Talk about treading some familiar ground. Episode 105 of The Mandalorian, titled “The Gunslinger,” took us back to a familiar place. And I, for one, enjoyed our little walk down memory lane on the planet Tatooine. And on that lonely husk of sandy space junk, The Mandalorian got a chance to demonstrate some of those gunslinger-like skills we all knew he had.
So before you travel a bit more down this path, just know that there are SPOILERS ahead. So don’t get tripped up by those SPOILERS. You have been forewarned.
After our last adventure, “Mando” and Baby Yoda have been picked up by another bounty hunter and a firefight in space has erupted. Mando’s ship has been hit countless times and it looks like he and the kid are about to be snagged. Fortunately, Mando had likely watched Top Gun during a down time movie night and pulled one of Tom Cruise’s favorite moves – slow down quickly, let the bad guy fly right past you, and blast him from behind.
The move works, but the ship is damaged and in need of repair. And that’s what brings Mando and Baby Yoda to dock on Tatooine. And it’s here were the memories of the original Star Wars saga start to flood back. The dusty streets, that cantina that looks so familiar, the little alcove in the cantina and a young, roguish man sitting so coolly at a table. Yeah, there were plenty of throwback moments in the episode’s early minutes and I loved it.
Once again, a brand new Star Wars iteration, one that is breaking its own trail, still harkens back to the foundation of the series. I appreciate that from Jon Favreau and crew. It makes the show, though new, feel close to my soul in a comforting way. Mando strolls into the same cantina that Luke and Obi-Wan hired Han Solo at 40-plus years ago. Talk about deja vu all over again. It felt good, to be honest.
And it’s here that the real adventure begins, and with it, a reminder that the folly of youth is only a few short decisions away from bringing disaster. But along the way, we get references to Beggar’s Canyon, Womp Rats, and even the pit droids from The Phantom Menace.
So Mando meets a young would-be bounty hunter in the cantina – Toru Calican (played with youthful hubris by Jake Cannavale). The kid wants to join the guild, but needs a big score to get that approval. He enlists Mando with the promise of all the money – he just wants the glory – for the bounty on Fennec Shand, a highly-skilled hired killer with a big and bad reputation. Fennec is played with low-key confidence and strength by Agents of SHIELD’s Ming-Na Wen. Unfortunately, she’s not on the screen for very long, but it was enjoyable to see her for even the few moments she had.
A side story is that in the repair dock, the hardened, grizzled woman (Peli Motto played by Amy Sedaris) who runs the place, along with the above-mentioned droids, has fallen under the spell of Baby Yoda, whom the Mandalorian had left behind. You know the drill. Baby Yoda comes slowly ambling out of the ship and our repairwoman is smitten by the cuteness factor. The hard shell melts and she’s instantly drawn to Baby Yoda and keeping the kid safe while Mando is off after Shand.
Unfortunately for the young bounty hunter, his youth proves his downfall. After Mando and he track Shand, then bum-rush her and manage to distract their quarry as she attempts to snipe them from the rocks, they are able to make the pinch, one that promises to be lucrative. And nice hand-to-hand fight between Shand and Calican demonstrates her considerable skills, though he’s not too bad, either. Just not at her level by any means.
Unfortunately, as Mando attempts to round up alternate transportation, Fennec and our young lad have a talk and her sweet words bring to light that Mando’s worth far exceeds her own, including guild membership and “legend” status. The kid, boundless ambition oozing from every pore, is blinded by the potential windfall in that and immediately kills Fennec with a blaster shot to the her gut, then takes off. Shocked me, to be honest. I thought we’d get more of Shand. I was sorry to see her face down in the sand like that. Dang.
It’s not hard to figure what’s coming. He’s headed back to town to snag Baby Yoda as leverage against Mando. Man, youthful ignorance can just be such an impediment to right thinking, can’t it? The young gun, with our lovely repairwoman and Baby Yoda as hostages, expects this to be easy pickings. Unfortunately, what youth often forgets is that with age comes wisdom and experience, something Mando uses effectively. A flash grenade, blinding light, an errant shot, and Mando is on the kid’s flank and kills him.
It’s too bad because for a while I thought maybe, just maybe this young man could be an ally that might offer some assistance moving forward. In the end, however, he proved to be just a young fool who was blinded by his own avarice and desires. As Yoda would note, he wasn’t mindful of the time and place. In the end, it was his downfall. Mando pays off the repairwoman handsomely and is gone.
Of interest, however, is the body of Fennec, which has been left in the desert. A pair of boots (note the cape) approach the body and we are left to wonder who that might be kneeling next to the body. Another bounty hunter? Most likely. Perhaps Greef Carga has decided to handle things personally? Or maybe a new character we haven’t met yet? I’d be tickled if Cara Dune were to pop up again. Should be interesting to see who that is, considering the hunt for Mando and Baby Yoda is in full-throated roar.
I will confess, this was not my favorite episodes so far. I liked it, but this is one that felt like it was a little too short. However, I loved the visit to Tatooine and the call-backs to the early days. Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoyed Episode 5. I like the story-building that’s going on and I like the introduction – and even the quick elimination – of new characters. I am ready for a little more backstory on Baby Yoda and those pursuing him. It’s time to start to get to the bottom of what this is all about.
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