“The Mandalorian” is a return to form for “Star Wars”

Craig Odenwald, Staff Writer

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“The Mandalorian,” the crown jewel of Disney Plus’ original streaming shows, has an innate understanding of not just what makes “Star Wars” tick, but of classic adventure storytelling.

Make no mistake, it’s still set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. The title character speaks, moves, and fights like the other iconic Mandalorians of “Star Wars” lore, Jango Fett and Boba Fett. Blasters sound like blasters, droids sound like droids, and there’s a sand planet, a snow planet, and a cantina in the first two episodes alone.

However, these additions don’t make “The Mandalorian” seem overly reliant on nostalgia. Instead, they speak to how deeply showrunners Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni understand the world of “Star Wars.” Filoni, having helmed the popular “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” animated series, knows the franchise isn’t so much about its iconic settings but about the story one tells within it.

This time, Filoni crafts a moody space Western filled with adventure and ambiance. The Mandalorian is a hero for newcomers and franchise veterans alike: he’s a man of few words, a stylish fighter, and his backstory doesn’t require endless pages of Wookiepedia reading.

The focus of the protagonist’s tale is how he navigates the galaxy’s gritty underworld while balancing his code of honor with his simple, very reasonable goals of staying alive and getting paid.

Numerous obstacles line his path: there are creeping assassins, angry monsters in the depths, and questions about worlds beyond and in his past. It’s a quest filled with intrigue and mystery, two things one might not expect from a franchise entering its 43rd year of existence. But Filoni and Favreau find ways to keep the audience on its toes in a familiar world.

Two episodes in, “The Mandalorian” isn’t just a great “Star Wars” adventure; it’s a great adventure on its own. In handling the old and new, “The Mandalorian” takes a page from the Force itself, and finds balance.