Now that it’s pretty much the only Star Wars content likely to hit our eyeballs in the near future, The Mandalorian is beginning to come under some pressure, and as is inevitably the case with any Star Wars property, big expectations.
So it’s important to remember that The Mandalorian is, at its heart, a weekly pulp serial. Where most of the key players – or in this case, Mando and The Child – end up mostly where they were at the start of the episode.
It’s rarely a story about growth. It’s a story about a character doing stuff. One who, for the most part, has a single goal that he hopes to achieve, only to find a series of incidents stopping him from getting there. One thing happens, then another thing happens, then another – and Mando goes along with it, until he’s back in his ship.
That’s largely the case in Episode 10, as Mando continues in his quest to return The Child to his people (presumably a world of Yodas). Having reached a dead end in his search for one of his own people on Tatooine, Mando is making his way back to Mos Eisley when he’s jumped by yet more shady characters.
Presumably it’s a sequence that deserved to exist because it reminds us that there are baddies still on the trail of baby Yoda. It’s also more than a bit exciting, which makes it a perfect summation for the show – a tiny dollop of story development, mixed with a big serving of (soon to be irrelevant) action, sprinkled with something familiar with a twist – like an independent Jawa, dressed in something other than the Jawa hoodie.
It’s not long before Mando is set up with a new mission – this time to give a ride to a the Frog Lady – knowing that if he succeeds at this one, he’ll be a step closer to tracking down someone who can help him do something in order to do something else…
What follows is both entirely frivolous, but at the same time, perfectly entertaining. The Child has a disturbing desire to eat unborn frogs, there’s a Harry Potter-esque spider sequence, and Mando’s ship gets beaten up again.
It’s fun to see a couple of New Republic X-Wings patrolling the galaxy (the show is at its most interesting when depicting the post-Empire functions of the galaxy), and the canyon chase is as beautifully depicted as any Star Wars action sequence yet made. But still, after all is said and done, nobody has really gotten anywhere, literally or figuratively.
Is that a major criticism? Yes and no. If we had a slew of Star Wars shows or movies coming our way, perhaps we wouldn’t yearn for more from The Mandalorian. Yet, while it stands alone, Star Wars is under-delivering on character and story development.
For now, we can give Dave Filoni and co. the benefit of the doubt. Plenty is being set up, and pay-offs will undoubtedly occur over the coming episodes. We can expect that much, at least.