to the objections of Pershing, Herzog adds that proof of termination is also acceptable, for a lower fee. As a down payment, Herzog offers a Beskar piece, promising a camtono upon the asset’s successful retrieval. As Mando departs, Herzog offers a final, ominous remark about returning Beskar back to a Mandalorian is “restoring the natural order of things after a period of disarray.” Everything about Herzog’s character is unnerving and it’s great.
Following the jarring meeting, Mando seeks out an armorer within small Mandalorian colony hidden in the depths of the planet. She tells him the Beskar piece was gathered during the Great Purge — presumably the now-infamous Jedi Purge. As she melts it, creating a pauldron, Mando has a series of flashbacks about the harrowing attack on his home that left him a foundling.
With his new armor in place, Mando journeys to a cracked, desert territory, where he’s quickly ambushed by Blurrgs, a beast previously seen in Star Wars universe that looks like a dinosaur with the face of a land-bound Deepsea Anglerfish. He’s saved by an Ugnaught (Nick Nolte) named Kuiil, who agrees to help him. The Ugnaught has helped many before the Mandalorian, though all have met their death seeking his mysterious asset.
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Much to Mando’s chagrin, Kuiil reveals that in order to reach the encampment containing the asset, he’s going to need to learn how to ride a Blurrg. After several rocky attempts — during which Kuiil reminds him his ancestors wrote the Mythosaur so taming a Blurrg should not be a problem, Mando relaxes and finds success with a gentler approach to the beast.
Kuiil leads Mando to the compound and before departing, laments on the mercenaries and destruction the encampment has brought since its arrival, disturbing those who want to live in peace. He adds that he’s never met a Mandalorian, but has heard the stories and hopes Mando can restore peace to the territory.
Mando scouts the compound, looking for an inconspicuous way in. However, his plans are foiled before he can enact by the arrival of IG-11 (Taika Waititi), a bounty droid, who strolls into the encampment and demands the Nikto guarding the asset to hand it over, causing a massive gunfight. Mando joins in, assisting IG-11 in taking down the additional Nikto joining the fight, having believed they were each the only hunter with the assignment, they agree to team up and split the reward.The shoot their way in with some impressive work from a machine gun-esque blaster, only to discover their asset is… a baby Yoda.
Or at least a being of his species. (This species is famously unknown, so until/if it is given, this being will be, henceforth, known as baby Yoda.)
Mando is startled that the asset is a baby, as he was told the asset was 50. However, IG-11 explains that species age differently, so 50-years-old for one species could mean something completely different for another. While he goes to kill the asset, Mando makes a split-second decision, killing the bounty droid. Is droid Taika really dead after just one episode? We’ll have to keep watching and find out. The episode ends as Mando reaches a finger out to touch the baby Yoda as it, too, reaches out to the bounty hunter.
Those hoping the series would lean into Boba Fett mythology are in for a bit of an awakening. While the episode teases a lot about Mandalorian culture — especially the importance of Beskar steel — and the titular bounty hunter’s past, the series is immediately diving deep into Star Wars lore. This baby Yoda is now only the third of its kind to be seen in Star Wars thus far—in addition to Yoda, and Yaddle, a female member of the species first seen on-screen as a member of the Jedi High Council first seen on-screen in Phantom Menace.
While it’s not yet clear what Werner Herzog and Pershing want with baby Yoda, given their seemingly Imperial allegiances, it’s certainly not good.
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The live-action Star Wars series follows a lone Mandalorian gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy.