The Mandalorian represents everything that I love about Star Wars.
From the shadowy hallways of Jabba the Hutt’s palace to the bustling stands of Mos Espa’s podracing stadium, George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away is absolutely packed with fascinating stories… but with the notable exceptions of Rogue One and Solo, the films have always been preoccupied with the Skywalker family drama, shoving the most interesting and memorable characters to the periphery of the narrative. The franchise’s inaugural Disney+ series, on the other hand, fully inhabits the setting’s darker underbelly for the first time; our protagonists and antagonists aren’t invincible space wizards or selfless rebels, but rather mercenaries, bounty hunters, bandits, opportunistic warlords, and ambitious Imperial loyalists—all of them struggling to survive in the aftermath of the great revolution. It delves into the consequences of the movies’ overarching conflict, navigating the chaos and disorder that reign in the interim between the downfall of the Empire and the establishment of the New Republic. Most importantly, much like its cinematic predecessors, it wears its stylistic influences on its sleeve, drawing obvious inspiration from Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, and even Samurai Jack to a certain extent; this transparency creates a comfortingly familiar structural foundation, making it easier for viewers to immerse themselves in the more fantastical elements of the plot (such as the ethical intricacies of Mandalorian warrior culture).
The result is a minimalistic masterpiece, elegant in its simplicity; however the studio chooses to continue the saga on the big screen, it would do well to abandon the excesses of The Rise of Skywalker and instead follow The Mandalorian’s example.