The Mandalorian: Chapter 5 Review
Mando is back on the run. Just when he thought he found safe haven, it turns out that he still has to worry about trouble from the Bounty Hunters’ Guild. Even running to a familiar rock where the Bounty Hunters’ Guild and the criminal underworld is non-existent doesn’t mean that Mando is safe.
Spoiler Warning: This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian (including this episode) and may contain spoilers for other Star Wars canon and legends TV series, movies and novels.
One of the advantages of taking a couple of days to write a review is that you can feel which way the wind is blowing about an episode and tailor your review based on that.
In the case of this episode, there is a large number of fans decrying this episode as fan service. There’s a difference between fan service for the sake of fan service (like Rogue One) and fan service in service of the story. I would suggest the latter is the case here.
Our last trip to Mos Eisley showed a prosperous port but still a place that was still remote enough that the Empire wasn’t too concerned about it until the Tantive IV arrived in orbit. This is a very different Mos Eisley. The town is largely deserted rather than bustling after the fall of Jabba the Hutt and destruction of his cartel in Episode VI. The famous cantina makes an appearance but it’s not only largely devoid of patrons but also staffed by droid who were banned from the establishment in A New Hope. The movies established Mos Eisley but The Mandalorian puts a spin on it to visually tell a tale about the state of Tattooine and the galaxy after the fall of Jabba the Hutt and the Empire.
That use of the familiar but different carries through the episode. Mando meets a young, aspiring bounty hunter, Toro Calican, who hires Mando to help him with a job. We meet Toro in the Cantina in what might be a familiar booth. However, while Toro is trying to be as smooth, cocky and confident as Han Solo, he quickly shows that he’s in over his head. He even gets a “shoots first” moment but it’s for the opposite reasons that Han does it.
The idea with the familiar or the fan service, depending on how you want to phrase it, is that it’s brought in to tell a story of how the familiar has changed by the time we see The Mandalorian. It’s subtle visual storytelling. Not surprisingly, this is an episode written and directed by Dave Filoni who was George Lucas’s last Padawan during The Clone Wars. George was more a visual storyteller than a verbal storyteller (as most people, including his actors, will admit about his dialogue). That Filoni would take a similar approach seems appropriate given who he studied under.
As for the actual episode, it felt like another classic Western. I think we’re starting to get to a your mileage may vary point with the episode structures used. Older fans or fans of older movies and shows will probably appreciate the homages to classic Westerns and other fiction tropes. There was the classic grizzled old cowboy pretending to sleep. The young upstart partnering up with the experienced legend. The supposed hero turning villain at the opportunity for fame and fortune (though we all saw that coming from the start).
A lot of people aren’t happy with seeing classic tropes like this in this series. I don’t mind it for two reasons. First, George created Star Wars in part because of his love of classic sci-fi serials and classic movies and there are homages to that throughout his film trilogies as a result. Secondly, these tropes are fairly new to Star Wars. Sure, some may have been in the animated series but they’re still fresh enough to Star Wars that it doesn’t feel like a retread.
And for your Baby Yoda content of the week, he was inadvertendly left in the care of Amy Sedaris. She was playing the role of a harbourmaster / mechanic character in Docking Bay 35 of the Mos Eisley Spaceport. When Mando left Baby Yoda behind when he went to find work, he naturally wandered out of the Razorcrest and was temporarily adopted. It was the most Baby Yoda-light episode of the show through five chapters. As much as I like Baby Yoda being cute, the episode didn’t suffer from a relative lack of Baby Yoda.
Overall, I get the feeling that I liked this episode more than most people. Was it filler? Maybe a bit less so than this week but I was reminded that Filoni has a tendency to pull things back together from filler episodes that you dismiss. After all, the finale of Rebels had a big callback to a supposed filler episode that was critical to the climatic fight. I’m not quite sure what could be drawn from this episode (save for the very last scene) to help Mando in a climatic fight but we’ll have to wait and see.
Other random points of note:
- Before Disney+ launched, a Star Wars podcast I listen to floated a rumour that the fifth episode (this one) was supposed to reveal the name of Baby Yoda’s species and delve into their origin. The rumour also mentioned that George Lucas himself would get a story credit for his input on Yoda’s species. Obviously, that didn’t happen but I wonder if that will eventually happen during this series. I would be very disappointed if Disney pulled a modern LucasFilm and tucked something important into a book again.
- I might have missed the update notification but the Disney+ PS4 app seems to be less awful than before. It still has its moments where it has microfreezes or macrofreezes or buffers but it’s getting less frequent. It makes me wonder if I should invest in a Chromecast or similar.
- I didn’t mention the Tusken Raiders but they weren’t the seemingly mindlessly violent locals that they were portrayed to be in the movies.
- Nobody’s line was stolen in the writing of this review. In the writing of this episode, however….
We have only three episodes remaining for this season and I have no idea where we’re going from here. On the one hand, we’re introducing all these supporting characters so I want to say they’ll return at some point. On the other hand, we have no idea if that’s actually going to pay off this season. The logical trope would be for Mando’s friends to return the favour and help him out when he needs it the most.
I have spoken.