The Mandalorian is owned by Disney
Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard
The episode begins with an idyllic looking village on an unknown planet where villagers are catching fish, weaving things, and hoping that nothing bad or “Empire” like will come out of the forest to destroy their lives. Well the good news is that the Empire does not in fact attack the village! The bad news… some other dudes with lasers and pointy sticks do, who look suspiciously like Lord of the Rings Orcs, and we see that one mother and her child just barely survive the attack by hiding under water. From there we cut back to… let’s go with Homer as the Mandalorian and Bart as Baby Yoda, who are still flying in the middle of nowhere space; the little green hellion continuing to touch things and nearly kill them all while Homer is keeping his eyes on the space road. Sensing a bit of pent up energy within the little bugger’s attempts to destroy the ship by flipping levers, Homer decides it’d be a good idea to land on the nearest planet and let Bart run around a bit while he plans their next move. As it turns out, the planet they land on is the same one we just saw and it’s a planet so idyllic and peaceful that their skeevy space saloon is about as threatening as an Applebee’s. The best part is when Homer and Bart take a seat and they notice a mercenary sitting in a corner and they try to get information on her from the waitress, but she legitimately knows nothing and after Homer tosses her some cash to spill what she knows, she literally thinks it’s just a big tip for doing so well at her job. That was pretty funny and you can even tell the frustration that Homer is feeling from underneath the helmet for having to deal with people who AREN’T backstabbing jerks.
Eventually though the mercenary leaves and Homer follows after her which turns out to be a mistake as she gets the jump on him and they have a pretty solid fight scene with lots of punches, flips, and Homer even tries to use that flamethrower thing again which as far as I can tell has ONLY worked on one Stormtrooper. That is damning with faint praise if I ever heard it, but even without being able to singe her eyebrows off, he holds his own and the two end up in a stalemate pointing guns at each other’s heads. They decide that talking is the most prudent strategy and we learn that her name is Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and she was a former Shock Trooper for the Empire before becoming a mercenary. She’s aware of the bounty on Bart’s head but she’s not interested in it and feels it would be better if he and Homer were off this planet as soon as possible. That seems to be the plan at first as Homer starts to… I don’t know, do repairs on his ship? I don’t THINK they got into any dogfights in space, otherwise they would have shown it, but regardless he’s stopped from the episode’s plot rearing its ugly head and it’s a plot we’re all quite familiar with. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; poor farmers come to a super badass dude with whatever pittance they can rummage up and begs the bad ass to help their village and maybe learn a little about empathy, selflessness, and what it means to be a good person along the way. Yup! Four episodes in and we’re doing a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven/A Bugs Life riff in the Star Wars universe. Heck, if anything else this only adds credence to my theory that this series is basically taking cues from Genndy Tartakovsky as that was every other episode of Samurai Jack.
At first he’s resistant because I guess he’s a mercenary who doesn’t like taking mercenary jobs, but when he finds out just how remote and backwater this place is he realizes that it’ll be the best place to hide out with little Bart and so he accepts the offer while also finding Cara Dune (who seems to live in the forest I guess?) and giving her the cash to tag along with him. So this is what we get for the rest of the episode; the CliffsNotes version of another classic genre storyline being told with laser beams and a cute baby, though I guess this is even MORE fitting than the other episodes since Kurosawa’s Fortress was a huge inspiration for the original Star Wars. It’s actually a pretty great little homage if still entirely predictable. Homer is initially taciturn towards the villagers including the mother we saw at the beginning (Julia Jones), he begins to believe in them and their way of life, something raises the stakes that makes them question if they can do this, but then there’s a HUGE battle to try out and outsmart the enemy despite the many advantages they have! The big advantage here by the way is that for some reason these raider dudes with all the military finesse of a Zerg rush somehow stumbled upon a working AT-ST which is why they have laser beams along with their pointy sticks. Now the AT-ST walkers have always been something of a joke what with their funny look and how easily they were often dispatched by the rebels, but once again this show manages to take something we’re familiar with in Star Wars and make it feel new again; in this case by bringing a lot more weight and menace to them as the scale of the beast comes across greatly here; especially against such an under equipped adversary.
The big battle is definitely the highlight of the episode as it starts with a really cool stealth attack on the part of Homer and Cara who dispatch their foes primarily with hand to hand combat (I’m pretty sure Gina Carano drops some poor dude with a German Suplex) but then it just builds and builds from there; blowing up one of the raider’s encampments, running from the AT-ST, standing their ground with the other villagers behind a makeshift barricade. It’s a really intense and incredibly fun sequence that I can’t really do just to here, but it ends in a victory for our heroes and the villagers without a SINGLE one of them dying in the process which makes me wonder just how much trouble they would have had fighting off the raiders if they had just taken a crack at it themselves. We cut from the end of the battle to a few weeks later where Homer seems to be settling into things and Bart seems about as happy as can be to live in this happy little farming village. The mother (who I don’t believe is ever addressed by name in this) implores him to stay with them and that he’ll find happiness here, which he comes oh so close to agreeing to… but then a mercenary shows up and tries to take a shot at Bart. Fortunately Cara was there to shoot first, but the message is clear. They are still looking for Bart and this place is no longer safe. The episode ends with Homer and Bart heading back to their ship and leaving the village behind with uncertain futures yet again! Be honest, you didn’t REALLY want to see four more episodes of them chilling out in the country, did you?
It’s amazing just how good this series has been so far and goes to show the breadth of ideas that you can do within the Star Wars universe. Sure, this is probably the most predictable episode so far since it’s following a very clear and obvious formula, but it manages to be a really fun and engaging version of that story so the fact that we’ve seen it before ultimately carries little weight. I felt that Bart was pretty underutilized here though so you could probably take a point off for that, but the introduction of Gina Carano makes up for a lot of that as she’s got a lot of charisma and brings a lot to the action scenes throughout the episode. The show has yet to truly crest yet and I hope they can keep up the momentum for the rest of the season, but we’ll have to see what they do once we get back to the main storyline which I can only hope is as fun to watch as these standalone excursions have been.