The Mandalorian (S1): How Slow-Paced Character Building Isn’t “Filler”, You’re Just Droning

Cinematic Doctrine Christian Movie Podcast Reviews Disney Star Wars The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian (S1) Podcast Transcript

The Mandalorian (S1) – How Slow-Paced Character Building Isn’t “Filler”, You’re Just Droning

                Hi, my name’s Melvin, and don’t let 2020 get you down!

                Welcome to Cinematic Doctrine, a Christian podcast service where we encourage and equip Christians to engage and reform the culture of cinema. In this episode, we’ll be talking about Disney Plus’s The Mandalorian.

                I have to admit, I think I made a mistake. You see, I didn’t want to watch The Mandalorian as it came out week-to-week. In my defence, I don’t watch shows very often. I’m a movie guy, so, whenever I would watch a show, it’d be 2-3 episodes in a row, you know, kind of like a movie. Of course, that’s assuming they’re not hour-long episodes.

                Besides, the idea of waiting 7 days to watch a new episode didn’t interest me at all. Honestly, I decided early on that I’d wait for a few episodes to come out, then binge them at a time. Of course, in doing so, I missed out on the weekly speculation between episodes, and ultimately, put myself at risk of spoilers. Thankfully, I went into The Mandalorian without spoilers, save for Baby Yoda of course. Nobody could escape Baby Yoda.

                But I digress. We should probably get this show on the road, so why don’t I tell you what The Mandalorian is all about?

                Adapted from IMDB:

                After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

                Known as the Mandalorian, or short-hand as Mando, our protagonist works as a bounty-hunter for an unspecified guild. Dead or Alive, the Mandalorian will complete his bounty. With each reward, he hopes to rekindle the flame of his people who were once decimated by the Empire. Since then, they’ve hidden in the shadows, advancing their own objectives in secret with the hope that, someday in the future, they will once again live freely among the stars.

                Meanwhile, our lead Mandalorian takes on a new bounty, one that pays well, but leads to unforeseen consequences. His employer? Ex-Empire, and in working for them, he finds himself conflicted between profession and personal pride. But a job’s a job, and he takes it knowing full-well the consequences. Where this job will lead him? Only time will tell.

                The Mandalorian is Rated TV-PG. It doesn’t have a detailed certificate, so here’s a Melvin Certificate: sci-fi action through-out, and brief mild language.

                In typical Star Wars fashion there are a lot of lasers being shot all around. There are also some mixed martial arts through-out although they’re completed by characters in full suits of armor so it’s more clunky than anything. There’s also some violence in the first episode during the opening scene that may be rather shocking as well as the violence in the last episode that, again, can be rather shocking.

                That said, through-out the entire show it’s mostly standard non-graphic sci-fi violence.

                There are a couple uses of minor curse words through-out the show, but in total the number of times any of these words are used is less than 8. So says the IMDB parent’s guide.

                There are also brief mentions of, well, typical seedy-underbelly stuff in a story about bounty-hunters and lawless individuals. I can only think of perhaps 3 times that, passively, a character makes references to something inappropriate. In example, a character says to another that they could spend time in a Twi-lek healing baths, followed by the other character ignoring the offer entirely. Incredibly brief but still important to be aware of.

                Now, before we take a look at The Mandalorian, I wanted to share real quick that if you’ve come to enjoy Cinematic Doctrine, consider leaving a review for the podcast on your respective podcast app at the end of this episode. Unlike YouTube or Reddit, there isn’t really a way to let us know how we’re doing with a thumbs up or thumbs down, so the best way to leave your thoughts on the podcast is to write a review on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen.

                Apart from that, Cinematic Doctrine also has a Patreon! For those who don’t know, Patreon is a website for independent content creators to raise support for their work. By creating an account on Patreon, you can select a content-creator you like and support them with a one-time donation or monthly subscription. If you enjoy Cinematic Doctrine and would like to support the show, consider donating, as it helps cover the cost of producing the podcast.

                And, as a bonus, if you support Cinematic Doctrine for as little as $3 a month, you’re opted into a once-a-month movie poll where you decide a movie we review on the podcast! There are other unique benefits that come with supporting the podcast, so be sure check that out at Patreon.com/CinematicDoctrine.

                Or don’t! Save your money and get yourself a coffee! We’re just glad you’re here!

                Last of all, be sure to check out CinematicDoctrine.com for unique content, such as guest appearances I’ve made on other podcasts, and links to helpful Christian resources and our social media.

                With that out of the way, let’s talk The Mandalorian!

                My first reaction to the show was “Oh my gosh it’s so violent I love it!” followed by a full-on enjoyment of how slow-paced it was. I mean, that first episode is a whoooooole lot of talking and not a lot of action and that was such a breath of fresh air as far as Star Wars is concerned. And knowing that the first episode would be a tone-setter for the rest of the series made me confident in the fact that the rest of The Mandalorian wouldn’t be an assault on my senses.

                And that’s probably the highest praise that can be given for a Star Wars property. It’s not an assault on my senses. Because, everything produced after Return of the Jedi has been a collage of colors and sounds and flashing lights and nonsense that it becomes over-stimulating. It’s exhausting. And walking into a series that would be 8 episodes in total with the label Star Wars tagged to it was frightening, yet my fears were easily squashed by a great tone-setting first episode.

                And how nice is that, right? Like, if everyone wants us to go back to the original trilogy, this is the way to do it, because A New Hope is a relatively slow film in comparison to every other Star Wars release. There’s a lot of breathing space and little spectacle. I mean, yeah, okay, There’s spectacle, sure, but there’s sooooo much in between. That film has very little to do with crazy action set-pieces, sprawling vistas, and a cool new character produced for the sole-purpose of selling toys. It’s about a very simple story with a simple premise and an A-to-B plot-progression all with a sci-fi flair.

                And, well, you could be forgiven if you thought I was just describing The Mandalorian, because at its core it’s a very simple story with a simple premise and an A-to-B plot-progression all with a sci-fi flair.

                Some other neat praise I’d give it is having the ability to make certain things within the Star Wars universe intimidating again. By scaling down the series from this massive story about good vs evil down to a simple bounty-hunter sci-fi adventure thing become less about characters over-powering their adversaries and more about out-smarting them. I’m not thinking to myself all the time, “Oh, Mando’s got this. He’ll just use some new, totally made up Force power and be safe.” Rather, I’m thinking, “Mando just came up with a pretty tough plan. I hope it works out! I guess I’ll wait and see!”

                However, I must admit, I don’t have much else to say about the show. I have my reservations, and dare I say, convictions about continuing to engage anything Star Wars related after learning more and more about Disney’s business model. I’ve been feeling increasingly less comfortable with how they approach business ethics. I must think about my own moral convictions and contrast them toward what I put my hard-earned dollar toward, let alone my indirect support merely by talking about or producing something tied to one their own products. Like, say, a podcast episode about The Mandalorian.

                But, if you’ve seen the runtime for this episode, clearly, I have more things to say, so why don’t we continue and just ignore that moral tangent.

                When you really look at it, it’s a sci-fi western where our chaste, mysterious anti-hero of a protagonist travels from land to land finding work. Meanwhile, he has a primary objective that moves one step forward with each episode. One could virtually pluck any one episode and watch it by itself. They could keep up easily, and that’s typical for classic serials, let-alone most of television, and I’m wondering if most audiences were expecting that. For instance, the most stand-alone episodes are episodes 4-6, and it’s 4-6 that have been cited as being the least interesting episodes for most people. Most people, myself included, have described them as filler. And while I don’t necessarily think the term filler is always negative, like in this sense where the show is imitating a classic western serial, I know for many that the term filler 100% always means something bad, so I get it.

                But also, at least in this case, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. That got me thinking, though, like, I wonder if people are used to… more efficient story telling. By that, I mean every story-beat, every act of rising action, everything from the start to finish clearly and explicitly feeds the main plot. So, when a main character goes on a side-quest, so to speak, it’s often felt to be pointless or distracting from the main storyline. When a character has a seemingly innocuous conversation with another, it’s seen as pointless dialogue. Some people may feel this way even if the episode feeds a character’s resolve, influences their future decision making, expands lore, etc. It can still be considered filler and therefore inefficient.

Practically speaking, I’ll compare The Rise of Skywalker with The Mandalorian. And just to be clear, this is not a diss at Rise of Skywalker, it’s just for comparison’s sake.

        The Rise of Skywalker at its best is highly efficient. Characters travel swiftly, problems are resolved within minutes, there’s little time to breath. Before you can start thinking about what’s going on, something else starts to happen. It’s efficient.

                The Mandalorian? It’s inefficient. Half of its episodes have little to do with the over-arching plotline, and the other half of the show is relatively slow and filled with short detours. There are characters introduced for single-episodes, and there are scenes that can outright be plucked from the runtime and leave zero impact on the rest of the story.

                When considering their runtime, as The Rise of Skywalker is 2 hours and 22 minutes and The Mandalorian landing somewhere between 4-6 hours, that’s a big difference in efficiency.

                Now, right off the bat, I want to say I don’t think anyone is particularly unhappy with the relative inefficiency of The Mandalorian. In fact, most of you listening are probably wondering why I’m even talking about this. People like The Mandalorian despite its slower pace. People like those middle episodes even if they feel they’re filler. People love Baby Yoda and for good reason because Baby Yoda is precious and must be protected.

                But a common thought is that things slow down and they don’t really like that about The Mandalorian, so I want to talk about that. Because I think it’s so important for things to slow down. So, I want to talk about slowing down. So, I’m going to talk about slowing down. And don’t worry, it’ll all tie back into The Mandalorian. If you’ve been listening to Cinematic Doctrine for a while, you know I always wrap things up with a bow. Or, at least, I like to think so. Anyways, onward!

                There’s a common thread through-out Star Wars, the MCU, and successful blockbuster films like Jurassic World, Transformers, Avatar, Titanic, the recent IT movies, or even unsuccessful blockbuster films like the recent attempt at The Mummy, John Carter, and The Lone Ranger. They’re big, loud, and fast. In some ways, they’re absurdist. Characters do things that can literally never happen, and beyond that, they do them in the most unrealistic ways.

Oh, we have a problem with dinosaurs in the modern age. That would never happen, but what if we made it crazier? Like a genetically modified T-Rex? That’s awesome. Let’s have it chase kids in a motorized bubble car. That’ll be even more awesome!

        These films are so beyond the scope of reality that they sort of become 2-hour experiences where the brain is turned off, and honestly, that’s totally fine. Some of the most fun I’ve had in the movie theater was when things were so beyond my scope of understanding that I simply let the screen feed me senseless, absurd information. This wasn’t a blockbuster by any means, but I just had that happen this Christmas with the release of Cats and it was an awfully surreal experience. I’d describe it as Amazing! Also, terrible.

        My point is, I’m not here to mock blockbuster films. They have their place, but there’s something a little scary to me about the unseated excitement exclusive to blockbuster releases. They’re the films that make the most money, and the only reason they make the most money is because they’re the movies that people want to go out and see. And if a show or movie decides to slow down, what does that mean when people start to go “That was boring or that was not interesting” when it’s stuff that positively contributes to the purpose of the show?

        I think there are a few reasons for this, and I’ll start by describing those before I explain what this has to do with slowing down.

                To turn one’s brain off is a nice experience. You can put everything to the wayside, life’s troubles and fears, and rest. And rest is great. It’s like a suppression of experience. You’re intentionally limiting your ability to experience anything and step aside for a brief respite.

Sometimes, I’ve heard people describe watching big blockbuster movies, or movies in general, as a form of rest, or a break in the day. I think I’ve even said that once or twice. And while watching that next big block-buster film may feel like rest, it’s anything but. You’re sitting in front of a screen that’s too-big to be practical and listening to audio too loud to be healthy, and your brain is so over-crowded the experience is borderline sensory deprivation. It’s not about resting, it’s about droning.

And when you’re droning, you don’t have to worry about your check-engine light that just turned on, that rent-check you’re 3 days late on handing your landlord, recent socio-political discourse involving yet another police officer, how another rich mogul is getting off scott-free for highly immoral actions while you receive an exorbitant ticket for barely double-parking at the supermarket, how your marriage is falling apart, how your business is failing, how your next therapy session will go and what it will reveal about your childhood trauma, when your doctor will be available for that frightening follow-up.

        Of course, It’s important to engage in rest and leisure amidst stressful situations. It’s not escapism to take a break from the daily grind. Rest is a healthy reminder that there is good to be enjoyed in the most basic of ways. But I think there needs to be a distinction made between rest, the act of suppressing ones senses, and droning, the act of becoming one-note; numbing or dulling the senses.

        So, when I think about repeat viewings of big-budget blockbuster films, sort of like how people literally saw Avengers: Endgame into the double-digits, or the unabashed commitment to catch every Disney blockbuster from its animated features to its live-action adaptions, over-analyze trailers for Easter-eggs, lamenting over certain choices and demanding changes, or the mere fact that I saw over 60 movies in theaters last year, and over 200 in total.

I start to wonder whether this lifestyle, this culture of consumerism, surrounding oneself in the loud and senseless is in any way healthy.

        Think of it this way. It’s okay to occasionally enjoy chocolates or fast food, but an over-abundance of processed, sterile hamburgers and caramelized sweets is going to kill you.

                I think it’s common to posture when confronted with this revelation. I know in my own life I would say, “Sure, I’ve seen a lot of movies, but I read a lot, non-fiction too, I play games with my wife, I enjoy a nice walk, and most of my entertainment is educational!”

                People are multi-faceted after all, and I wonder if it’s easy to ignore a dangerous, over-indulgent aspect of our character by pointing to these other things and going, “But look at these! Look at them! Look at this goodness! I’m doing such a good job in this area of my life, it’s okay to lag behind in some places, right?”

                Unfortunately, we do lag in certain qualities; we have things that aren’t improving at the speed with-which we’d prefer. Not only that, there are a lot of sucky things going on in the day to day and rather than persevere through them, we seek escape. We seek an alternative experience to the humdrum monotony or tumultuous grind that is life.

                And yet, in all these facets of life, I’m starting to see a consistent trend of expediency. An increase in which efficiency begets results. In other words, as John Tomlinson puts it in his 2007 book The Culture of Speed: The Coming of Immediacy, quote “an increase in the rate of ‘delivery’ of experience.” Endquote.

By this, he means that every passing day, we get quicker at receiving the experience we want. We’ve created a culture of efficiency, and the purpose of efficiency is the delivery of an experience, and the faster things get, the faster this delivery becomes.

Growing up in a household such as the one I did, I regularly was told that video games can be dangerous in that they are all about immediate gratification. Whatever you’re doing, its immediate and always feels good. But the world doesn’t work that way, sonny.

Of course, only people who have never played a JRPG can say that, because boy-howdy those games are ridiculously slow.

But I digress. The older I grow, the reality sets in that this isn’t a unique thing to video games. This is everything. Everything is getting faster. The rate in the delivery of our experiences has become so expedient, that it’s not unique to video games.

                To elaborate, here are a couple of things I can think of that have pursued efficiency, or, the increase in the delivery of an experience, and I’ll contrast them with a negative that has revealed itself amidst this efficiency.

And don’t worry, this all ties into The Mandalorian. I promise!

Think of the landscape for current news. Ever since the transition from daily newspaper to the internet, the pursuit of breaking a story has become rabid. Stories can break at 2:30 in the morning with websites uploading their take on a current political crisis, socio-political disaster, or tragedy in some other country.

And now, with the ever-increasing dependence on Twitter, it’s not just about being the first to break the story, it’s about being the first to share with your followers or tweet your brief unadulterated thoughts on the matter.

                In example: December saw the news break of a police officer ordering coffee at McDonalds. On his cup was a slur calling him a pig. He promptly posted an image of his coffee cup, it was shared by his boss, everyone and their mother was sharing about how a McDonalds employee was targeting a police officer with hate-speech.

                What this story does is create an us vs them mentality. Anyone reading and sharing this article around likely included their own hate-speech toward McDonald employees, perhaps imagining a disgruntled teenager or college-student, and so some random user might include a line in their post saying, “Can’t believe this teenager is mocking a police officer. Doesn’t he know this young man is keeping the streets clean so he can buy his new iphone or other electronic doo-daad? What a delinquent! He should be fired!”

                Meanwhile, the story develops, and the entire thing was a hoax. The officer made the whole thing up for some clout. Articles were edited all around, some publications even deleted their reporting on the matter. Of course, if you check out Fox News, the article headline remains, and if you were to share that article somewhere, your followers would read the headline only, because let’s face it, nobody gets past the headline, so they would still think it’s true.

                I don’t know, Fox News, why don’t you just take the article down if it’s not true? Sure, you put an editors note saying the officer fabricated it, but you’d have to open the article to do that, and nobody’s uncle is gonna to do that.

                Suffice to say, the expediency of breaking this story about a police officer and his coffee was misguided. The pursuit of breaking the story first ignored the moral ramifications of spreading a lie. Now, how could someone know it was a lie? Well, maybe a little detective work. Journalism is journalism, after-all.

                But the point here is this: what I’ve mentioned is this pursuit of rapidly engaging an experience. This officer had just started and wanted to increase his reputation. These news publications want clicks for ad-revenue and being the first to break a story is a big deal. And your uncle who doesn’t get past the headline just wants to feed his dated, cultural ego.

                And yet, the fact of the matter is that all of it is BS. None of this is good or true, but what does it matter? It delivers an experience, even if it’s a false one.

                That’s a pretty big example, I recognize that, but some other things we can look at is Netflix introducing a 1.5x speed where users can watch a show or movie at a higher rate. Why? So they can finish it faster! So they can catch up with their friends! What does it matter about the artistic integrity of a director’s vision? Right.

And by-gosh-golly what about micro-transactions and what gaming and mobile companies are calling time-savers, which are literally small purchases that progress a player’s abilities in a game rather than organically advancing through the story or online multiplayer.

I don’t know if I would call it explicitly cultural, but there seems to be an ever-pervasive increase at the rate in which we experience things. And it’s not only experience, but, like, hyper experience. It’s addictive to feel extreme emotions. Considering the borderline stagnation of modern life, the constant wake-up, drink coffee, traffic, head to work, fantasize about the holiday, eat lunch, back to work, traffic, couch, bed, why wouldn’t you want to engage in the most extreme experiences?

I’ll repeat and modify what I said earlier. Some of it, at least.

Blare some loud music so you don’t have to think about that rent or mortgage payment you missed. Read some new thriller with questionable content to feel better while your divorce is in full swing. Check out that new, overly loud blockbuster to avoid reconciling your childhood trauma.

So, what does this have to do with The Mandalorian, like, at all!?

I would say… quite a lot. The Mandalorian is a slow show. It’s got action and flare, sure. It should, after-all. It’s a sci-fi show about a bounty-hunter. I’d want to see some gunslinging anyway. But it also takes a lot of time to think and ruminate on what’s happening. Characters don’t just do things with swooping music to make you feel good. Action set-pieces don’t just happen because it’s been 10 minutes and we need something intense to take place. In fact, there are story elements to The Mandalorian that take the entire span of this first season to be resolved. That’s a long time to wait, and when I think back to the sequel trilogy and how things in The Force Awakens resolve in minutes, The Last Jedi is completely scrapped, and The Rise of Skywalker is made to be nothing more than a bottled up, 7 minute rotation of travel, action, emotional scene, travel, action, emotional scene, travel action, emotional scene…

I don’t know man, I just think myself, boy, isn’t it nice to slooooooooow doooooooooown.

I get too think when I’m watching The Mandalorian. I get to wrestle with some of these characters are making. I get the opportunity to think, “Am I bored? No, They’re just resting. Things are taking their time.”

And slowing down can be scary, because it leaves room for other thoughts to creep in. By delaying some sort of extreme, over-powering experience, you’re letting the things you don’t want to think about catch up. But don’t arrest yourself to escapism. Think about these things. Why are they bothersome? What is it about constant self-indulgence in the loud, flashy, and exciting offerings of the world that keeps you from taking time to think? It’s good to ruminate sometimes. It’s not good to get manic, I don’t suggest that. It’s horrible. But it’s good to spend time thinking about things that matter, even if they’re painful.

                There’s a fascinating episode of Today Explained, a news podcast, called Noise Will be Noise. In that episode, the focus is on a man named Karthic Thallikar, where he was losing sleep due to a constant buzzing noise. He would hear it all day and night. and worst of all, he couldn’t find where it was coming from. After suffering through multiple days, he decided for next few weeks he would walk around at night, then bike, then drive trying to find the source of this noise.

                You should check that episode out. It’s great. I won’t spoil what they find.

                I did find one part of the episode very interesting, where it was proposed that typically when people are enamored with a noise, they simply find a more pleasurable noise to overtake it. In other words, if my vacuum is louder than my music in my earbuds, I turn my music up louder than my vacuum.

                But that didn’t fix the problem. That vacuum is still loud, and my music, although a more pleasurable noise, is now damaging my ears.

                The book of Haggai is an interesting, small little book. It’s only two chapters, but its importance goes without saying. It’s scripture, after-all. In it, the prophet Haggai calls upon Israel to rebuild the temple. They recently returned from exile and were permitted to live in their own land, even permitted to rebuild, and yet they had grown lethargic. Their passion for the Lord had waned. When they returned home, having suffered the horror and shame of foreign rule, they began seeking immediate comforts in food, wine, warmth, and wealth, rather than rebuilding the temple of the Lord, the one who ultimately brought them out from exile. As such and the Lord sent a word to Haggai.

                I’m going to read from Haggai 1, and in it, it’s important to think about the work that the Lord is calling us to do. Whether it’s reconciling a marriage, reorganizing our schedule, or, whatever it is you do to escape. Think about how, to listen, one needs to slow down. You can’t really hear someone when you’re constantly working on the next thing, and then next thing, and the next thing. So listen to what the Lord says to Israel.

                From Haggai, this is the Lord speaking.

“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

                Here we see the Israelites, shirking their responsibility to rebuild the temple, are trying to find goodness and joy by alternative means. They’re seeking the joy of the experience in eating, drinking, warmth, wealth. It’s all worthless.

                The Lord continues:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”

                Here the Lord is saying that the reason these things aren’t bringing goodness? The reason the experience procured from food, drink, warmth, and money isn’t good? Because God has blown it away. The joy is gone. He won’t let his people enjoy these things on their own.

                And why? Because God’s house is in ruins! Their responsibility to Him has not been fulfilled! And, just practically speaking, when you know you need to do something, and I’m talking you know you have a responsibility to do something, it is so hard to find joy in anything else. That’s when things become manic. The joy offered in food, drink, warmth, and wealth falls apart amidst crisis.

                But the people repent, fear the Lord, and renew their work on the temple. Haggai 2:10 says their work  And in response, jumping to Haggai 2:18-19

18 Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid, consider: 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.”

                I made mention that the Lord’s timing, as perfect as it is, can seem incredibly inefficient. He works in his own time. And after the work begins and the heart of his people is rekindled, the Lord plans to bless them.

                Yet, we often feel these blessings are far flung in the future, and to some degree, yes, they are. The blessing of the coming kingdom is exactly that: Coming. It’s not here yet, and it will be here when Christ returns.

                But we can be confident that Christ will return. That the blessings the Lord offers are real. Are worthwhile. Are true. And Haggai 2 verse 19 is a healthy reminder of the coming, ever-patient blessing the Lord is offering.

                The people of Israel have listened to the Lord’s commandment. They have begun the rebuilding of his temple, and yet the crops yield nothing. The Vine, which brings wine, has not grown. The Fig tree, which represents the spiritual and physical health of Israel, produces nothing. The pomegranate, the fruit required as an adornment for the high priest to do his work in the temple, does not grow. And the olive tree? Meant to produce oils for warmth and comfort? Nothing. There’s nothing.

                Yet, from this day forward, the Lord will bless them. And as Haggai relates the date spoken in verse 18, the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, or as historians record as December 18th, 520 BC, the harvest hasn’t come yet!

                Even so, the Lord will bless them. It may not be in the same ways they yearn for. It may not be with good wine from the vine, with internal spiritual and physical health, with the pomegranate, which by the way yields tasteful seeds, and the olive tree with which one can procure oil for warmth, but the Lord is Lord of all, and he will bless now and beyond the coming harvest.

                So, what does that mean for us? What does that mean for us to slow down and listen to what the Lord is saying here?

                The Lord does not deliver the same experience a droning, blockbuster film has to offer. The Lord does not deliver the same experience an 8-episode sci-fi adventure has to offer. The Lord does not deliver the same experience building clout over rage-culture has to offer. The Lord does not deliver the same experience a processed hamburger or caramelized sweet has to offer. The Lord does not deliver the same experience sex, wealth, or comfort has to offer.

                The Lord delivers on something far better.

                The Lord delivers an answer to all your sins. Every horrible childhood experience you’ve had and how you’re at risk of being the same parent. Every time you’ve neglected your responsibilities at the expense of someone else. Every time you road rage only to find out it’s a frightened student driver. Every time go back to that website you said you’d never type out again. Every time you throw back that last shot you shouldn’t have. Every time yell at your spouse. Every time you lie at work to save money.

                The Lord pays for all of this, in Christ, because you, quite honestly, can’t. And like the prophet Haggai sent to deliver a message to Israel, so to does Christ call us to deliver a message. Believe in Him. Believe in Christ’s love for you. Believe he is the son of God and he was sent to die on the cross for your sins. Believe that he has been resurrected and sits at the right hand of the Father. Believe that he will return soon, and what he has to offer is so much better than what you can even imagine.

                The age we live in, it sure feels like our crops yield nothing. But the Lord’s harvest is coming, and the wine will be richer, the health will be better, the priesthood will be purer, and the warmth will be wonderful.

God is good, and from this day forward, he will bless us.

Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of Cinematic Doctrine, if you’ve seen The Mandalorian, what did you think of it? Is Baby Yoda the cutest thing in the world, or are you tired of these ridiculous memes? If you’re listening on Cinematic Doctrine’s website, let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email to cinematicdoctrine@gmail.com.

                If you enjoyed this episode, consider leaving a review for the podcast on your respective podcast app at the end of this episode. Unlike YouTube or Reddit, there isn’t really a way to let us know how we’re doing with a thumbs up or thumbs down, so the best way to leave your thoughts on the podcast is to write a review on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen.

                And, as mentioned before, Cinematic Doctrine has a Patreon! For as little as $3 a month, you’re opted into a once-a-month movie poll where you decide a movie we review on the podcast! There are other unique benefits that come with supporting the podcast, so be sure check that out at Patreon.com/CinematicDoctrine.

                A special shout-out to those who support at the Art House Theater tier! Thank you so much Mom and Dad! You’re the best!

All of this will be available in the shownotes.

Until next time, stay cool!


Support Cinematic Doctrine Christian Movie Podcast on Patreon


Consider supporting Cinematic Doctrine on Patreon! As a bonus, you’ll gain access to a once-a-month movie poll where you decide a movie we discuss on the podcast, as well as early unedited episodes of the podcast!!


Melvin Benson Cinematic Doctrine Christian Movie Podcast Host

Melvin Benson is the Founder, Editor-In-Chief, and Lead Host of Cinematic Doctrine. He’s written fiction and nonfiction for over a decade with short stories featured on the Creepypasta Wiki and Wattpad. His novelette Ethereal Temptation, a teen drama with a tinge of magical-realism, can be read for free here. His hope is to see King Jesus glorified as far as the east is from the west!

Cinematic Doctrine is available on iTunesSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and other major podcast apps.