Jon Favreau threw us a curveball with "Chapter 4: Sanctuary". After the action-filled events of the previous episode, it would've been easy to expect that from that point on, we would be in store for non-stop action the rest of the season.
Favreau delivered a quaint-side-quest of a story, but by-no-means does that take away from the episode. Favreau was still able to show that Mando has a vulnerable side, there is a budding father-son relationship and a possible romantic interest for Mando. Directed by Bryce Dallas-Howard, The Mandalorian, takes a short detour (maybe for the rest of the season?) from western vibes and delivers a good episode.
We pick up right where we left off from Episode 3. Mando and the Child are in the ship as they are looking for a planet to hide out on. Once again we experience some cute Mando-Child banter as the Child wants to play on the ship. A scene that has inspired many memes throughout the weekend. We see that the Child is getting angsty and being on the run is clearly not the best place to raise a child.
Mando decides on heading to Sorgan, a real remote "backwater skugworld". Sorgan is a Krill-farming planet that is under constant attack from Klatooinian raiders. Mando lands and runs into Cara Dune (Gina Carano) at a local tavern. A fight ensues and it is broken up when the Child comes outside the tavern drinking soup. Mando believed Dune to be a bounty hunter tracking him down and vice-versa. Dune was a former shock trooper for the Rebellion and the two share mutual respect, running from captors.
Mando is later then approached by villagers for protection and he recruits Dune to join him in protecting the village. They arrive at the village and Mando runs into the widow, Omera, who he immediately takes a liking to. The two talk and Mando reveals some personal information that has been hinted at before.
Omera asks when was the last time Mando took off the helmet in front of someone. He reveals not since he was a child and tells her why. Mando confirms that he was not born a Mandalorian, rather he was adopted after his parents died (presumably from an Imperial attack). The Mandalorians saved his life and he is forever loyal to them for it. Mando also tells her that once the helmet is taken off, it can never be put back on again and repeats the Mandalorian credo, "This is the way".
From his revelation, we can now see why he is so invested in protecting the Child from the Empire. Mando sees himself in the Child and does not want to see what happened to him, happen to the Child. It is genuinely a heart-warming moment to see that father-like care for the Child. It is even more amplified by the shot of Mando taking off his helmet to eat and looking out the window to see the Child playing.
Later, Mando and Dune learn that the Klaatoonian raiders are using Imperial weapons, more specifically, an AT-ST. The AT-ST reveal comes in the most interesting and captivating scene of the episode. In a dark and murky forest, we just see the glowing red eyes coming from the cockpit of the war machine. It creates a real terrifying image, something we haven't really seen in Star Wars media (aside from Death Troopers).
Mando and Dune teach the villagers how to fight and the relationship between Omera and Mando is blooming. Omera is a fantastic shot and opens up another mystery box that I hope we revisit later in the season. A battle ensues and the village ends up toppling the AT-ST. The village is living peacefully after a few weeks and Mando comes to grips with an idea that will hurt all of baby-Yoda stans. He wants to leave the Child in the village.
Omera has a conversation with Mando trying to convince him to stay in the village with the Child and her. The Child is happy and content in the village being a regular child, playing with other children and not being on the run from the Empire. Mando knows this and asks Omera to take care of the Child while he leaves the planet. He reasons that he doesn't belong there and will just bring trouble to a peaceful village. Omera attempts to take off his helmet to kiss Mando but denies her. The loyalty to his adopted Mandalore culture is far stronger than his feelings for this woman, but it clear that he is slowly but surely opening up.
Eventually, Mando leaves the planet with the Child after a failed assassination attempt on the Child that was thwarted by Dune. Mando and Dune converse about running into each other again which I hope is really an option. The dynamic of Mando having a partner was really refreshing to see. One can only go so far into a whole eight-episode season with minimal dialogue, even it's adopting Western motifs. There is also hope that we get to see more Omera and more Mando opening up.
Stories about the show's production were highly publicized but through the first three episodes it never felt limited, but it finally felt limited. This is possibly the Star Wars version of a bottle episode. Limited scenery changes and a very minuscule feeling battle. It's clear that the majority of this episode's money was spent on the AT-ST as the battle was shot at night, featured a lot of tight shots and close-ups.
Despite the limitations on the technical aspects of the episode and it being a bottle episode, it is a nice and calm departure from the tense action from the first three episodes. The next episode is gearing up to be something special. It is Dave Filoni writing and directing himself and hopefully, we can see some Clone Wars or Rebels influences.
Stay tuned to Burbs for reviews all season on The Mandalorian.