by Nick Wager
The slow pace of this episode of “The Mandalorian” does a great job of luring in our focus, reminding us that all great adventure stories need room to breathe. This feeling is presented to us in a variety of ways; the movement of the camera is languid and concise, the small tricks of the light, and the shot sizes add suspense to this scene as Mando and The Child walk through a nearly-empty canyon on the planet Arvala-7. However, it’s not only the camera work by Barry “Baz” Iodine that supplies us with this anxiety and trepidation. This is also done with the help of David Acord’s sound design and diligence from the entire sound department. Even the silences are intentional and well-crafted. In the same vein, much of this episode gets its heart and soul from the musical input of Ludwig Göransson. We see more and more as the episode progresses that these three things – camera, sound, and music – interplay quite well to produce a quality episode of television.
Adding to the technical marvels exhibited in this episode is of course the combined efforts of the art department and the visual effects team. Andrew L. Jones, John Lord Booth III, Sarah Delucchi, everyone at Industrial Light & Magic, Epic Games, Inc., Profile Studios, Lux Machina, and Fuse—while utilizing The Volume—combine their skill and expertise to present us with a fully immersed science fiction world, which compliments the fantasy theming exhibited by Jon Favreau’s writing. This, of course, is what gives us “the Star Wars feel” originally crafted by George Lucas over forty years ago. The hard work of Amanda Serino and Joseph Porro on dressing the sets and the performers is also worth praising here.
This of course brings us to Pedro Pascal, Nick Nolte, and the incredible performance and puppeteering teams. Pascal does wonderful work with characterizing Mando, however we would all be remiss not to recognize his stunt doubles here, Lateef Crowder and Brendan Wayne. Both performers were in the armor for the majority of this production. They also worked alongside Misty Rosas for this episode, the performance artist responsible for bringing the character of Kuiil—the Ugnaught man assisting Mando on his journey—to life. Rosas was also assisted with a wonderful puppeteering and effects team from Legacy Effects. This is the same team that designed, developed, and performed the role of The Child. By catching popular attention and praise in the industry alike, Legacy Effects have presented us with a masterclass of effects and performance like we have rarely seen in the past.
There are so many more aspects of this crew that deserve recognition, and I’m sure other episodes will provide more pointed opportunities to make those direct references, however, for now, I will just say that it is obvious across the board that everyone involved in this production is putting in a significant amount of thought, creativity, determination, and commitment.
I believe that the executive producers deserve a certain amount of gratitude for this. Jon Favreau’s creative drive is a beacon going forward for the Star Wars Universe; Dave Filoni’s insight, his character craft, and his world building savvy is another huge factor in the success of this show and will surely impact Star Wars for years to come; and both Kathleen Kennedy and Colin Wilson have provided a significant amount of industry knowledge to this project, allowing it to really get its roots down.
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the man who helmed this episode and provided a clear vision to the story: Rick Famuyima is a terrific craftsman. He understands actors, he understands how a crew works, and he has the right energy to merge the two while making it seem effortless. He did a tremendous job of introducing The Child as a Force-user while simultaneously keeping the story grounded in what it is about: a man and his new adopted child. I look forward to more work from him both in and out of the Star Wars Universe.
“The Mandalorian” won seven Emmy awards out of fifteen nominations.
“The Mandalorian” is rated TV-14 for science-fiction action and violence. The show is now streaming on Disney+.