We all need a little break sometimes. That’s exactly what The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 4, Sanctuary does. It gives the viewer a palette cleanser, a refreshing breather from the tense three–episode arc that kicks off the series. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad episode. Far from it. It’s just different. Sometimes you need a little different.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is review is a redo of our original review as we never finished our reviews initially. Each episode of Season 1 is being re-reviewed (or reviewed the first time) ahead of the Season 2 premiere on October 30th and written as if we were viewing the episode for the first time.
SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 4, Sanctuary. If you have not seen the episode and want to remain spoiler-free, do not continue reading.
Middle of nowhere
The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 4 finds Mando and The Child looking to lay low and let the heat die down after blasting their way off Nevarro. They find Sorgan, a backwater swamp planet with no major settlements or spaceport. Unfortunately, the peaceful farming village is beset by raiders, dashing Mando’s hopes for peace. He doesn’t seem too bothered by having action again though, especially with a partner like Cara Dune.
This episode introduces Gina Carano‘s Carasynthia (Cara) Dune. A former Shock Trooper for the Rebel Alliance, Dune was already living on Sorgan in search of her own peace and quiet when The Mandalorian showed up. He and Dune have a brief fight that shows Dune is no one to mess with, but it’s all a misunderstanding. Those things tend to happen when bounty hunters show up in a place where you’re looking to hide from the galaxy.
Another level of fighting
The introduction of Carano brings a higher level of fighting to the show. Carano is a former MMA fighter and does the vast majority of her own stunts. This gives Cara Dune a level of authenticity that we don’t see often in film & television, let alone Star Wars. Carano is more than comfortable with the action sequences and feels natural. She plays her character well, both from a physical and emotional standpoint. You can sense just how much she’s itching to get back into a fight and hit someone or something, but doesn’t oversell the eagerness.
This episode also brings back a classic Star Wars vehicle, but in a much different way. The AT-ST, also called a Chicken Walker by fans, returns to live-action after last being seen in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Here, the Walker is much more menacing, with glowing red light pouring from the pilot windows. It comes off feral and alive, instead of just another mechanical weapon of war. This change gives a new type of enemy in what has otherwise been a series of small-scale gun or fistfights, save for the escape from Nevarro.
The feral quality of the AT-ST is one of the standout moments of the show for me so far. In Return of the Jedi, the walkers come across as comical. They slip on logs like they are banana peels and get smashed up by Ewoks. When Dune tells the villagers she’s seen one Walker destroy dozens of trained soldiers at once, it feels like a joke to the viewers. They’ve seen little murder bears destroy several without using a single blaster and less time to prepare. But when the AT-ST finally comes on screen, it doesn’t seem like a joke at all.
Much of this comes from the way episode director Bryce Dallas Howard treats the AT-ST. It becomes a character straight out of a monster movie, plodding forward with menace and evil, red eyes. Howard never shows the pilots, giving the appearance that the Walker is its own creature. When it fails to take the bait and the pilots adjust the stance of the AT-ST, it doesn’t feel like a robotic tank, but a living thing avoiding a trap.
Another thing The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 4 gives us is answers. We now know that Mando can take off his helmet, just not in the presence of others. If he does, the Creed forbids him from putting it back on. He’s worn a helmet since childhood, which is both impressive and incredibly sad. For as much of an extended family as the Mandalorian clearly has with both his covert and the larger Mandalorian culture (whatever is left of it), he clearly lacks any sense of connection with people. Bounty hunting isn’t just a complicated profession, it’s a lonely one.
The episode also raises several questions that are completely unanswered. What is Omera’s story? In a village of borderline inept fighters who need serious training, the widowed Omera is a crack shot and natural leader in battle. Her steel nerves reveal she’s seen some fighting before, and not just in a random setting. She’s been trained. What’s also strange is the villagers all wearing essentially the same clothing. The design also nearly matches Cara Dune’s costume. Perhaps some of the villagers are part of Dune’s former unit? Do Omera and Dune already know each other and are just playing coy? It’s not clear and never discussed on camera.
Despite these additional questions, the episode still feels very different while offering plenty of enjoyable action and a new character. Dune may be left behind, but it very much feels like we’ll be seeing her again.
All episodes of The Mandalorian Season 1 are streaming now, exclusively on Disney+.
The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 48
After a three episode arc, this stand-alone episode was a wonderful palette cleanser. The soft moments help flesh out Mando’s character without raising tons of additional questions. Despite all of the action, Sanctuary is a welcome change of pace with a fantastic repurposing of an AT-ST.