'The Mandalorian' Recap, Review, And Thoughts On That Shocking Cliffhanger


After what feels like an eternity of build-up, the first live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, has arrived. It's no surprise they chose it as a launch title for Disney+ because, honestly, who doesn't want to see this? Who hasn't been waiting years for it, ever since those first whispers of a TV series?  And now it's here, and backed by the promise of a huge reveal in the first episode. Well, Lucasfilm wasn't dicking us around on that one. This first episode (of an eight-episode first season) ends on one Hell of a cliffhanger that opens up all sorts of questions.

However, cliffhangers aside, was the episode any good? Absolutely, especially if you're a die-hard Star Wars fan. Creators Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni dive right in and don't bother holding your hand through it. Let's be honest; nobody who isn't already a Star Wars nut is watching this anyway, right? They've got Lady and the Tramp and Noelle for that.  So we don't need a ton of explanation for the mysterious Mandalorian (played by Pedro Pascal), a bounty of obvious renown who kicks things off by taking down a couple of dim-witted toughs who have been harassing his intended prey. An perilous encounter with an ice monster later, we get our first look at an entire cabin full of carbonite prisons, a reminder of when Han Solo was trapped in one of those bad boys by the baddest Mandalorian of them all, Boba Fett.

Little nods like that are what make The Mandalorian so much fun, along with the familiar sound effects, screen wipes, and bits of oddly-placed humor the franchise is known for. We're soon after introduced to Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), who not only takes all of the Mandalorian's cargo off his hands, but gives him another high-paying gig. This one is so secretive it can't go through the usual Bounty Hunter guild channels. There's no description of the asset, other than it's around 50 years old, a vague location of its last sighting, and a meager means of tracking it. Of course, we know nothing of the Client, either.

However, that Client turns out to be the secretive figure played by director Werner Herzog, and he's kinda perfect for this role. Personally, I've always found Herzog to be scary as fuck, and more than a little intimidating. The Client says the asset can be returned dead or alive, preferably alive, but dead for half-price. This angers his colleague, Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), who says this wasn't part of the deal. Clearly, he wants this thing back alive for a reason.

In exchange, the Client offers a piece of beskar metal, sacred to the Mandalorian warriors and essential in crafting their unique armor. We not only see this metal smelted into usable fashion, but flashbacks to the Mandalorian's war-torn childhood as a foundling. You can feel Dave Filoni's fingerprints all over this section, having crafted so much of their history in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.

Arriving at the location of the Asset, the Mandalorian encounters an old Ugnaught named Kuiil (voiced by Nick Nolte), and battle droid IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi). The latter assumes he has a new rival for the prize, but instead he and the Mandalorian team up to gun down the guards protecting the Asset. Once they get inside, the Mandalorian is momentarily puzzled at what they find: a baby.

"They said 50 years old."

"Species age differently", IG-11 responds.

The battle droid says his orders were "quite specific" and is ready to kill the baby, only to be fried by the Mandalorian who decides to either protect the child or just bring it in alive. We aren't quite sure yet, but I think we all have a pretty good guess. Also, I think we can assume the IG-11 was hired by somebody completely different, hence the differing orders.

The creature turns out to be of Yoda's species. Now, those who may be lost in the Star Wars timeline may be a bit confused by this. The Mandalorian takes place after events of Return of the Jedi but before The Force Awakens. Yoda is dead, having lived something like 900 years, and has even been seen as a Force Ghost. So this ain't the O.G. Yoda. Nor is this Yaddle, the only other being of this kind ever seen in the Star Wars canon.  George Lucas always kept Yoda and his kind extremely secret.

The implication is that the birth of one of these creatures is extremely rare, and would be devastating to anybody who fights for the Dark Side. Yoda was arguably the most powerful Force-sensitive creature in the galaxy until all of those darn Skywalkers started sprouting up, and Yaddle was also on the Jedi Council. It stands to reason this one will be very powerful in the Force and could be a huge asset to whichever side it fights on. Remember what's going on at this point. The Jedi are only just starting to rebuild with the emergence of Luke Skywalker, and the Empire has effectively been crushed.

Personally, I quite like the idea of an evil Yoda. Maybe he gets hand delivered to Snoke?

The Mandalorian appears to be setting itself as a Lone Wolf and Cub-style epic, with our hero (?) escorting this child through a series of escalating adventures. Considering the rate at which Yoda age, we probably won't see the baby reach maturity, but might it show off some early Force abilities? That's gotta be in the cards.

Favreau and Filoni deserve a ton of credit for making this first episode truly feel like a space Western, with a stoic, near-silent protagonist whose personal code of ethics clashes with the violent reality he walks in. My only true gripe is they do a terrible job of introducing characters to us. Most of them never even get a name and you have to look them up in the credits. There's enough going on that you shouldn't have to do that.

Also, I need more IG-11. Just more battle droids, period. Battle droids kick ass.  Where's my boy IG-88 at? Can I get a Bossk sighting, please?

Good start for The Mandalorian, and that ending is sure to rock the Star Wars universe like an exploding Death Star. The next episode should arrive this Friday, November 15th.