In Chapter 5 of The Mandalorian, after a deep-space dogfight with a rival bounty hunter, The Mandalorian’s ship The Razor Crest is damaged. Desperately needing a place where he can repair it, he lands at a repair facility at the Mos Eisley spaceport on the desert planet of Tatooine only to learn that he lacks enough money to pay for the repairs. Now seeking a new job to make some quick money, he joins forces with an inexperienced young bounty hunter called Toro Calican.
The Mandalorian soon learns that, like the Jundland Wastes, the Dune Sea is not be travelled lightly as they pursue their prey: Fennec Shand, a highly-trained mercenary who knows she’s being hunted. But in this tense game of cat-and-mouse, who will win? And with The Mandalorian and his young charge being chased by bounty hunters too, who can he trust in a wretched hive of scum and villainy?
For some, this latest episode will represent the most classic Star Wars-style episode of The Mandalorian to date: full of classic imagery and references that have been a part of the franchise since the very start, it feels like a hybrid extension of the original trilogy. Meanwhile, for others this will be a rather dull, by-the-numbers exercise in straightforward storytelling: it offers no real shocks, the characters are exactly what they seem to be with little depth, and there’s only a minor amount of action.
Both are right, balancing it out into a strangely average episode. But… what is an average episode of The Mandalorian like, exactly?
Well, it turns out that average is still pretty damn good. The guest stars may not quite get the chance to shine as brightly as they should, especially the under-utilised Ming-Na Wen but, across the board, it’s an impressive display of top-notch casting. The story may not be the most creative, but it’s still a well-paced tale that looks good, plays out smoothly, and fits with the overall narrative. And while there isn’t quite enough development with The Mandalorian himself, at least they eased up on the Baby Yoda cuteness so as to not wear out his welcome.
Of course, the real drawcard for this episode has to be Tatooine itself, and a welcome return for fans to Mos Eisley and its classic cantina. Even more than before, the impact of the fall of the Empire (and in this case Jabba the Hutt’s criminal underworld, too) is apparent and a lot has changed since we were here last: the Pit Droids are funnier, and practically redeem themselves here even with their usual dreaded light slapstick routine; the scum and villainy isn’t quite as obvious, and the lack of fascist stormtrooper activity makes a huge change; and the no-droids policy in the bar seems to have been done away with, thankfully.
Plus, throw in a fascinating scene with the Tusken Raiders that puts them in a new, and strangely sympathetic, light and you’ve got a lot to add to the lore of the entire series. At the very least, it’s interesting to see The Mandalorian thinking his way around problems instead of blasting through them. At most, it also puts their earlier on-screen moments into perspective, instantly elevating them from the position of being “like animals” to one of the more intriguing species in the franchise. That this should come from Dave Filoni should be of no surprise to anyone familiar with Star Wars stories in recent years.
Lastly, there’s a fascinating final scene in Chapter 5 of The Mandalorian. The impact of it will only be known in time, but if it’s what it appears to be then viewers could be in for one crazy ride.
So, is all of that enough to fill the gaps in this episode? Not exactly. While this show continues to look good and play out smoothly, if you’re not a hardcore Star Wars fan then you’re not likely to get much from all the small details going on here and the episode is… average. A good average, and there’s certainly nothing to complain about, but average nonetheless. It’s breezy and entertaining, but it may take a while for The Mandalorian Chapter 5: The Gunslinger to simmer and become truly appreciated.
An average episode with lots for fans to enjoy