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Breaking down the premiere of The Mandalorian: Easter eggs, surprises, and more
With a spring in his step and a shine on his helmet, The Mandalorian has arrived. We've waited long for this day, and Disney+ is finally here, bringing with it the first live-action Star Wars series to hit the small streaming screen. Titled simply "Chapter 1," the premiere was written by series creator Jon Favreau and directed by the lord of Lucasfilm animation, Dave Filoni.
Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. Was it full of new Star Wars lore that we are bursting with excitement over? Bet your Nick Nolte it was. Are we going to break it all down, taking a look at everything that happened and what new canon was uncovered? What do you think?
Yes. Yes, we are.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for The Mandalorian below**
A MAN, A CANTINA, AND AN ICE PLANET
We don't get any "a long time ago ..." title card, or any sort of crawl. After a new Star Wars logo, featuring classic silhouettes from the saga, we get right into it with our Mandalorian hero with no name (Pedro Pascal), holding a tracking fob. He's on an unnamed ice planet, and he's there to collect a bounty. Where does he go? To the local cantina, of course!
A blue-gilled alien is being harassed by some thugs (including a Quarren), and one of them asks him if his armor is really made of Beskar steel. We're off to the canon races already.
Beskar is what Mandalorian armor is made from, and it prominently features in the two-part Season 4 episode of Star Wars Rebels, "Heroes of Mandalore." This is a very precious alloy, and it will certainly be central in this new series — it's a pretty big deal in just this first episode. Before Beskar can become fetch, however, a fight breaks out and the Mando hands these thugs their butts, cutting the Quarren in half using the spiral cantina door.
He places a bounty puck down in front of the blue alien, and it has his hologram on it. Our hero says, "I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold." With that, we cut to our title ... and the Ennio Morricone-style musical compositions of Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther) continue in fantastic fashion.
Our Mando emerges from the cantina with his bounty and comes across a Kubaz, one of the "long snoot" aliens from Star Wars: A New Hope. The Kubaz plays a little flute to call a speeder for them, the first of which is nice and driven by a little astromech droid. Our hero doesn't like droids, so he prefers a run-down speeder driven by a character played by Brian Posehn. Why doesn't the Mando go in for droids? We seem to be back in "we don't serve their kind here" territory.
Brian Posehn takes them to the Mando's ship, a "Razor Crest." He tells them to stay off the ice, and just as the Mando and his bounty board the ship, Posehn gets swallowed by a "Ravenak" creature bursting out of the same ice that he was just warning them about. The ship loses power (making the same "hyperdrive failing sound" as the Millennium Falcon), but the Mando grabs his trusty Amram phase-pulse blaster, aka the tuning-fork rifle first seen being wielded by Boba Fett in his animated segment of the Star Wars Holiday Special. It gets the creature off their case, and soon the ship is in the stars.
CARBON FREEZING ON THE GO
The blue alien talks a lot, and he also asks to use the "vac tube." This is the first time we see an actual toilet in Star Wars, and it's really just a hole in the side of the ship. Doesn't matter, though — he's not really there to use it. He starts snooping around, pretending to have just used the vac tube, saying, "This feels a lot better, I haven't evacuated since the solstice. Yeah, I was hoping to be free for Life Day … get home to the family … but I guess that's not gonna happen this year."
That's right! A reference to Life Day, another bit of lore made famous from the Holiday Special. The blue alien kind of breaks off his line of talk at the end, because he comes across several carbon-frozen bounties in the hold. It's not long before the Mando appears, puts him in a handy, portable carbon freezer, and adds this guy to the rack. We're guessing that after Darth Vader had Boba Fett do this with Han Solo in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, it became all the rage. Vader (Anakin Skywalker) had some experience with it during The Clone Wars, too.
CARGA, HERZOG, AND ANOTHER CANTINA
The Mando lands on a second unnamed planet, and this one comes with a run-down marketplace full of scummy-looking characters. Where does he go? Another cantina, of course. We see a Rodian and a Kyozo within it, but the Mando is there to see his sort-of agent, Greef Carga (Carl Weathers). Carga greets him with "That was fast, did you catch them all?" Of course he did.
Carga orders someone to start offloading the frozen bounties and offers the Mando some Imperial credits as payment. Our man isn't interested and says, "I don't know if you've heard, but the Empire is gone." We are indeed in the time period after the Battle of Jakku, when the Empire is almost (almost) wiped out. Carga offers to pay in a squishy currency called "Calamari Flam" instead (a Mon Calamari money system, we're guessing), and the Mando goes for it — he doesn't even mind that he has to only take half of what he's owed.
Carga's got a lot of bounty pucks, and the Mando wants them all — it is here that Carga namedrops a Guild for Bounty Hunters, telling the Mando that he's not the only one looking for work. None of these jobs pay well, and things look grim. Carga then says, "There is one job ..." It's a direct commission, and there's no puck involved. A face-to-face meeting is required. The Mando accepts.
After making his way past some Jawas scavenging in the marketplace, and a gatekeeper droid (like the one that guarded Jabba's front door once upon a time), the Mando is guided down a hallway by a Gonk droid... right into a room full of really awful looking Stormtroopers. The man he has been sent to meet is in there too — it is Werner Herzog's character, known for now only as "The Client." He wears a medallion that bears the Imperial symbol, and almost everything he says is incredible.
Herzog's friend Dr. Pershing enters, and soon the Mando has his guns out and is surrounded on all sides. He likes those odds, though. Herzog diffuses the situation and gives the Mando a down payment... a bar of Beskar. The job isn't going to be easy, and if the "asset" is not taken alive, then he only gets half. Pershing doesn't like that, but Herzog tells him that he is "merely being pragmatic." The Mando is on the job, and Herzog sends him off with, "It is good to restore the natural order of things after such disarray, don't you agree?"
Werner Herzog in this role feels like having Sir Alec Guinness or Sir Peter Cushing back. In any case, it's through the market again for the Mando, strutting past a Kowakian Monkey Lizard being roasted... while a living one watches in despair.
AT THE SIGN OF THE MYTHOSAUR SKULL
The Mando makes his way to an armorer, one with the skull of the Mythosaur hung over her door. Boba Fett made this symbol famous, but apparently it's a much bigger deal.
The mysterious Mandalorian armorer has a studded gold-colored helmet and wears a fur collar. Our titular Mando hands the Beskar (and the Mon Cal money) over to her, and she says, "This was gathered in the great purge... it is good that it's back with the tribe." She goes on to ask the Mando if his "signet has been revealed," and he answers that it hasn't. "Soon," she says.
She makes him a snazzy new pauldron out of the Beskar, saying that he is being very generous with the excess. It will go to sponsor Foundlings, and the Mando approves, saying that he was once a founding himself. We get some short flashbacks here of a battle, and a young version of our hero losing his family.
NICK NOLTE AND THE BLURRGS
We're then off to our third unnamed planet, this time a rocky, desert-style one. After sauntering off of his ship like a boss, the Mando is attacked by a Blurrg. This creature first appeared in the Ewok movie The Battle for Endor, but it was fully canonized in the Clone Wars Season 1 episode "Liberty on Ryloth." The Mando tries to burn and punch the Blurrg before he is saved by... an Ugnaught played by Nick Nolte.
This is the first time an Ugnaught (the little tusky aliens first seen in Empire) have spoken basic, or have had much to say at all, outside of Star Wars Rebels. What's more, this one is played by Nick Nolte. We never get his name, so we're going to call him Nolte until we hear otherwise. Noble Nolte takes the Mando back to his settlement, and tells him that he knows where he has to go — plenty have been here already, and plenty have died. To get there, the Mando's gonna have to ride a Blurrg. Blerg!
Cue the great Mando learns to ride a Blurrg sequence, which features Nolte saying, "Your ancestors rode the great Mythosaur!" The Mando gets the hang of it, and they arrive close to where his quarry is. Nolte refuses any payment and says that he just wants these idiots out of the way. They are causing too much trouble. The Mando cases the place (which is full of Niktos and other aliens, as well as a bounty droid named IG-11 (Taika Waititi).
THE DROID AND THE ASSET
IG-11 wastes no time in starting to blast everything in sight, showing off some very impressive moves. He tries to gun down the Mando before he realizes that they are both guild members. The Mando suggests they split the reward, and IG-11 responds, "This is acceptable."
All hell breaks out again, and they both get pinned down. IG-11 repeatedly attempts to engage his self-destruct mechanism, much to the Mando's annoyance. When a huge blaster cannon is brought out, the Mando has had enough — he uses his wire shot to grapple it, and then blasts every single person in the place. He tells IG-11 that he's "not so bad for a droid."
After blowing the main door open New Hope opening style, they find the asset. It is in a crib, and it is a baby. How can this be? They were told that the asset in question is 50 years old!
That's because the asset is the same species as Yoda and Yaddle. We don't know what the species name is or where they come from in the new canon... all we know is this little 50-year-old green baby is adorable. IG-11 gets ready to shoot it in the head, saying that his orders were to terminate it.
He doesn't get the chance. The Mando blows a hole in IG's head, and ponders the little Yoda baby in front of him.
SO... WHAT NOW?
So many questions! First off, what is the deal with this new Yoda baby? Is it Force sensitive? Is IG-11 gone for good? That would suck, because Waititi is great in the role. Is this the last we've seen of Nick Nolte the Ugnaught? What exactly is the deal with the Armorer?
This was a very full episode, and we haven't even met Cara Dune (Gina Carano) yet. We are very curious as to what trouble our Mando will get into from this point forward, however — Pedro Pascal has us sincerely loving him.
For more on The Mandalorian as well as everything Star Wars, take a listen to SYFY WIRE's newest podcast, Jabba the Pod, which is embedded below!