Between arguments over Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and John Boyega’s controversial Tweets lies one of Disney+’s first original series: The Mandalorian. With Pedro Pascal as the mysterious bounty hunter and Baby Yoda as arguably the greatest marketing tool in the entire Star Wars franchise, the first season of The Mandalorian was a successful adventure which explored Star Wars lore, loyalty…and fatherhood.
Disclaimer: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian’s title character is the Mandalorian, played by Pedro Pascal, who serves as a bounty hunter of the mysterious Mandorian creed, characterized by their unmatched armor, combat skills, and mystery and previously only represented by Jango Fett and Boba Fett, who appeared in the movies. Nicknamed “Mando” by his few companions who are not told his real name, the Mandalorian begins as a talented, well-known bounty hunter who spends his impressive weaponry and fighting skills on miscellaneous missions for money.
One of Mando’s missions is to find and eliminate a fifty-year old threat; to his and the audience’s surprise, this “threat” is revealed to be a small infant fans have nicknamed “Baby Yoda” due to his resemblance to Yoda, a prominent character in the movies. This name, however, is misleading due to The Mandalorian’s place in the Star Wars timeline. According to Jon Favreau, the creator and producer of the show, The Mandalorian takes place between Episode IV: Return of the Jedi and Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and thus “Baby Yoda” cannot be the infant version of the Yoda in the movies, but rather an infant of the same unknown species as Yoda.
Upon rescuing Baby Yoda, Mando struggles between sympathy for this naive, Force-sensitive child and his duties as a bounty hunter. He ultimately favors the former in “Chapter 3: The Sin,” where he betrays the bounty hunter guild and escapes with Baby Yoda. The remaining episodes are entertaining adventures which follow Mando and Baby Yoda as they travel across the galaxy, occasionally befriending other bizarre individuals and primarily exploring Star Wars lore while paying homage to past Star Wars movies, television series, and video games.
Mando, unsurprisingly, grows throughout the season as well; he begins a fatherly relationship with Baby Yoda, reveals his traumatic past of experiencing the genocide of his planet as a child, grudgingly uses his armor and combat skills for the benefit of others, and gives insight to long-lasting Star Wars fans about the mysterious Mandalorians: “Mandorian is not a race. It’s a creed.”
The season finale forces Mando to face his past, revealing his true identity and face as Dyn Djarin, while cementing his fatherly bond with Baby Yoda. The duo are off to find the Jedi in hopes of returning Baby Yoda with his species, while the villain Moff Gideon is revealed to possess a Darksaber, concluding some plot points of the first season but leaving enough threads for the second season to follow.
Season 1 of The Mandalorian was an immense success, scoring a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and deemed “TV’s Most In-Demand Series In The World” by Forbes. The show is undeniably Disney+’s first and largest success, with fans and critics praising the show’s storyline and diverse directors, from Deborah Chow to Taika Waititi.
A large extent of the success of the show, however, may be credited to Baby Yoda, whose adorable features and mannerisms have captured the hearts of nearly all its viewers. Amongst the hostile political atmosphere which has media, public figures, and divided countries pitted against one another, the world has seemed to unite under one thing: Baby Yoda. According to Forbes, the fictional character has nearly twice as many social media interactions on news stories as any of the Democratic candidates running for president. Whether fans are watching the show for the Mandalorian himself or merely Baby Yoda is unknown, but in any case, this small green creature inarguably deserves credit for attracting a majority of the attention and viewership to the series.
Season 1 of The Mandalorian was an entertaining eight episodes, with a straightforward storyline and complex characters which appeal to both lasting Star Wars fans and casual watchers. It communicates positive messages about loyalty and fatherhood; in the words of Sierra Lane (12) and millions of its other fans, “The Mandalorian is definitely worth the watch.”
The Mandalorian is streaming now on Disney+.