You’ll have heard the fuss about ‘Baby Yoda’ that’s going round. It’s not actually Yoda himself: it’s a young member of his species/race (officially ‘unknown’) who appears in the new Star Wars series (‘The Mandalorian‘) currently appearing on the Disney+ channel. The title of the series refers to a bounty hunter of Jango Fett’s own race (Boba Fett was then cloned from Jango Fett). The Mandalorian goes around the galaxy far, far away, carrying out various (highly dangerous) commissions. The series is set five years after the fall of the Empire, but before the rise of the New Republic; so it neatly bridges the time of chaos and confusion between the old movies and the new ones.
Right, now we’ve got all that out of the way, is all the aforementioned fuss warranted? Yes, it is. Entirely. I’m getting old, and I’m increasingly ‘old school’ in my Star Wars tastes, expectations and demands. I am of the belief that the new kids on the block BROKE Star Wars. Come on, you must have heard (and perhaps seen) how badly the movie Solo did, and how they then cancelled the Boba Fett movie that was planned. And the terrible plotting and character development in Rogue One was quite distressing for me. And I could go on at length – but I think you can already see how tyrannical and purist I am. The good news is The Mandalorian series doffs the finest cap (or helmet) in the galaxy to the old style Star Wars.
Incidental characters from the original trilogy of movies are now front and centre, including the bounty hunter droid (technically IG-11, while I had IG-88 as an action figure when I was a kid, collecting tokens and sending them off), power droids, the Empire spy from the first movie, Jawas, and so on. The plot moves along with zero exposition (maybe less than zero, actually), and there are long sequences without any dialogue, everything relying on evocation and landscape, like in the original movie. All of this is more than just homage: it’s an essential understanding of a form of movie-making that had somehow become lost. Jon Favreau (writer and director) has done an amazing job. He is a masterful movie-maker, of course, as the one behind the original Iron Man movie, and so on.
And then there’s the character of the Mandalorian himself. Monosyllabic. Ruthless. And yet a member of a militaristic religion, with its own codes of honour and conduct. We get fascinating glimpses and suggestions, but the ‘mystery’ of his character is kept superbly poised and compelling – not an easy job when all we ever see is the visor of his helmet. This show is a ruddy TRIUMPH! If you are of the faith, then you will go on a quest to seek out this series. You will find a way and means. May the force be with you.