We’re continuing our episode-by-episode review of Disney+’s flagship show, The Mandalorian. It’s the first live-action Star Wars show ever produced and Lucasfilm has spared no expense with it, giving it a feature film-worthy budget, top creative people overseeing it, and an all-star cast. You can check out previous reviews here…
9/10 – The Mandalorian starts off strong with a visually-entrancing debut outing. The series is confident, highly produced, with a great lead and a great premise…and there’s even room for improvement.
8/10 – The Mandalorian continues to be gorgeous to behold. After eighty-minutes of the story, however, I’m ready for things to start happening.
After last week’s half-hour episode, I said this:
After two episodes, I feel like I’ve watched two halves of one episode. Next week I expect the same feeling, and I have a hunch that by the time the first season is finished, fans will re-watch it in chunks, taking in the first three or so episodes like it was the first movie in a trilogy, then watching the next few as the middle-movie, then the last few as the final part.
Now three episodes down, I feel like we’ve finally finished the first act of the story. I can’t help but be frustrated with the piecemeal way Disney is delivering the show. As I said, when I revisit it in its entirety later, I’ll certainly watch the first three episodes as a single 100-minute special. I don’t know if episodes will increase in length from here on out or not, but if not, we’re looking at a four-hour story spread out over two months. That’s frustrating, if nothing else.
Mind you, this is a very specific problem I’m focusing on here. It has nothing to do with the acting, special effects, score, or even the plot itself. The acting is great, the special effects are superb, the score is delightful, and the plot (so far, what little I’ve seen of it) is solid. It’s all in the delivery of those things as a package that I take issue with.
Imagine if Disney+ produced a new Fantastic Four live-action movie, but instead of releasing it as a single, two-hour presentation, they chopped it up into half-hour chunks, called them “chapters” and released them weekly. You’d be frustrated, especially if the “chapters” themselves had no strong thematic arcs within each one.
Just having a crescendo at the end of the last scene is not enough to have a “climactic” feel.
There’s no point wasting any more time complaining about the Disney+ episodic release model, and it is especially needless concerning episode three, so I will let it go (for the time being).
Episode three does have a strong thematic conclusion, as it effectively wraps up the mini-arc that had been building from the show’s beginning. From the outset, the show has had two major questions hanging over it: (1) Will the Mando actually turn over the bounty, and (2) What’s special about “baby Yoda” in the first place?
Storytelling 101 dictates that one of those answers would determine the other. Either the Mando would learn the secret to baby Yoda and that would motivate his decision to keep him safe, or he would make the decision to keep him safe, and set out to learn the secret as a way to accomplish that task.
The story had two paths to follow and wisely chose the one that creates the most amount of drama. The Mando, as we’ve come to learn (very subtly), is an orphan and a product of the Separatist’s sacking of Mandalore. That was one of the final major battles of the Clone Wars which explains our hero’s distrust of droids as well as his soft spot for orphans (foundlings, as the Mandalorians call them).
All this comes to a head after the hero decides to hand over the bounty. He immediately regrets the decision and decides to make things right. The “Sin” in the title, therefore, refers to him breaking the code of the Bounty Hunters, which leads to an action-heavy climax as Mando takes on two dozen bounty hunters with orders to stop him and re-capture the kid.
Mando escapes, of course, and heads off with his little foundling. Where they’re going we don’t know, what comes next we don’t know. Unlike in the previous two episodes where it was clear things were coming to a head between Mando and the ex-Imperial who hired him, now that we’ve ended act one the show can really come alive. It can open into new worlds, introduce new characters, and present new twists and turns as it makes its way to whatever conclusion this first season is building toward.
I’m excited to see what’s coming, even if I wish I could see it all at once!
9/10 – The third episode of The Mandalorian is a lot of fun in a short amount of time and, if nothing else, finally launches out into the expanded Star Wars universe and to all the fun that’s sure to be found therein.