The following review comes from Orientaserie, an Italian media project aimed at helping viewers to “get their bearings” on current films and television series. The review begins with a summary assessment and then takes a deeper look. Discussion questions are provided. MercatorNet has arranged to run these reviews on a regular basis and invites readers to give us feedback on them.

Recommended by Orientaserie

Set in the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian is the flagship title of the new Disney + streaming service which debuted in America last Autumn. Building on its success, The Mandalorian season 2 is due for release this October, and a third is very likely. If season 2 is anything like the first series (eight episodes of about 40 minutes each), it will not disappoint.

In season 1 we meet a mysterious warrior (the Mandalorian) who works as a bounty hunter in the pay of an unscrupulous mercenary guild. With his face and body always covered by a helmet and powerful armor, the Mandalorian is by far the best in battle, and for this reason he is entrusted with a mission so difficult that all others who have attempted it have failed. 

It is a matter of capturing and delivering – believe it or not – a strange being similar in appearance to the wise Yoda, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order of Star Wars fame, still small, so much so that he is called “the child”. The unexpected encounter with this bizarre creature and the protagonist’s almost paternal relationship with it, triggers in the character of Mando (as they call him) a slow process of change.

The series thus unfolds from planet to planet in increasingly engaging adventures, openly inspired by the western genre, by which the Mandalorian manages to excite not only children, but also adolescents, who are much more demanding but identify with a positive character, without too many frills, who gets to the point and makes the right choices, sometimes to his cost.

Summary judgment

General quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Educational quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Age to which the series is addressed (in our opinion): for everyone

Presence of sensitive scenes: a few somewhat violent fights.

Going deeper

The series, created by Jon Favreau, director among other things of the action movies Book of the Jungle and The Lion King, enters the world of Star Wars in an era following the fall of the Empire, and before the advent of the First Order. 

The initial effect is slightly unsettling: an expansive rhythm and a rather limited use of words emphasizes the music (by Ludwig Goransson) and the scenery, which could easily hold up on the big screen. From the beginning it is clear that the aim of the series is not so much to make us run around galaxies in pursuit of villains of various shapes, but to immerse ourselves in an adventure much more exciting: the inner change of a man, the mysterious Mandalorian.

The epic tone of the series clearly refers to the western: the ramshackle inns where meetings for the delivery of prisoners and the collection of bounties are combined evoke the atmosphere of the saloons.

The Mandalorian, played by Pedro Pascal, belongs to a race of particularly skilled fighters known throughout the galaxy. At first, nothing is known about him: neither where he is from or where he is headed. Little by little we discover that his deeds are not on the whole noble, and his spaceship – which has the singular quality of being invisible to the radar of the former Empire – is directed to the capture of a thug worth a very lucrative bounty. All we learn about Mando is that he hates droids, is rather lonely, and is not given to chatter. A few other essential details will be revealed to us episode by episode. 

The encounter with what fans of the series call Baby Yoda, even if his name is never revealed, poses a moral problem for the protagonist. To protect that little green creature with big ears – which arouses an immediate tenderness, but in reality hides an enormous capacity to control the “strength” – the Mandalorian finds himself having to make unexpected choices, certainly not those of a bounty hunter whose only interest is money. 

Mando does not speak, but when he acts he does so following his own ethical code, which can be summarized in the cryptic Mandalorian motto, “This is the way”. And the way sometimes leads to protecting the weakest, as in the episode “The Refuge”, which takes place on the planet Sorgan where a community of Krill fishermen is beset by continuous raids by ferocious bandits who steal the harvest and threaten the survival of the inhabitants. Here, too, it is not difficult to see in the Mandalorian some traits of a mythical character from the western universe, the equally mysterious Shane, protagonist of the classic western of 1953.

Original Italian version by Stefania Garassini.

Discussion topics

  • The importance of a moral code for one’s choices;
  • The decision to pursue the good, at one’s own expense;
  • The need to protect the small and helpless;
  • Seriousness in carrying out one’s task.