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10 standout things about “The Mandalorian” series

Photo by Scott Ruether via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).

It’s official: “The Mandalorian” is sending me back into a “Star Wars” phase. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, viewers from around the world witnessed the beginning of a new saga from a galaxy far, far away. The new Disney+ series elicited mostly positive reviews, but after seeing a few negative comments pointing to the show’s apparent slow pace or lack of dialogue, I felt compelled to make a list of the ten things I liked the most.

1.     Protagonist

What can I say? I like mysterious men. While knowing that Pedro Pascal, aka Oberyn Martell, plays the Mandalorian doesn’t hurt, the bounty hunter’s incredible armor, physical prowess and impressive assortment of weapons makes him an attractive anti-hero regardless. His walk is marked by a general sense of bada**ery and his flowing cape puts Superman’s suit to shame. Though his dialogue is scarce, we nevertheless get a good look at his remarkable reputation and combat abilities. Who needs dialogue when you’re the best bounty hunter in the galaxy?

2.     Bar fight

I’m always a fan of a well-orchestrated bar fight. In the first scene, we see a classic bar beatdown after some grubby thugs pick a fight with our new favorite bounty hunter. The Mandalorian shows them who’s boss and shows off some creative ways to kill in the process. He then finds his target, a blue alien named Mythrol, and lays out his many options. “I can bring you in warm,” he suggests, “or I can bring you in cold,” gesturing to the gun resting comfortably in its holster. It is the first of many scenes that give a Wild-West vibe, and also one of many that made me nod and say, “Nice.”

3.     Subtle humor

Though some might think it to be cheesy, I happen to love the wholesome, (half) witty banter present in the “Star Wars” franchise. When the protagonist asks about the reward for an assignment, he is utterly disappointed at the bounty: a mere 5,000 of an unknown currency. “That won’t even cover fuel these days,” the Mandalorian laments. It’s nice to know that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, gas prices are still an issue.

4.     The armorer

After accepting his toughest mission yet, the Mandalorian’s new client gifts him a piece of Beskar steel, a hint at the massive reward awaiting him. The Mandalorian brings it to an armorer, a fellow Mando with an equally awesome get-up, and she melts it down and makes it into a new pauldron (shoulder piece). The woman is decked out in a combination of red and gold Beskar metal and furs that add a rugged element to the otherwise sleek ensemble. Her helmet is gold and particularly Greek-looking, reminding me of a time-traveling Spartan.

5.     Tragic backstory

In the dramatic armory scene, the Mandalorian reminisces that he was “once a foundling.” We then see a tragic scene of him as a child fleeing violence with his parents who (we assume) are ultimately killed. While we don’t know exactly what happened, his tragic backstory affords the character a fair degree of angst. Pair tragedy with cynicism, and we have a perfect rogue on our hands.

6.     Old sidekick

Perhaps my favorite character is the Mandalorian’s sidekick — a short, old alien that bears a striking resemblance to the Grinch as a child. After saving the Mandalorian from some wild blurrgs (a species of weird, tadpole looking-bipeds), he deems himself the bounty hunter’s new accomplice. He leaves no room for questions after deciding upon his role, shutting down the Mandalorian’s protests by saying, “I have spoken.” He is placid and self-assured, serving up some pleasant Yoda vibes and making him a fan favorite.

7.     Blurrg-riding training sequence

About half-way through the episode, we learn one of the Mandalorian’s most pronounced faults — he doesn’t know how to ride a blurrg. After his new sidekick informs him that he requires a blurrg to navigate the planet’s rocky terrain, the Mandalorian is forced to rise to the challenge in order to capture his target. In a scene that feels Western-inspired, the Mandalorian breaks a wild Blurrg, making him appear even more of a space cowboy. With the help of his new elderly mentor, the bounty hunter becomes a pro blurrg-rider in no time.

8.     Bounty droid

In a time when humans face constant anxiety about being replaced by machines, the Mandalorian faces a similar conundrum. After arriving at his target’s location, a heavily fortified warehouse guarded by some mean-looking aliens, the Mandalorian realizes that a bounty droid beat him to the punch. The bounty droid ends up joining the Mandalorian after they agree to split the reward, though the droid insists he gets the reputation credits. The two narrowly defeat the group of thugs despite the bounty droid’s multiple attempts to initiate a self-destruct sequence. Although the Mandalorian ends up shooting the droid, the droid served as a familiar face in the “Star Wars” franchise and added some comedic reprieve to the shoot-out scene.

9.     The 50-year-old baby

One of the only pieces of information the Mandalorian receives about his target is that they are 50 years old. After breaking in to the warehouse however, he stumbles upon a creature that looks much more like an infant than an adult. While the bounty hunter’s old sidekick may give off Yoda vibes, the baby looks like Yoda in the flesh. In fact, according to every source I could find, the baby is the same species as Yoda, though the species has yet to be officially named. The species’ slow-aging process explains why Yoda lived to 900 years old and why the 50-year-old specimen is more akin to an infant. Regardless, that baby is adorable, and the Mandalorian better protect it with his life.

10.  Lore galore

Mandalorian? More like Manda-lore-ian. The first episode contains a fun blend of lore, action and dialogue that the “Star Wars” buff and “Star Wars” novice can both enjoy. We hear mention of the mythical metal that makes Mandalorians’ armor virtually indestructible (Beskar) and hear reference to rather obscure “Star Wars” holidays like Life Day. While my intention isn’t to dissect every Easter egg in the series premiere, I can assure you that the episode contained plenty of moments for “Star Wars” fans to conduct a thorough geek out.

Celine Butler is a fourth-year history and psychology double major  with a minor in French. CB869071@wcupa.edu

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