The Mandalorian features the cutest sidekick the galaxy has ever seen. This little guy, The Child, or baby Yoda as the internet calls him, lights up the screen every time the camera points at him, and he could probably carry the whole show by himself. Fortunately, there is a lot to love in The Mandalorian aside from its adorable green costar. The story and characters play out much like a Western, which seems a deliberate choice by showrunner Jon Favreau. The sets, the music, fighting for survival on the edge of a wild frontier, all this and more combine for an experience reminiscent of an old episode of Gunsmoke as opposed to more traditional science-fiction.
The episodes are shorter than we’re used to (most clock in at around 40 minutes), but the payoff is little if any downtime. The show moves along at a brisk pace and does so without feeling rushed or shallow. Even the couple of filler episodes seem exciting and relevant. If getting the most out of your screen time is important to you, The Mandalorian will fit the bill. The price of covering so much ground is that The Mandalorian asks more questions than it answers. Generally, this is a forgivable flaw. The Mandalorian is bringing a lot to the table and is likely to have several more seasons to expand on its characters and storylines. Still, if closure is something you are looking for, you may need to put off watching The Mandalorian until the second season airs in the fall of 2020.
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The greatest accomplishment of The Mandalorian is that it manages to tell a great story without heavily relying on the Star Wars canon. The eight-part season exists within and expands the Star Wars universe. Those looking for connections will find what they are looking for here, but rather than using the lore as a crutch, The Mandalorian gets by on its own merit and makes for some great television. All this is ultimately a testament to veteran storyteller Favreau, who gives us a new perspective on what is possible with the Star Wars franchise.