It feels like Christmas every week while The Mandalorian works its way through its first season. You go to bed Thursday night with excitement wondering what awaits you in the morning. Or you stay up all night hitting refresh on your browser until the new episode populates.
And this week maybe more than any other yet might be the most polarizing episode yet. While some will love it, I think others will be a bit frustrated by it.
Recap of The Mandalorian, S1.E5: Chapter Five “The Gunslinger”
We open en media res, as Mando and Baby Yoda have already left Sorgan and are already under fire in the vastness of space by another bounty hunter. This bounty hunter has the gall to tell Mando, “I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold.” Mando shoots him out of the sky for stealing his line, but not before some damage was dealt to the Razor Crest.
Mando finds port in Mos Eisley on what is perhaps Star War’s most famous planet: Tatooine. He fires a warning shot at a few pit droids who are just trying to do their job and gets chastised by a mechanic named Peli who promises to get the Razor Crest repaired. When talk of payment comes up, Mando seems a bit short but promises he’ll get her the money.
He leaves Baby Yoda aboard the ship (for…reasons?!) and strolls through Mos Eisley, passing the scene of a bunch of Stormtrooper helmet atop pikes we saw in the trailer, and finds himself at the cantina. The cantina. The one from A New Hope, only minus Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes.
Mando asks the droid behind the counter if there’s any work to be had, and a gentleman in the booth (yes, the booth…the same one Han Shot Greedo in) introduces himself as Toro Calican. He produces a Bounty Hunters Guild puck for someone named Fennec Shand and says Mando can take all the money if he’ll help bring her in.
Mando initially turns him down, citing that Shand is an elite mercenary who works for the top syndicates, including the Hutts, and that if Toro goes after her he won’t make it to sunrise. Toro then reveals that this is his first bounty; the one that will make him an official member of the Guild. This sways Mando, who then agrees to help.
They return to the Razor Crest to find that Baby Yoda had made its way out of the ship and into the arms of Peli, who plans on charging him extra for babysitting the little guy. Peli doesn’t seem to know what Baby Yoda is and nor does Toro who barely gives it a passing glance as he and Mando mount up on some speeder bikes and begin crossing the sands of Tatooine.
After a brief negotiation with some Tusken Raiders for passage, the duo come across a dewback dragging its rider. Mando approaches cautiously, discovers that the rider is a bounty hunter with a tracking fob (which is beeping a little too quickly for his comfort), and comes under sniper fire.
He and Toro wait until Tatooine’s suns go down before attempting to move in on the sniper’s high ground position. They dodge incoming fire as they race on their bikes towards Shand’s position while using a flash charge to disrupt her rifle’s optics from time to time, but Mando’s bike is destroyed nonetheless.
She lands a direct hit to Mando’s curaiss before Toro sneaks up from behind her with his blaster drawn. He gets thoroughly throttled by Shand until Mando makes his own way to the top of the ridge and orders her to cuff herself.
Shand says its been a long time since she’s seen a Mandalorian, but she’s heard of some of their activity on Navarro (the planet on which the episode “The Sin” takes places). When Mando goes off to fetch the dewback so he and Toro can bring Shand in alive, Shand begins bargaining with Toro.
She explains that Toro already has “something the Guild wants far more than me,” and catches him up on the events featured in “The Sin.” She thinks Mando is the Mandalorian who went rogue with a target who some say is a child, which Toro rightly connects to his sight of Baby Yoda earlier.
She explains that if he brings Mando and the child in, he won’t just get into the Guild…he’ll be a legend. Toro then shoots Shand and leaves her presumably dead body behind as he mounts the speeder bike and races back to Mos Eisley. Mando’s new dewback mount won’t get him there nearly as quickly.
Upon returning to the Razor Crest, Mando finds both Peli and Baby Yoda as hostages of Toro who explains the situation as he orders Peli to cuff Mando. Mando then uses a flash charge to blind Toro long enough to get out from in front of his blaster sights and then drops him with a well-placed shot of his own.
He pays Peli with money lifted off of Toro’s dead body, and then he and Baby Yoda board the Razor Crest and depart.
The final scene features a pair of boots and a cape approaching Shand’s body in the Tattoine desert.
Review of The Mandalorian, S1.E5: Chapter Five “The Gunslinger”
Here’s why I think the episode will be fairly polarizing: It is bursting at the seems with “things borrowed.” So much of “The Gunslinger,” from locales to dialogue, felt like fan service. Some will totally eat that up. Others may well think that it was a bit too much.
Mando’s scuffle with the Guild on Navarro has gotten around, but, oddly enough, details surrounding Baby Yoda himself seem to have been kept under wraps. I still think it is mind-blowing that Mando left him unattended in the Razor Crest given the amount of aggro he’s sure to know he’s drawn upon himself. I still think a tactical papoose is in order.
Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand is unlikely to be dead, so Mando’s probably made a formidable enemy. Will she go after him solo, or will she pair up with the mysterious booted figure? Was Boots another bounty hunter with a fob for Shand? That might explain how Boots found his or her way to Shand in the middle of the Tatooine desert. If so, maybe she’ll give Boots a spiel similar to the one she gave Toro.
Or maybe she is dead; I doubt it, but it is a possibility. Regardless Boots is on the scene now and is probably going to assume an adversarial role going forward if I had to guess (which is how these speculation portions of the posts go).
I really don’t think much of the narrative moves forward in “The Gunslinger.” I feel comfortable calling it the weakest episode yet. We don’t really learn anything that we didn’t already deduce from previous episodes. I mean, the fact that the Guild is after Mando and Baby Yoda is hardly a revelation, but it was the narrative fuel for the whole episode from the very first scene with the bounty hunter space battle; or really since the very last scene of “Sanctuary.”
Everything about The Mandalorian continues to be beautiful and Mando and Toro’s assault on Shand’s high ground was a great action sequence, but I think “The Gunslinger” overall misses the high bar the previous four episodes have set.
The next episode of The Mandalorian drops Friday, December 13th.