So series executive producer Dave Filoni, who apparently unmemorably directed the first episode, is back here. He’s writing too, making it the first “Mandalorian” not written by series creator Jon Favreau. So The Gunslinger doesn’t feel like Favreau playing with his Return of the Jedi Kenner toys, instead it now does feel like someone playing their Star Wars Roleplaying Game campaign only not really because a roleplaying campaign is probably better written. Filoni’s script is truly godawful. His direction is terrible too. It starts with a really stupid space battle for people who hated them making sense in Episode VIII, then moves on to Tatooine, where Pedro Pascal leaves Baby Yoda in the ship to go and try to find work. Except mechanic Amy Sedaris (who’s likable but bad) finds Baby Yoda while she’s working on the ship with her CGI prequel droids; Filoni’s a prequel guy. He really doesn’t get how to do the original movie Tatooine homages, but then he also doesn’t get how to do any action scenes either… okay, hang on. I’m ahead of myself.
So Pascal goes to the cantina where it’d probably be no worse if two aliens were arguing over who shot first and teams up with truly bad actor Jake Cannavale. Yes, Cannavale (as what Filoni seems to think we’re going to buy as a Han Solo-type) has terrible dialogue, a dumb story arc, lousy direction, all of it, but he’s really, really, really, really bad. He’s bad enough you stop taking the show about the adorable little hairless Mogwai and Jon Favreau’s custom repainted Boba Fett figure seriously.
If Cannavale had been on the first episode… I don’t know I would’ve made it to episode four. He’s even worse than Filoni’s script, which is saying a lot.
This episode also has Ming-Na Wen. She’s Cannavale and Pascal’s bounty, a superior assassin or something. You wouldn’t know it from her fight scene with literal first-time bounty hunter Cannavale, who holds his own in a terribly choreographed and directed fist fight until Pascal can get there to put the show out of its fight scene misery.
Is Wen any good? No. She’s not worse than the script though. Or Filoni’s direction.
There are some other Tatooine references in the episode, they’re all terrible. Some are worse than others. Filoni can’t even manage an obvious gag. He’s so bad. He also doesn’t realize the whole point of the show is Baby Yoda, which is exceptionally concerning.
And the speed-bike compositors do a truly awful job. Bring out the Vaseline.