I’ve watched a lot of great sci-fi series lately. Watchmen (which everybody should see), Star Trek: Picard (which was good), The Expanse season 4 (which was pretty good), and Westworld season 3 (which was ok). The Mandalorian, however, was not my favorite.
It’s basically a Western in space, but unlike Firefly which set the gold standard for doing a Western in space, The Mandalorian doesn’t have any compelling characters. The main character (who is nicknamed Mando) is a gruff loner who doesn’t talk much, doesn’t remove his helmet, and doesn’t even have a proper name until the end. So we don’t get much personality from him.
He murders people with little provocation and jokes about it later, so he’s kind of a psychopath, but we’re supposed to think he’s cool. We’re shown flashbacks of his parents getting killed when he was a kid and we’re told Mandalorians are discriminated against, so I guess we’re supposed to sympathize with him, but this just feels like lazy writing. It’s easier to kill off someone’s parents, after all, than to go to the trouble of giving them personalities. Plus, it’s pretty standard to kill off a hero’s parents if you want them to be the dark and brooding type.
Not only does the Mandalorian not have a name, but many of the other characters who appear in the series don’t have names either. There are characters called The Client, The Armorer, The Mythrol, The Ugnaught, and The Child. Did they not get names because thinking up a name is too hard?
In typical Star Wars fashion, the hero never misses a shot and the villains never pose a threat because they can’t hit the broad side of a barn. I had this same complaint with Westworld. It’s so boring to watch shootout after shootout like this. What’s the point? There was another scene in which someone throws a droid into another droid and this causes an explosion! I never realized droids were gas-powered, but there you go. There was one hand-to-hand fight scene which was fun to watch, but that was about it.
It’s also repetitious. There were two different episodes in which Mando told someone he wasn’t going to do a job because it was too dangerous, but then he ends up agreeing to do it a minute later. Why doesn’t he just say yes to the job in the first place? I guess he just likes to play coy. He also keeps running into people who help him out for no apparent reason. I guess they help him despite his generally unfriendly demeanor because his helmet looks cool or something?
The show takes place after the fall of The Empire, so you’d think things would be looking up, but no. Everything’s still dystopian because Star Wars takes place in a permanently dystopian universe where everything is horrible all the time. It doesn’t matter how many Death Stars you blow up, someone’s always going to build another one. It makes all the celebrating at the end of Return of the Jedi ring hollow. Don’t they realize taking out The Empire changes absolutely nothing?
Really, the only thing this show has going for it is Baby Yoda. (I know he’s not really Yoda. In the show, he’s referred to variously as The Child, The Kid, or sometimes The Baby, but the internet has named him Baby Yoda, and since the show itself can’t be bothered to give him a name, Baby Yoda it is.) Sure, Baby Yoda is cute, but this alone isn’t enough to justify a show’s existence.
Speaking of, Yoda is kind of a big deal in the Star Wars universe. Sure, he laid low during the original trilogy, but he was a well-known politician in the prequels. Despite this, nobody seems to have heard of his species before. Kind of seems like a plot hole. The show also implies that every member of Yoda’s species is born with The Force. I thought Yoda had The Force because he trained to be a Jedi like everybody else, but I guess the training is optional.
While most of the series was a bit of a chore to watch, the final episode was at least worth it. You can tell it was directed by Taika Waititi due to a hilarious conversation between a couple Scout Troopers who are waiting for their long-winded boss to finish making his bad guy speech. They also attempt some target practice and reveal what bad shots they are. It was nice to finally get some humor after all the boring shoot outs.
I also liked the Terminator 2-inspired scene in the final episode in which a killer robot reprogrammed to protect a child sacrifices himself by walking into molten lava. If only Taika Waititi (who also did the voice of the robot) directed every episode, it would be a lot more fun to watch.