The Mandalorian - Episode 1.05 - Chapter 5 - Review
The Mandalorian may be one of the best things on TV, but it is still TV. It fell into that common pitfall of TV, by treading water for a couple of episodes before it gets back to the main story. Episode 5, called "The Gunslinger" was entertaining enough, but definitely a side quest instead of contributing to the main story.
Dave Filoni directed this episode, which saw a return to Tatooine and Mos Eisley Cantina! The Cantina is much more accepting now, as there is a droid working there, when just a few years back, there were no droids even allowed in there.
The fan service didn't stop there though, even when it introduced us to the character of the week, he was sitting in the same spot - and nearly the same pose - as when we first meet Han Solo in A New Hope.
The episode is pretty self contained but also very familiar. Someone on the run hides their damaged ship on Tatooine, and then has to go find the money in order to pay for the repairs. Is this The Mandalorian, or The Phantom Menace-lorian?
Filoni and Favreau managed to get most of the Tatooine references in there. They mentioned Mos Eisley, Mos Espa, Beggar's Canyon, the Dune Sea, and The Hutts. They weren't overtly shoehorned in, but they were definitely worked in on purpose.
The big takeaway from the episode was the introduction of Ming-Na Wen's assassin character, Fennec Shand. She was pretty formidable, and it felt like she went out too easy. So the last scene of a mysterious figure finding her makes sense. She will probably be recovered and show up again. As to who that mysterious figure is, one name sticks out like a Bantha amongst Jawas: Boba Fett.
In the new Disney canon, there is no confirmation if he survived the Sarlaac pit or not. He could play a supporting role in the narrative, and maybe take a big one on later. He has been a fan favorite, and I could see this show giving him a new story. But I hope it doesn't happen.
For Star Wars being such a widespread and sprawling "universe", it is awfully small. Everyone is related, or connected in some way. Even non-Skywalker-Saga stuff is "Skywalker adjacent" like Rogue One, and Solo. The Mandalorian feels so special because it is a new story with new characters in the world of Star Wars. To bring Boba Fett in feels like a crutch. The story might be compelling, which will make it sting less, but the more interesting route would be to have that person who rescued Fennec to be someone completely new.
The episode was fun in a bubble. If the show was always going to be "A bounty hunter takes a different case every week" and was presented as a procedural, "The Gunslinger" would be a perfectly sufficient episode. But there is a much bigger story to tell, so these last two episodes have felt like the show is just treading water right now. It is still fun, still gorgeously shot, still has lots of action and adventure, but just a little bit empty.
In a 23 episode season, it is understandable to have a bit of filler. But 8 episodes? It is a bit less acceptable when there is only 3 episodes left to tell the story. Still, The Mandalorian has accrued enough good credit to be able to withstand this.
You can read all of my previous reviews on The Mandalorian right here.
The Mandalorian is now streaming, exclusively on Disney+.