Baby Yoda might be the only reason to watch The Mandalorian

Here's to hoping season 2 is better

According to Alexa, The Mandalorian lacks complexity.
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Just like every crush I've ever had, Disney+’s The Mandalorian seemed great but ultimately left me disappointed.

Despite Star Wars fans’ long-awaited excitement, the spin-off series is several episodes too long, without any real substance. The show lacks plot and character complexity evident in nearly every other installment in the Star Wars franchise, meaning fans of the Force are bound to be let down.

After Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for more than $4 billion, they announced the eventual release of three live-action Star Wars television series on their streaming service, Disney+. The first of the three, The Mandalorian, became available for streaming Nov. 12, acting as a precursor to the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Cassian Andor series currently deep in pre-production.

The show’s main character and its namesake, The Mandalorian (played by Game of Thrones alum Pedro Pascal), is introduced to viewers as one of the most skilled bounty hunters and gifted warriors in the galaxy. In the series’ first few episodes, he easily defeats rivals and raiders in repetitive fights, proving that he’s basically invincible.

Right off the bat, the stakes already aren’t high enough for the audience to be entertained: if he can defeat anyone, what’s there to fear?

The Mandalorian is perhaps most concisely summarized by his words to a fugitive in Chapter One: “I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold.” He’s ruthless every chance he gets, and he’s feared by nearly every character he meets—his lack of empathy is evident.

Things take a turn, however, when he’s asked to retrieve a bounty known as “The Child” for a client who wants him for some unidentified (yet obviously sinister) purpose. This child turns out to be the little green goblin the Internet has dubbed “Baby Yoda,” and it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

After successfully delivering Baby Yoda to his client, the Mandalorian has a change of heart. In Chapter Three, he betrays his client and rescues Baby Yoda from a horrific fate, battling the client’s armed minions and other bounty hunters along the way. But this adds up to a major inconsistency. Namely, are we supposed to accept that the ruthless Mandalorian risks his reputation and his life simply because Baby Yoda is cute? This makes little sense, given his characterization thus far in the show, and even less when you consider that this event is what the plotline of the entire show hinges upon.

Pedro Pascal performs well as The Mandalorian, though he isn’t given much to work with. His character speaks in simple sentences and never removes his helmet, creating a lack of emotional depth. Although I understand the purpose of the helmet for the development of The Mandalorian’s character, it does a disservice to Pascal as an actor.

Those who know Pascal as the magnetic Javier Peña in Narcos or the charismatic Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones will be sorely disappointed to see Pascal’s talents for subtlety wasted with his face hidden underneath a mask.

With a story this concise (The Mandalorian clocks in at just over 5 hours), it’s tedious to sit through episodes with little effect on the show’s overarching plot, but this is the case for a lot of the episodes. Most of the middle chapters feel like space-filler episodes with very intricate set design. While this lends to building gorgeous new worlds with interesting characters (such as the planet Sorgan and the people inhabiting it in Chapter Four), they’re shown so infrequently that they’re easily forgotten by viewers. A series with eight episodes can’t afford to have any filler episodes, but somehow, The Mandalorian manages to have five.

Despite all this, the show is still worth watching even if only for the season finale alone. If only every episode could be like Chapter Eight. Directed by Taika Waititi, the man behind What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarök, and Jojo Rabbit, it has more life than all the previous episodes combined. Although this change in tone is welcome, it’s out of place in an otherwise serious show. Had the rest of the show matched the finale’s tone, maybe I would have been less bored sitting through meaningless Chapters Two through Six. The show ends by introducing a new villain, setting up the next season to be better than its first.

The real question is whether it’s unreasonable for us to expect The Mandalorian to be on par with other prestigious television series on other streaming services. With a show that costs $15 million per episode, I don’t think anyone would blame me for wanting a more comprehensive and complicated plot with a wider cast of characters, reflecting our world in a galaxy that looks nothing like our own.

In the end, that’s the appeal of Star Wars and is especially evident in the past with Rogue One (2016) and the animated series The Clone Wars (2008-2014). Maybe I want a completely different show, but what we’re given is enough.

Even if the next season is a dumpster fire, I’ll still watch anything with Baby Yoda in it, so I’m sold.

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