There’s a lot to unpack from the first episode of The Mandalorian. From new characters, lore, and mysteries, we talk about it all in our recap!
Today brings about our first ever live-action Star Wars TV series and it brings a LOT to the table. While I don’t normally do TV show recaps (I’ve honestly never watched so much scripted television before now), as a long-time Star Wars fan, this feels like a great time to dive into it!
Be warned, in this recap I’ll be doing a whole lot of spoiling, as well as a fair bit of speculating about what it all means. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet and want to go in fresh, you may want to hold off on reading.
Still here? Okay, let’s talk about Episode 1 of The Mandalorian, the story, Easter eggs, and more!
As I said, I don’t do many recaps, so I’m going to run this a bit different than others. I won’t belabor you with a written up break down of every scene in the show (I mean, nothing I write will adequately capture the awesomeness of watching it). Instead, I’m going to highlight certain elements, talk about what they mean and why they’re probably important to remember.
The first episode starts us off on a snowy planet, as the Mandalorian enters a cantina where a group of rough and tumble guys are threatening an alien. It doesn’t take long for things to escalate as we’re treated to a firsthand look at how dangerous our new “hero” is as he dispatches the thugs with ease.
This scene serves as an excellent intro to the character and the overall tone of the show. We get the gritty and live-in vibe, along with hints of the more intense action (a dude gets cut in half!), but also see hints of the humor. It also firmly establishes that our titular hero is not to be trifled with. Beyond dispatching the thugs with flair and ease, he handles the monstrous Ravinak ice monster without losing his cool.
Meeting the Guild
The Mandalorian returns to an unknown planet in order to claim the money from his handful of carbon-frozen bounties. While it’s not named, it sure seems like this planet is the main location of the Bounty Hunting Guild, or at least a major outpost for it. The cantina we enter is obviously filled with other bounty hunters, and seems home to various enclaves of people (including one just for Mandalorians, but we’ll get to that later).
This is where we meet Greef Carga, who’s role in the guild seems to be a middle-man for handing out new contracts and paying them off. Times seem to be tight, however, as with the Empire gone lawlessness is increasing. As such, people seem to be bypassing the Guild and not worrying as much about the consequences. Greef says as much when the Mandalorian asks for more bounties to collect, before offering him a different kind of deal…
Greef tells the Mandalorian about a secretive client with deep pockets who wants to meet face-to-face. The client seems to be a former Imperial of some sort, as he wears a necklace with the Imperial Cog front and center on display. Of course, that’s not to mention the Imperial Stormtroopers guarding him.
The Client isn’t very forthcoming with details on the bounty (referred to as “the asset” for much of the episode), but makes a compelling offer: Beskar. In both the new canon and Legends material, Beskar is one of the most important metals around. It’s durability makes it impervious to blasters and even Lightsabers. It hold special importance to Mandalorian culture. With the promise of much more to come (on top of the bar given as a down payment), our hero jumps at the chance.
The Beskar, however, is contingent on bringing the asset in “alive.” This seems to be an important point for the other character working with the Client: Doctor Pershing. There’s little to know info on this character, but he seems to be a scientist of some kind who’s incredibly eager to get his hands on this asset. He seems particularly distraught at the idea that the bounty may not be brought in alive.
There’s a Mandalorian enclave on the planet that we get to see, as the main character goes to have his small bar of Beskar turned into some piece of armor. Frankly, I LOVE the look of the Armorer and can’t wait to see more of her throughout the series. She seems to be an important figure in this enclave and even among a bunch of armored characters, she manages to stand out and look incredibly cool.
While this sequence isn’t long, it seems to have the most lore and character implications built into it. The Armorer mentions “Foundlings” which are assumed to be orphaned kids picked up on various travels. We learn that the title hero himself is a Foundling and are treated to some brief flashbacks of him as a child. While brief, these flashbacks reveal he was (most likely) orphaned during the Clone Wars, as we can see glimpses of Super Battle Droids in the background.
I’m sure we’ll end up getting more of these flashbacks as the series goes on, but it was definitely neat to see them in this first episode. There’s also mention of the Mandalorian not having his “Signet” revealed just yet, which would presumably go onto the armor being made for him. Perhaps this has something to do with individual clans within the Mandalorian groups, or a rank. Either way, it’s a nice tease of what’s to come.
Beyond the personal information, another tidbit of lore for fans is a mention of the “Great Purge” by the Armorer. I’m eager to learn more about this specific Mandalorian enclave and how it will come into play throughout the series.
On the Hunt
The Mandalorian, having been attacked by a local species known as blurggs, meets up with an Ugnaught named Kuiil on the planet where the asset is held. Kuill helps the Mandalorian learn how to ride a blurgg so that he can reach the bounty.
Kuiil seems like an enigmatic character holding a wealth of knowledge while ending most of his sentences with “I have spoken.” He claims to help because the planet he’s on, where people come to “find peace” is no longer peaceful with the asset held there.
Turns out whoever is holding the asset doesn’t want them to go anywhere. The compound is filled with trigger happy guards, but with the help of another bounty hunter showing up, IG-11, the pair are able to win the day and discover the asset they worked so hard to acquire.
For me, there are THREE main questions I have leaving this episode. First of all, what the hell is up with that baby Yoda creature?! Obviously this isn’t Yoda, but a member of his (as yet) unnamed species, who is still an infant despite being 50 years old.
I have a strong feeling this child/bounty will form the heart of the first season’s storyline as the Mandalorian deals with the precious cargo and all those who seek to claim it. My guess is that this species isn’t all that common, which could be a primary reason why Dr. Pershing has such a strong interest in getting them back alive and unharmed.
If he’s ex-Imperial as well, perhaps this Yoda-baby could give them a means to return to power in some way. Maybe all of this species have a unique connection to the Force which they want to explore. As I said, it’s a big question mark, but certainly one of the intriguing additions to Star Wars lore in a while. I mean, this could have some massive repercussions for stories going into the future.
As for the second big question; IG-11 and the Mandalorian’s first encounter makes it clear they weren’t expecting to see one another. Each thinking they’d been the only ones hired. The first thought is that the Client may have hired more than one bounty hunter, fearing the Mandalorian wouldn’t be able to deliver. This is quickly dismissed, however, as IG-11 states that he was hired specifically to terminate the asset.
Looks like two separate parties are on the hunt for this youngling. So who else has put a bounty out and to what purpose do they hope to put the baby? For that matter, is IG-11 completely taken out or will he return later in the series to take revenge for the Mandalorian’s betrayal….?
The third question on my mind involves a bit more wild speculation: Is the Mandalorian able to use the Force? Now hear me out on this one. During the scene where the Mandalorian is trying to ride the blurgg, he keeps getting bucked off and super frustrated. Once Kuiil scolds him, however, he calms down and takes a different approach.
Somehow, he’s able to calm the animal enough to be able to jump on its back and ride without issue. The last time we saw something like this was in Attack of the Clones as Anakin used the Force to pacify the creature in the arena. Couple that with the Mandalorian being a war orphan during the Clone Wars, young enough that the Jedi may not have been able to discover him, and there’s some potential to this theory.
The Easter Eggs
As you can imagine, The Mandalorian is packed with Easter eggs for long-time fans to take note of. While a few may have bigger story implications down the road, or part of the overall world-building, there are a few that are (probably) nothing more than fun nods for fans to find. Here are some of the ones I noticed:
*When The Mandalorian arrives at the location to meet with “The Client” the door is answered by a TT-8L/Y7 droid. The same kind Jabba used at his palace gate during Return of the Jedi.
*Within the first few minutes the Mandalorian’s first bounty, a Mythrol, mentions how he hoped to be free by “Life Day.” Many fans know this from the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special in the 70s, as it’s the Star Wars equivalent of the Christmas holidays.
*Kowakian Monkey-Lizard for lunch. It seems Porgs aren’t the only creature getting roasted in the new era of Star Wars. A pair of kowakian monkey-lizards, the species of Jabba’s court-jester (Salacius B. Crumb) can be seen as the Mandalorian walks the streets. One is roasting on a spit while the other watches helplessly from a cage.
*The Mythosaur gets a name-drop. If you don’t recognize the name, you most certainly recognize the symbol. The Mythosaur skull is the iconic emblem of Mandalorians first introduced to fans by Boba Fett.
While the Mythosaur has been mentioned a number of times in the old Expanded Universe (Legends), this is the first time it’s been heard mentioned in the new Canon. Nick Nolte’s Ugnaught character mentions it to the Mandalorian as he tries to ride the blurgg, saying his people once rode them.
In the Legends material, this was also part of the lore as Mandalorian warriors tamed these dragon-like beasts. So it’s neat to see that aspect kept into the canon, though who knows if they’ll actually delve into that further than this.
*Early on in the episode, Greef Carga tries to pay in old Imperial credits, but with the Empire gone they don’t seem to be worth very much. Instead, he offers Calamari Flan, which is obviously a reference to the Mon Calamari species (Admiral Ackbar). While it’s an off-hand reference, it does give an idea about the state of the galaxy.
As the New Repubic is still attempting to get on its feet, other major galactic players are moving to the forefront. If Calamari Flan is considered a better form of payment, it shows how their influence has grown in the aftermath of the Empire’s downfall.
Again, there’s a surprising amount to unpack from this first episode and I’m sure there’s even more to discover upon multiple viewings (though I have watched it three times already). For a first episode, The Mandalorian absolutely delivered and I’m hooked. Now, bring on Friday and Episode 2!