This is comfort watch to the power of infinity. In these unsettling times of an unseen virus bringing humanity to its knees, what can be better than watching a lone gunslinger — that archetype of rugged individualism, take on and win against a mighty enemy? That it is set in the Star Wars universe with mentions of Alderan, that “wretched hive of scum and villainy”, Mos Eisley, the battle of Endor, the thieving Jawas and the two suns of Tatooine warms the cockles of the heart like hot buttered toast, spicy masala chai and samosas (I have been dreaming of samosas since the lockdown). And if that does not ring your bell, Disney+’s The Mandalorian features the sweetest Yoda-like baby, guaranteed to melt your heart with every coo, gurgle and giggle (weird syntax not yet there is). That the Force is strong in the toddler is an added bonus.
Baby Yoda in ‘The Mandalorian’
Show runner Jon Favreau, who also serves as head writer and executive producer, has impeccable credentials. He helmed the obscenely successful Iron Man (2008) which kicked off the gigantic, sprawling MCU. Favreau also plays security chief Happy Hogan in the Iron Man movies, with a fondness for Downton Abbey. Awww.
The Mandalorian is set five years after the events of 1983’s The Return of the Jedi — no one remembers director Richard Marquand, all they remember is Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) gold bikini. The web-series takes place 25 years before J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens (2015). Have Leia and Han parted ways already or are they still playing happy families? Is Ben being a brat en route to becoming Kylo Ren or is he moving cruisers with the Force under Uncle Luke’s tutelage?
- Season: 1
- Episodes: 8
- Run time: 31–45 minutes
- Showrunner: Jon Favreau
- Starring: Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Taika Waititi, Gina Carano
The Mandalorian does not bother itself with what the nobility is up to in their particular ivory towers. It follows the adventures of a bounty hunter, Din Djarin. Through the show we learn that during the Clone Wars, Djarin was rescued and trained by the Mandalorians, a warrior race with their rules and creed. ‘This is the way’ does not seem to have the ring of ‘May the force be with you’ — we might have to wait 40 years for that.
In the first episode, The Mandalorian, Djarin hands over his latest bounty in carbon freeze (I know, Han) to Greef Karga, leader of the bounty hunter guild on the outpost world of Nevarro. Karga tells of another commission — an Imperial client is looking to track a valuable asset and willing to pay well for it. When Djarin realises the 50-year-old asset is actually a little baby (from the same species as Jedi master Yoda), he has a change of heart, trashes the client’s den, kills most of the Stormtroopers guarding it and escapes with the child. Djarin is on the run from the client and the guild. He looks for sanctuary in different places, including the forest planet of Sorgan (there is a Seven Samurai-like plot device going on here) and his former partner before realising that the child will not be safe until the client is killed.
Pedro Pascal excels in the title role. Even though he spends almost all his screen time behind a mask, Pascal uses voice and gait to create a ‘man with no name’ vibe. Carl Weathers plays Greef Karga, the man who would like to do the right thing as long there is profit in it for him. Werner Herzog as the client, does not seem to have left his Zec persona from Jack Reacher behind. One almost expects him to ask Djarin to bite off his fingers to prove what a tough guy he is. Nick Nolte is the voice of Kuiil, the Merlin to Djarin’s quest. Jojo Rabbit’s Taika Waititi, who has also directed the final episode, gives voice to the droid IG-11, a hunter reprogrammed to be nurse and protector to the child — faint, though welcome echoes of C3PO. Gina Carano plays tough, no-nonsense Cara Dune, who Djarin meets on Sorgan. She is from Alderan, fought in the Battle of Endor and is now a mercenary.
Well-paced with a wealth of weird and wonderful creatures, The Mandalorian is a thrilling ride to the galaxy far, far away. After the credits rolled on the beautiful, painterly storyboard of the last episode, a couple of questions remained — is a parsec a unit of time or space and is the Mindflayer Cara refers to the same as the one in Stranger Things?
The Mandalorian streams on Disney+ Hotstar