After spending the first two episodes establishing the lead character and the world he inhabits, The Mandalorian finally shifted into gear in its third episode in what was easily the strongest hour (well, 37 minutes) in the series thus far.
Warning: spoilers for The Mandalorian will follow.
Despite being a faceless gunman, The Mandalorian is already more developed and emotionally resonant than half of the characters in the main Star Wars franchise and that’s strictly due to the episodic format of the story — we’re spending legitimate time with the lead character and are therefore building an established bond with him. If you think about it, we’ve probably already spent more screentime with The Mandalorian than we have with Rey, Poe, Finn, or any of the other tentpole franchise leads.
In fact, The Mandalorian‘s version of the galaxy far, far away just has a richness to it that I’ve frankly never felt while watching the films, especially the ones that have been released in my lifetime. In the movies, you’re planet-hopping across the galaxy and you’re following at least three or four characters trying to complete various missions that are all working towards a common goal.
In The Mandalorian, you’re essentially the main character’s co-pilot as his stillness and general loneliness makes it feel as though you’re on the ride with him. There this no Chewbacca to his Han Solo to set up zinging quips. There is simply the Mandalorian and his mission and the lack of distraction combined with the universe’s lived-in nature makes me wonder if perhaps Star Wars is a story better told through the medium of television.
Disney certainly isn’t treating the series as a television show, at least in terms of the production budget ($120 million), as the final half of the episode — which is essentially one extended and epic break-enter-escape sequence that sees the Mandalorian choose to save Baby Yoda from the clutches of the Empire and begin his arc as a samurai-like gunslinging hero — looks as polished and convincing as any of the recent films. And perhaps more so than any modern Star Wars entry, the action comes with legitimate emotional stakes as the audience is not only rooting for the classic western anti-heroic lone gunman that is the Mandalorian, but they’re also deeply invested in the safety of the endlessly cute Baby Yoda.
Simply put, through this deft combination of western motifs, episodic story-telling, and Star Wars mythos, Disney has created something truly special in The Mandalorian that has me more invested than I’ve ever been in a Star Wars property.
The fourth episode of The Mandalorian — which will officially mark the halfway point of the season — will hit Disney+ next Friday, November 29. You can catch The Mandalorian, and tons of other Star Wars bangers, on Disney+ now.
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Eric is a New York City-based writer who still isn’t quite sure how he’s allowed to have this much fun for a living and will tell anyone who listens that Gotham City is canonically in New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter @eric_ital for movie and soccer takes or contact him firstname.lastname@example.org