‘This is the Way.’
BELOW ARE SPOILERS ON THE MANDALORIAN CHAPTER 13
On Friday night, I received a text from a friend after we had both seen the latest episode of Disney+’s The Mandalorian. It read: “I’m so happy to share this experience with you”. She and I had met online while fangirling over another science fiction show, yet here we were, a decade on, once more sharing our emotions over fictional characters that make us feel deeply.
That to me is the best TV. It lets people connect to each other, whether to family members you watch it with in the room or live via FaceTime (thanks Disney+ group watch!) or with friends who don’t even live in the same country as you but live text you while they watch.
Who could have predicted so many of us all around the world would connect over a bounty hunter covered from head to toe in metal armour and his tiny, green, adopted son.
Even though the first season aired in 2019, the little green creature that has become quite a phenomenon is just what we need in 2020. Saying this might be getting a little old, but it is true that it is a year in which our world got turned upside down and comfort has been hard to come by. Especially now with – for my neck of the woods – the arrival of winter, comfort is what we all crave. Yet so many of us are still having to go without, having to stay away from those we love. And yes, that means that a TV show with a wee green creature that makes us go “awwww!” every couple of minutes is exactly what we need right now.
However, it is not merely about the baby. The Mandalorian truly feels like the group effort that it is. Jon Favreau who created, writes and directs is a true creative genius, not just through the stories he tells, but also through the (technological) way he tells them. Dave Filoni brings his incredible knowledge and understanding of the universe George Lucas created and turns out to be an equally fantastic live action director as he is an animated one. Plus there are all the different and equally brilliant directors who bring their own vision to each separate episode. Not to mention the designers of creatures, costumes, sets, CGI, concept art and last but most certainly not least the music. Each cog in the machine is a triumph.
An honourable and important mention goes to the puppeteers who make this little green inanimate object come to life and live in all our hearts.
Yet it’s not just the green baby that makes the show as popular as it is. Sure, he brings the adorable. But at the show’s centre stands Pedro Pascal’s performance as the titular Mandalorian, vocally and physically an astonishing one.
So much of acting is done with the face. Yet he – aside from a thus far short moment in chapter 8 – merely has his voice and physique to act with and often no, or few, lines. All the more incredible that he manages to make Din Djarin a thoroughly rounded character fuelled by belief and duty while simultaneously filled with grief and loneliness before this little being comes along and brings out his softer side which oozes a warmth you wouldn’t expect from a character whose very first line is a thinly veiled death threat. But Pedro nails it all. His Din brings the protection, the safety, the care and the love. Things we all crave in these strange times. Things we all look for in this life.
The image of the ruthless bounty hunter emphasised by the impenetrable exterior is shattered whenever Mando gently picks up the child. I think each of us feels a tug on our heartstrings when Din sits with the little one in his lap in the latest chapter, stalling their goodbye, rubbing Grogu’s tiny green three-fingered hand. We all awww’ed over the encouraging but deeply caring pat on the little being’s back after shortly before having found out about his buddy’s traumatising past. All these little moments add to the deepening bond between the two, while at the same time strengthening the viewer’s connection to Din and Grogu.
The Mandalorian takes place in a galaxy far far away, in a universe we are so familiar with, one with which each of us has our own personal experiences from childhood on. Yet at the same time it is new and exciting. A show current and full of emotional depth. It embodies a fictional world to get lost in that makes us forget our own daily sorrows for a while, yet manages at the same time to show how vital human connections are. Something we have all been confronted with even more so than usual this year.
Only three episodes remain with a long wait ahead until season 3. But boy am I thankful to be treated for another couple of weeks to this incredible story of a man and a child who found each other when they both needed it most.
Stay virtually connected to each other over the holidays, everyone. And after. January may well be another toughie and we’re going to need each other to get through the last of it. Together we got this!
Want to read more? Check out my other blogs or my recent piece on getting through the holidays this year.
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