Breaking The Scene (The Mandalorian — Sandcrawler Chase)
Here’s an action scene that has a simple enough premise yet is packed with moments that define this show’s titular yet often silent protagonist.
Scene Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zuz5VWWqMPc
Mando needs to leave the planet. His ship has been stripped for parts by Jawas.
- Mando wants his ship parts back.
- The Jawas want to keep his ship parts.
- Mando comes across his ship being stripped by Jawas. Takes shots at them. They run off in their massive Sandcrawler.
- Mando shoots at the Sandcrawler, to no effect. Begins chasing it.
- Mando begins climbing the side of the Sandcrawler. A Jawa spots him. Mando realizes, if he falls, he may be ran over and killed by the Sandcrawler.
- The Jawas run the Sandcrawler into the side of a cliff. Mando narrowly avoids the hit.
- The Jawas throw various items at him as he continues his attempt to climb. One Jawa slams Mando’s fingers, nearly causing him to fall.
- Mando shoots a grapple to the top of the Sandcrawler. Uses that to climb.
- Jawas shock Wendell as he climbs. He regains his balance. Becomes more aggressive and yanks a Jawa out of the Sandcrawler.
- The Jawas break off Mando’s grapple, causing him to fall.
- Mando regains his grip. Makes it to the top of the Sandcrawler and draws his weapon, only to find a group of Jawas who shock him.
- Mando falls off the Sandcrawler as it drives off.
Why It Works:
Don’t Let Up The Brakes: When a character wants something, do not make it easy for them. Here, Mando wants to stop the Sandcrawler. But to do so, he’s going to have to suffer. He has to chase it down, narrowly avoid getting crushed to death, and constantly get zapped and attacked in order to reach the top. He has to constantly adapt and find new ways of solving the problems he’s faced with, thus making the scene feel constantly new.
Flawed Protagonist: The best scenes keep us engaged and rooting for our protagonist even while their flaws are on display, and this scene is no different. Mando, through the first few episodes, is a bit bullheaded. He often shoots first and asks questions later, but similarly often, as in this scene, it gets him into more trouble than it helps him. Here, he starts shooting at the Jawas before even assessing the situation, and the rest of the scene is him trying to fix this mistake through more force. And though this use of force seems to work, it ultimately fails him when he arrives to the top and sees himself fatefully outnumbered.
Endearing Protagonist: Mando’s refusal to give up makes him an easy character to root for, and in this scene, this trait is on full display. He’s never discouraged, despite the apparent impossibility of the situation. Even if his actions are somewhat immoral (He’s technically trespassing), we still want him to succeed because we he’s plainly undettered by each obstacle thrown at him.
Let Them Fail: My favorite thing about this scene is that Mando fails, and he fails hard. The writers don’t give him a miraculous last-second savior (as they do in later episodes). Rather, he is forced to reckon with his mistakes and find a new way to get his ship parts from the Jawas. This means he will have to change his tact, and therefore develop as a character. When you want to show that your character does have some sort of flaw, make it evident by having them fail, and then giving them the chance to correct it later in the story.
There’s a lot of things this show does right, and action scenes like this are definitely one of them. By refuting every success with a steeper obstacle, we get scenarios that keep us engaged and in constant support of our protagonist and his refusal to give up.