Review

The Mandalorian Episode 1 Review - The Star Wars Show Shoots First, Answers Questions Later

  • First Released Nov 12, 2019
    released
  • television

The Mandalorian Episode 1 Review - The Star Wars Show Shoots First, Answers Questions Later

The Mandalorian is streaming now on Disney+.

After a galaxy's worth of hype, The Mandalorian--the first live-action Star Wars TV show--has arrived on Disney+. The series, from creator Jon Favreau, was a launch title for Disney's new streaming service and practically everything about the series was kept top secret. Now, though, Disney+ is here, and with it the first episode of The Mandalorian has premiered.

As far as first episodes go, The Mandalorian is a bit of a mixed bag. It manages to set up the ongoing plot of the series, introduce a few key characters, throw in quite a few of the Star Wars nods fans are going to be looking for, and end with a twist that's sure to have viewers talking. However, it does a poor job introducing you to the characters. What's more, this one episode alone expects viewers to soak up a lot of information that, unless you're a diehard Star Wars fan, will seem rather pointless.

The story is simple. The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is tasked with tracking down a mysterious bounty by someone we only know as the Client (Werner Herzog). Along the way he meets an Ugnaught named Kuiil (Nick Nolte) and a bounty droid called IG-11 (Taika Waititi). If you don't know any of their names, don't worry--they're not actually said in the show, and several of these actors are unrecognizable for various reasons (Pascal never takes his helmet off and Waititi voices a droid). But they are listed in the end credits.

No Caption Provided

That's one of the issues with the premiere: So much information is packed into any given moment of the episode that it can be hard to track. The premiere only runs 40 minutes, and throws a lot of elements at viewers--very quick flashes of the Mandalorian's childhood, nods to the history of the planet Mandalore, a number of familiar alien creatures, and more than one battle.

Visually, the first episode of The Mandalorian is stunning. Favreau and his creative team have gone to great lengths to make this story feel like a Western set in space. What's missing, however, is a reason to care about a lot of what's happening. You are immediately dropped into this character's world with no real indication of why he's someone you should be rooting for. Never seeing his face doesn't help; neither does the fact that he says about 30 words the entire episode.

Star Wars is at its best when there's a hero you can identify with and root for. Thus far, the protagonist of the Mandalorian remains a mystery. We know practically nothing about him, his motivations, or whether or not he's actually the hero of this story. He just looks cool, is great at fighting, and hates droids for some reason we might learn about in future episodes.

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But there's a lot to love about The Mandalorian too--the cinematography, the setting, the cast, the nods to what's happening in the Star Wars universe post-Return of the Jedi. It's also easy to love because, simply, it's a live-action Star Wars TV show and it's not outright bad. There's potential here for a show that can become great. For that to happen, though, the characters we've met thus far--and the ones that are still to come--need a better introduction.

As exciting as a Star Wars TV show is to Star Wars fans, this is a show that needs to work for general audiences and those that aren't hardcore fans too. As much fun as it might be for diehards to hear two people talk about the importance of Beskar ore, character development should also be in there somewhere.

With its first episode, The Mandalorian has made a statement about what a live-action Star Wars TV show looks like. Now, with the remaining seven episodes in Season 1, it needs to make a statement about how a Star Wars plot should unfold over a longer form of storytelling.

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Now Playing: The Mandalorian Episode 1 "Chapter 1" Easter Eggs & Breakdown

The Good
It's a visually stunning show
The overall plot is engaging
The twist ending will leave you excited for more
The Bad
There's practically no character development
It feels like you're joining a series in progress
The 40-minute episode is overstuffed with information
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Chris E. Hayner is a GameSpot Entertainment Editor and loves most movies, but especially Jaws and Paddington 2.
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UhhWhereAmI

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SPOILER ALERT !!!!!!!

Initial thoughts on the show: the bounty hunter's voice isn't deep/scary/commanding enough. Also, I can immediately tell in the first minute of the show that I am going to despise the blue fishman guy. He has jar-jar written all over his character. He is there to make the show more kid-friendly and light, which is NOT what Star Wars is supposed to be about. Star Wars is supposed to be scary and edgy and dark and intriguing and intense.

Minute 2: There is no way that speeder driver's hood stays covering his scalp when they're driving that fast. Looked so fake and took all the realism out of that scene.

Minute 3: The ice monster looks very PG-rated. Also, reeeally hating this blue fishman guy. I was so excited about this show, hoping it would get back to the dark, edgy feel of the original Star Wars movies.

Minute 6: OK WHEW !!! He's in cryofreeze (or whatever it's called). I'm praying he doesn't escape and become a main character.

So cool to see those other bounty hunters from the first movies !!!!!

The German guy ?Herzog? was a little TOO deathly-serious. Great guy to add that darkness and edge, just pulled it off a little over-the-top.

Just gonna take a guess here that the blacksmith, whom most people associate as being a male, is gonna end up being a female. Wow disney, you're really blowing our minds with tearing down traditional gender roles and making the world a better, more equal place (eye-roll occurring as I type).

2 seconds later: Yep, it's a female.

Oh geez, it's sinking in that this main bounty hunter character is a good guy.

Ummm.... He didn't hear or feel any vibrations from that 2-ton, fat T-Rex looking thing charging him ? Also, how did that teeny tiny gun scope display that large oval-shaped HUD ?

Hey, little troll guy on top of that fat T-rex, why did you kick at it on it's right side to make it turn to the left?

Ok so, I just lost all respect for the bounty hunter in the next scene where he tries to learn how to ride the ?Blurg? That scene just decreased his edgy/dark/cool factor by ALOT ! Great for kids though, right ?!! (ughhhhhh)

Oh wow, his destiny is coming full circle as he has now learned how to ride the blurg. Little troll guy shows his all-knowing nodding approval and everything seems to be coming together for him after only one step has occurre--- WHAT IS THIS HORRIBLE MUSIC ???!!!!! Ughhhhh

That orange rock he just walked up and laid down on the top of, looks fake as hell.

Again with the tiny round scope that somehow has a large oval-shaped view???

BOUNTY DROID WAS SO ABSOLUTELY AWESO--- wait, did he really just say "...droids..." That was pretty lame and way over-used.

Pretty cool how they're bringing in a ?Yoda-species? character ! It's finally getting interesting.

OK a few good things: Soooo happy and excited for more star wars stuff. Love how they've gone on this huge tangent and made a whole new story. Graphics are good, except for the ice monster thing. Guns are pretty good. He used a couple gadgets, which is definitely key to success. Gotta say, the bounty hunter's armor looks amazingly epic. Plot so far is intriguing.

Bad things: It's waaaaaay too PG. They've already decreased this guy's badass persona and now he's just a regular dude, who they will obviously use to inject humor occasionally, which I think is a very bad idea. They should've made him edgy and dark and mysterious; a true badass; who EVENTUALLY, down the road, becomes good and lightens up as he meets friends who help him feel more comfortable blah blah blah. PLEASE LET THIS BE THE LAST OF THE STUPID BLUE FISHMAN GUY !

Ok so overall, not too bad at al--- IT'S ONLY 38 MINUTES LONG ?????!!!!!!! Ughhh They're really gonna drag this thing out.....

2 • 
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Ross_the_Boss6

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@uhhwhereami:

I can’t tell if this is a joke post. I don’t know how you can watch any of the Star Wars films and think this has ever been a dark and edgy franchise.

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RogerioFM

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@uhhwhereami: Yeah man, don't expect the PG thing to change it IS star wars on a disney channel after all, having said that, Clone Wars has some seriously messed up shit for a kids show, so maybe we can expect the same as it goes on. Hopefully, after all shows are build on ho... *Gets blasted*

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rtapley

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I think reviews like this are part of what is pushing me to check IGN first. I'm not a die hard Star Wars fan that is ready to over react to anyone that says anything bad about the franchise, but the fact that they gave this a 7 out of 10 is ridiculous. The reviewer complains that they are packing too much information into the 40 minute episode, and then goes on to say that they didn't give enough background information. The episode is very reminiscent of western movies that typically didn't give every detail of the characters back story in the first 35 minutes. I think it adds to the mystery of the first episode that sets up several interesting questions that would make even the small percentage of non Star Wars viewers want to come back to see what happens next. This was a poor review by someone that seems to be making an effort to be the "heel" and give a series that has a movie quality production value, acting, and engaging story such a mediocre score.

4 • 
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JSprunk

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So is Disney not releasing the entire series all at once like every other streaming service does with their series? Fkn sucks.

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DereksDontRun

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I’m a Force Awakens/Last Jedi hater, but I liked Rogue One a lot. This one had a similar vibe. As in it had a logical plot. So far. Time will tell.

2 • 
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JSprunk

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@DereksDontRun: I'm a Star Wars hater in general, but I liked the last 5 minutes of Rogue One.

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firedrakes

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There's practically no character development... its the first dam ep ....

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Harbringar

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@firedrakes: Yeah, this review would be accurate if it was a movie, but its not, its a series. I dont get the hate..

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firedrakes

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@harbringar: its due to older star wars fans. that want the overall franchise to stay the same.... if a story does not change a little bit its forgotten.

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alastor529

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While i don't enjoy Rogue One much i always gave it credit for being by FAR the best looking and best shot Star-wars film EVER.

This pilot episode seems be taking the best aspects of that and doing something different from what is in the mainline films.

I'm hoping for this to be what Marvel's Daredevil show was for the MCU. a welcome departure that is different in tone and grittiness but is also an extension of the bigger picture

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harl3quin

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@alastor529: I agree that Rogue One has the best looking shots compared to other Star Wars movie, too bad that more scenes were cut but present in the trailer. If this is what The Mandalorian brings to the table I am more than welcome and the story would judge at the finale when they wrap it up.

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Pierce_Sparrow

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Couldn't really have asked for a much better start to the show. I don't know why you feel the need to have everything explained to you and have the characters divulge all this info, but I think it's actually better for not doing it. Why would these characters explain any of this stuff? They live in this world. They know everything you're asking for already. There's little worse when it comes to TV/movie writing than to have everything explained, especially through dialogue, purely for the sake of divulging information to the audience when the characters would never actually do that. And this is coming from someone who's not even a big Star Wars fan. But I DO like the way this show is done. Gritty and edgier than the usual content. I really like that the main character is appropriately bad ass too. I really have no idea what the story is, but I can't say I care all that much right now either. There was enough in the first episode for me to become fully invested. Hopefully the season maintains the same kind of quality.

9 • 
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DEVILTAZ35

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So why give a 7 to complete trash?

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DaShaka

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Watched it a few hours ago, some parts could have been a little grittier, but it’s an 8/10 for me so far.

4 • 
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siarhei

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You guys are insane if you think it's a 7.

Did you give Firefly pilot that score too?

4 • 
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GamerOuTLaWzz

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I dont like having to subscribe to ANOTHER movie/serie service but man this serie is so tempting...

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DaShaka

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@gameroutlawzz: just sub for a month once all the episodes are out, and binge them.

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ganondorf77

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@dashaka: until all those streaming services agree on some kind of commitment to stay clause for all subscribers, perhaps then people will understand how bad all this is, all the power we still give them. We should never subscribe to anything ever. Keep up giving money.

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DEVILTAZ35

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@gameroutlawzz: Currently in OZ Disney is on Stan anyway. Not sure how this affects that contract.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@gameroutlawzz: I noticed they've got a $15/month deal for Disney+, ESPN, and Hulu (not sure at what level). That sounds a lot more worth it than just Disney, but I didn't investigate to see if it's as good as it appeared at first glance.

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ZmanBarzel

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@mogan: It's the ad-supported version of Hulu.

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JustPlainLucas

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I kinda want to get Disney+ for this, but I kinda don't. I can't even keep up with my own Netflix and Amazon Video list, so I don't want to add yet another sub streaming service to try to keep on.

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Mogan

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@JustPlainLucas: You could wait for all the episodes to come out and then sign up for the free week, binge it, and then cancel.

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JustPlainLucas

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@mogan said:

@JustPlainLucas: You could wait for all the episodes to come out and then sign up for the free week, binge it, and then cancel.

I might just have to do that. I'll probably wait for a few more shows, like Loki and what not so that I can get the most out of my free month.

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DEVILTAZ35

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Edited By DEVILTAZ35

@mogan: i did that with Westworld lol. Then just leave it a month or so , change the email address you use to log in and get another free month :)

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Midna

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Is bill burr in this episode!?!? Let me know when bill burr is in an episode.

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Mogan

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@midna: He wasn't, neither was Gina Carono.

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so_hai

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They got an aesthetic right but forgot what they were filming for: something worth your interest.

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jerusaelem

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@so_hai: What a perfect one sentence review of all three Lucas prequels.

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so_hai

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@jerusaelem: At least he had the balls to make films.

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RogerioFM

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@so_hai: Certainly it captured mine.

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gamingdevil800

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I like that he keeps the mask on they aren't supposed to be there to "look cool" one of my major gripes with Kylo Ren is that he takes his mask off at every opportunity.

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5tu88sy

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@gamingdevil800: Yeah, imagine Vader constantly removing his helmet. Would be kinda strange and a little comical.

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BigJerm1

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@5tu88sy: Vader never wore a helmet until he required one to keep him alive. I think it's fairly safe to assume he would have never worn one if it wasn't necessary, and that he would have gladly taken it off frequently if he was able. Kylo's is stupid, and worn because of hero worship for Vader.

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judaspete

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@BigJerm1: I thought having Kylo Ren smash his helmet was a great choice. Kinda disapointed he put it back together for the new movie. Maybe it will work in the context of the film, but right now I would prefer he left it in pieces.

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AlexxanderOzzy

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Edited By AlexxanderOzzy

An 8 out of 10. Yes, it's more plot-driven than character. But the show's creators led by Faverau and Filoni know SW inside and out. It's an updated Western/Samurai tale with both old and new elements of the universe.

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cjtopspin

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Edited By cjtopspin

...I'm here because RDR2 crashed again...

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DEVILTAZ35

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@cjtopspin: PC? I heard a few people are having issues. Possibly just too many CPU's and GPU's out there for Rockstar to properly test compatibility with.

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cjtopspin

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@deviltaz35: Yeah. It ran flawlessly on my PS4 but it doesn't look nearly as good as PC. But...I can only play for an hour on PC until it crashes. It's a buggy mess. It's sad because it is a beautiful game to play.

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