Last week, the Mandalorian liberated a village from Klatooinian raiders with help from rebel soldier-turned-mercenary Cara Dune and a smitten/badass villager.
Unfortunately, he and Baby Yoda were tracked to the backwater planet by another bounty hunter, forcing them to reboard the Razorcrest and continue moving.
The Need for Speed
The episode opens with the Mandalorian being pursued in space by a bounty hunter in a star fighter. The pilot appears to be a better sky jockey than our protagonist, gunning down one of the Razorcrest’s engines and target locking him with relative ease. He then uttered the “I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold” line that the Mandalorian said to his first target back in the Chapter 1.
Fortunately, the Mandalorian had seen enough dogfighting movies to know the play here and slammed on his breaks. As expected, his pursuer shot past him and into the Razorcrest’s targeting range. What I did not expect was the Mandalorian to mutter “That’s my line” before blowing him out of the sky.
Ugh…that can’t be a good sign.
A Wretched Hive
With his ship in dire need of repair, the Mandalorian hails the nearest port, which just so happens to be Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine. (Even the most casual Star Wars fan is likely to know the significance of this location).
After landing the Razorcrest, he is greeted almost immediately by a group of pit droids. He responds to their eagerness by shooting at them, which draws the ire of the port’s mechanic, Peli Motto. Understandably, she’s not at all sympathetic to the Mandalorian’s as-yet-unexplained aversion to droids, but still agrees to fix his ship…provided he can pay her.
Leaving her to it, the Mandalorian heads into town, ending up at the same cantina where Han Solo and Greedo‘s lethal exchange from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope has been edited/debated to death. The place is decidedly less busy than it was back when Obi-Wan took Luke there, but we still get to see some cool looking alien patrons at the bar. There’s also a lone bounty hunter at a nearby table named Toro Calican, who offers the Mandalorian a cut of his current job if he helps him. The Mandalorian appears interested until he sees who the target is–a highly skilled assassin named Fennec Shand. Toro pleads with him to reconsider, offering the full bounty and explaining that he only took the job because it’s the last step he requires to take to get into the bounty hunter’s guild.
The same guild that is currently hunting the Mandalorian across the galaxy.
Somehow, this massive increase in potential risk/exposure is outweighed by the Mandalorian’s desire to help out some kid who he’s never met before…and might as well have the words “I’m Going to Double Cross You” tattooed across his forehead.
Repair and Baby Care
Speaking of things that don’t make sense, the Mandalorian left Baby Yoda–who has already shown he has no problem wandering around on his own–on the Razorcrest. After surprising and scaring Peli Motto half to death, the little green cutie wins her over with ease. Displaying some strong maternal and business instincts, she decides to look after Baby Yoda while also tacking on a hefty babysitting fee to her repair invoice.
Meanwhile, Toro and the Mandalorian are able to procure a couple of pre-Empire swoop bikes. After traveling the expansive Tatooine desert, they come across a pair of Tusken Raiders. Instead of fighting them, however, the Mandalorian negotiates passage across their land via sign language. After giving them Toro’s binoculars, the pair continues on their journey, which leads them to finding another bounty hunter being dragged across the desert by a saddled dewback.
As you might’ve guessed, this turns out to be a trap, subjecting Toro and the Mandalorian to some heavy duty sniper fire from Fennec Shand.
After surviving Shand’s ambush, the pair decides to wait until all the Tatooine suns have set to make their move. Under the cover of darkness, they use alternating blast flares to blind Shand while riding directly towards her position. Despite a few hiccups, the plan works and Shand is captured. Unfortunately, one of the swoop bikes got popped pretty bad in the process, meaning someone would have go back for the dewback to carry their prisoner.
You’d think Toro would realize by this point that he could trust his helmeted partner/mentor (or at least be grateful), but he refuses, leaving the task to the Mandalorian while Toro watches over a handcuffed Shand.
After he leave, Shand predictably tries to turn Toro, telling him that the man he’s working with is the same Mandalorian who shot up a bunch of bounty hunters back on Navarro (we finally know the name of the planet!) and took off with a highly valued child…which you think would be pretty well known info right now, especially considering the fact that the rest of the Mandalorian’s people have (allegedly) gone back underground.
Whatever the case, Toro responds to Shand’s counter offer by shooting her dead and acting on the information himself.
Adventures in Babysitting
After returning with the dewback and finding Shand’s corpse, the Mandalorian heads back to the Mos Eisley repair port, where he discovers that Toro has Baby Yoda and has taken Peli Motto hostage.
Thankfully, he still has one blast flare left, which he used to blind Toro before capping his traitorous/ungrateful ass. After making sure that Baby Yoda is okay, he takes the money off Toro’s corpse and gives it to a very appreciative Motto before getting back into the Razorcrest and taking off.
Meanwhile, the feet of an unseen character are seen standing over the body of Fennec Shand.
There’s a TON of fan service to take in this episode: Tatooine, pit droids, dewbacks, Tusken raiders…all types of good stuff. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to keep The Gunslinger from being by far the weakest chapter of The Mandalorian thus far.
The episode was written and directed by David Fiolini, who us Clone Wars fans know is fully capable of knocking it out of the park where Star Wars is concerned. In this case, however, there’s a jarring shift in quality compared to the first four episodes, which were all written by Jon Favreau.
Not only are the supporting characters painfully wooden, but the script all but telegraphs everything they are going to say and do. The only surprise comes when the Mandalorian is gullible enough to get himself in a situation that a paranoid/wanted figure like him should have seen coming from a mile away.
It’s also worth noting where the comedic moments in The Mandalorian had previously been come from been pretty understated (and hilarious), the comedy in this episode was ramped up to cringe-inducing levels…especially that almost-fourth-wall-breaking “That’s my line” nonsense.
All that being said, a poor episode of The Mandalorian is still halfway decent television. The landscapes and cinematography are as gorgeous as ever and Baby Yoda is still the cutest thing to ever exist in this or any other galaxy. And like I said before, there were quite a few great moments of truly fan service. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, I don’t think The Gunslinger is an episode any of us are eager to to watch again.
Let’s hope this stop in Mos Eisley was an aberration and we can get back to business next week.
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