On the run from bounty hunters and desperate to avoid any trouble, The Mandalorian heads for the sparsely-populated backwater planet of Sorgan. There he encounters a former Rebel shock trooper called Cara Dune, who became a mercenary before hiding out. After she urges The Mandalorian to stay out of her way and move on, he decides to leave… until some local farmers try to hire his services in protecting them from raiders.
Seeing this job as an opportunity to solve several problems at once, The Mandalorian takes the job. Not only will it provide The Mandalorian and his young charge with a place of safety, but he can also make peace with Dune while aiding the farmers. However, the job proves to be tougher than he imagined – both physically and emotionally. Can The Mandalorian truly find sanctuary amongst these people, or is trouble always destined to follow him?
Damn! Just when you think that Baby Yoda can’t get any more adorable, he gets even cuter. Forget about how powerful he is with the Force; at this rate, by the end of the season, he’ll be able to overpower enemies just with a cuddly smile.
It seems that even The Mandalorian himself isn’t immune to his charms, because in this episode he decides that dragging the kid into every battle isn’t a sensible plan anymore. Actually, it makes perfect sense and shows the essence of The Mandalorian’s personality and thought processes. But as for the episode itself, it’s a mixed bag that offers far more positives than negatives, which is a good thing.
However, those bad points do need to be addressed quickly.
The story itself will be familiar with anybody who’s seen their fair share of Westerns of Samurai films: a helpless village gets terrorised, the villagers hire a mercenary to protect them, the mercenary teaches them to fight back while learning a lesson about themselves in the process. You don’t have to have seen The Magnificent Seven – even watching The Three Amigos, Blazing Saddles, or even an episode of The A-Team will give you the same story. There’s nothing new here, but that’s okay. Instead, basically this all boils down to how well the story is told. In this case, it’s… solid. Not great, but certainly not bad.
It’s hard to fully embrace this episode as a winner though. While some moments are handled with genuine care, such as learning more about The Mandalorian and Cara Dune’s personal history, the lack of depth to the villagers in general (as well as the bandits) makes the whole adventure feel somewhat pointless. It’s hard to cheer on our heroes if we don’t see any reason to care about what they’re fighting for. Sure, the village is nice and the people living there seem decent (except for a pair of Dumb and Dumber numbskulls); but seeing some random furniture get tossed around lightly by faceless goons doesn’t give viewers anything to connect with or a reason to sympathise. It’s Star Trek: Insurrection all over again.
For an episode that’s about The Mandalorian connecting with people, it’s sad that there are only two new characters we can connect with ourselves. Meanwhile, the directing and pacing of the episode seem a little off at times and the action scenes are handled no differently from the exposition ones. Where’s the energy?
Oh, and then there’s the other thing. Thanks for the spoiler, LEGO.
Fans of various franchises lately have been noticing spoiler details about upcoming movies and shows based on the designs of tie-in LEGO sets. I saw one such LEGO set for The Mandalorian recently, which revealed this episode’s big surprise well in advance. It wasn’t much of a spoiler, and I would have realised it in the first few moments of the show anyway just from being a lifelong Star Wars fan, but still… Seeing it revealed, exactly as it looked in the LEGO set, kind of ruined the moment for me. It wasn’t the worst thing, but it does point to how it can happen and seemed like just another problem with what, for the most part, was a solid episode.
On the positive side, it’s still a thoroughly entertaining episode with just enough action and plenty of character work to please any fan. Plus, hopefully, Sanctuary will end the debate about the lack of strong women – or any women, for that matter – in The Mandalorian. Here, Gina Carano’s Cara Dune debuts and she’s every bit the powerhouse she should be. Yet it’s her wry humour and attitude which work the most, and her return can’t come fast enough. Carano is still evolving as an actress, and while her physicality is still her strongest attribute she sells each line well and gets better all the time. Julia Jones as Omera is a far more polished performer, making every moment of screen time count, and you can tell that there’s a lot more going on with the character than is revealed.
But at the end of the day, this is still The Mandalorian’s show and nobody outshines him. Well, except for Baby Yoda, of course. And they’re both in great form here, delivering even more moments for fans to enjoy in a solid – if somewhat underwhelming – episode. The Force is definitely still strong with this show.
Good performances help to lift an average episode