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The Mandalorian

The Gunslinger (The Mandalorian - S01E05) - Live Action Series

Series: The Mandalorian

Title: Chapter 5: The Gunslinger

Season: One

Episode: 5

Original Air Date: December 06, 2019

Runtime: 33 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

"No Droids!" SPOILERS.

Close encounters of the unfriendly kind

The fifth chapter of The Mandalorian takes us back to where it all began. Tatooine! The bounty hunters are still tracking the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda. One of them has found them in space and immediately initiates aggressive negotiations. The Mandalorian manages to outwit the enemy eventually but his ship is severely damaged. It needs repairs. Good thing some backwater planet in the middle of nowhere is nearby.

No memberberries were harmed in the making of this episode

And even though we already knew, more or less, that the show would take us to Tatooine, it's still a lovely sight when we see that familiar shot of a space ship approaching the desert planet. Takes you home right here and there!

Still a hive of scum and villainy

The Mandalorian approaches Mos Eisley and lands at Hangar 35. There he is greeted by three prequel era Pit Droids (they are still Curly, Moe and Larry, basically) and the mechanic Peli Motto. The Mandalorian puts Baby Yoda away, so he's secure in the ship and then tells Peli that only she is supposed to work on his ship - no droids! There's a catch though, the Mandalorian doesn't have the money needed to pay the repairs. So he needs a job. Thus he sets out to find one. Where to go?

The streets of Mos Eisley

While the Mandalorian sets out to find a job Peli and her three pit droids are playing cards (instead of actually working) when they hear some noise coming from the Razor Crest. Wary, the four approach the ship when escape artist Baby Yoda comes down the ramp. How he always manages to push buttons and turn up in unlikely places is certainly something that only the Force knows.

The cutest Star Wars character of all time (Daisy Ridley and John Boyega agree)

And of course Baby Yoda is an instant hit with Peli, who takes on the little toddler. Not without some ulterior motive, of course. This is still Mos Eisley. She plans on charging the Mandalorian more money for taking care of Baby Yoda.

When robots take over your job

Where could the Mandalorian possibly go in Mos Eisley? Chalmun's Cantina, of course! We don't learn what happened to Wuher, but whatever it is, he certainly didn't like it, because the bartenders are now droids! We're treated to yet another Cantina scene homage on the show, with a few closeups of weird aliens, that remind us how bad and out of place most of the alien designs in the sequels are.

The Mandalorian asks for a job, the droid bartender informs him that the guild no longer operates on Tatooine. But then a young man speaks up and he makes the Mandalorian an offer. The man is a wannabe bounty hunter named Toro Calican, who seeks to enter the guild. But to get into the guild he needs to finish a job first. Toro offers the Mandalorian the reward for the job if he helps him catch the bounty. It's certainly a win win situation and nothing can go wrong? So the Mandalorian agrees and the two gear up to find the bounty: Fennec Shand (guest star Ming Na Wen), an assassin that has been on the run ever since the New Republic locked away all of her ex-employers.

Get your motor runnin', head out on the highway, lookin' for adventure

Toro and the Mandalorian take two speeder bikes and ride through the Dune Sea to find their target. But on their way they encounter the natives. Tusken Raiders! And since this episode pays homage to A New Hope so much we are treated to a scene in which Toro looks at Banthas and a few Tuskens with his macrobinoculars only to find that two of them are already standing right behind him.

"Why don't you tell them yourself!"

However, this time no one is attacked and we learn the Tuskens are actually willing to negotiate. And that they do so using sign language. Which the Mandalorian knows. So he negotiates safe passage, in return for Toro's binoculars.

It doesn't take long until the two find a Dewback with a dead bounty hunter still attached to the stirrups. And it's a trap. As the Mandalorian approaches the animal and examines the body Fennec takes a shot at him from the distance. His Beskar armor saves him. Fennec is holed up in the hills and she has the high ground! So the two need a plan. They wait until nightfall, get on their bikes and try to blind Fennec with flares. The plan mostly works, only that the Mandalorian is shot from his bike. Toro speeds on on his own and Fennec and he have a short fight that is resolved when the Mandalorian finally arrives, with blaster drawn. The desert fox has been captured!

Twin sunrise over Tatooine

But now the Mandalorian and Toro face a logistical problem. Fennec destroyed one of the speeder bikes with her rifle. And only two people can ride on one bike. But then the Mandalorian remembers the Dewback they encountered. Toro will not leave his bounty, so the Mandalorian agrees to get the Dewback. And of course Fennec uses the situation to smooth-talk Toro into releasing her. She tries to convince Toro that the Mandalorian is the much more valuable target. News from the shootout with the bounty hunter guild has already reached Tatooine and Fennec tells Toro that it's his Mandalorian buddy who did the shooting and that he has a very valuable bounty in tow. And that bringing them in will not just be his ticket to the guild, but make him legendary. So Toro seems to agree with Fennec and approaches her to uncuff her.

That look on your face when your expectations are subverted

But instead Toro shoots Fennec and makes his way to Mos Eisley. The show certainly doesn't shy away from getting rid of guest stars. Unless she will get better, eventually. Darth Maul survived being cut in half, after all...

Jon Favreau really loves the Holiday Special

When the Mandalorian finally arrives with Dewback back on the scene he finds a dead Fennec and he realizes he's been double-crossed. So he rides back to Mos Eisley. And here Toro has found the docking bay and has taken Baby Yoda and the mechanic hostage. He wants to bring the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda in and become the legendary bounty hunter he always wanted to be. But the Mandalorian outsmarts him and with the help of Peli uses a flare to blind him. The Mandalorian uses the confusion and shoots Toro, he falls over and seems to bury Baby Yoda beneath him. Has something happened to him?

Smiles that melt your heart...

Is Force teleportation a power? Baby Yoda certainly got himself to safety in no time at all and was not squashed by the dead body of Toro. With the situation resolved the Mandalorian pays Peli handsomely for her work (Fennec was worth a nice sum, apparently) and then flies off into space, to next week's adventure! And in the final shot we get to see some person approaching Fennec's body in the desert. Is she really dead?

Chapter 5 was mostly a filler episode. We didn't learn anything new. The plot was not advanced at all. Instead, Chapter 5 was a nostalgia fest. Going back to Tatooine would always bring up Original Trilogy memories and Jon Favreau made sure that we get to see some of the most favorite locations. I almost expected the Mandalorian to find the old Lars Homestead, but I guess they kept that for the movie.

But even if Chapter 5 did nothing for the plot, it was very entertaining. I guess this episode will primarily appeal to "old" fans, who are still the core fan demographic, of course. It was certainly great to revisit Chalmun's Cantina. And to find that droids tend to the place now is something most fans will certainly find amusing. The quick shots of the aliens also prove that Lucasfilm can absolutely design aliens that look like they belong in Star Wars, and not Harry Potter.

This episode also showed the limitations of Star Wars on TV. Some greenscreen work was visible when the character didn't seem to really fit in with the background. Some of the CGI was a bit wonky, especially the speeder bikes in the Dune Sea. But since the show can't go to Tunisia to shoot vast desert landscapes these are some trade-offs that can't be avoided. It's still great that The Mandalorian is trying to have so much scope by showing us various planets that all look very different. It's certainly welcome that the show is not stuck on just one planet or so. The Star Wars galaxy is huge, and the more places we get to see, the better!

All in all The Mandalorian feels more and more like a band-aid for longtime fans, something for Star Wars fans who felt the sequels didn't give them what they wanted and needed. The Mandalorian sure hands out band-aids by the dozen each week. And it's highly entertaining in the process! But I also hope the show will not have too many filler episodes that don't really advance the plot all that much. I certainly liked how this episode showed us that not everyone can be Han Solo. Toro tried very hard to be like Han, tried to be smart. He was ruthless enough, sure. But the Mandalorian proved to be too much for him. You have to know when to take your chances and when to dump your cargo, so to speak. Toro learned that lesson too late. So all in all "The Gunslinger" was very entertaining, there was not a single second wasted here, it was good fun, it tugged at your heartstrings. It would have been perfect if it had also advanced the plot a bit more. Now we have three episodes left to do that.

Added: December 6, 2019
Category: The Mandalorian
Reviewer: Thomas
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