my tv thoughts: The Mandalorian (2019)

After the disappointment (for me) that was TROS, I didn’t line up to sign up for Disney+ when it launched. I will say that the streaming service was very smart to release each episode on a weekly basis, keeping the hashtag alive on Twitter and reminding me that it existed long after most other shows that drop in one day on Netflix. Unfortunately, Twitter has no chill when it comes to spoilers, so my feed was filled with “Baby Yoda” gifs and I was even more turned off, thinking that the series was yet another prequel.

Sip that soup, little child

Eventually, a friend set me straight that people were just referring to the mysterious “Child” as “Baby Yoda” because it was easier. And also I needed a Christmas present for my parents and I pulled a Homer bowling ball, buying them a year long subscription to Disney+. And, of course, they wanted my help setting up their account and I happened to get their password so…yeah I could watch it now. After catching up on The Expanse and The Witcher, last week we finally dived into this series.

I thought the episodes that focused on the main arc of The Mandalorian and The Child were the strongest (1,2,3,7,8) but the episodes in between were just missing something for me. While all of the episodes were heavy on homages/tropes to all things samurai/cowboy, I found that the stand-alone episodes were so cliche heavy, they became tedious to me. Maybe I’ve watched too much TV at this point so I’m familiar with too many stories? I just know episodes 4,5,6 almost lost me as fatigue set in with seeing things play out exactly as expected.

It’s funny, usually with streaming services, the problem is that there is no time limit and shows go crazy by going long and meandering too much. Mando had the opposite problem to me – sometimes I wished they had loosened up from their 30 minutes limit and gone a full hour with episodes to allow us more time with characters, to do a bit more world building or lore exploring.

I will say that the last two episodes were very strong and had a lot of good character and story reveals. This bodes well – most of the shows that I am a big fan of had uneven first seasons. This is actually for the best! When shows have flawless first seasons, they tend to not know what to do after that, floundering for direction and ways to make their characters interesting again. The Mandalorian might not be perfect, but there is a lot of room for it to stretch and grow. There is a lot of story to play around with. And knowing that The Child won’t “grow up” any time soon, the show can keep milking those big brown eyes and green ears.

Speaking of The Child – yes, this Chibi Yoda is designed to be adorable, I also wonder if the reason people love it so much is that it has a face, to make up for the Mandalorian’s lack of one. The Child is your viewer point of view in this series. (I was really hoping the finale would be the end of the helmet but alas. Maybe next season. Pascal is doing a wonderful job using his body to act, but it seems like a waste to keep him hidden away forever. Plus, as someone who has taken a few child development classes, it is important for the baby to see faces to understand emotions. Otherwise he will end up force choking someone at another awkward moment…

So I will tune in for Season 2 to see where this is all going. Now with the main character in search of The Child’s species and The Child growing stronger in its force powers, there is plenty that can happen. Now that they have played with all the tropes, they can start doing their own thing.

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