There’s a possibility that you just might have heard about this latest entry into the Star Wars media family. It’s got the cutest baby alien around, and Disney is pretty sure you’ll subscribe to their streaming service just to watch it. Which, to be fair, we did. That’s right, it’s time to talk about The Mandalorian and its main characters, one of whom is similar to but legally distinct from Boba Fett.
Generously transcribed by Bunny. Volunteer to transcribe a podcast.
Chris: You’re listening to the Mythcreant podcast with your hosts, Oren Ashkenazi, Wes Matlock, and Chris Winkle.
Chris: This is the Mythcreant podcast. I’m Chris, and with me is…
Chris: And after the chaotic holidays, we managed to give Wes the slip, but he does have a tracking fob, so I’m pretty sure he’ll track us down in four weeks and then probably freeze us in carbonite.
Oren: That’s the sound of Carbonite. That’s the sound it makes.
Chris: In other news. We’ve also added a cute animal companion to the podcast to make it more popular. Our animal companion, of course, doesn’t talk because animal companions don’t talk, but really there is one here. It’s a myth cat.
Oren: This is a very real cat sound that was just made.
Chris: Definitely not Oren making cat noises.
Oren: I would never do such a thing. I do have questions about these tracking fobs, though, like the one that apparently Wes has. What do they have on them? Do they track our location in real-time and if so, how? And also, if so, how do they broadcast? How do they get the data? Because they’re smaller than a cell phone. How do they work?
Chris: Yeah. If something that small is capable of scanning the entire galaxy for specific DNA, that has very broad implications for this Star Wars universe.
Oren: Yeah. Really, bounty hunters don’t need to be that good if they have that kind of tech. Just like, “Oh, I wonder how Boba Fett found Han? It was probably with a tracking fob.”
Chris: Of course, their real purpose is so that we don’t have to watch scenes of Mando piecing together clues to find out where his bounties are when we can just cut straight to the violence.
Oren: Speaking of cutting straight to the violence, we are talking about The Mandalorian today, for which there will be many spoilers. So, if you haven’t already finished it, this is not the episode for you. We have finished it and we need to talk about it right now.
Chris: It’s on Disney+, if you’re wondering.
Oren: That’s how they’re ransoming you into paying for their streaming service. But the way you get back at them is when you’re done watching it, you unsubscribe! But when they ask why you unsubscribed, you hit “Other reasons,” and then you type “The Mandalorian is over! This is the way,” and then put a screenshot on. It’s great. I love it, it’s the best.
Chris: So, yeah, The Mandalorian is a great show. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s widely popular. I don’t know anybody who’s watched it who didn’t like it, and that’s really saying something. I don’t know… There are very few other TV shows that are this popular. I can say that for Hilda.
Oren: Or The Good Place. That’s the other one.
Chris: Yeah. It’s not very common for a TV show to be this widely popular, but The Mandalorian is, and considering that the last movie trilogy that just ended kind of ended with a whimper, I would not be surprised if The Mandalorian is the new flagship story of the Star Wars universe. We’ll see. But I would not be surprised.
Oren: It seems very likely. What actually surprised me was how universally popular the show was after looking pretty dull in its marketing and trailers. They didn’t include Baby Yoda in any of the trailers that I saw, anyway, and people seemed honestly surprised by him. And when the first trailers were coming out, we’re like, “Ah, okay. It’s a badass silent dude who shoots people, I guess.”
Chris: We have lots of stories like that. You know, this is just another one. Okay.
Oren: Right. It just didn’t look that interesting. And then suddenly the internet was full of Baby Yoda memes, and I was like, “Well, I guess now I’d better watch it.”
Chris: We were compelled.
Oren: It was funny because they said it was because they didn’t want to give away the surprise, but if anything, it was knowing about Baby Yoda that made his reveal in the first episode interesting. If I didn’t have all these memes, then I wouldn’t have known what that was, but I did, and I was like, “Ah, yes, there’s Baby Yoda! I’m excited now.”
Chris: And considering there’s only one episode where Baby Yoda isn’t present before Baby Yoda is introduced, it’s just a very strange choice to not include Baby Yoda in the marketing or advertising for the show, and if you’re spoiling something, you’re spoiling only one episode. Very weird. It’s not even a huge reveal. I mean, I guess they clearly thought it was a twist because they’re all cagey about it, and they’re like, “Hey, this bounty is 50 years old.” That’s some misdirection right there. Huh.
Oren: That part did annoy me, because they were like, “We can’t tell you anything about the target,” with the implication being that they know more about the target but won’t tell Mando because secrets, but he’s going to find out when he gets the target, right? And if you’re not telling him, that just makes him less likely to get it.
Chris: Anytime there’s a bounty, the audience is not expecting it to be a baby anyway, so I don’t know why you need the 50-year-old misdirection. Granted, the fact that Baby Yoda is 50 years old is interesting and significant because that does set expectations about how fast we can expect to see Baby Yoda grow older during the show, but the way that it was introduced – that is, by making it a deliberate red herring – is just completely unnecessary. It’s just being cagey for no reason.
Oren: It’s like, “I bet you won’t expect this to be Baby Yoda.” What are you talking about? Either we haven’t seen the Baby Yoda meme, so we don’t know what that is, or we have, and we know it’s Baby Yoda. Come on, man!
Chris: And then, of course, there have been no Baby Yoda toys during the holiday season, which is just wild.
Oren: The best explanation I’ve seen – and this is just speculation, this hasn’t been an official statement or anything – is that they didn’t think that Baby Yoda was going to be that popular. They expected Mando was going to be the thing that people really loved about the show, and to be clear, Mando is a good character. He develops and turns out way more interesting than I expected him to be.
Chris: Correction, we’ll get into this later. He’s a good character once Baby Yoda is introduced.
Oren: Yeah, that’s also true, but the people who made the show expected that everyone was going to want their badass bounty hunter dude, and they didn’t think that much of Baby Yoda. And the speculation that I’ve seen is that what ended up happening turned out to be the complete opposite of what they expected, which certainly fits. It fits better than Disney’s explanation, which was “We didn’t make the toys because we didn’t want to spoil it!” and it’s like, “I don’t think you would have passed up several million dollars just because you didn’t want to spoil something. I don’t believe you.”
Chris: Yeah, absolutely not. Absolutely not. The other really strange thing about this premise is the whole not-Boba Fett situation. We have a character who is clearly designed to be very much like Boba Fett, but is still not actually technically Boba Fett. And we’ve come up with lots of different theories about why this would be.
Oren: Just to be clear, it’s not just that he is wearing Mandalorian armor. That’s obviously a big part of it, but it’s his whole demeanor. He’s a stoic badass who doesn’t speak much. He’s very taciturn. He’s a bounty hunter, obviously, but beyond that, he’s a legendary bounty hunter, as in, he doesn’t start as a new bounty hunter. Everyone already knows about him and he also disintegrates people and freezes them in carbonite, which is so specific that it’s like, “How is this not Boba Fett?”
Chris: The thing that really gives it away that it’s clearly designed to be Boba Fett, to me, is how mysterious they present him as, is because the big issue with Boba Fett (and this is, again, one theory as to why they didn’t want to actually make him full Boba Fett) is how that will fit in their original trilogy. He says very little and is super mysterious and there’s always a huge risk that once you view behind the mask it’s gonna be disappointing to audiences. And so maybe that was too much pressure or too contentious. That might’ve been one reason why they didn’t want to make him Boba Fett. Another theory I have is that maybe Boba Fett is just too villainous for them, being a villain in the original trilogy, so they just didn’t want to be burdened with this idea that he had been working for the empire.
Oren: Yeah, that’s another possibility.
Chris: Or they wanted to ditch the prequel backstory that was spit up for him in Attack of the Clones. Maybe they were afraid after Solo bombed. Or, my favorite, is that George Lucas just wouldn’t let them use Boba Fett.
Oren: That’s my favorite theory, that there’s some secret clause in the contract of sale of Star Wars wherein Lucas was like, “You can’t use Boba Fett for anything because I don’t like him!” This is the new conspiracy theory.
Chris: I would really like to see, at some point in time, what the actual story is behind this character that is designed to be just like Boba Fett, but who’s not actually Boba Fett. Someday maybe we’ll know.
Oren: Beyond him not being Boba Fett, the thing that really struck me about the show when I first started watching it was that through the first episode and basically right up until Baby Yoda is introduced, I was like, “Okay, this is a painfully average show.” It just didn’t grab me. It was like, “Okay, here’s a guy. He comes into a bar, and he has really intense theme music, and some guys pick a fight with him even though he clearly looks like a professional murderer, but they decided to fight him in a bar anyway.”
Chris: This whole trope of a bad-ass who walks into a bar and some people, who are often peasants – although at least this time, they’re a little bit tougher – just immediately pick a fight with this obvious bad-ass, it’s getting very old.
Oren: Yeah. I really don’t like it. They did it in The Witcher, too, and it was just gross.
Chris: People are a little more self-serving than to pick a fight with somebody who can obviously kill them, generally.
Oren: If a guy walks into a bar in full tactical gear and with an assault rifle on their back, and just walks over to get a drink, are you really going to go and start messing with them? Is that really the first thing that will occur to you? Probably not. Right. And then he grabs a guy and takes him to a place and I’m having some trouble with what he’s doing and then they’re like, “Here’s your secret bounty that we can’t tell you anything about, even though we really should.” And I’m like, “Okay, sure.” And then Baby Yoda showed up and it was amazing, and suddenly the show was fantastic.
Chris: Oren, for those who are not familiar, just in case somebody decided to listen to this despite the spoilers or just hasn’t been listening to the internet conversation about this, can you explain why this character is called Baby Yoda?
Oren: Oh, yeah. Because at some point in the Star Wars movie process, George Lucas decided that there wasn’t going to be a name for Yoda’s species because he wanted him to be more mysterious. So that species doesn’t have a name. And so this character is not actually Yoda as a baby, as far as we know, unless we’re going to introduce time travel into Star Wars. I hope not. I’m assuming that this is just a baby of Yoda’s species, but since that species doesn’t have a name, it’s just called “Baby Yoda.” Technically his name in the credits is “The child,” but no-one’s calling him that. Literally no one will ever call him that.
Chris: I feel like there’s somebody on the production team who got mad about people calling the character Baby Yoda.
Oren: I saw the opposite. I saw some pedantic Star Wars fans saying, “But he’s technically not Baby Yoda!” And I saw some Mary Sue article about how the writers were like, “You can call them Baby Yoda, it’s fine.” Because of course you can. I mean, I don’t need your permission, but I’m glad you affirmed that right.
Chris: I suppose Yoda could have some type of Phoenix powers, and the reason why he doesn’t have a species is that he just does not die because he is reborn.
Oren: Yeah. I mean, I’m now afraid they’re going to do that, but we’ll see. They’re definitely being really cagey. In the universe, nobody knows what this species is. That part is reasonably okay. I mean, it feels like there would be some records of Yoda since he was apparently basically in charge of the galaxy for a few years before the prequels, but whatever, those are some Star Wars continuity issues right there.
Chris: We also said during the series that the Mandalorians have never even heard of the Jedi. Which, if we pretend that the prequels don’t exist, could work, but with the prequels existing and the Jedi were the galaxy police, that doesn’t work anymore.
Oren: The Jedi were literally everywhere. It would be like if now someone was like, “Have you ever heard of the ancient Soviet Union?” And it’s like, “Most of us were alive when it still existed.”
Chris: But yeah, continuity problems. So Baby Yoda was such a brilliant move on the part of the writers because we’ve got this mysterious guy who, following Boba Fett, probably has to stay kind of mysterious to maintain the mystique that Boba Fett had, and is engaged in violence and who has questionable morality. How do you humanize a character like that? One tactic is to add another character with feelings who can be around that first character. It’s not just that Baby Yoda is really cute and really expressive, but also that Baby Yoda have gives Mando a sympathetic goal. We know that his goal is to protect Baby Yoda because Baby Yoda is cute. We can all empathize with that. And then watching Mando care for a child also makes Mando feel so much more human. Seeing him care about Baby Yoda gives him feeling that he would not otherwise have. And also, then the baby isn’t just a MacGuffin that drives a whole plot. And it’s a fantastic combination. It’s just a brilliant move.
Oren: The fact that he can use the Force is a really convenient way to have him be useful, so he doesn’t just feel like something that gets Mando into trouble constantly. He does also do that though, and it’s adorable.
Chris: But it’s okay that he gets Mando into trouble because he also can help once in a while, but because he’s a baby, you can’t get him to do it on command, therefore it’s never too powerful. If Yoda got older, then that might be an issue, but right now it’s just kind of random when Baby Yoda uses Force powers, so it can allow Baby Yoda to help without feeling like the powers break the show.
Oren: Yeah. That could be an issue if Baby Yoda is supposed to have an arc where he learns to control his powers or whatever, because I feel like that could be a problem. I like that we see in – I think it’s episode seven – that there’s an implication that Baby Yoda might be vulnerable to the Dark Side. When Mando and Cara Dune, who’s a fantastic character also, are having an arm-wrestling contest, Baby Yoda sees and Force-chokes Cara and nearly kills her. They stop him and though they recognize that this was a misunderstanding cause Baby Yoda is a baby, that’s still a fairly dark thing to do. And I don’t know if they’re going to go anywhere with this in the next season, but I think that would be neat, since we’re all about how the Dark Side is supposed to be really seductive and dangerous to people who don’t know any better. And Baby Yoda is a literal baby and he doesn’t have a Force mentor. I just think that could be neat.
Chris: Yeah. Baby Yoda right now has animal companion status. Baby Yoda is only a semi-character who acts just as much like a plot device as he does an actual character and doesn’t really have a full arc. And he doesn’t talk. It would be really hard to give Baby Yoda an arc. And I think the reason why they established that Baby Yoda is 50 years old is so that Baby Yoda doesn’t have to grow older during the course of the show. So I don’t know if that arc is going to happen, because that’s really tricky if Baby Yoda doesn’t talk, but you never know. We could have some scenes of Mando trying to convey something to a non-talking Baby Yoda. That would be very interesting interaction. It would be tough to write, but it would be interesting for sure.
Oren: I can see it going a few ways, but it would be challenging. I just thought that was a neat implication. It’s not like I’m going to stop watching the show if they don’t do it; I just liked it.
Chris: No, it’s a cool idea. We’ll say some other great things about the show just before we start nitpicking. It’s got beautiful scenery. It’s a wonderful expansion of the Star Wars universe. It feels like you’re immersed in the Star Wars universe and it’s fun. It has a wonderful soundtrack. I’m listening to the Mandalorian soundtrack track all the time now, every day.
Oren: I was skeptical of Mando’s theme music when I first heard it, but it really grew on me as I went through the episodes.
Chris: It’s a wonderful fusion of the science fiction genre with the Western genre, because this is basically a sci-fi Western show, and that’s just an interesting thing to hear. It’s got science fiction and Western, but it also has the weirdness of the Star Wars music. Ever since the cantina scene, Star Wars music has been on the weird side, so it’s got some of that too, which is really cool. It has really delightful side characters, who are surprisingly good. Not all of them – I mean, we have some criticisms with some of the side characters – but the B cast is very strong, which not all shows have, and considering that the characters who are there every single episode are just Mando and Baby Yoda, we have room for a lot of side characters in the show, and the show really makes use of that.
Oren: I want a show about Cara Dune and I want a show about Tatooine mechanic and I want a show about the bartender from episode four and about the lady who lives in that village who was into Mando, but he tragically had to leave. I want all of those. I’m just like, “Make more shows! Spinoffs, please!” I will watch them.
Chris: I was actually almost wondering if they were going to add a third character that was going to be there every episode on the ship. They decided not to, and I think that’s just fine, especially since Mando has this whole “loner” thing. But there’s definitely room to have delightful side characters hanging around. I really am appreciating how simple the plotting is, and it’s a short show, so it doesn’t have room for complex plot. It’s only like half an hour per episode, and I am increasingly thinking that Star Wars really needs that, and that as the Star Wars universe has added more and more material, it’s become harder and harder for the franchise to have stories that are simple, especially with the recent sequel. That was a flagship series that I think had the burden of representing all of Star Wars, and it was definitely too complicated and they were just trying to shove too many things in there. And Rogue One, too. Rogue One is a great movie, but the complaints I hear about it which say that it’s confusing and the pacing is bad also touch on the fact that it is too complicated. And seeing these really simple plotlines in The Mandalorian really just feels more like the original trilogy and what people liked about that original trilogy. It was a complex universe and a unique universe, and they put extra novelty in the universe’s complexity while the plot was relatively simple.
Oren: Yeah. I’m not going to say that I don’t think you can do complex plots in Star Wars, but certainly The Mandalorian is living within its means, as it were. It’s not trying to do a plot that it doesn’t have room for. And as a result, its plots are very satisfying because it doesn’t feel like a bunch of stuff went unresolved.
Chris: I think being a spinoff there helps. We know this is a spinoff and we’re not trying to do everything. We’re just trying to tell a side story. That worked really well.
Oren: Another small thing that I really appreciated is that we are shown that the New Republic exists and isn’t completely incompetent. Now, granted, this happens in episode six, which is the worst episode, but we see the Republic, the New Republic, and it’s got a prison ship that’s hard to break into, and it sends some X-wings to deal with you if you try it. And I just thought that was neat after a trilogy where the New Republic apparently does nothing. It was just nice. It was good to see that.
Chris: Anything else you want to say that’s good about it before we move on to things that we did not like?
Oren: I mean, so many things, but those are the main ones.
Chris: As we said, it’s not a perfect show, and it specifically has a rougher beginning. Before Baby Yoda comes onto the scene, Mando was very stiff and it’s really hard to relate to him. That obviously warms up, but it is a problem in the first episode for sure. Not all of the side characters are great as much as the mechanic that we see in episodes one and two –
Oren: Kuiil is his name.
Chris: Yeah. He’s kind of a neat guy. I am just not buying him. He is just too helpful. We just call him “helpful NPC” because he feels like a character the GM put into a roleplaying game just to assist the PCs all the time. I don’t know why he’s helping Mando. He doesn’t seem to have a realistic motivation. He’s just way too helpful. Like, “I’m going to do everything you could possibly want for you and I’m not going to even ask for any money!” I’m just not buying it. I have trouble with that.
Oren: His motivation, at first, was, “I just want to get these guys who are attracting bounty hunters out of my valley, ‘cause I want to live in peace.” But then Mando shows back up and is like, “I need you to stop living in peace and come to a fight with me.” And he’s like, “Yes. That sounds like a great thing to do!” even though between them, Mando’s really the one who owes him, not the other way around. Hence, he’s the helpful NPC, and I just don’t buy it. I like his way of speaking. I find it funny when he ends conversations by saying “I have spoken.” I thought that was a neat quirk.
Chris: The catchphrases like “I have spoken” and “This is the way” are great.
Oren: Unfortunately, the show is just not that great at big group gunfights. It just doesn’t do a very good job of those. And this doesn’t seem to be bothering most people, but if you look when they’re in a fight, the bad guys either can’t hit anything, which is a Star Wars trope that I’ve never liked and I like it even less now, or the good guys are just invincible. They’ll be shooting at the droid and the shots just bounce off, and it’s like, “Why don’t we make armor out of whatever that droid is made out of?” And Mando has got his beskar, which is supposed to be resistant to blasters, but it gets a little over-the-top sometimes. It’s like, “Can he just not be hurt?” I guess.
Chris: It seems like we’re the only ones who didn’t like episodes three and eight, and it’s because of the fight scenes. They both have big fight scenes, particularly in this big open square. And it just does not seem real. It seems completely contrived to me. For example, in episode three, he’s surrounded by bounty hunters that all have their guns out and he jumps in a cart and people keep shooting. An entire square of bounty hunters is shooting and somehow missing. It’s like, “Look, if you can’t shoot him because he’s behind cover, why are you shooting? Why don’t you stop and get to someplace where you can get a shot at him?” And there are people on the roofs of the buildings, and they somehow can’t shoot him either. And it’s just really disappointing ‘cause it doesn’t feel like he earned that victory. It feels like they just were really incompetent for some reason.
I would have loved, instead of this impossible open battle, to see him weaving through the streets, trying to evade this huge crowd of bounty hunters, and then him getting to an open place where they all have their guns drawn on him immediately before the other Mandalorians come to his rescue, so we understand that’s a situation that he cannot get out of even with his beskar. His beskar doesn’t cover 100% of his body. So that just was very unsatisfying to me. And then it happens again, even worse. In the finale, episode eight, we once again have a big open fight, and then suddenly, combat droid to the rescue! And combat droid is just ridiculously OP.
Oren: I don’t like it. And they completely destroy this entire square full of storm troopers. They just murder them and it’s like, “Okay, sure, this is annoying.” And then later, IG-11, the droid, is like, “I must self-destruct because there are too many stormtroopers up ahead,” and then you see them, and it’s way less than just the number of stormtroopers they’ve already killed.
Chris: So we have this contrived victory, and then we have a contrived tragedy. The dramatic moments, in the end, don’t feel either of them unfolded naturally. Plus there’s the episode that has the big vents. There are always human-sized vents everywhere that are capable of holding human weight.
Oren: The vents lead to the sewer.
Chris: Because everybody wants the nice smells of the sewer in their building. That’s definitely a thing.
Oren: It’s like, “Look, humans spent a long time trying to figure out a way to make toilets work so they wouldn’t vent sewer gas into your house, and this just feels disrespectful to them! There were engineers who worked really hard on that, and now you’re telling me there are some Star Wars people who intentionally pump sewer gas into their houses? What?!”
If we’re going to be critiquing the eighth episode, which everyone loves the most, there were just a bunch of things about it that I didn’t like. I felt that the scout Rosencrantz and Guildenstern scene went on for too long. It was very long, and I was like, “I don’t know these two guys.” I get that this is a bit we’re doing, and I also like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but that works because that was a commentary on something else by two characters we already knew. This is like watching Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead if you haven’t seen Hamlet.
Chris: It was kind of fun, but I think it would have been less out of place if it had been significantly shorter. Also, I just don’t think we should show even bad guys punching Baby Yoda.
Oren: That was a little much.
Chris: They were hitting too hard. People are really going to be sensitive to how you treat a baby character in the show. I just don’t think showing that as a good idea. We have people who just have anxiety about the welfare of Baby Yoda. I have talked to several people who have anxiety a little bit from watching this show, just afraid that something bad will happen to Baby Yoda. We just shouldn’t show people hitting Baby Yoda. It just shouldn’t appear on screen. That’s a bad idea.
Oren: And I think it was in episode seven where we had the extreme droid flashback. That wasn’t episode eight?
Chris: I think so.
Oren: That was the really long one where we see all the droids, like, we see the entire montage of Kuiil re-reprogramming IG-11. We didn’t need that. That was completely unnecessary. Also weirded me out that like Mando is like, “Let’s go down to the covert for help,” even though in the flashback at the beginning of that episode to remind us about the Mandalorians they had shown the clip of them saying “We need to move the covert.” So I don’t know why he thought it would still be there. And then we go down and find out that all the Mandalorians are dead, presumably killed by stormtroopers, and I’m like, “You don’t have enough stormtroopers to do that, Moff Gideon, considering how many it takes to kill just one guy. Your stormtroopers would all be dead, but apparently they’re not.” Somehow the armorer is still alive, even though she doesn’t hide or do anything to avoid the stormtroopers. So I don’t know how she survived. And then she stays behind and also somehow does not die again, just because they didn’t want her to go with Mando for some reason. Very strange.
Chris: The whole thing was unnecessarily tragic. The other thing is I didn’t like was endings that I felt were too pat. We can talk about the fact that other critics seem to like the fifth episode much less than we did, but one of the things I really liked about the fifth episode is the fact that it doesn’t all shake out the way that Mando could have expected or in a really ideal manner, but it’s enough that Mando can get by, which I just really like. It makes the consequences of Mando pissing off the guild feel very real, and it feels natural and realistic to have it that way. “This guy double-crossed me. In the end, I had to kill him, but at least I got his wallet. That was enough for me to get by and pay for my ship repairs and go on to the next battle.”
Whereas episode six (and this is not the biggest problem with episode six, we’ll talk about that later) ended with this kind of tracker beacon. I loved the part where he’s defeated all of these people who have betrayed him and then he faces off with this last guy who’s like, “Hey, you were hired to bring me back alive. I tried to betray you, but don’t you think that you should actually complete your contract? Isn’t that what Mandalorians do? You complete your contract and get paid.” And so he brings this guy back to the person who hired him only to betray him and actually collects his payment. And if it ended like that, where it’s like, “Yeah, I did the job. It wasn’t perfect, but I got paid. I left a couple enemies behind, but in the end, they paid me and didn’t accomplish their goals,” that would have felt really kind of realistic, since it’s a harsh world. It would’ve been a “I’m making the best of it” kind of ending. But then they added this beacon where he also manages to get them blown up.
Oren: And he has to do that specifically because only a second ago, they established that for some reason Mando’s contact decides to kill him and it’s like, “Why? Why is he doing that? Mando just did a job for him.” This is the second time this episode that people have decided to betray Mando for literally no reason. The only purpose is so that Mando then doesn’t look like a jerk for siccing the New Republic on him. It’s just a very strange sequence. Speaking of strange sequences, episode six is the worst episode.
Chris: It is the worst and I could have liked it. I really liked the premise. But it’s not just the ending, but the characters, all of the villains in the episodes are just complete incomps. They’re just the worst. They’re so cartoonish.
Oren: Incomps is a good word. We will use that from now on. These are supposed to be veteran mercenaries. They’re professional. And yet within five minutes, they’re trying to punch his cat because they found Baby Yoda and they don’t know what it is. And they’re like, “Yeah, I’m going to mess with this guy’s cat. It’s like, “Why are you doing that? Why don’t you just do the job you were paid to do? How are you so bad at this?”
Chris: When they get on the New Republic prison ship, they just don’t seem like they know what they’re doing or are good at it. They’re just completely cartoonish.
Oren: Some droids show up and they immediately cower in the corner and are like, “Mando, save us! The droids!” The droids are things you expected to be there! Like, what?
Chris: The thing that stuck out to me about this episode in general is that the show is having problems with consistency regarding Mando’s morality. It’s tough when you have a ruthless bounty hunter who’s also supposed to be your protagonist. You have to walk this fine line between making him feel ruthless but also just moral enough that the audience doesn’t dislike him. But they’ve just been inconsistent in how they’re handling that. In episode two, he starts disintegrating jawas for taking apart his ship. They’re just stealing from him and he’s just murdering them in cold blood. But then in episode six, somehow, when the clock is running out, he takes the time to not kill all of his enemies that have betrayed him and instead drag them into prison cells.
Oren: The same prison cell, apparently.
Chris: Why didn’t he just kill them? In fact, if you wanted to believe that they’re alive, that’s fine. Just end the scene. You can say that they’re actually alive later if you want, and he just shot them once and then walked away and didn’t care whether they lived or died. That feels realistic, but taking the time to establish in a scene that they were in this prison cell… it’s so cartoonish. Again, why would he do that? That’s too nice. I personally like the idea that he only kills people if he really needs to for his self-interest, but he’s willing to do it, yet we just don’t happen to show him killing anybody.
Oren: Yeah. I mean, I was already kind of annoyed by how in the first episode he guns down a bunch of these aliens in the place where Baby Yoda is and we don’t know who those guys were, or what they had done, or if they were bad people, or if they were just out there as refugees. They could have been anything. And it was like, “No, we’re going to kill a bunch of them.” And that just doesn’t sit right with me. And then we get to episode six, where there’s a whole team of jackass mercenaries who I’d be really happy to see dead, but no, those are the ones he saved. They get to go to jail.
Chris: I mean, I love seeing him being not cruel when it’s in his interest to do so, like with the Tusken Raiders on Tatooine. I loved that scene where he signs to them and actually negotiates with them instead of engaging in violence because it’s in his interest to do so. I’d like to see him stand out as being more moral when compared to bounty hunters who are needlessly violent because violence is the only tool they know how to use. I don’t want to see him going out of his way to not kill his mortal enemies, because that just doesn’t make sense with him being a bounty hunter.
Oren: And while we’re on the topic of episode six, this show has a problem with gender parity in general. There are some cool female characters – I listed four of them at the beginning – but overall it has way more dudes. In episode six, we encounter something like eight new named characters in one episode, and only one of them is a woman. And they’re having her play up… I guess they’re trying to make it sexy.
Chris: She’s like Harley Quinn.
Oren: She’s a bargain discount Harley Quinn, and it’s just bad. The actual Harley Quinn kind of works in the context of cartoon Batman, but this character is not as good as Harley Quinn and exists in a much more serious universe and it’s just so irritating.
Chris: It’s gross when the only woman that you introduced in the episode is sexualized. I just don’t want to see it, which is too bad because they have some great women. But you’ve also got to pay attention to those bad background characters when you’re looking at a whole bunch of bounty hunters just in the square shooting at Mando. How many of those are women?
Oren: Probably none. If I had to guess, maybe a handful. Episode six is also bad because this is a world with guns and blasters, and they put on this team a guy who is strong and a lady who throws knives. Why do we need those? We all have guns. What are those guys gonna do? What are they for? I was so confused. I was like, I get that this would happen in a Star Wars pencil-and-paper RPG, because RPG rules don’t simulate reality very well, but I don’t expect to see it in the actual show. It’s almost like the next guy they run into is going to be someone who’s maxed out his Diplomacy skill and can just turn you from an enemy to a friend in one round with a DC 50 Diplomacy check. That doesn’t seem like a good idea, but maybe they’ll do it. Who knows?
Oren: All right. So, I think we’re going to have to round out our criticisms here, because we are already like 10 minutes over our usual time.
Chris: I have so much to say about The Mandalorian!
Oren: We do, but despite all of our beef with it, it’s still a fantastic show. And if you haven’t seen it already, we very much recommend that you do. It’s well worth watching. Before we go, I want to thank a few of our patrons. First we have Kathy Ferguson, who is a professor of political theory in Star Trek. Next we have Ayman Jaber, who writes urban fantasy and knows all there is to know about Marvel. And finally we have Danita Rambo, and she lives at therambogeeks.com.
This is the way.
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Chris: This has been the Mythcreant podcast. Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton.
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