“Game of Thrones” and “Narcos” star Pedro Pascal is billed as the star of the new Disney+ production of “The Mandalorian” — but it’s impossible to know if that’s really Pascal onscreen since his titular bounty hunter in this “Star Wars” spinoff never takes off his helmet.
It’s a good thing he doesn’t have hay fever — one sneeze and his cover would be blown. “Star Wars” fans may not mind, but one glimpse of his eyes might have helped humanize the 40-minute pilot, which debuted Tuesday (a second episode will premiere Friday).
The action in this small-scale production, created by Lucasfilms and Jon Favreau, is set five years after the collapse of the Empire as described in the 1983 film “Return of the Jedi.” Our bounty hunter traverses the galaxy in a worse-for-wear spaceship called the Razor Crest, rounding up bail jumpers and smugglers and sealing them in panels of carbonite before delivering them to Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), who heads up a guild of bounty hunters.
When Carga offers The Mandalorian a juicy assignment with a live capture, the show, directed by Dave Filoni (“Star Wars Rebels”), finally picks up some steam as Pascal is transported to a mountainous desert landscape and has direct contact with an Ugnaught, voiced by a gruff Nick Nolte. He offers to lead Mando to his 50-year-old bounty if he’ll learn to ride something called a Blurrg. Think of a rhino missing the essential, central horn. This is Mando’s first time at the Blurrg rodeo as the beast tosses him to the ground. Nolte suggests the Blurrg, a female (like you can tell?), might be more receptive “if you remove your helmet.” No dice, and “The Mandalorian” misses another opportunity to show that it’s really Pascal under there.
No matter. A space-Western gunfight awaits the bounty hunter at the doors of the encampment. Although he groans that he has competition in the form of bounty droid known as IG-11 (Taika Waikiki), the droid comes in handy as it can shoot behind its back. What awaits these space cowboys inside the encampment stops Pascal in his tracks. Spoiler alert: the age of the bounty (50) does not match up with the cradle-like vessel where it is housed. Suffice to say, the discovery hearkens back to one of the franchise’s most memorable characters, and sets up enough intrigue for the seven remaining episodes of the first season (a second has already been ordered).
Favreau has assembled an odd cast, to be sure. In addition to Weathers and Nolte, famed German director Werner Herzog puts in an appearance as the cryptic Client, who is willing to pay big bucks for the bounty. Horatio Sanz contributes a funny cameo as Mando’s doomed bounty, Mythrol (“I have to use the backtube,” he says, hoping to escape the Razor Crest). They will be joined in future episodes by Giancarlo Esposito, Gina Carano and Ming-Na Wen of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The tone of the series veers from space-age bathroom humor (“I haven’t evacuated since the Solstice”) to Pascal’s sinister utterances, delivered in a terse style that recalls Clint Eastwood from his “Dirty Harry” period. A nod to the Chewbacca cantina scene from “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope” will make longtime franchise fans feel secure as Favreau introduces more new characters.
“The Mandalorian” offers a decent intro to a familiar universe with superior production design by Andrew T. Jones. Diehard fans will be back for more popcorn TV. The rest of us will tune in again when Pascal takes off his silly helmet.
Source: Read Full Article