It only takes 40 minutes to forget that the sequel trilogy ever existed.
The Mandalorian: Season One is a Disney+ exclusive series and was released in 2019. The show stars Pedro Pascal in the title role, Gina Carano as Cara Dune, and Carl Weathers as Greef Karga. Five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Season One sees the Mandalorian take a job that changes from delivering a target to protecting it.
It’s jarring how great Pascal’s performance is, considering a majority of it is behind a mask. This can also be seen with how well cast members work off one another, including Pascal. The show’s worst acting can be found in episode 5 “The Gunslinger,” with Jake Cannavale’s performance as bounty hunter Toro Calican. Cannavale rivals only that found within first-time homemade videos, and because the rest of the show’s acting is great, takes the viewer out of the experience.
For the most part, the show follows a somewhat “problem of the week” structure, which works for the show’s benefit, at moments feeling reminiscent of original Star Trek episodes. It’s clear the show is headed in a certain direction and leaves just enough room in particular areas of the writing where storylines and characters can be expanded upon.
The weakest element of some larger elements found within each episode can be confusing to those who don’t know Star Wars lore. For example, in episode 6 “The Prisoner,” multiple characters discuss The New Republic and its place in the universe, but if you never saw some of the films these moments of dialogue are lifeless.
The show’s impressive budget can be seen throughout many aspects and is shown best in its special effects work. There can be an incredible amount of detail shown in both large scare space battles, CGI machines, or even small creatures on mysterious planets. The design and practical effect work for The Child, better known as Baby Yoda, is spectacular.
The Mandalorian’s first season proves that with the right care, and respect for a well-known franchise, new ideas are still possible. As an important counterpoint, if this show wasn’t connected to a universe with 40 years’ worth of fans, most people probably wouldn’t even give it a chance.
[My Grade for The Mandalorian: Season One is an A-]