Space May Days: The Mandalorian — Space opera / Western

In realization that I would be lucky enough to have the final post of the month, I thought it would be important to end Space May Days on a high note and initiate High June with the same crescendo. Things don’t always work out so perfectly that one property fits so well into two distinct genres. Case in point: The Mandalorian.

I remember when we first started the blog, three years ago, the Beard’s daughters asked us to check out this new Disney show. We were happy to do it. They were quite blown away by the show and wanted our opinion.

(We get that a lot. Growing up as a geek, people make fun of your quirky interests, except when those same people would ask us to explain a principle that was inherent to a science fiction, horror, comic book, superhero, fantasy, western property. Suddenly, we have an expertise that they want to tap into.)

Star Wars is a unique franchise. The fandom is avid, but they are in turn hyper-critical as well. We (I include us here) do not blindly absorb the story without examining the interior logic of the plot points. Having said that, often people will ask us what we think about stuff.

Since the Beard and I have known each other for over 37 years, we have a specific process that keeps us friends. We respect each others’ opinions, occasionally make fun of each other, but only take it so far. Our egos are both large and so when your best friend starts making you feel bad, you have to let him know. I’m bombastic; he gets sullen, but clearly we know how far to go.

We met in our youth, just as we were learning about the genres we liked, cinematic storylines which captured us, and how they informed our individual worldviews. We found common ground and our friendship grew as a consequence. We try to watch things together because it helps us gauge each others’ reactions in real-time. That’s not always possible, but we were able to do that with The Mandalorian.

The very first scene, the Mandalorian is looking at what seems like a homing device. There is a cantina in the background, giving the watcher the sense that the Mandalorian is in pursuit of someone and that that someone is situated in the cantina.

An interior shot follows where we see three thugs shaking down someone. When the portal entry opens with the Mandalorian in the doorway, the Beard immediately says, “The stranger comes to town.” Seeing the Mandalorian in the doorway, you get a western vibe. I said, “The gunslinger enters the bar.”

The Mandalorian proceeds to enter with his arms loose at his sides, close to his hips where a weapon sits close to his right hand. One of the obvious thugs harassing the customer leaves the person being harassed and approaches the Mandalorian who has entered to sit at the bar. Clearly it’s a “Save the Cat” situation.

The two compatriots of the lead thug now surround the Mandalorian. They complain to the Mandalorian that their drinks were spilled as a result of the sudden entrance. The bounty hunter should be kind enough to pay for the drinks lost. The bartender, trying to ameliorate the situation pours a drink and slides it down the bar to the lead thug.

It is at this moment that the Mandalorian intercepts the drink, grabs the mug and uses it to clobber one of the thugs, kills the lead thug with the very weapon the thug intended to use on him, and when the third turns tail to run, he lassos him with some kind of rope. He disabled the thugs in 30 seconds.

After, the scuffle resulting in three villainous dead bodies, the Mandalorian approaches the customer that was targeted. Apparently, he is not the innocent victim that we perceived him to be. The Mandalorian places a “Bounty Puck” (Wanted Poster) in front of the customer. He says that he can bring in the target “warm or cold” (dead or alive in the language of the Old West.)

This is the first five minutes of the first episode of the Mandalorian. Clearly, you should have noted all of the very evident tropes used to create the show and situate it in a very science fiction, fantasy, western motif. There are droves more, but I just wanted to do a very quick primer on how we watch and evaluate shows.

Listen, apologies if this is pedantic information. We still get questions on how pedagogue becomes praxis. How does the sausage get made? Why do we choose to talk about the things we do? Truth be told, most of these questions come from family, friends, and the people that choose to consider us authoritative whether by our method or by our madness.

As always, I invite questions or comments. I love people that engage. It makes me feel as if we are not just screaming into the maelstrom / abyss. Thank you for reading my post. I love you. Take care of yourself. See you later. Take it easy. Peace!

2 thoughts on “Space May Days: The Mandalorian — Space opera / Western

    1. I recommend this show for everyone, but even more for you, VT. Because you are such an aficionado of westerns, you would enjoy the numerous western tropes and how they are communicated in a science fiction / science fantasy TV show.

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