Now that we have all digested the first episode of this season’s The Mandalorian, we no doubt turn to episode 2 this Friday, but Episode 1 stood out in so many ways. It makes the rest of the season even more intriguing because we can ask what will they pull out of lore next. Episode 1 drew from the movies, the books, and even games that are classified as Legends material. Some of these moments were ‘WTF! Is that what I think it is?!’ while others were more subtle, but still exciting for fans saturated in lore past. For lack of a better word let’s call these ‘stand out moments’ in the first episode.
Stand Out Moment 1 – Using Old Species
One thing that became a stand out moment for me right away comes from the creature department. One thing I hated about the sequels were the lack of established species. Unless it happened to be a known character, the sequels seemed devoid of established species with only rare exceptions. Right out of the gate with Episode 1 we bring back two classic old school species in the Gamorrean and the Abyssin.
The only Gamorreans we knew of before this came from Jabba’s palace. While strong, they were fat and slow. Makes sense because who would attack Jabba at his palace. Here we see two extremely fit Gamorreans going toe-to-toe in a gladiatorial arena. This subtle difference really adds a depth to the race we never had before. This episode seemed packed with this. Then you add the Abyssin. The last time one of these species showed up was in 1977 in the Cantina. Then over his shoulder we see a few new species. Nice to see Favreau drawing from all depths of species lore – old and new.
Stand Out Moment 2 – Old Friends
Din quickly get sent back to Tatooine on the trail of a Mandalorian. Many times characters get used once or twice and get thrown away, not matter how much they are liked. In season 1, Peli Motto brought a rough, but funny presence to Din’s hanger experience. Her interactions with him made viewers laugh, and of course her interacting with the Child helped too. Add in the long lost antics of pit droids and it was nice to see her included once more. At this point I think we can call her a friend to Din and his mission.
Then we get one of those double take moments. To show Din where the lost town of Mos Pelgo use to reside, she calls forth a droid. She calls out R5, which really doesn’t mean much. Calling out for a Ford Fusion is the same thing. Droids in the Star Wars world are no different than cars or televisions, but this R5 happens to not only be red but also sports many of the same markings as the poor guy that blew his motivator back in A New Hope. Sure enough. Tatooine circles run small and somehow the little droid made it from the Sandcrawler to the space port. Peli even makes the comment about how slow it is. Apparently, his motivator hasn’t improved over the decade.
Stand Out Moment 3 – It Looks THAT good!
From this point on this episode transforms from season 1’s narrow view and tight close ups of the action to broad, sweeping panoramic shots of Tatooine. Favreau talked about a bigger, more epic scope going forward. He achieved that and more! I won’t go into much more detail as I talk about it at length HERE.
From the Macro to the micro, attention to detail did not drop off. In one quick scene we see some scurriers. These little rodents first showed up in the 97 special edition of A New Hope. They were nothing more than foreground fodder then, and even though they essentially are that once more, the level of detail on these little, inconsequential creatures blew my mind. They looked so real! This once again shows Favreau’s level of detail as he draws from past lore.
One other subtle wow moment to me were the Banthas. In 1977 Lucas wrangled up a couple of elephants and threw the horned and hairy blankets over them. If you look closely several times you can see elephant trunks from under the costumes. Favreau obviously did not use elephants, but in every way he recreated these hairy steeds in amazing detail. Unlike ’77 these even had mouths that opened and worked. Favreau also used multiple Banthas. From a budget perspective this really made me go wow because of the amazing detail.
Stand Out Moment 4 – The Tuskens Become More
When we first meet the Tuskens in A New Hope, they are nothing more than a savage, brutal people whose communication amounted to nothing more than grunts and animalistic cries. Favreau does an amazing job turning these ‘sand people’ into an actual, civilized culture.
At first when the Tuskens begin speaking I hated their voices. They sounded nothing like the Tuskens from ’77. The pitch was off. The noises seemed completely wrong. It just didn’t work…but then one of them got pissed! Now THERE was the Tusken sound I knew. The ‘off’ sound wasn’t off, it simply showed how they sounded when they weren’t yelling at something or someone. I do wish they developed the sign language a bit more. It seemed to simple and repetitive. It felt like something the actors did randomly instead of someone actually developing it or using real sign language, but a minor point.
Also, the favored weapon of the Tuskens go by the name Gaderffi or ‘gaffi’ sticks. Nope. From now on they will forever be known as Bantha toothpicks after the scene where a Tusken uses one to clean his Bantha’s teeth. It will make those flossing sticks in the dental aisle take on a whole new meaning.
Stand Out Moment 5 – Mando. Not Mando
While legends answered this question long ago, the canon never answered the question – Did Boba Fett survive the Sarlacc Pit? Rumors of a Boba film fluttered around a few years ago, reviving the question, but nothing ever came of it. fans continued to chew on this question throughout season 1 as well. In a show about a Mandalorian, would the most infamous Mandalorian (not Mandalorian) bounty hunter resurface? Then a scene in Chuck Wendig’s Empire’s End strongly hints that Fett’s armor lies in the possession of some Jawas. Also, a scene in last season’s ‘The Gunslinger’ strongly suggested his return, but it remained unverified.
The question finally receives its due diligence as what comes walking through the cantina’s door but the armor itself! It obviously was not Fett. The build looked completely wrong, and sure enough the marshal does not go by the name Fett. In fact the character turns out to be Cobb Vanth, the character from the afore mentioned Wendig book! Even without though, we took a giant step closer to Fett’s actual fate.
Stand Out Moment 6 – Gotta Have Cute!
The Child served absolutely no purpose in this episode. Remove him and it changes nothing. Well, except it removes a whole lot of cute. From his simple presence to characters interacting with him the Child steals every scene he show up in. It can be a simple smile to flapping ears and a huge smile as he rides the speeder bike, but two times he really over does it.
The first comes at the beginning of the show. The second he sees Din arm his Whistling Birds, the Child instantly gets that ‘Oh $#!*’ look on his face and hurriedly closes his capsule. The second moment comes on the heels of the Krayt invasion in Mos Pelgo. The tremors scare everyone, so of course the Child becomes scared too. Where does the little guy hide? The old west equivalent of the tobacco spit jar in the old west. When his little head creeps up over the lip I died laughing. Good thing no one in Mos Pelgo spits tobacco.
Stand Out Moment 7 – Odds and Ends
Din and Vanth need to go check out the Krayt dragon’s lair. We see Din on his rather pathetic excuse of a speeder bike, so we know the Marshal will zoom up along side him, but when Vanth’s ‘speeder bike’ turns out to be a modified seat on the side of Anakin Skywalkers pod racer engine I began jumping up and down! Where did that come from?! Once again, Favreau shows off his ingenious lore-combing abilities. Who would expect Ani’s podracer to resurface some 55 years later? While completely out of place, it still fit perfectly and gave fans some thing to drool over. We know Qui-Gonn sold the pod, but that is the last we know of its whereabouts. Apparently, what exists on Tatooine stays on Tatooine – forever! Only in Star Wars do inanimate objects beg for stories about their life.
Then we have an item so inconsequential, so obscure it should not even exist. Its a stupid background prop that some prop director told some black guy to carry back in 1979. From there the legend of Willrow Hood and his ice cream machine was born. We saw this pop up last season, but once again we see Vanth grab something as he flees Mos Pelgo. I turns out to be none other than the ice cream machine once more. This little prop has turned into quite the running gag. From now on the game will be ‘spot Willrow’s ice cream machine’.
Stand Out Moment 8 – They’re BAAaack.
Once again Favreau’s use of the Tuskens comes through with an amazing throwback scene. Vanth and Din walk into a bar…..wait we did that one. Vanth and Din walk into a canyon. Something obviously spooks them, but we do not know what immediately. Then out of the rocks crawl several Tusken Massiffs. These not only come from Attack of the Clones, but their characteristics are identical. They are simply large sand puppies. Once Din calls out to them they go from ferocious to playful. I love that Din scratches and plays with the one like it were a German Shepard.
Then their masters come out. From here we see even more about the Tuskens and their culture. While Din acknowledges their brutality and fierceness, he also tells Vanth they are a people, just like Mos Pelgo. For the first time viewers can feel a sympathy and empathy for the Tuskens. Tatooine is not exactly the easiest of planets to live on. Now go watch Attack of the Clones and tell me the Scene where Anakin cuts down every last one of them doesn’t change. To quote Old Ben “Were we any different?”
Stand Out Moment 9 – Near Speechless
Of course we eventually reach the climax of the episode. Team Mando Vs the Mighty Krayt Dragon. The Mandalorian belongs on the little screen. It streams small budget stories and gives them room to tell stories that otherwise would not fit on the big screen. Not anymore. When the Krayt came out of the Sarlaac cave, I think about everyone lost their minds. the quality, scope and use of the Krayt belongs in a major motion picture (named Dune). The sheer mass, quality of its rendering and believability prove in today’s day and age ANYTHING is possible.
Now a few overzealous fans complained this was not a Krayt dragon because all other rendering had four legs and looked like a dragon. Who cares! First off there is no canon appearance of the Krayt, save the skeleton from A New Hope. Secondly, adding the legs to something like that would have made both filming and rendering more expensive and problematic. Either way the creature looked gorgeous.
During this final scene two more stand out moments happen. The first comes when Din knows he needs to try and get inside the Dragon. How does he get Vanth out of the way? The exact same way Han does to Boba in Return of the Jedi. Smack it and off it goes! You would think Mandalorians might design that flaw out of the system.
The final moment comes as shockingly as Anakin’s engine did earlier. Something I did not see coming, but gave me goose bumps when it did. The fight ends. Team Mando wins and the Tuskens begin harvesting their Krayt meat. They spend more time on this than I thought, and honestly, I kept waiting for the Child to take a bite out of the slab it stood by. All of sudden a rummaging Tusken stands upright, hoisting a giant Krayt pearl. Being an avid Knights of the Old Republic and Old Republic gamer, I became giddy once more and started bouncing up and down in my chair.
Like Anakin’s engine I never would have thought to include something like that, but since Favreau did include it, it simply drove home home awesome he remains at digging hidden gems out of old material for show use.
Stand Out Moment 10 – It’s HIM!
We watch Din zoom off into the sunset, and then HE shows up. The second the silhouette appears, I think every Star Wars diehard knew exactly who watched Din leave. Everything screams Tusken from the rifle to the Bantha toothpick to the robes, but sure enough as the figure turns we see Temuera Morrison’s face. Boba Fett officially lives! Aged and heavily scarred, we know Boba will feature heavily in the events to come.
But how? Do not expect a fight. Boba would have abandoned the armor, or if not you cannot tell me a bounty hunter like Boba could not have easily taken it back from Cobb. Boba is the missing link. Din does not search for Yoda’s people. No one knows them. Din seeks out the mysterious warriors of the force – the Jedi. Boba not only has plenty of first hand experience with the Jedi, but he knows personally of Luke Skywalker. I’m guessing Boba is the clue that sends Din to Hoth in search of Skywalker.
Stand Out Moments – Final Thoughts
Well there we have 10 amazing stand out moments from the very first episode of the season, and most of those contain multiple moments within them. Favreau continues to show his love and mastery of storytelling and fan service. I will be surprised if any of the other directors go as deep into the lore as Favreau, but they will each advance the story in their own way. Just take note. When you see Favreau directed the episode, expect great things!