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This show is such a strange thing to me. There are so many reasons I shouldn’t like it. And yet, it still compels me with its strange complexity. Visually beautiful. Each episode feels like the concept art brought to life. The wonderful special effects beguile me effortlessly. Familiar, I feel myself melt into the scene.

Yet, I was never a fan of Westerns. Their pacing, the setting, the isolation. They rarely moved me when I was a kid. Not the way they did children my age. Maybe it was because I was a city kid or maybe I just didn’t like television shows with lots of dust. Though I did have a soft spot for Kung Fu, a hot television martial arts/western fusion on the air when I was growing up.

I decided to try them again when I got a bit older. After my time in the military, something happened to me and I became able to watch Westerns, deconstruct them, learn the tropes, and follow the stories. I began to learn there were differences where they were made and those differences brought style variations. See: Spaghetti Westerns.

Even after all of this new knowledge, I never learned to love them. I did learn to admire them, and modern Westerns have better cinematography which makes them capable of sneaking past my movie snobbery. I have come to enjoy modern Westerns with my favorite being my favorite subversion of the genre, Unforgiven.

This episode of The Mandalorian gave me the same feeling of watching something that was more than the sum of its parts. I was watching a Western which wasn’t a Western. Yet gave me the same feeling that I was watching a subversion of the space heroic genre.

Like all Western heroes, our hero is focused, but in this more realistic heroic portrayal he’s still fallible. He’s quick on his feet, yet can still find himself just one step ahead of trouble. Our hero is dedicated. But so are his enemies. Our hero has money, but loses it just as quickly. Though he never haggles, he demands satisfaction. He’s asked a question, he will get an answer, especially if he’s paid for it. In a galaxy of scoundrels, he keeps his word. Are all the Mandalorians as principled and skilled as he is? If so, they would have been legendary individuals, each worth his weight in the Mandalorian reputation. He wears their reputation so quietly. He doesn’t boast. He does. Like a samurai, his word and reality are the same.

This Mandalorian extended his credo when confronted with a moment of deep ethical quandary. Yet, after making this decision in a split second, has never wavered in his dedication. We are once again given an opportunity to see a pilot of superior skill, demonstrate his talents. Yet we are also reminded that X-wing pilots are also reputed to be some of the best in the galaxy. At they carry that reputation quite well.

This episode hits every note, just perfectly – never too loud, never off key. The story flow, the random, brilliant violence, the awkward family moments, the nostalgic X-wing interaction, the amazing flying skills of the Mandalorian and outstanding dedication of X-wing pilots, this episode played every emotional interaction possible within me.

Goddamn! Trust me you’re gonna say it. Or you said it. Or you screamed it, like I did. Yep. I am not ashamed. Okay, there is a little shame. But I tell you what, I would have beat Mando back to the ship, I know that.

Let it be known: The last episode of the Mandalorian left me triggered. Triggered, I tell you. In a galaxy of billions of life forms, these creatures deserve respect and I should try and be less xenophobic. In my next life, I am sure I will have worked this out. In this life, watching my worst nightmare happening to me as I lay immersed in this episode of the Mandalorian is a testament to the craftsmanship. I willingly continued to watch even as every second I wanted to run screaming from the room.

Okay, without revealing too much, we are going to have to have a talk about the Child. I understand there are biological differences and its urges may be perfectly normal, but the Kid appears to want to eat ANYTHING. If it can fit in its mouth and it’s moving, it’s supper. Since it didn’t come with instructions, how does Mando know what to feed it, how often to feed it, and whether it’s hungry. Oh, and did you notice the Child trying to communicate?

Okay, other than the triggering mechanism, I truly enjoyed this episode of ‘Hard Luck Hero: The Mandalorian Edition.’ It revealed a hero who has to work to earn his title everyday. He isn’t resting on his laurels. But I am going to have to send him a book on parenting.

You gotta keep your eye on your Kid, Mando. You don’t let your Kid eat your guests. As a parent, I am going to tell you: This is not the way!

Until next week, folks.

-30-

Thaddeus Howze
Thaddeus Howze

Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.

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