The Silence of The Mandalorian

Andrew Donaldson

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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11 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    First off, credit where it is due, the Mandalorian is excellent television and I endorse Andrews analysis unreservedly. Something that really rammed home to me while watching it, however, is how utterly nonsensical the economics are in the Star Wars world.
    Mild spoilers:
    Around Episode 3 or 4 we see Mando go running off to hide on a fringe world where bandits are raiding a village that farms krill in pools. In the very first episode we see them raid the village shooting up villagers and then making off with the fish harvest. In that opening raid scene we see a droid get shot with a blaster and blown up. I couldn’t help but comment on this and my husband shrugged “It’s just a droid.” Ummm.. yeah a complicated robotic artificial intelligence possessing machine? In any sane economic universe the first thing those bloody raiders should do is bundle up all the expensive ass robots! That droid they blasted would, in any sane universe, be worth a hell of a lot more currency than a few bags of fish! And then, as if to mock me, the same episode in a later scene the farmers are all out happily fish farming their krill ponds and there’s a droid WORKING IN THE FISH POND!!! How does human slavery exist in a world with droids? How? Droids work tirelessly and are much easier to maintain and control. How are sacks of food worth more than sci-fi super advanced tech? Whyyyyy? Whyyyyy???

    But, I will reiterate- the Mandalorian is fine fine television and if Disney keeps channeling their properties into those kinds of products on the television format then their competitors had better start looking out.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to North says:

      Well, crime often doesn’t make a lot of sense, and sometimes value is highly situational.[1] In strange settings like period pieces, Westerns, or sci fi, the audience is used to not thinking through a cost-analysis of retail prices.

      He leaned over and whispered “Mary Jean, he had them throw their guns down and hand over their money, but their guns were worth at least three times the cash they were carrying.” She whispered back “Don’t you know anything? Cowboys never steal other cowboys’ guns. It’s just not done.”

      A thief steals the horse but not the wagon. We just take that as something that happened without trying to figure out if a horse was worth more or less than a wagon.

      Another interesting aspect of that episode is that the story of a traveling warrior defending a farming village from well-armed raiders might be one of the oldest types of stories there is, arising with the dawn of agriculture. Archaeological work in Turkey and the Fertile Crescent point of a period when farmers, who necessarily had stockpiles of food after harvest season, co-existed with hunter gatherer bands whose food supplies could be far more tenuous. After a bad hunting season, it would be natural for the hunting parties to go raid the farming villages, so some warrior heroes were needed to defend the villages. But the warrior needs a backstory to explain why he’s bothering to put his life on the line for some farmers. Money, love interest, recovering from an injury, seeking vengeance, or on the lamb? All have certainly been used successfully time and again.

      Now, it may seem lazy to go back to what might be the world’s oldest trope, but it’s all in how you tell such an authentically human story. The Mandalorian did it really well, and as an aside, Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, directed the episode.

      Someone former Star Trek writer now working for Disney may have suggested that, through lots of dialog and diplomacy, the farmers should convince the raiders to use light-sabers to cut down trees and use the Imperial Walker to haul them to the saw mill, thus becoming lumber magnates and bringing about an era of peace, mutual understanding, and economic growth, but if such advice was given, thank goodness it was ignored.

      [1] Cops, pretty much every episode.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to George Turner says:

        Good response George, well done. Off the cuff I’d guess a wagon costs a lot less than a horse or two but you probably have a point with the guns.

        And yeah, true, it’s the trope and they stick to the trope just retelling it in a sci-fi setting. The sci-fi settings edges just grate on the ancient trope a bit more than it does in westerns. But your point still stands- the trope is the story and I have no answer for it.Report

      • A thief steals the horse but not the wagon. We just take that as something that happened without trying to figure out if a horse was worth more or less than a wagon.

        I’ve always tended to think about it in terms of getaway and fencing the stolen property. You can take a horse through places that the wagon can’t go. And I suspect it was a lot easier for a thief to explain a spare horse than to explain why they had a wagon for sale.Report

      • Farmer: We can become lumber magnates!
        Mandalorian 1: (looks at Mandalorian 2)
        Mandalorian 2: (looks at Mandalorian 1)
        Mandalorian 1: (points at Farmer)
        Mandalorian 2: (shakes head)
        Mandalorian 1: (nods)
        Mandalorian 2: (shakes head)
        Mandalorian 1: (nods)
        Mandalorian 2: (shrugs, nods)
        Farmer: What? What is it?
        Mandalorian 1: Magnets don’t work with wood.Report

  2. Avatar Ozzzy! says:

    I think it is fine. Will watch more type fine. I’m ok with that level of appreciation.

    Do you think it is really really good? Do others (no tweets please. twitter is for idiots and their derivatives).Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Andrew’s analysis.

    I call Mandalorian a spaghetti Western in outer space because it reminds me of nothing so much as the Sergio Leone films with Eastwood’s Man With No Name, right down to the soundtrack that echoes Enio Morricone.

    Part of what makes a film rise above good to truly great is when things like the economics make no sense, or like how the whole helmet thing make no conceivable sense (He is forbidden to take it off infront of anyone, yet needs to take it off to eat; So presumably eating is a secret thing among Mandalorians, something they do in private?); And yet, even though none of this really makes sense, it doesn’t matter because the storytelling is that good.

    This is the way.Report

  4. “Star Wars films” George Lucas explains, “are basically silent movies, and are designed as silent movies.”

    This explains a lot about their dialog.Report

  5. Avatar InMD says:

    Somehow I missed the Star Wars wagon. Even the original trilogy doesn’t do anything for me. I think I wasnt exposed to them at the right age, so there’s always been an over promise under deliver aspect to them.

    This write up made me interested in the Mandalorian though, and I do like Werner Herzog. He wouldn’t attach himself to crap right? Maybe I’ll give it a try after I finish thr Expanse.Report

  1. May 4, 2020

    […] recent revival of Clone Wars and the unexpected delight of The Mandalorian are reminders of just how good Star Wars can be when it’s on the right side of the rule. And […]Report