The Mandalorian: “Chapter Five – The Gunslinger” Review, Giveaway, and Discussion
The Mandalorian packed a lot into a short episode this week as “Chapter Five – The Gunslinger” brought us a dogfight, new characters, and a classic world. Keep reading for a spoiler free review, a spoiler filled break down of the episode, and another chance to win a 6″ Black Series action figure from Hasbro.
As always, be sure to check out “The Mando Fan Show” later today with the Resistance Broadcast’s John, James, and Lacey as they dive deep into this week’s episode. You won’t want to miss it.
After the first three episodes worked together to form a single arc, the series has now taken on a slightly more episodic feel. “The Gunslinger” is another short episode, clocking in at under half an hour once you take off the recap, logos, and credits, but it never feels rushed. Dave Filoni returns to both write and direct this episode, his background in animation no doubt serving him well with the perfect pacing of the shorter episode. In less than thirty minutes Filoni gives us a story that works well as a stand alone episode but also weaves in the series’ overarching story in a way that feels natural for the characters involved.
With a visit to a classic planet there’s plenty of easter eggs here for fans to enjoy, but there’s world building to. Just the look of the planet, the set dressings and background details, invite us to use our imagination and question what has happened here since we last saw this place in the films.
The plot is straight forward but well done, and there’s another classic Western moment before the episode is over. We know the Mandalorian now, we know his code, and his actions here all feel like a natural progression from that. The Child, or Baby Yoda as he’s affectionately been nicknamed, continues to be an adorable little scene stealer. I don’t want to comment on the new characters much in the spoiler free part of this review, but the story is definitely moving forward in ways I didn’t anticipate when the series began. I have no idea how all the various threads are going to come together and that’s really exciting for me. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ludwig Göransson’s excellent score. There was a nice whimsical moment for Baby Yoda in the score this week that really made me smile.
Before heading into our spoiler filled thoughts, it’s time to reveal who won the Black Series Kylo Ren from The Rise of Skywalker! Last week, our random name generator chose THEM! as our winner. Congratulations! Please send an e-mail to email@example.com for shipping details.
This week we’ll be giving away The Black Series Sith Trooper Toy 6-Inch Scale from The Rise of Skywalker to one lucky commenter so make sure to post your thoughts on the episode below.
Ok, this is your last chance to turn back if you haven’t watched “The Gunslinger” yet and want to go in unspoiled.
After a brief respite on Sorgan last week, the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda are being hunted by the Guild. The episode opens with a dogfight between the Razor Crest and an unnamed bounty hunter. It’s a short scene but it’s impressive. I know there’s a big budget behind this series, but seeing space combat of this quality in a live action Star Wars series just drives home what an achievement this series really is. Mando is victorious, and his comeback line made me laugh, but his ship is damaged so he heads to Tatooine to make repairs.
That’s right, we’re going to Tatooine! And not just Tatooine, we’re going to Mos Eisley. I can’t deny that seeing the Razor Crest fly over the desert with that familiar spaceport in the distance really made me smile. Unable to pay the docking bay repair worker, Peli Motto played by Amy Sedaris, for the work needed, the Mandalorian heads into town to find work.
I have to say, as fun as it was seeing pit droids and the cantina again, the subtle world building was much more intriguing for me. The Stormtrooper helmets on pikes, seen in almost all of the trailers for the series, greet Mando as he leaves the docking bay. The town is quieter. The cantina almost empty. It invites you to wonder what has happened to Tatooine in the five years since the Empire fell and the death of Jabba the Hutt. Who wiped out the Imperials here? Has the power vacuum left by Jabba been filled or did the more organized criminal element move to another world following his death? For that matter, where’s Rotta? I don’t expect we’ll get any answers to these questions in The Mandalorian, but I love how it builds up the larger background canvas for the galaxy.
Back at the docking bay Baby Yoda, who Mando left asleep on the ship, has woken up. So now Peli has to babysit as well as repair the ship without droids. Yeah, that’s gonna cost him extra.
At the Cantina, the Mandalorian meets Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale), a novice bounty hunter hoping to join the Guild by bringing in Fennec Shand. With Calican not a member of the Guild, and not knowing what happened on Nevarro, the Mandalorian agrees to help the rookie catch Shand, in exchange for the full bounty.
Soon after, Calican meets the Mandalorian at the docking bay and the two take off on swoop bikes across the Dune Sea. After negotiating passage with Tusken Raiders, Mando and Calican come across a Dewback dragging along it’s fallen rider. Of course it’s a trap. Fennec Shand is holed up in a sniper’s nest and picking off any would be bounty hunters before they can even get near her. Even the Mandalorian only survives her first attack thanks to his beskar armor. Its been said before how refreshing it is that Mando isn’t the ultimate badass, that he struggles in fights and can be beaten. Here again, he has to fight clever. Waiting for cover of darkness and using the speed of the swoops and flash charges to cover the open distance between them.
This is where we meet Fennec Shand properly for the first time. Ming-Na Wen is fantastic and I’m pretty sure this is the first close quarters unarmed versus blaster fight in live action Star Wars. She handily beats Calican but this “distraction” allows Mando to get the drop on her. But Shand isn’t just an excellent fighter, she knows how to play people. Whilst the Mandalorian is off getting a Dewback to replace a swoop bike lost in the battle, Shand tells the novice bounty hunter the truth about his partner. Whilst she succeeds in turning Calican against the Mandalorian, it appears to backfire when he shoots her point blank before returning to Mos Eisley to kidnap the child.
Finding Shand’s body and realizing what has happened, Mando races back to the docking bay where we get The Mandalorian‘s take on the classic Western standoff. Again, it’s Mando’s cunning that saves the day rather than simply being the fastest or the sharpest shot. It’s an element of the character that I’ve really grown to love over the course of the series.
So, with Baby Yoda safe and Peli Motto paid using Calican’s credits, the Mandalorian and his young charge take off again for worlds unknown. But back in the Dune Sea, an unknown figure with a tracking fob finds Fennec’s body and kneels down besides her. Could she still be alive, or does she simply possess something that the mystery figure requires? I’m sure we’ll find out soon!
That’s all we’ve got for The Mandalorian this week. Be sure to check out “The Mando Fan Show”, post your thoughts below and in the Cantina, and then join us again next Friday when we discuss Chapter Six!