Warning: Spoilers for “Chapter Three: The Sin,” “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” and prior episodes of “The Mandalorian” follow.
The latest two episodes of “The Mandalorian” both make solid progress in the series’ premiere season in their own ways. “Chapter Three: The Sin” wraps up the initial arc involving The Child’s bounty, where “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” dives further into unknown territory.
“Chapter Three: The Sin”
Now with his ship in working order after dealing with the Jawas, The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) makes his move to return The Child to The Client (Werner Herzog) and claim his bounty. Clearly, The Child has left some sort of impact on him, indicated by his interest in what they plan to do with it and warning the Stormtroopers to take care. I like the design of the Stormtroopers here, with the usual pristine armor beaten and dirtied, clearly showing that they have seen some stuff as a unit and the lack of an organized Empire. Herzog also unsurprisingly does a terrific job at playing the sort-of-sleazy antagonist, one that I dislike but also can’t get enough of. I also like that the reward of beskar steel is kept in what looks like an ice cream maker, an obvious nod to the mysterious device an extra in “The Empire Strikes Back” can be seen running away with during the evacuation of Cloud City. Obviously Willrow Hood was determined to get something important out of there.
With The Child turned in, The Mandalorian gets an upgrade on his armor. We get some better looks at more of the other Mandalorians, further cementing us into this tribe of warriors. I like the Armorer (Emily Swallow), who seems like the leader of the group. She uses the beskar to make a full cuirass for The Mandalorian, but not before attracting the attention of other Mandalorians. They bring up the fact that the steel was stolen during the Purge, which seems to be something related to the Empire though I am not sure what exactly. The creation of his armor nets us a clearer flashback to The Mandalorian’s past, which involves a Separatist attack on what appears to be him and his parents. I’ll admit I nerded out at seeing not only Super Battle Droids but droid gunships too, the first for both in live-action I believe since “Revenge of the Sith.” More so, they are legitimately threatening here as well. I’m hoping we get the full sequence of this soon.
With his shiny new armor, The Mandalorian seeks out another bounty from Greef Karga (Carl Weathers). I really enjoy Weathers’ charismatic portrayal of the Greef, and I would definitely accept his offer to go to a Twi’lek healing bath just to hang out with him. Troubled by his decision to turn in the kid, The Mandalorian quickly accepts the bounty and heads back to his ship. Sitting in the Razor Crest’s cockpit, he makes the defining decision in his character that will likely have repercussions for the rest of the season. He is a hardened bounty hunter, part of a warrior race, but he doesn’t lack a soul. Even he succumbs to The Child’s cuteness much like the entire audience has. I will say, I really wanted to see him go after the Mon Cala bounty on the ocean dunes of Karnac.
The Mandalorian’s infiltration of the Imperial hideout would easily be the best sequence of the episode if it didn’t have what immediately followed it. Getting to see The Mandalorian easily dispatch of the Stormtroopers while making full use of his entire arsenal is awesome. I am curious to know what ties Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) has and what would make him save The Child. He seems to be well-aware of the importance of the species and some online have pointed out the patch on his shoulder bares resemblance to the cloners’ own on Kamino. This isn’t Abtahi’s first time in “Star Wars,” his original role came as a cadet in “The Clone Wars” -- which oddly enough was based on Mandalore. That character and the one he plays here don’t seem to have any connection outside that though sadly.
With The Child saved, we get what is probably the highlight of the series thus far. The Mandalorian’s shootout with Greef Karga and his multiple bounty hunters, which transforms into an all-out battle when his fellow Mandalorians arrive is awesome. Seeing them with jetpacks as well felt like “The Clone Wars” was brought to live-action which I absolutely love. Paz Vizla (performed by Tait Fletcher and voiced by Jon Favreau) being a hulking Mando with a giant mini-gun is just the best. The fact that he is voiced by Favreau and his last name is Vizla seems to make it clear that he is a descendant of Favreua’s character from “The Clone Wars” Pre Vizsla, but the different spellings of the last name throw me off. The Mandalorian’s shot on Greef right where he kept his beskar seems entirely intentional to me and seems to give weight that those characters have a very strong history. Also neat to point out is that one of the bounty hunters in the shootout looks to be a Zabrak, the same species as Maul only in the yellow variety.
“Chapter Three” was a solid conclusion to the arc of finding and returning The Child. The music for the episode was solid and I think I finally have heard some John Williams’ inspiration in what sounds like Kylo’s theme at the start of the episode when The Mandalorian lands his ship, at least the initial notes of it. My favorite moment of the episode by far is The Child’s fascination with the metal ball and The Mandalorian finally caving, in the end, to give it to him. It is incredibly wholesome and those moments with the two are what make the show for me. One last thing to point out is the episode’s director is Deborah Chow (the first female live-action director in “Star Wars”), who is supposed to helm the “Obi-Wan” series coming to Disney Plus. This episode gives me immense confidence in her abilities to do it right and I cannot wait to see it.
“Chapter Four: Sanctuary”
Right from the start of “Chapter Four” we are treated with an excellent shot underwater, transitioning to a great scene-setter for the intro of the episode that is very suited for TV. The episode then jumps to The Mandalorian and The Child arriving on the planet, with the adorable baby haphazardly pressing buttons. I can’t express just how much I love the puppeteering on The Child and the comedic timing of its subtle movements. The button moment is great, just like the metal ball one from “Chapter Three.” Then you have him being told to stay in the cockpit, which he of course ignores. These moments feel like they have been done in other media, but are perfected with The Child. I have to imagine The Mandalorian has to significantly slow his pace for The Child to even keep up. Walking into the cantina, we get a freaking loth-cat from “Star Wars Rebels.” I love it but I also hate it for scaring The Child, and I will put the blame fully on Dave Filoni.
Finally, we are introduced to Cara Dune (Gina Carano), a “retired” rebel shock trooper. Pretty much immediately Carano puts her former MMA skills on display in a brawl with The Mandalorian. The fight is a great introduction to the strength and skill of her character, like putting a foot to any of the Mando’s gadgets like his flamethrower. Ending the scene perfectly is a camera pan to The Child slurpin on a bowl of broth. I don’t think the show can find anything to top that moment. Also, the bartender is the worst babysitter in the galaxy.
Because both are trying to lay low, The Mandalorian agrees to find a new spot to settle to avoid attracting attention. That isn’t before two of the farmers from the start of the episode show up looking for help from The Mandalorian. Realizing the solitude the remote village offers, The Mandalorian agrees and recruits Cara to join him and The Child. The trio are welcomed with open arms, with Omera (Julia Jones) and her daughter Winta (Isla Farris) taking to The Mandalorian and The Child especially. Children soon surround The Child and quite frankly I do not trust any of them one bit to not step on him. The Mandalorian has a discussion with Omera about removing his helmet. While he does for certain tasks, he hasn’t revealed his face since the group of Mandalorians he is with rescuing him. That brings up a few points, one being that that rule must be specific to that clan of Mandalorians because Sabine and her family in “Rebels” remove theirs as does House Vizsla in “The Clone Wars.” Second, the way he phrases it makes it sound like he is not of true Mandalorian descent, and rather someone who was adopted into it which I don’t really have any issue with. It is pretty much the same case with Jango and Boba Fett though they are more like pretenders. I also like that as soon as The Mandalorian says he has not shown his face to anyone since being rescued as a child he then immediately removes the helmet to eat in front of a WIDE-OPEN WINDOW.
Quickly The Mandalorian and Cara realize that they aren’t dealing with just raiders, but raiders in possession of an AT-ST. The villagers step up to fight though and the duo get to work preparing the villagers for the next raider attack. Some will likely point out this scenario of warriors preparing a farm of villagers against attackers is not foreign in “Star Wars.” The first instance coming from “The Clone Wars” in an episode where Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka team up with bounty hunters to train a group of villagers to fend for themselves. The idea isn’t original to that either though, coming from an old Akira Kurosawa samurai movie called “Seven Samurai.” George Lucas used Kurosawa as inspiration for even the basis of “Star Wars,” especially in how the Jedi operate. I love that these themes continue to pop back up in the franchise.
To draw the raiders out, The Mandalorian and Cara attack their camp. Again, the physicality on display in this brawl is awesome, especially for Cara. The stunt work is well-done and I like how it has the two working in tandem. With the AT-ST drawn out, the two retreat to the defenses of the village. With a deep lake set for the AT-ST to collapse into, it unfortunately does not take the bait, forcing a quick plan B. Cara’s shock trooper prowess is put into action, taking The Mandalorian’s rifle to bring the AT-ST into the pit herself. The whole battle is great to see, and some of the shots are just gorgeous, such as seeing the red eyes of the AT-ST barely in the trees or a wide pan of it facing down the villagers. It is really cool how they make the AT-ST a credible threat in this when we have seen a bunch of Ewoks take them down in “Return of the Jedi.” I also appreciate that the animators seem to have captured the stop-motion jerky movement of the AT-ST when that obviously isn’t the practice they used to create it here. Cara manages to take it down with The Mandalorian close behind to finish it off.
With the raiders dealt with, the heroes are offered some time to relax. The Mandalorian has a conversation with Cara on his plans, which involves leaving The Child behind. The Mandalorian shares this with Omera, who wants him to stay. While he seems very close to cracking, he ends up declining the life of peace. Then we are treated to what I think is the most intense moment I have ever experienced in “Star Wars” with a sniper scope directly aimed at The Child’s precious head. I nearly had a heart attack and for a moment thought Jon Favreau was actually about to crush everyone’s last hope in humanity and spend the second half of the season with The Mandalorian on a revenge mission. Thank the maker for my new favorite “Star Wars” character Cara Dune though who shoots the bounty hunter cold in the back. After that close call The Mandalorian and The Child depart with a sad closing shot on the baby leaving his new friends. I am happy though because I want him as far away from those clumsy kids as possible. Also, those brats have no right to judge The Child for what he eats, even if its an entire frog swallowed whole. I do hope we get some clarity on how tracking fobs work, because if they can track someone like that, why did The Mandalorian think he had a chance of even settling down.
“Chapter Four” is a good halfway point for the series, which I can’t believe we are already at. My favorite two bits of the episode are Cara’s introduction and all of the moments with The Child. With Cara departing on her own path, I desperately hope we get more of her character in this season. Gina Carano makes an impressive “Star Wars” debut and while her stunt work is obviously superb, her actual acting is just as solid. Director of the episode was Bryce Dallas Howard, who I think also did a great job in her own “Star Wars” debut which is no surprise. I loved her in the “Nosedive” episode from “Black Mirror” and obviously she has some strong lineage with her father being Ron Howard. “The Mandalorian” is in a very strong place at the halfway mark for the season and I can not wait for what comes next. You can catch the next episode for yourself when it airs this Friday on Disney Plus.