Last week, I had the honor and privilege of attending the red carpet premiere of The Mandalorian. It was a fan event that had a Q&A in the beginning, and then a screening of the first three episodes.
First, a little backstory as to how this came about. I love Star Wars, and I also love giving back. Two years ago, I decided to merge those two loves together and started my journey out of my comfort zone into costuming. Fast forward to a year ago, and I became an official member of the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club. I’ve had the privilege to do many charity works from hospitals, orphanages, charity walks, etc. The smile on the children’s faces is the only reward or perk that I need. Last week, however, the reward was an invitation by Disney/Lucasfilm to attend the premiere. Along with many fellow Mandos, we descended upon Hollywood Blvd at the El Capitan Theatre where we stood along the red carpet as stars and those who worked on the show arrived. It was an experience that can’t be described.
The Mandalorian isn’t like any Star Wars film before it (of course, it’s not a film but a series). Werner Herzog said it best at the premiere when he stated that, “This is the birth of a new mythos within the already established mythology.” As a fan of what the Mandalorian culture has been in Star Wars lore, having a live action series centered around that (and no longer be referred to as Boba Fett, who isn’t even a Mandalorian) had me filled with excitement and fear. Will it be done right? How will a series work? Will there be more and simply focus on just one? Of course, most of those fears were quelled when I heard Jon Favreau was working alongside George Lucas’ padawan himself, Dave Filoni (The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, Star Wars: Resistance). For Dave to move from animation to live action, taking all he learned from George and pass it on to this show, gave me peace about it.
Of course, this isn’t a rambling fan boy article. So, what about the show itself? Well, all those fears were erased within the first episode. The Mandalorian has arrived and is everything that it should be. Herzog wasn’t wrong in the notion that this is essentially creating a new mythos within the mythology that already exists.
And that’s what makes it even greater.
There is no question that the fandom can’t come to agreement with how Star Wars should expand (or if it should at all). The reality is that it should expand but it shouldn’t be based on what many fans wanted from it: the expanded universe (now known as ‘legends’). The Mandalorian, though giving fan service, feels fresh and new. The only knock against it that I feel is the run time…. I need more! It’s amazing that, for a character that never takes his “bucket” off, one can really see his emotions through his body language. Pedro Pascal works the camera in a way where you can tell if he’s frustrated, relieved, curious, angry and more. You get a glimpse into Mandalorian culture, how they are the best warriors in the galaxy and the most feared. As one of my favorite Marvel heroes say, ‘they are the best at what they do.’
By now, the first two episodes have aired and, as I said, I saw the first three. I won’t focus too much on the first two episodes but be warned. This is about Episode 3 and how it eclipsed all of my expectations by signifying what makes Mandalorians the best. In Episode 1, we see The Mandalorian get an advance payment of Beskar, the metal that Mandalorians forge their armor from. It is unique to them and is part of a war-filled history. Some can be centuries old as it is past down form generation to generation. When the Great Purge took place, the Empire stole the Beskar. So, it makes sense for a former Imperial to have some in his possession after the fall of the Empire. Beskar is as rare as the Mandalorians themselves in this time period. It’s what made the first episode so significant to me. Yes, the rescue and the baby Yoda (no, it’s not Yoda) sequence was amazing and the Jawas in Episode 2 were hilarious. But it’s the moment after The Mandalorian gets the Beskar that really drew my attention. It took me three times watching it to realize, as The Mandalorian makes his way to The Armorer, that this hidden alley is filled with other Mandalorians.
That brief viewing and brief encounter brings us to Episode 3. The one thing about Star Wars is that it reveals the heart of a character. With Han, we see a scoundrel and smuggler who’s heart was good, noble, hero and a friend. We see that the good can be tempted and sometimes fall to the dark side, but they can be redeemed. The Mandalorian captures just that in this third episode. You see the real heart of a man who’s face you never see. You see how much the tribe means to him. Most importantly though, we learn how much his past makes his present and future important. Mandalorians are in hiding because the tribe is more important than the individual. But, sometimes, you have to make a choice that risks that very thing. For The Mandalorian, he could have easily went about his business. But that is neither his way, nor his tribe’s way. To do good, and to protect the foundlings (I have my own theories on that but won’t get into it now) stands above all. To him, a foundling isn’t just those around him, hidden from view. Knowing that they would be willing to kill the child for whatever devious plot they had, he saw himself and his fellow foundlings in the child that he brought in. His decision to go back and (quite awesomely) rescue him put all he had accomplished at risk. In fact, through his actions, he basically threw it all away.
But here’s what family is really about. What sets Mandalorians apart and has always appealed to me, is that it isn’t just the warrior spirit. It is that sense of community and family. When all hope seemed to be fading and effort lost, his family arrived, throwing all they had worked to protect away. Jetpacks, missile launchers, and a Heavy Weapons Gatling gun firing while hovering in the air warrior showed off all that is amazing about Mandalorians.
This episode felt like a season finale, yet we still have 5 more episodes to go. I’m not sure how they are going to top it but one thing is for certain: The Mandalorian is proving to be worth all the hype that it was made out to be. To see that pay off in theatre with some of my Aliit (family in Mando’a) is an experience one can never forget. The Mandalorian isn’t just about a lone warrior making his way through the galaxy with a youngling in tow (some of the great old Samurai film tropes). It is about family, loyalty, duty, and fighting evil even if it costs everything. This is the way!
The Mandalorian airs on Disney+ and releases new episodes every Friday.