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The Mandalorian 1.4-1.6 Review

December 19, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
D23 Expo 2019 - The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau, Pedro Pascal
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The Mandalorian 1.4-1.6 Review  

Author’s Note: This will be a full in-depth look at the last three episodes of The Mandalorian, spoilers included. Please read at your own risk.

I am back for the next round of episodes for the live-action series TV series, The Mandalorian. So, for this next review, I will be giving my overview and general thoughts on episodes 1.4-1.6. That will be followed by my review of the last two episodes for the season. While the first three episodes for the show played out like a three-parter, the next three were more or less standalone stories. So, I wanted to take a look at all of them as a group.

Chapter 4: Sanctuary

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Noted actor and thespian, Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, Rocketman), steps behind the camera to direct “Chapter 4: Sanctuary.” Interestingly enough, Howard follows in her father’s footsteps. Filmmaker Ron Howard is a longtime collaborator of Lucasfilm, having directed 1988’s Willow, and more recently Solo: A Star Wars Story.

In this episode, Mando and The Child are on the run from the Bounty Hunter’s Guild, so they need a place to lie low for a while. Mando picks out the best option, a remote and cozy-looking forest planet called Sorgan. However, not all is well on Sorgan. A quiet fishing village is under the oppressive threat of Klatoonian raiders. How fortuitous that a Mandalorian bounty hunter arrives on the planet in their time of need.

First up, though, Mando has a run in with ex-Rebel shock trooper, Cara Dune (Gina Carano), who finally makes her first appearance here. They have a bit of a brawling disagreement first before a timely intervention from The Child. Speaking of which, when Mando and The Child are trying to lay low, shouldn’t they try to be a little more inconspicuous? I realize The Child is rather precocious and doesn’t do as he’s told, but maybe walking around with him in full view, when the entire bounty hunting guild is after them, is not a smart move.

Mando is initially reluctant to get involved when two men for the fishing village try to hire him to protect their village from the raiders, but he agrees once he realizes the village makes for a good hiding spot. From there, he brings along Cara Dune to help join what they expect is routine bodyguard duty.

While this wasn’t my favorite episode, I enjoyed some of the more quiet and contemplative moments. Mando seemed to get along quite well with one of the single, widowed mothers who lives at the village, Omera (Julia Jones). What’s good about these scenes is that they peel back the layers a bit more on Mando’s backstory and his way of life. There seems to be a clear suggestion that as a foundling, Mando possibly adopted the Mandalorian culture and way of life, rather than being born an actual Mandalorian. That is unless he was a Mandalorian, who simply found himself orphaned during the Clone Wars.

Eventually, Mando and Cara Dune realize that the Raiders are quite more well stocked than originally anticipated, as they’ve commandeered an Imperial AT-ST Walker. That’s when the story becomes your basic Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven narrative, with Mando and Cara Dune training the villagers to defend themselves and staging a daring plan to defend the village from the raiders. I recall there was once a rumor of making a Disney standalone Star Wars movie in the style of Seven Samurai, but with Jedi instead. Well, I’m not sure you can use that plot now as it’s been essentially rehashed in both The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian now.

This episode reminded me in looks and style of a 1990s Star Trek show. That’s not necessarily a knock on the episode, but more or less an observation. Howard’s inexperience with the direction and some of the action showed. This was her first major television directing gig. Some of the editing and fight scenes were a bit on the sloppy side, and the scope and scale of this episode seemed considerably smaller.

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Once the episode started playing into the basic Seven Samurai narrative, it did come off as a more predictable story. Overall, it wasn’t a bad episode. There was some good development and a look into the character of Mando. I actually see Sorgan and Omera as potential end points for the series. Maybe Mando won’t revisit the planet this season, but I could see this being where Mando could one day return to if he manages to survive retirement. However, this Mandalorian isn’t ready to have his helmet taken off just yet.

Episode Rating: 7.5 out of 10.0

Chapter 5: The Gunslinger

Dave Filoni returns to the director’s chair for a fun episode, “The Gunslinger.” The episode starts out with an actual bonafide space battle, and it’s the first actual space battle in the show so far. Another bounty hunter attempts to bring down the Razor Crest. One daring interstellar maneuver and pithy one-liner later (“That’s my line.”) and the Razor Crest manages to come out on top in this dogfight. That said, the ship still took a lot of damage. So, Mandalorian has to stage a landing on the next closest planet and outpost, and it’s an iconic location very familiar to fans: Tatooine.

So, it’s a return to the Mos Eisley Spaceport, a few years removed from the fall of the empire in Return of the Jedi. Mando hires the quirky mechanic Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) to fix his ship while he has to try and scrounge up some work to pay for the repairs. However, he doesn’t want any of her DUM-series pit droids, who fans might remember from The Phantom Menace, working on his ship. Did I mention that Mando doesn’t like droids? He doesn’t like ’em. He doesn’t like Droids [*Raargh*, credit to JonTron].

Tatooine is quite different from its days in A New Hope. The Mos Eisley Cantina, which used to refuse to serve droids, now has EV-series supervisor droids working behind the bar table. Also, it looks like there’s no bounty hunting guild or criminal underworld presence there anymore, so it’s tough luck getting credits for Mando. However, one option soon presents itself. Sitting in Han Solo’s old McClunkey spot is an amateur, rookie bounty hunter, Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale, son of actor Bobby Cannavale). Toro wants Mando’s help to track down and capture his bounty, crime syndicate assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). In exchange for Toro’s generous offer of all the money for the bounty, Toro wants to take all the credit for nabbing her.

After a completely unattended Child makes his way out of the Razor Crest to make friends with Peli and her droids, Mando pays a visit to check the progress on his ship. He makes a critical error here as he’s leaving with Toro on their speeders because Toro gets a very good look at the Child while Peli is tending to it. From there, it’s a trek across the Dune Sea to confront and capture Fennec Shand.

So, this episode had a lot of callbacks to the original trilogy here with a quick romp through Tatooine. I enjoyed seeing the return to Mos Eisley, the cantina, and the hangar bays. And while Tatooine was not quite the hustling and bustling place it was in the previous films, it seems things have settled down. It looks like the place has become very light in terms of “scum and villainy.” And yeah, Toro is even sitting in Han Solo’s spot at his table from Episode IV.

The encounter with the Tusken Raiders was interesting. It was another callback to A New Hope, but with a very different ending. Mando actually treated the Tuskens with respect, as they are the indigenous people of this planet and managed to bargain their way through the Dune Sea. I’m not sure if sign language was the right way to have an alternative means of communication with Tuskens, but the show at least gave them a bit more depth and dimension than what they had previously.

What did disappoint me was the rather meager amount of material for Ming-Na Wen to work with as Fennec Shand. I expected her to have a bit more of a significant role. The action scene to incapacitate her with the flash bangs was well done, but after that, she was dispatched rather quickly. It definitely appears that Fennec Shand is gone for good. While the apparent fate of Shand, if this is the case, definitely surprised me, it seems like a waste of Ming-Na Wen’s talents to use her in such a small role. That said, she was at least nice enough to name drop the bounty hunting guild planet from the first and third episodes, Nevarro. Unfortunately for Mando, Fennec gave Toro an idea that was too enticing to resist. Instead of going after Shand, Toro should be going after Mando and The Child. Ultimately, Toro’s arrogance as a greenhorn rookie was his undoing.

Overall, this was a solid, if unspectacular, standalone type of episode. I enjoyed finally getting to see a genuine space battle and getting a post-Empire version of Tatooine, even though this episode did lean heavily on original trilogy callbacks.

Episode Rating: 8.0 out of 10.0

Chapter 6: The Prisoner

It’s time for a heist episode. Now that he’s on the run from the guild, Mando needs some cash, and he can’t take jobs that are on the books. So, he pays a visit to a space station outpost run by the outlaw Ranzar Malk (Mark Boone Junior). Malk needs Mando, or more specifically the Razor Crest, for a job, and his policy is “no questions asked.” This story offers a look at an earlier part of Mando’s life, when it looks like he was running with a less scrupulous, more dubious crowd.

Malk has put together a ragtag crew to take the Razor Crest to infiltrate a maximum security New Republic prison ship. The heist crew is quite the lineup: Mayfeld (Bill Burr), an ex-Imperial sharpshooter; Xi’an (Natalia Tena, of Game of Thrones and Harry Potter fame), a rather sadistic Twi’lek; Burg (the one and only Clancy Brown, making what I believe his live-action Star Wars debut after voicing multiple characters in animation for the franchise), a burly and brutish Devaronian; and finally, the droid pilot, Q9-0 (Richard Ayoade). The Razor Crest is apparently necessary for this daring heist, since it’s off the grid and won’t immediately raise any alarm bells.

Unfortunately for Mando, he’s aligned himself with a den of vipers for this one, and they don’t even fall in love with The Child on meeting him. Heck, Mayfeld freaking motions dropping the baby while he’s holding him right before he actually does! What a jerk. Mando realizes too late that the scoundrels are looking to trick him after they free the prisoner they are trying to help escape. One wrong move can bring the might of New Republic military down on them.

As a standalone episode, I really dug this as a heist story. This episode got a significantly longer chunk of time, and Rick Famuyiwa put some fun fight and action scenes together. I thought all the casting of Malk’s crew was well done. Seeing Bill Burr in a show like this is rather amusing. I loved seeing Clancy Brown in a live-action show as a Devaronian, who seem to be virtually indestructible. Mando had to reach deep into his bag of trips to stop him for that fight. It’s not one he could really brute force his way out of. Even Luke’s Rancor door trick didn’t work! There was a lot of suspense after The Child was put in certain peril again. At least this time, Mando tried to keep the infant hidden from the scoundrels.

The baddies in this episode weren’t really likable, but they weren’t supposed to be. This actually builds up a nice rogues gallery of sorts for Mando to potentially meet again somewhere down the line. Notably, the scoundrel crew managed to live at the end of the episode, so there’s a chance they could show up again later. It was interesting to see The Mandalorian interact with old colleagues, who he now appears to be ashamed of having associated with in the past. However, he’s there again now, having been backed into a corner.

The interactions with characters like X’ian suggest The Mandalorian in his younger days was a lot more unforgiving in his work before he came into contact with The Child. Not to excuse any of Mando’s more regrettable actions, but he was a war orphan in a business of cutthroats and trying to survive. Bounty hunting is a “complicated profession” as they say. As another standalone episode, this was very well done.

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Also, in terms of cameos for this one, the New Republic officer who was piloting the prison ship was portrayed by Matt Lanter, who fans will know as the voice of Anakin Skywalker in The Clone Wars and Rebels. Of course, there’s also that glorious ending with the X-Wing pilots, all portrayed by series directors: Dave Filoni as Trapper Wolf, Rick Famuyiwa as Jib Dodger, and Deborah Chow as Sash Ketter. It made me especially happen to see Dave Filoni, who has previously voiced character such as Embo and Chopper, playing a live-action character in Star Wars, and he looked perfect as an X-Wing pilot.

Episode Rating: 8.5 out of 10.0

The Mandalorian is streaming now on Disney+.

8.0
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Overall, it was a solid set of standalone episodes for The Mandalorian as Mando continues his trek around the galaxy with The Child in tow, attempting to find somewhere safe to plan their next move or get some off the books cash to continue as such. These episodes didn't quite reach the heights of the first and third, but there was some still cool characters, action and fun to be had. Ideally, I think this is the direction the franchise has to move in for the future. A show that feels like the original trilogy but largely deals in new characters. That way, creators are free to play around in the sandbox with new characters without having to worry about angering fans on depictions for legacy characters.
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