Beneath the Mandalorian's Helmet is Batman's Cowl

What a squandered opportunity. Last night’s new Mandalorian featured an amazing guest cast with the standout being comedian Bill Burr as a mercenary named Mayfeld. I like Jon Favreau’s decision to cast comedians in dramatically straight supporting roles though I understand why it’s been controversial. But I think few could deny Bill Burr was the highlight of this episode. Working against a wretched script from Christopher Yost (sadly, showrunner on the upcoming Cowboy Bebop live action series), Burr’s down-to-earth performance made his character one of the few that didn’t go down like cardboard.

A Dirty Dozen style plot about a group of misfits working together to rescue a prisoner from a New Republic transport ship, the chance here for the show to indulge in morally grey characters and situations is eschewed in favour of establishing the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) as essentially the Batman of the Star Wars universe. The silly business about trying to get his mask off is worthy of the Adam West series.

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Aside from Burr’s character, the team consists of a Twi’lek played with a little charm and too much inexplicable hostility by Natalia Tena and a Devaronian played with impressive physicality by Clancy Brown. There’s also a droid (Richard Ayoade). Instead of participating in his comrades’ ball-busting, or even giving as good as he gets, the Mandalorian stays quiet as a monk, never seeming like he has any kind of interest in or connexion to these people. Which would be nice and mysterious if there were any mystery about his guy’s motives which have so far been as consistent as sunrise. When the others betray him for vague, contrived plot purposes, he beats them all up without killing any of them and locks them up.

Disney, I know how well your superhero movies are doing, but, come on, play another note. At least it’s not as bad as the Three Stooges style Imperials from Rebels’ first season but it almost is.

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The conclusion of the episode brings in X-Wings, disappointingly lacking any John Williams’ fanfare because I think Disney’s taking this opportunity to avoid paying Williams all the time. Dave Filoni makes a cameo as one of the X-Wing pilots who decide to blow up a station for reasons the show really needed to elaborate on. If he thought the second Death Star was too ambiguous, Randall from Clerks would have a field day with this one. Which is funny—the Mandalorian isn’t allowed to show any moral ambiguity himself but the New Republic is because of lazy or hasty writing?

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