SPOILER ALERT: The Mandalorian So Far…
The Mandalorian premiered on Disney+ on November 12th. Sideshow was ahead of schedule with the Mandalorian Figures that made their debut at New York Comic-Con 2019. Check out The Mandalorian Figure prototype and IG-11 Figure prototype in the video below.
This blog will follow each episode of The Mandalorian from beginning to end and will try to unpack the show’s themes and characters. So without further ado:
Chapter 1: The Mandalorian
The most important part of any show (in my opinion) is the opening. Authors make “promises” in the first chapter of every book, and screenwriters make “promises” in their first few episodes. Not only that, but the first episode will tell us everything about the main character and the world.
The show opens on The Mandalorian with a tracking fob in hand. He’s searching for someone or something. And he’s silent. Right off the bat, the tone for the entire series is set. Our quiet and determined hero will take us through this world, but we learn very quickly that he will not be the voice for this world.
In fact, we don’t hear his voice for quite some time. In fact, the first words we hear aren’t even in English. They’re in an alien language. What does that tell us of this world? Well first of all, it insists that this world is huge and diverse, especially with people responding in different languages. And also, it tells us, the audience, to wait and listen before we act. Just like the Mandalorian.
He hears all that he needs to before finding his bounty, and finding his mark, as he gets into an all out brawl. His actions certainly speak louder than his words, because he doesn’t speak at all for quite some time. His bounty, a fish-like species, is quite talkative though. In fact, we learn more about bounties and bounty hunting, and even about The Mandalorian himself, from this nameless blue character than from our hero.
This all tells us that The Mandalorian is constantly being defined by others. And what’s more? Throughout the episode, we learn that he’s truly trying to define himself, and find his own identity. We learn that our hero was a foundling, meaning that after the war on his home planet of Mandalore, his parents were killed and he was found by someone else. He was very young when this happened, and many Mandalorians were killed in the conflict.
It seems throughout the episode, whether he is trying to acquire Beskar steel, or ride a Blurrg like his ancestors rode the Mythosaurs, he’s simply trying to connect with his Mandalorian roots. He’s trying to find an identity in the past.
And yet, even though The Mandalorian might be looking to the past, the episode’s ending looks to the future. The future generation and the future story of this… well… baby “Yoda”. And so, while he spends his time fighting to identify with his past, it doesn’t seem that the future will go that way.
However, his friend, The Nameless Ugnaught, might have held the key to the show itself. When he implores The Mandalorian to think of the Blurrg as he would a Mythosaur, he forces the Mandalorian to think in a new way. He finds a way to connect the past with the present, in order to move into the future. And that’s exactly what he’ll have to do with Baby Yoda in order to succeed on his mission.
Ultimately, I was hoping that episode one would immerse me in this world, and it absolutely succeeded on that front.
Some Sideshow team members watched the first episode of The Mandalorian together, and a few of us stayed behind to review the premiere. You can see the video review and discussion below.
Chapter 2: The Child
The episode opens with lizards trying to eat Baby Yoda. The child suddenly become the full focus of the story, and not just because the Mandalorian is taking his bounty. We are starting to see the entire world through Baby Yoda’s eyes, where cameras are low, obstructed by small things and big people, and we even look over its head a lot of the time.
And the small native lizards foreshadow the larger lizards, called Trandoshans, coming to take down The Mandalorian so they can take the baby too. That’s not the only thing that’s taken from him, because once we return to his ship, we see that practically everything has been scavenged by Jawas, who get away before he can save his ship.
All of this story is told without a single word. In fact, the first thing that’s said is, “I thought you were dead.” Guess who? It’s the Ugnaught Kuill! Kuiil helps The Mandalorian negotiate a trade — the parts of his ship for an incredibly hard to acquire egg.
And when The Mandalorian nearly fails and dies by the horn of the twenty-ton beast, Baby Yoda uses the force and completely lifts it into the air. Such raw power is clearly valuable to The Empire. After all, that’s why there’s a bounty for the child.
The last thing that’s said in Episode 2 is when the Kuiil says, “I have spoken.” When will The Mandalorian speak for himself? When will he express his own identity, ability, etc.?
This episode shows more and more being taken from him. It’s a theme in this show. His family, his planet, his very culture, all of it was taken from him. And so everything is a struggle to maintain what he already has, and fighting tooth and nail for everything new that he wants.
I spent hours thinking about the one line, “I have spoken.” And while it’s a quirky and funny line in the moment, I think it signifies something greater. The Ugnaught does not speak without action. And The Mandalorian is a man of action and action alone. It seems that he doesn’t need words to express himself, and this is prompting me to look at his actions as statements. I’m reminded of how the story opened in a way that tells us to listen, learn, and understand. So as we keep watching, I will wait for his words, and listen to his actions.
Chapter 3: The Sin
We open to the stars, with The Mandalorian’s ship arriving on the planet where he first received his assignment.
He’s making sure that Baby Yoda doesn’t get hurt, even though he’s taking the child in for a bounty. We’re still seeing the world through Baby Yoda’s eyes, as The Mandalorian takes it onto this dangerous planet, with dangerous violent people all around. The world that once seemed exciting is now extraordinarily unfriendly.
The Mandalorian exchanges Baby Yoda for an absurd amount of Beskar steel. He gets brand new armor after fighting, and then bonding, with his Mandalorian brothers and sisters. We see a bit more of his backstory, beat in with every hit of a hammer in the blacksmith’s cave. We see more glimpses of the horrors of war, and what it was like to be a foundling.
Once he has his armor, he goes to take a new job, but things take a turn– suddenly, he realizes that he and Baby Yoda are very similar. He found Baby Yoda. And in that way, Baby Yoda is a foundling. So he goes back, testing his new armor and new weapons, and kidnaps Baby Yoda back from the Client and the Empire.
It seems that whether it’s Trandoshans or literally every bounty hunter that the Empire can find, The Mandalorian will always be surrounded by hostiles. They all want to wield the power, and he simply wants to keep it out of the wrong hands. In doing this, however, he broke the bounty hunter code, and had a target put onto his head. He clearly values the child’s life over anything else. He knows that Baby Yoda, and all the foundlings, are the future and they matter most of all.
We close with him flying off that planet into the stars as his fellow Mandalorians hold off the bounty hunter onslaught.
The Mandalorian has his Beskar steel now. And he even has a conscience! And yet, with this episode, we don’t discover what it is that he wants. It is simply revealed that he doesn’t want to trust The Empire.
So what does he want? And where will he go? I think he’s going to find his old master, or the person that found him on Mandalore all those years ago.
Chapter 4: Sanctuary
The show did not lead us to anyone he knew. Instead, it was a place. A place of beautiful nature, and kind people. Well. Mostly. When the Mando enters a local restaurant, he meets and fights another member of the Guild, Cara Dune. Dune is an equal match for the Mando, and they fight to a draw. Let’s not forget all the incredible memes that came from Baby Yoda sipping his soup in the background.
Cara Dune was a Rebel shocktrooper, who left her position and has been hiding on this planet. She was there first, and asks the Mando to leave. And, being the man of honor that he is, he obliges. He plans to find a new home for Baby Yoda, but his plans are cut short when villagers from the town ask for his help.
Raiders. They pillage innocent towns. But with Cara Dune’s help, the Mandalorian is able to show the farmers how to defend themselves, and fight against an absolutely terrifying AT-ST. They are able to defeat the raiders, and everyone is able to rest, and the children are able to play. Baby Yoda is a big hit, since the children find him to be a perfect balance of gross and cute. Even the Mandalorian takes off his helmet (off camera, we still haven’t seen him), and eats a meal.
All is peaceful. But lurking in the forest, a member of the Guild is hunting the child, and aiming his weapon. Cara Dune offs him, but The Mandalorian understands that he can’t just leave the Child on the planet. They are tracking him. And only the Mandalorian can keep him safe from The Imperial Client.
The Mandalorian brilliantly makes the setting a character of its own, whether it be planet, or crammed cantina. The Mandalorian could be completely alone, but the environment around him has just as much personality as a character. And while I expected The Mandalorian to seek help from a person he knew in his past, the show subverted my expectations. He sought a haven. A place. And this makes a very interesting point.
The Mandalorian hardly trusts at all. But in this episode, he trusts the location, and everyone there, in a way we’ve never seen the Mandalorian trust before. We’re left to ask ourselves: What personalities do the locations in our lives have? And most of all, we see the Mandalorian make an incredible sacrifice to keep the place he loves safe.
I think his trust in the place, and his moment of comfort, allow him to begin to love Baby Yoda. And frankly, who wouldn’t?
Chapter 5: The Gunslinger
A bounty hunter follows The Mandalorian’s ship, causing massive destruction to most of its functions. So The Mandalorian finds the planet of Tatooine, and lands to get his ship repaired. The Mandalorian tells Peli Motto, who runs the repair facility, to do all the repairs without droids. He really hates droids.
He enters a familiar cantina looking for work, where he’s offered a gig by a young bounty hunter, Toro Calican. Calican has been sent after Fennec Shand, a mercenary so deadly that The Mandalorian himself is unsure he could capture her. But he agrees so that he can make enough money to fix his ship.
In the meantime, Baby Yoda is getting along well Peli Motto. She is caring for him, and planning to charge extra for the daycare service too!
Calican and The Mando drive out into the Dune Sea on speeder bikes, on the hunt for Shand. Using brilliant flashing flares, they are able to distract Shand long enough to capture her. But even distracted and blinded, she is able to destroy one of their speeder bikes. So the Mandalorian goes to get another means of transport.
When the clever Shand is alone with the rookie Calican, she convinces him to go after the Mandalorian. After all, capturing the Mandalorian and “the Child” would make him legendary. Calican agrees, and shoots Shand. After that, he goes to hold the Child hostage, and waits for the Mando.
After a tense showdown, the Mando outsmarts the rookie merc, and kills him. He uses Calican’s money to pay for the ship, and leave.
And then, a mysterious figure in black approaches Fennec Shand’s body in the desert.
This entire episode truly showcased The Mandalorian’s ability to create and execute a complicated plan, even against one of the most terrifying mercenaries in his galaxy. But as fun as this episode was, I couldn’t help but focus on that very last moment. A mysterious stranger gathering Shand.
This is where the story really picked up for me. It’s been an entertaining show, sure. But now, there is a force that is gathering against the Mandalorian. Shand will be back. And this mysterious figure? He will lead them. I predict that they will all be after Baby Yoda, and even throughout season 2, The Mandalorian will be working to keep the Child safe.
Chapter 6: The Prisoner
The Mando signs up for a job with an old friend Ran, who gets a team together to break someone out of a prisoner of a New Republic prison. He’s with an exciting assortment of aliens, and both old and new friends. A human Imperial sharpshooter named Mayfeld, a Devaronian strongman named Burg, a droid pilot named Zero, and a knife-wielding Twi’lek woman named Xi’an. He doesn’t seem to trust any of them, and they all seem to dislike him.
The droid pilot, Zero, seems to see a message for Greef Karga. We don’t know if the message is new or old, but it’s fuzzy, and impossible to understand. Meanwhile, the team breaks into the prison, which is guarded by droids. Naturally, The Mandalorian hates droids, and dispatches of them with ease.
We see The Mandalorian’s moral code, however, when the teams threatens to kill an innocent guard. The Mandalorian does everything he can to save the man’s life, and to get his team out of their safely. But instead, Xi’an kills the man, which ultimately sets off an alarm. A New Republic beacon is triggered, and suddenly, the team only has minutes to get the prisoner and escape.
When they get Xi’an’s brother Qin from the cell, the team double-crosses The Mandalorian and tries to trap him in the cell. But no cell can hold him, and he takes over the control room and takes down the team one by one. He independently collects his bounty, but he leaves his backstabbing friend a surprise: the New Republic Beacon. A trio of X-Wings comes down and blows them out of space, as The Mandalorian flies off into space.
It’s revealed only at the end that he left them all alive in a cell.
The Mandalorian really sticks to his guns here (pun intended). He is a moral character through and through, and he refuses to bend to the dangerous heartless world around him. Suddenly, we see his value for life, even for the people he hates. And suddenly, his value for the Child makes sense.
With a moral backbone and strong as Beskar, and a mission to keep the Child safe, where do you think this adventure will go from here? I think we’ll learn more about the message from Greek Karga. And I think we’re going to meet a team of people who hate the Mandalorian, and not just because of the Imperial Client. I think we’re going to see someone from his past rallying against him. What do you think?
Chapter 7: The Reckoning
Greef Karga sends a message: return with the child, kill the imperial client, free the town from Imperial command, and have his name cleared. It’s a simple proposition, but the Mandalorian knows he can’t do it alone. So he gets Cara Dune, Kuill, and a reprogrammed IG-11 to join him on Nevarro.
On their way back to town, they are attacked by pterodactyl-like creatures called Mynocks, that wound and poison Greef Karga. And suddenly, we see an incredible and new use of The Force. The Child comes up and completely heals Greef Karga, saving his life, and curing him of the poison.
This is huge. We have never seen a Force power like this before. This little creature is more powerful than we could have ever expected. And Baby Yoda’s kindness ultimately saves The Mandalorian’s life. Greek Karga, who initially planned to capture The Mandalorian, decided to help him after The Child saved his life.
They make a plan to trick the Imperial Client, but they don’t get the chance to execute the plan, because the powerful Grand Moff Gideon lands in a custom black X-Wing, and guns him down. Grand Moff Gideon waits outside their building, while scout troopers track and kill Kuill and kidnap the Child.
It’s very hard to get a cliff-hanger right. This is the first episode of the Mandalorian that includes one! A cliff-hanger must leave the audience with an overwhelming sense of dread. And yet, everything has to be justified. They build each moment of Kuill running to the ship. The Scout Troopers intercept the call, and go twice as fast as Kuiil ever could. When Kuill meets his untimely death, as unfortunate and heart-wrenching as it is, it doesn’t feel unearned.
I think that Grand Moff Gideon is who collected Fennec Shand many episodes ago. I think that he has a larger team than we know of just yet. And I think that next episode, all of The Mandalorians hiding underground will come back to help as they fight off the Death Troopers.
And most importantly, we learn that Baby Yoda isn’t a clone. It’s confirmed by Kuill, who used to work at a gene farm, and he knows that the Child isn’t a clone. And so Baby Yoda appears to be something much more, and much different than we’ve ever seen before. I’m only hoping for more answers.
And I already miss Kuill.
Chapter 8: Redemption
We open the episode in dire straights. The Mandalorian, Cara Dune, and Karga are surrounded inside the cantina. Grand Moff Gideon threatens them each individually by name. He knows all of them. And he knows that The Mandalorian’s name is Din Djarin. Gideon has them surrounded, and knows their every weakness. But he could never predict their strength.
One of their strengths is the element of surprise: a bounty-hunting assassin robot turned protector and medic. IG-11 rescues the Child from scout troopers, and decimates an entire league of stormtroopers. With IG-11’s help, they’re able to use their other strength: the Force. Baby Yoda protects the team from the impending doom of a flamethrower, as they escape into the sewer.
In all the damage and battle, The Mandalorian getes injured, and comes close to death. He decides to trust a droid and allowed IG-11 to remove his helmet to administer a healing spray called bacta to his head injury. Once he heals up, the team goes to look for the other Mandalorians so they can get help to escape. He finds out that all the Mandalorians were killed, except for the Armorer. She tells him that the Child is his responsibility now. He must find its origins, and find its home.
Finally, IG-11 self-destructs to save the team, and The Mandalorian uses his new jetpack to bring down Moff Gideon’s TIE fighter, so that he can escape. Karka and Cara Dune stay behind to rebuild the community, and The Mandalorian leaves with the child.
In the very last moment, Grand Moff Gideon cuts through the destroyed TIE fighter with the Darksaber, an extraordinarily power Mandalorian artifact.
There was no way I could have predicted such a grand ending. Taika Waititi’s IG-11 provided comedy in a brilliant way, and the interaction between the two scout troopers was so entertaining that it could have been its own TV series (is Disney+ taking any pitches?)
More than anything, I was thrilled to see how The Mandalorian is embracing its place within the larger story of the Star Wars Universe, but not directly with the Skywalker Saga. They are set to explore Yoda’s race, and thus the backstory of his race. Not only that, but they’ve set themselves up the explain the Darksaber.
While this first season has been lots of isolated adventures, I think Season 2 will commit much more to this storyline. I’m impressed with this show’s ability to get the audience attached to these characters, even though we’ve only seen them for a few episodes. It speaks to how rich the characters are, and how rich this world really is.
The most interesting thing to me is the title: redemption. Is The Mandalorian redeemed? He has saved the Child for now, and he is taking care of a foundling, just as he was taken care of. But is that enough? What truly redeems someone?
What do you think will happen in Season 2? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to talk about it with you.
Be sure to stay updated on our blog, as we follow each episode of The Mandalorian, and dive into theories and analysis. These are the Mandalorian figures you’re looking for.