The season one finale to Disney’s The Mandalorian is now streaming, to overwhelming acclaim, at that. For many, the eighth chapter of Disney+’s flagship streaming show — the first live-action scripted TV show in the “Star Wars universe” — redeemed an otherwise uneven first season. And to a large extent, I agree with that sentiment. However, much like the Sequel Trilogy itself, for my own part I will remember this first season of The Mandalorian for what it might’ve been as opposed to what it is.
Many of you, perhaps, are already aware of the story surrounding this show and how it was originally envisioned as one of the standalone “Star Wars anthology films,” in the vane of Rogue One and Solo. But with the latter of those receiving box-office-flop status, the Disney executives re-evaluated their cinematic investment in the “Star Wars universe,” resulting in a number of projects being put on hold or discarded completely. One of these is still likely to see the light of day, albeit re-worked as another streaming show, in a story revolving around Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (with Ewan McGregor slated to reprise his role). The other, of course, was a “bounty hunter movie” directed by James Mangold that was rumored to follow Boba Fett, likely utilizing the “Expanded Universe” lore as a basis for the plot. This idea was sidelined by the results of the critically panned Solo and re-worked into what we now have as The Mandalorian.
To be quite honest with you, after venting my frustrations following an utterly forgettable fifth chapter in the show, chapters six, seven, and eight really did pick up the pace, offering some truly captivating storytelling. In fact, chapter six already contains a top-5 Star Wars moment. The atmosphere of the sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters feels lightyears different than the first half and is, quite frankly, largely the show I expected to see. That I wanted to see. Chapters seven and eight capitalized on the “Baby Yoda” storyline and put that plot into hyperspace. And that, to me, is what is most frustrating. Chapter 8 feels like it should be Chapter 4. By which, I mean, it felt like the halfway point in a feature film — not the finale of a (pretty short) eight episode streaming show.
My biggest takeaway from The Mandalorian is the fact that it should’ve been a movie, and it shows. The sinister ambiance and vibe of chapters three and six are precisely what a show about a galaxy-hopping bounty hunter should feel like. Sadly, it appears, at this point, like that style of storytelling will be spattered throughout otherwise uneven seasons where one-off side-stories will be made to stand alongside better chapters. The streaming era of Star Wars looks promising, for sure. I’m just bummed we got robbed of a better movie.