The Mandalorian Episode 5 Review
After the previous sidequest episode, The Mandalorian delivers another sidequest episode that delivers a small tinge of how the future narrative is going to spin. "Chapter 5: The Gunslinger" delivers on the nostalgia that all Star Wars fans want and builds the world that Mando inhabits.
Despite the flaw of the episode, Dave Filoni delivers a solid episode with his writing debut and his directorial skills. The episode plays out like one of the numerous sidequest episodes from his Clone Wars and Rebels, but with three episodes to go, there is no sense of urgency from the series and showrunner Jon Favreau.
The episode opens up with Mando and The Child in a dogfight with a bounty hunter in space. Mando outmaneuvers and destroys the other bounty hunter's ship. With his ship severely damaged, Mando finds a repair shop on a very familiar planet.
IT'S FUCKING TATOOINE!
It is there we run into a barely recognizable Amy Sedaris as Peli Motto who works on Mando's ship in Mos Eisley. Mando doesn't have any credits, so he ventures out to the...
MOS EISLEY FUCKING CANTINA!
Only this time it is under new management. Gone are the days of not serving droids and here comes droid ownership and management. It is then we met aspiring Bounty Hunter Guild member Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) who has a job for Mando. It is to take down mercenary Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Calican needs this bounty to get into the guild and he is so desperate that he offers Mando the full reward if he helps. Mando agrees.
The pals take off into the deserts of Tatooine and run into some more familiar faces. Tusken Raiders. Yeah, I'm not nearly as excited to see Tusken Raiders again but it is cool to visit Tatooine again and see all these familiar things from Episode 4.
We also learned that Mando is WOKE. Tusken Raiders have always been referred to as "Sand People", a term that even in the context of a Space Opera always felt terrible and offputting to hear. Mando drops some knowledge on Calican and lets him know that the Raiders are the natives of Tatooine. For passage through their land, Mando negotiates with the Raiders.
To depart from the plot recap for a bit, it is interesting to see Star Wars humanize Tusken Raiders. All we have ever seen them portrayed as are ruthless and violent people. During this interaction, we also see Mando has been around the block. He communicates with them through sign and builds the Mando's world even more. It is a nice twist of events when the Raiders are introduced. It evoked a lot of memories of Luke Skywalker's first encounter with them in Episode 4.
Mando and Calican eventually find Shand on a ridge deep in the deserts of Tatooine. Mando sees another bounty hunter's body being dragged by a Dewback. Mando realizes that the bounty hunter had a tracking fob for him. Shots fire from Shand across the ridge and Mando tells Calican they have to wait until night to make a move because she has the high ground *wink wink*.
They capture Shand and Mando goes back to retrieve the Dewback after his speeder was destroyed in their fight. It is then Shand tells Calican bringing back guild traitor Mando and The Child would net him an even higher reputation amongst the guild. Calican kills Shand and heads back to the junkyard where Motto and The Child are and takes them hostage. Mando makes it back to the junkyard and takes out Calican and gives Motto the credits off his Calican's body. Mando and The Child take off to an unknown location.
The episode ends with a mysterious figure approaching the body of Shand. All we here are boots clanging like Clint Eastwood in "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". Rumors have said it could be Boba Fett and hopefully, it is not.
The series so far has thrived on not harking back on the previous films for every piece of material. It is has been bits and pieces that just make perk up a bit, not just shoved in your face. Nothing in this episode was shoved in our face and it played out nicely as a sidequest in a 10-13 episode season, but that's where the problem is. The Mandalorian isn't a 10-13 episode season, it's only 8 episodes long and after the explosive episode 3, I thought we were on track for an action-packed adventure diving into Mando's origins and/or The Child's origin.
This is why this episode does not work on all levels. The narrative wheel of The Mandalorian is stuck in the mud. It also doesn't help that every episode has been under 40 minutes. If the next three episodes are also under 40 minutes also, it's going to be hard to finish the story in a satisfying manner.