Second Thoughts: The Mandalorian

I’m cooling on the show, I’m sad to say.

The first three episodes, were, if not great, better than TV average. Each of the first three added an element that benefited the narrative as a whole.

Together they functioned very well as an identifiable first act, with its respective inciting incidents. We meet Mando and get a thumbnail snapshot of his life. He accepts an unusual job that knocks him out of his established world (first incident). Then he has a debate about the rightness of having turned Baby Yoda over to the Imperial remnants (second incident). Finally, he rescues Baby Yoda, shoots up Black Spire outpost and is now on the run from the Bounty Hunter’s Guild. That being the third inciting event and gateway to the second act. The point of the third inciting incident is to burn the protagonist’s bridges. He can’t go back to his old life until he goes on the Adventure.

Of the first three episodes I viewed the second as the weakest but I accepted the need of it because Mando needed to become more emotionally invested in Baby Yoda. And besides the third episode more than made up for it.

The problem is that there has so far been no discernable second act whatsoever. The Mandalorian changed from a show with a season long story arc to stand alone episodes that resets each week. Basically, nothing happened in the big story and now, it’s become obvious there isn’t one.

This isn’t 1970. Stand alone episodes are a thing of the past or at least the second rate. If you are going to be something memorable then you need a season long story arc.

The other problem it has are story continuity problems. Things are happening that just don’t make a lot of sense. For instance, in the last episode, Mando is hired by an acquaintance “from the old days” to do a raid on a New Republic prison barge to extract a prisoner. He is part of a “dirty dozen” team with five members, including a Devaronian and a Twi’lek (a devil guy and a tentacle-head). The barge was supposed to be unmanned but it turned out there was one human on it and he activated a MacGuffin transponder that would have an X-Wing squadron home-in and destroy whatever ship the transmitter is on.

Okay, you can make the argument, that if these criminals were indeed, that dangerous, you would need a fail-safe. It’s stretch but you can do it.

The evil droid pilot for the mission discovers that the thing they thought was Mando’s pet, is in fact, a very valuable Baby Yoda.

Now I was rather pleased by this turn of events. ‘Ah-ha,’ I thought, ‘now, the criminals will betray Mando and steal Baby Yoda, thus setting off…FINALLY…the second act wherein the Mandolorian ruthlessly hunts down the people that stole the Child and then rescues Baby Yoda from Imperial clutches.

Well, they did betray him but they didn’t know anything about Baby Yoda when they did it. They gave absolutely no reason or motivation for the double cross. None. They just betrayed him for no explicable reason.

After the baddies are disposed of Mando goes back to see his “old friend” to get paid. He does so, but then when Mando leaves, “old friend” gives the order, “Kill him!” Again no reason why is given. Then we find out that Mando has tricked his old friend by giving him the Transponder of Death. X-Wings appear the pilots briefly confirm that is where the transmitter is and that there is a fighter launching so they BLOW UP THE STATION.

Honestly it would have made more sense if the prison barge had belonged to Thrawn, at least a bunch of Tie fighters mindlessly blasting whatever ship the Transponder of Death happens to be on, would have been in keeping with established tropes. The X-wing pilots are supposed to be the good guys. There should have at least been some kind of second thoughts going on. “Hey, this isn’t a prison barge. Should we really blow it the hell up?”

Where as with Tie fighters it would have been, “Well it’s not a prison barge but that is where the transponder is bleeping from. Somebody must want them dead. Sucks to be them, I guess.”

Look, I still like the show. And I’m enjoying the fan service and the call-backs and what-not but I was hoping for something a lot better than this. It’s still light years better than the Last Jedi.

However, what I’m watching here is a 2019 version of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century with no Princess Ardala.

We all miss you.

4 thoughts on “Second Thoughts: The Mandalorian

  1. Someone in the RLM subreddit said it reminded him of Andromeda, the Roddenberry show everyone forgot about starring Kevin Sorbo. I thought that was an interesting comparison, because Andromeda was watchable and had an interesting premise but I just couldn’t get into it. It seemed to be missing something that kept me from caring what happened.

    For what it’s worth, someone there said Favreau wrote this as a movie originally, and it was split up to make the few first and last episodes of the TV series, with other episodes written by others to fill in between. So the last few episodes might seem like filler because they are, but the final couple might be better.

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  2. Cataline
    and that there is a fighter launching so they BLOW UP THE STATION.

    Evil Empire? or shining beacon of Democracy to the galaxy?

    don’t disagree with us or we’ll drone bomb your ass.

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  3. I don’t mind stand-alone “Monster of the Week” type episodes, because sometimes you just want to tune into a show at random and watch an episode without needing to have someone in the fandom explain three seasons worth of continuity to you. That said, an X-Files type long-running plot in the background that culminates in a season-ending cliffhanger is always welcome. Every episode can spend a couple of minutes tying into it without breaking the main story. I prefer shows that have a balance like this, as I often use TV as something I just have playing in the background while I do things.

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