**NOTE: This article contains spoilers for Chapter 5 of The Mandalorian, “The Gunslinger.”
The Mandalorian‘s fifth chapter, “The Gunslinger” opens with an action set piece featuring the overarching antagonistic force of this season: the Bounty Hunter Guild. In this cold open, Mando and Baby Yoda are in a space firefight with a Guild member. Sadly enough, the Guild member learns the hard way not to plagiarize Mando’s catchphrases.
Unfortunately, Mando must then make a pit stop on Tatooine (Woooo!) for repairs after the space fight damages his ship. This leads him to Peli Motto’s (played by the amazing Amy, “Princess Carolyn,” Sedaris) dock and repair shop. I’ll talk about Peli more later, but I want to move on.
To pay for his repairs, Mando makes his way to Mos Eisley and meets Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) and is offered a job to help capture master assassin, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). The exchange is simple: Mando gets all the money while Toro gets to take the glory and join the Bounty Hunter Guild.
Mando and Toro take their speeder bikes to go after Fennec who successfully snipes Mando from a distant ridge. Lucky for him, his new armor is strong enough to protect him from such a blast. After taking some time to think, Mando and Toro out-fox their target by sending flares up that are bright enough to blind her sniper scope.
The two bounty hunters capture the assassin, but one of their speeders is damaged in the fight. When Mando slips away to find a dewback to help transport their prisoner, Fennec informs Toro that Mando is a traitor to the Guild.
She fills his head with thoughts of glory: turning her in could make him rich, but turning in Mando would make him a legend. Toro agrees with her but decides she’s better off dead (pew pew). Toro decides to head back to Mando’s ship to ambush him.
Returning with the dewback, Mando discovers a dead Fennec and heads back to his ship. He knows that Baby Yoda and Peli are unsuspecting and unprotected. Toro learns the hard way that double crossing a Mandalorian is a terrible idea as Mando puts two well placed blaster shots into Toro’s chest for good measure. After finding out the repairs to his ship have been made, he takes off with Baby Yoda, staying on the move.
In the ending moments of the episode, a mysterious figure is seen claiming Fennec. She’s not as dead as we thought.
A lot of people, when this episode premiered, said this episode was the most disappointing of the series thus far. I can understand that feeling, but I was not disappointed at all. Here is why:
Ming-Na Wen! Yes, I finally got my Ming-Na! I love her so much! Her presence in anything she does lets me know that someone’s ass is going to get kicked. As much as Gina Carano could bring the pain to someone, I feel like Ming-Na Wen brings it at an even more intense level.
Pacing and Comparisons. This episode feels so short, but it tells us so much. Mando cannot trust anyone. We knew that. Now we realize that even the wannabes are going to be coming after him. This episode reminded me a lot of the scene in the 1979 Walter Hill classic, The Warriors. The titular Warriors run afoul the Orphans gang–a group that isn’t even on the network that is hunting the Warriors. Here, Toro is the Orphans. He’s a wannabe kid bounty hunter that just wants to make a name for himself. He realizes what he can gain from capturing Mando (the Warriors in this analogy), and that’s where he takes his chance.
Amy Sedaris. I’m happy to see her in the flesh for the first time. She is a reluctant ‘Mom’ and she’s the second such one to Baby Yoda. I love how her snarky behavior interacts with the Mandalorian’s stoic personality. She is weary of him, but when she discovers Baby Yoda, that fear dissipates, and she has no problem waving a finger at Mando or calling him out.
Mando Goes Hard. Here, the Mandalorian shows us he isn’t as soft as his interactions with Baby Yoda might lead us to believe. He is completely ruthless, calculating, and is no one to mess with. The last few episodes we have seen Mando show his heart and be a nice guy. This episode he lets us know that he is still a badass that will f— someone up. He did not once hesitate in killing Toro. Could there have been a way he could have stopped him without killing him? Maybe. But he didn’t even look for it. He gave him the original Han Solo treatment and took the most direct route.
Back to Tatooine! Yes! We went back to Mos Eisley! Yes! We were back in Mos Eisley! ON FREAKING TATOOINE! Let me say it one more time! We. Went. Back. To. Mos Eisley. On. Tatooine. I don’t need to say anymore.
Intrigue. Who was the mysterious, dark figure approching Fennec’s body at the end of the episode? The Internet is full of theories that try to answer this question. Some suggest the return of Boba Fett (Tatooine is where he was last seen, right?), while others point to the possible emergence of Giancarlo Esposito’s character, Moff Gideon. Regardless, I am excited to find out more about this little wrinkle in our story.
This episode is a little bit slower and more calculating than what we have seen. Even in its slow movements, it feels like it is ending very quickly. Yet the storytelling is not suffering for these perceived shortcomings. Episodes like this are needed more than we realize. Episodes that feel a little bit weaker are necessary because they continue the world-building and character development. We also get new characters that may seem insignificant at the time but tend to be very important by creating lasting impressions in the characters and stories, even if we do not see them again.
With that being said, I was worried that Mando was starting to go soft, so I needed to see a ruthless Mando that did what needed to be done. Mandalorians aren’t “good guys.” They are feared in the galaxy for a reason. While Mando has never shown himself to be a brutal killer, this episode showed that he could be when needed. Those that he’s killed so far, have been in a situation where he had no choice. It was either him, Baby Yoda, or the enemy.
New episodes of The Mandalorian premier on Disney+ every Friday.
While we’re here, The Plotaholics will be hosting a special edition of Plotaholics LIVE on Saturday (12/14) at noon EST. We will be discussing the road to Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker including the entire cinematic history of the franchise. Set your YouTube reminder here or RSVP to the Facebook event here. We will be joined by friend of the show and honorary third Plotaholic, Joe Compton of GoIndieNow.
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