From ‘Speed’ to ‘Inglorious Basterds’: ‘The Mandalorian’ Is Expanding Its Inspirations
This week’s episode of The Mandalorian was the final build-up to the season finale. It featured the return of Bill Burr‘s Mayfeld, the galaxy’s most prominent man from Space Boston. The episode set-up is surprisingly simple as they try to get their hands on some intel to save Grogu. Now, the main part of the episode takes place on a stolen Empire vehicle that is transporting a precious material that blows up when rattled too much. Of course, that kind of set-up is begging for someone to meddle in their affairs. I won’t go into too much detail about what happens in the story. The aspect I want to focus on is the simple approach to taking an existing concept and twisting it on its head as the series grows beyond its initial inspirations.
There are some minor spoilers in this article on specific scenes. So, if you want to watch the episode without any spoilers, only continue at your own risk.
Let’s go back in time to 1994. Keanu Reeves just starred in a film titled Speed. Jan de Bont directed a film that had a simple premise. A group of people got trapped in a bus that cannot slow down. If it does, it would blow up and kill everyone in it. Well, what happens if you twist that concept and can only drive so fast while a group of pirates tries to board your ship? That is pretty much how director Rick Famuyiwa approached this episode. Their vehicle has highly explosive material that can blow up at any point. It adds a great level of tension that makes every move by Mando important, as one false shot or mistake, and he might end up blown to smithereens.
Well, the episode didn’t end there, as we got one more very obvious reference. The episode also includes a variation on a very iconic sequence from Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglorious Basterds. I think at this point, anytime a character has to sit across from someone who is part of an evil regime and get a cross-examination while trying to blend in will always make me think of that film. Christoph Waltz‘s opening sequence showcased how well one can build tension through dialogue and subtle facial expressions. I was quite surprised to see such a scene make it into The Mandalorian. The episode that introduced Ahsoka Tano was also very heavily based on Yojimbo, especially from a visionary standpoint. There is a limit too often they can fall back on the Western routes of this series, so we might be heading into a future with many more inspirations taking place throughout the eight-season run.