Welcome back to Tatooine! It wouldn’t be a Star Wars story if everyone’s favorite desert planet didn’t make an appearance. The original alien world of Star Wars looks and feels like you remember on the surface, but if you look past the nostalgia you’ll find a lot has changed since Luke Skywalker left Mos Eisley behind.
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 5, The Gunslinger. If you have not seen the episode and want to remain spoiler-free, do not continue reading.
I can bring you in (with a) cold (opening)
Now five episodes in, the show is establishing a format for itself, and The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 5 is no exception. If anything, it is the rule, and perhaps the best example so far. The cold open can be a really effective narrative device. The Mandalorian uses it for every episode to varying degrees of success. This episode has been arguably the best so far.
Space battles were not something I expected to see much of on The Mandalorian both due to the TV-sized budget and the general feel of the show – it’s a Western, not a space opera. Rogue One is a heist film at its core, as is Solo, but both had their moments of sticking to the larger parent genre. Here we get a short sequence that it is really well done and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It also serves a purpose to the plot without being forceful about it.
I understood that reference
Season 1 of The Mandalorian has been filled with references to other parts of the Star Wars saga. Some are fun Easter eggs for fans, while others are just part of the world-building process that establishes the show as part of the larger narrative. The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 5 goes borderline overboard with the references. That should come as no surprise as it was written and directed by Dave Filoni, the resident keeper of the flame at Lucasfilm.
Whether it’s Mando looking for work in THE cantina on Mos Eisley, Toro Calican sitting in Han Solo’s spot with his feet on the table the same way Han did, or the classic Tusken Raider noise, this episode goes out of its way to call you back to the original trilogy. Beyond the visual callbacks, there plenty of lines repeated from both the films and even The Mandalorian itself. In the cold open, Mando reminds his fellow bounty hunter “that’s my line” before blowing him to space dust and the quote parade just goes on from there. The only one that wasn’t used, and was honestly disappointing, was when Mando paid the mechanic Peli Motto. After so many other quotes, I’d hoped Mando would say “sorry about the mess” as he tossed her the credits, just as Han Solo did when he left the cantina in Episode IV: A New Hope. Maybe that would have been too obvious?
Between his two episodes as a director, Filoni did better with the series opener. His reliance on references and fan service weakened the episode a bit. Not too terribly, but by using them too often, the winks and nods took over the episode and prevented it from standing on its own.
Dumbest rookie ever?
The low point of The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 5 was the villain, Toro Calican. While most characters in Star Wars seem to be oblivious to the goings-on in the galaxy at large, you’d think someone so desperate to join the Bounty Hunters Guild would know about the massive situation that just went down. Toro doesn’t. Or is the galaxy’s best lier.
His complete ignorance of the situation involving Mando and The Child was really distracting. That Fennec Shand had to explain it step by step to him made it all the worse. This wasn’t a moment that happened early in a 20+ episode season. This was two weeks between episodes, and in the universe, at least a month had gone by since Mando had left Nevarro. Cara Dune said as much in the previous episode. If a random mercenary assassin knows more than you, you don’t deserve to make it into the Guild.
In the closing moments of the episode, a shadowy figure approaches the body of Fennec Shand. We don’t see a torso, let alone a face. There’s hardly any distinguishing clothing at all, save for a cape. What is clear is the sound of shaking metal. It immediately called to mind spurs from a Western. Who is this dark and mysterious character? I have no idea. This entire show is built on not telling us much at all, but this one really has me in the dark. I almost get the sense we won’t find out who this person is until next season. We only have three episodes left, and Mando is leaving Tatooine. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for information.
The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 57
The Gunslinger was an enjoyable episode to watch, but felt burdened by the weight of fan service. The acting performances were top-notch, but so little of consequence happened in this episode that it feels like a throwaway. A well-done throwaway, sure, but a throwaway none-the-less.