Maybe it’s all the Star Wars: X-Wing books I read back in the day, or the Rogue Squadron game on N64 – but I’m a sucker for a Star Wars space battle. And the fifth episode of The Mandalorian opened with one.
Where The Mandalorian’s Fifth Episode kicks ass
The opening space battle. The action kicks off with The Mando and baby Yoda being chased in space by a bounty hunter. After taking a few laser blasts to the Razer Crest, Mando ends up going all Top Gun on us by hitting the brakes and watching the bounty hunter fly right by before lining up the killing shot. Yes, it’s all kinds of cheesy. And yes, I loved every second of it.
All the Tatooine winks and nods. Star Wars once again proves it takes place in the smallest galaxy ever. After the space battle, the Mandalorian happens to be right above Tatooine. For a planet that doesn’t look like much, a whole lot of prominent Star Wars characters find themselves on it. While I did shake my head as soon as I hear Mos Eisley control come over the ship’s intercom, all the Tatooine winks and nods did make me smile.
Mos Eisley, Tusken Raiders, Dewbacks, the Cantina where Luke and Obi-Wan met Han Solo and Chewie (hell, even the same booth Han blasted Greedo in), a Beggar’s Canyon mention, it’s all here. It might seem much as I write them all out, but the show’s director Dave Filoni (also created the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series’) does a good job weaving them throughout the episode. Star Wars diehards will notice them, but it’ll feel natural to more casual fans.
The action is still top-notch. The fifth episode centers around Mando helping a new bounty hunter named Toro Calican (played by Jake Cannavale) capture Fennec Shand, a deadly assassin played by Ming-Na Wen. Why is Mando helping someone attached to the Bounty Hunter Guild? Because despite being one of the best bounty hunters around, Mando is always short on credits.
The big action set piece is when Mando and Toro are racing across the dunes in a pair of speeder bikes as Fennec tries to take them out with a sniper rifle. The temporary partners use flash charges to blind Fennec’s scope as they close the distance. It’s a fun action sequence where one of the more underrated Star Wars vehicles (speeder bikes) takes center stage.
Where it stumbles
Tatooine. Really? I didn’t mind returning to Tatooine once we got there, but when I heard Mos Eisley control directing the Raven Crest to the hangar bay, I couldn’t help but shake my head. I’m assuming there are hundreds of planets across the galaxy, and yet here we are on Tatooine. Again. Why isn’t Mando meeting up with all of his other Mandalorian pals? Why doesn’t he have an emergency fund to cover things like a ship repair?
Another short episode with little story development. The fifth episode is yet another sub 30-minute episode. Plus, it’s the second episode in a row with little development of the overarching plot. These aren’t huge knocks since I still enjoyed the episode, but with only three episodes left, I would like to see a little more development of Mando.
Mando isn’t the brightest bounty hunter, is he? One episode after a bounty hunter almost snipes baby Yoda and leaves it alone aboard the ship. Then he decides to work with someone connected to the Bounty Hunter Guild who has a bounty out against him. On top of that, he leaves Toro and Fennec alone to fetch a dewback.
The showrunners are just making him dumb on purpose to make him tackle problems he shouldn’t even have to worry about. Mando is supposed to be one of the best bounty hunters out there. It would be nice if he faced a foe that could match how good he’s supposed to be. Instead, we get Mando taking out a bounty hunter on his first job.
The Mandalorian isn’t perfect, but it sure is a whole lot of fun to watch. And the fifth episode keeps the fun going. We get an opening space battle, action on speeder bikes, and a few more cute baby Yoda moments. I do wish the episodes were longer and built a bit more on the overarching story (who is baby Yoda?!). Each episode makes the wait for the next even harder.
– Who was that at the end approaching Fennec? I would lean towards Greef Karga (Carl Weathers’ character) or Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito’s character). But there is some speculation that Boba Fett may have crawled out of the Sarlacc Pit. Listen to the footsteps at the end of the episode and compare it to this scene from the Empire Strikes Back (fast forward to 2:46).
Damn, that sounds about identical. But The Mandalorian does leans heavily into Western tropes so it could just be that a lot of Star Wars folks sound like they’re wearing spurs when they walk.