I’ve watched it twice and will so again for sure. I really liked it. In particular, I like that it’s removed from The Saga. For me, Lucas has contaminated The Saga beyond repair. Hats off to Disney for trying with the sequels, but for me it’s just too much of a mess to fix. The Sequel Trilogy is a course correction to be sure, with some very interesting passages (first 30 minutes of Rey in TFA). However, it doesn’t really move me because it can’t be separated from the mess of The Saga. That’s to set up what I like most about The Mandalorian.
I like that it’s far away from what has come before. It’s familiar, as most anything on Earth is familiar to us regardless of who, when, and where. When real life Earth stories are told, there are a great many things that are similar - e.g. transportation, countries, fashion, environments, conflicts, and history. That doesn’t mean the stories or characters have to be related.
That is something that hasn’t really happened yet in Star Wars. Rogue One and Solo have come close, but even they have either known characters or known Saga events and connections. Lucas had said for decades that he wanted to tell stories in the Star Wars universe, but not connected to The Saga. He never did. Disney has come closer so far, but this is the first true step-away.
Regarding the substance of the show itself; I found it interesting. I’d long thought Fett was his most interesting when he was mysterious. Lucas did away with that almost immediately and along with it my interest in the character, in spite of how cool he looked. This is a fresh start and I’m digging it. We’ll learn more about him as the year goes on and that’s nice too. I’m enjoying the lesser approach. They seem to be putting the world building of this new sector of the universe ahead of spectacle and pacing. I don’t really care for the weight of a story where the fate of all that’s good in the universe is resting on the hero destroying the super weapon\villain\empire. That’s been done already, a few times. I like more intimate and cerebral stories.
The quick pace of the gun fight near the end fit the story, but so did the quieter passages for dialogue when they were most important to the story. Favreau and Co have given the story room to breathe, much the way Lucas and Co gave Star Wars room to breathe in 1977. To me, this felt more akin to the 1977 universe than the more polished views that came after. By that, I mean the presentation of the story, not the in-universe story.
It’s also very much in the style of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns. The Mandalorian’s voice is even similar. I thought that was a nice touch also. I don’t need him sounding like Enfys Nest. That affected voice fit Enfys perfectly (no Solo spoiler, so I won’t elaborate), but it would be too much here. We know little about him, but we know he thinks things through before acting. I thought his killing of IG-11 was a great way to show how he did just that. He may be genuinely compassionate, or he may just be pragmatic; there are some important people very interested in this baby and they’re willing to pay tons of money and avoid proper channels to get it. There must be some reason worth exploring. The way he’s looking at it at the end suggests he may be wondering what’s so important about it.
On the rest of the show; I thought the music was a mix. To me, some of it seemed almost too big for the scene at hand. Some of it was fantastic. I dig the main theme, which fits the lone drifter vibe. Some of the other parts seemed a little too much like a Bill Conti type of score. Perfect for Rocky, not so much for two guys riding across the plains. A minor nitpick, but it stood out to me. I really dig the paintings with the end titles. Very cool.
TL;DR; I liked the story, the characters, the setting (off-Saga), and the presentation. I’m buckled in and along for the ride. It’s the Star Wars venture I’ve been waiting on for many years. Which is to say, something without The Force, Jedi, Sith, or light sabers. Looking forward to Friday.