The latest episode of The Mandalorian, “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger”, was released today on Disney+!
Let’s dive in to this week’s episode – and as always, ***spoilers are ahead!***
The episode begins with the Mandalorian in the midst of a dogfight with another bounty hunter in space, as he attempts to maneuver the Razor Crest to evade the oncoming fire. His ship takes considerable damage, however, and the other bounty hunter (who is after the child) says that he can bring the Mando in warm or cold – the same line that the Mando used in the first episode. The Mandalorian kills the Razor Crest‘s engines to fall behind the enemy ship, saying, “That’s my line” as he fires and destroys the other ship. With the Razor Crest badly damaged, however, the Mando heads to the nearest planet: Tatooine.
He lands in one of the docking bays, where he encounters Peli Motto and her Pit Droids. He commissions Motto to repair his ship (without the droids) and leaves the child behind as he goes searching for work to earn credits to pay for the repairs. He heads to the Mos Eisley Cantina and asks the droid running it for work, but the droid has nothing. Sitting in a nearby booth, however, is a man named Toro Calican, who offers the Mando a job: to hunt down Fennec Shand. The Mando refuses, as Shand is a skilled assassin, but Toro reveals that this is his first job and he needs it to get into the guild. He offers the Mando the entirety of the reward, just so long as he’s successful and gets into the guild.
The two of them set out on speeder bikes heading across the Dune Sea, but the Mando soon stops them. They encounter Tusken Raiders, and the Mando uses sign language to negotiate with them for safe passage through the land. They continue on and soon come across a Dewback dragging a person. The Mando goes in for a closer look, but it’s a trap: Shand shoots the Mando with a rifle, but his beskar armor holds up. The Mandalorian and Toro wait until nightfall to make their move, launching a daring offensive as they race their speeders as fast as possible across the desert and launch flares that disrupt Shand’s scope. But she’s able to blast the Mando, leaving him defenseless in the desert. Before she can make the killing shot, however, Toro engages her in a fistfight. Just as Shand gets the upper hand, the Mando arrives to take Shand captive.
Needing a way to transport Shand back, the Mando goes in search of the Dewback encountered earlier. As Toro guards Shand, the assasain begins to convince him that the Mandalorian would actually command a much larger bounty with the guild, and his armor would gain Toro significant street cred. He agrees, and proceeds to shoot Shand and leave her behind. The Mandalorian discovers this, and rides the Dewback back to Mos Eisley. He goes back to the hangar, where he discovers that Toro has taken Peli and the child captive (for Peli has been watching after the child during the episode). The Mando surprises Toro by using one of the flares to distract him, and he shoots and kills him.
Taking Toro’s money, the Mandalorian pays Peli for her work fixing the Razor Crest and looking after the child, and he and the child take off. That night, a mysterious figure approaches the body of Fennec Shand lying in the desert.
This episode was full of easter eggs, fan service, and nostalgic references that made it a very fun adventure for Star Wars fans, yet wouldn’t distract from those who don’t get all the references. Of course, the episode takes place on Tatooine, and we see the Mos Eisley Cantina again! They really nailed the look of Tatooine and everything about it, as it felt just like we remembered it (while still having just enough different to let us know that a lot of time has passed too). Further references include: the Dune Sea, Tusken Raiders, Dewbacks, the high ground, Correllia, Beggar’s Canyon, Pit Droids, etc.
I’ve seen some people have differing opinions on all these references, but I don’t mind it at all. There were indeed a lot of them, but it made sense to me, and I never felt that Dave Filoni (who directed and wrote this episode, making it his second episode directed and the first episode not written by Jon Favreau) was just hitting you over the head with these references because he could. Instead, it felt more like he was expressing his love for Star Wars by taking us back to where it all started.
Plus, being on Tatooine made sense. During the days of the Hutts, Tatooine was a bounty hunter’s haven, but after the fall of Jabba the Hutt and the fall of the Empire, the bounty hunting game has calmed down considerably on the planet. It’s pretty cool to explore that a bit through the lens of a bounty hunter. And, of course, if the show ever did decide to explore Boba Fett’s fate, Tatooine gives them a set-up to do it.
I also liked how this episode paired together a seasoned bounty hunter with a newbie. We don’t really get to see how bounty hunters get their start in the Star Wars universe all that much (with the exception of Boba Fett in The Clone Wars), so I thought that it felt new. And Toro wasn’t motivated by money but by getting a position with the guild. Unfortunately for him, however, he underestimated just how incompetent he was and just how good the Mando was. It cost him his life.
I also really liked the character of Fennec Shand, even though we only saw her briefly. The episode certainly sets her up as a real threat, as it’s revealed she is an assassin for the crime syndicates, and she more than holds her own against the Mando and Toro before eventually being captured. I wasn’t too surprised when she convinced Toro to turn on the Mandalorian, but I was caught off guard when Toro turned around and shot Shand. That was a nice twist that I wasn’t expecting (though maybe I was the only one). I assume that Shand is dead, but the end of the episode leaves that a bit ambiguous…
Speaking of the end of the episode, let’s discuss that for a moment. It’s the first time that an episode has truly ended on a cliffhanger since the first episode, yet this one was even different from that because it wasn’t about the Mandalorian but rather about a mysterious figure. The appearance is that this figure was tracking Shand, but it’s unknown whether that’s because this figure was hunting her, helping her, or looking for the Mandalorian, or something else. But who is this person? Basically, we don’t know – and that’s the way the episode intends it. But with the episode leaving the figure so mysterious, I assume that the reveal is supposed to mean something to the audience. So I have three guesses:
- The most natural is Greef Carga, who is likely on the Mando’s trail. But it doesn’t necessarily seem like this figure was tracking the Mando, nor does the outfit necessarily look like Carga’s (at least that we’ve seen so far)…
- It’s also possible that it’s Moff Gideon, who we haven’t seen yet but know appears (from the trailers). It would be pretty random, but it’s possible.
- So my other guess is that it could be Boba Fett. Obviously this seems a bit far-fetched, but I think it’s definitely possible. The outfit would match, the sounds are pretty similar to what we hear of Boba Fett in the original trilogy, and it’s on Tatooine, where Fett could still be if he’s alive.
I’d love it if it’s the third option, and I think it could fit, but at the same time I kinda wonder whether Dave Filoni wants us to think it’s Boba Fett. And if that’s the case, then it probably isn’t. (Vizzini from The Princess Bride would love this type of thinking…)
So anyway, this wasn’t my favorite episode of the season, but I thought it was still a very strong installment that contained some thrilling action scenes, some gorgeous visuals, a few interesting new characters, a lot of nostalgia and fan service, and a very interesting cliffhanger ending. As best we can tell right now (I can think of a few ways that the ensuing episodes could change this statement), this felt like the least significant to the overall plotline of the season, but it was still an entertaining installment.
My grade: 9.5/10