This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian, “Chapter 3: The Sin.”
The more I watch The Mandalorian, the more I’m fascinated by it. It has all of the trappings of a typical Star Wars story, but while the main series of films tends to lean more into the fantasy elements of the franchise, it seems like many of the franchises spin-offs – The Mandalorian included – all go off and tackle different genres of film. It’s no secret that The Mandalorian is inspired by classic Westerns (and samurai films), like the hero-with-a-heart-of-gold trope and set pieces that feel like they need a tumbleweed passing in front of the characters. In that regard, “Chapter 3: The Sin” is probably the best example that the show is aiming to be a space Western and shows itself as being fairly competent at its job.
With the Child now fully secured, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) brings it back to the Client (Werner Herzog), who is all too eager to kill it and be done with it, while Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi from The Hunger Games) resists any harm coming to it. The whys and hows aren’t important; what’s important is that the Mandalorian realizes that giving the Child to remnants of the Empire wasn’t exactly the best idea. So he takes it upon himself to make an enemy out of every bounty hunter and Stormtrooper around to seize the Child back.
Truthfully, this all feels very safe. Last episode did wonders to establish the connection between the Mandalorian and the Child with barely any dialogue, and now we’re seeing the fruits of that labor — but it all feels a bit rushed. With only one episode of development between the two – and a short one at that – it feels like a stretch to have the Mandalorian so invested in protecting the Child that he’ll risk everything to do so. If there were a few more episodes of development between the two of them, I would easily believe the Mandalorian’s actions, but as they are, they feel like a flimsy justification to create a story. To make matters worse, the pacing comes across as rushed, with the Mandalorian deciding to rescue the Child and successfully mounting a rescue mission all in the span of 15-20 minutes.
As rushed as the pace may be, once he begins his operation we’re at least able to see some of the most brutal action in the show thus far. With flamethrowers, Whistling Birds, and complete devastation, the Mandalorian carves a violent path to rescue the Child, leading to a really enjoyable shootout between him and an army of bounty hunters. There’s just something riveting about the Mandalorian facing astronomical odds at the hands of Greef Karga’s (Carl Weathers from Rocky) forces with him only managing to squeak out thanks to aid from his fellow Mandalorians at the last second.
Speaking of, while one of my least favorite parts of the premiere was the complex lore surrounding the Mandalorians without any proper context, the lore here is much simpler and easier to understand. There’s a sense of legacy that comes across whenever the Armorer (Emily Swallow from Supernatural) speaks about the history of the Mandalorians and their actions. Her speeches sometimes border on exposition, especially when she’s explaining the principles of the Mandalorians, but her delivery is strong enough where it’s excusable. The mantra “This is the way,” is repeated throughout by the Mandalorians to where, by the end of the episode, it’s a perfect encapsulation of their race and a perfect opportunity for Disney to squeeze out a T-shirt just in time for the holidays.
We learn more about how the world is now that the Empire has fallen, and the resentment that people feel towards anyone that was associated with them. Sure, the Empire may no longer be a political force, but the memory of what they’ve done is still fresh enough for another Mandalorian to assault our rogue hero over accepting a job for them, weak as they may currently be. Whether or not we’ll see how the Empire becomes the First Order isn’t quite clear yet, but that doesn’t seem to be the point of The Mandalorian. The Mandalorian, as of “The Sin,” seems to be about a hardened anti-hero discovering his humanity.
It’s hard to say as of now if that’s the correct approach for the show to take. By this point in the story, the Mandalorian has rediscovered his humanity by rescuing the Child. So what comes next? Where can this morality tale take us for the next five episodes of the first season and the rest of the recently announced second season? At this rate, I’m not sure if the show can sustain itself for that long. Time will tell, and with the Child and the Mandalorian having bounties on their backs, one has to wonder what the Mandalorian will do when the Empire’s remnants inevitably come for him and the Child. “The Sin” might not have hit the same highs as last episode, but it is still a very entertaining ride, demonstrating that the show has a fair amount of potential moving forward.