The Mandalorian is owned by Disney
Directed by Dave Filoni
The episode begins with a bang as we find ourselves in the middle of a dogfight between The Mandalorian and some random fool who thinks he can step up to the greatest bounty hunter ever like he’s just another bail jumper. It’s the John Wick problem all over again; the only people foolish enough to try and kill him are the people least likely to get the job done. As you’d expect (if for no other than we’ve got a bunch more episodes to go), The Mandalorian does NOT die in a massive space explosion but instead explodes the other dude with his quick reflexes, sharp wit, and awesome space ship; not to mention his little baby cheerleader who provides the best kind of support possible; moral support! By the way, I think I’ll go with… Bob and Gene this week, and I hope we get some real names for them soon enough as the well is starting to run dry and I dread the episode where I’ll start referring to these two as Beavis and Butthead.
So anyway, Bob and Gene land on a nearby dirt planet to fix up their ride before heading to… wherever it is they’re headed, and they run into AMY FREAKING SEDARIS as a foul mouthed mechanic who will fix up the ride as Bob heads into town to run a few errands. I choose to believe this means that Jerri Blank is now a part of the Star Wars canon which makes it all the more hilarious when she finds Gene inside and plans to “take care of them” while Bob’s away. I can only assume this means she’ll leave them in a park or sell them on the black market, but let’s hold off on references to twenty year old Comedy Central series and find out what Bob’s up to on his day off from babysitting. As with most parents who are free from their children for the first time in a while, he heads straight to a bar where we find out that this dirt planet is ACTUALLY Tatooine and that they use robo-bartenders complete with dirty rag wiping uselessly on the scuffed countertop. Just to clarify, the robot isn’t actually CLEANING anything here as he’s barely covering six square inches of the gigantic counter; it’s purely for aesthetic affect and someone had to build him to do that. Now despite my cheeky allusions to Bob doing a bit of day drinking, he’s actually there to find a quick bounty for some quick cash as he presumably burned through all their food money fixing up the spaceship and he meets a guy named Toro (Jake Cannavale) who looks super green but has a bounty he’s willing to split with Bob. Sounds like the perfect opportunity, but the target in question is a big wig assassin who’s been on the run after the fall of the Galactic Empire, and Bob knows this will ultimately end with someone’s untimely death and he doesn’t want to deal with either himself dying or having to cradle this whipper snapper in his arms before succumbing to his fatal case of Red Shirt-itis. Then again, Toro is kind of adorable in an utterly pathetic sort of way (and Bob could really use the cash), so against his better judgement he agrees to help this bounty hunting newbie secure his target.
Once again The Mandalorian works best when it’s a showcase of classic genre tropes set within the Star Wars universe, and this episode is no exception as the two bounty hunters on the hunt for an outlaw is one of the cornerstones of Western cinema. The visual motifs are and narrative devices are blunt but effective like the scene where they barter with Tuscan Raiders for safe passage, the dead bounty hunter they find along the way as a clear reminder of just how much danger they’re facing, and they even set the episode on a dirt planet as a visual shorthand for the Wild West. The only thing that feels a bit outside the strictest definitions of the genre is that once they DO find the assassin named Fennec (Ming-Na Wen), it becomes a sniper battle which is much more of a war movie trope. The scene itself is quite good as Bob and Toro have to work together to keep Fennec distracted with light flares long enough to close the gap between them and it’s good that we see there are people out there like Fennec who can still give Bob a run for his money as she lands a few shots on the guy and nearly pierces through his shiny new armor. After a decent hand to hand fight where Fennec beats the crap out of Toro but Bob gets the drop on her with his gun, they put her in space handcuffs and plan their next move. One of the speeder bikes they used to get here was destroyed during the sniper battle, so Bob has to basically walk halfway across the desert to find a wandering… dewback? Yeah, I think that’s what they called it.
Of course this turns out to be a VERY bad idea as leaving the seasoned assassin alone with the posturing punk kid has never worked out in any story ever, and so Fennec starts whispering ideas into Toro’s head about taking in Bob instead of her as he must be worth WAY more than one little assassin. His armor alone is worth a fortune, but on top of that Fennec lets him know that this is most likely the same Mandalorian who went rouge on Nevarro and took a highly valuable target; some sort of child that Toro may or may not have seen as he was waiting for Bob with the speeder bikes. Again, I have to point out that THE GUILD either openly working as child traffickers or incompetently doing said child trafficking under the table somewhat undercuts whatever “prestige” and gravitas The Guild is supposed to have. I mean perhaps this is too specifically asking for something I want, but the one thing that ANY good criminal organization in fiction requires is some sort of rules; the idea that that by being organized they still have some degree of a moral high ground, hence why The Ravengers in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 turned their back on Yondu. Heck, I’m not even sure if THE GUILD is seen as a criminal organization in this world, and the whole BABY STEALING thing isn’t helping to make that any clearer. I’m sure I’ll have more time to rant about this in future episodes, so we’ll cut to the chase here. Fennec offers to help Toro take down Bob and go after the baby if he’ll just un-cuff her which seems like an EXTREMELY obvious ploy that will end up with Toro dead, and yet it’s still somewhat surprising when he doesn’t fall for it. Instead he puts a bullet right in her chest and takes off with the speeder bike to grab that baby from the mechanic while Bob is out looking for a ridable space lizard. Well I’ll be darned! A bratty kid who ACTUALLY knows better than to trust someone offering him lots of money and fame? Good for you Toro! Enjoy the next few hours you’ve got left before Bob comes around and beats you to death with your own soon to be severed arm!
Speaking of Bob, he eventually comes back to find the dead body and realizes exactly what’s going on. He heads back to town on the back of the dewback and slowly enters the spaceship garage with his pistol drawn and fire in his non-visible eyes. Now if I was Toro and I was committed to betraying the one dude you shouldn’t mess with, I would have shot Amy Sedaris, grabbed the baby, and high tailed it out of there before Bob could make his way back, but Toro’s not someone who will run away from a fight no matter how obvious it is he’s going to lose it, and he tries to capture Bob with the life of Gene as a bargaining chip. Amy Sedaris who somehow hasn’t been murdered yet, goes over to Bob at Toro’s direction to slap space handcuffs on him, but it’s all one ruse as Bob uses one of those light flares to momentarily blind Toro; just long enough to put a laser bolt right through his heart and killing him dead. At least I THINK he’s dead? It’s still a bit unclear if standard bolts actually kill people or just stun them in this universe, but for now we’ll assume he’s dead. Gene is okay, Bob thanks Amy Sedaris for her help, and the two of them blast off into space on whatever adventure awaits them yet. In something akin to a post credits sequence, we see that some unknown figure approaches the body of Fennec so I can only assume the shot from Toro wasn’t fatal, and perhaps that means that Toro himself isn’t dead either. I have no idea and frankly I’m starting to doubt that those people Bob turns into dust are actually dead or were just teleported away.
This is still an amazing show that brings something new to the table every single week, and while I do have a few quibbles with it that are starting to come up more and more (particularly with The Guild and what they’re supposed to be in this universe), it’s still an excellent tribute to the genres of old that I’ve been enjoying immensely. My only real problem with this episode specifically is that it’s rather short compared to the other chapters coming in at just thirty-five minutes. With Gene feeling a bit underutilized recently and the inclusion of comedy legend Amy Sedaris, I can’t help but think we could have spent a bit more time with them or at least have given Bob a few things to do before jumping right into the job with Toro. Even with that though, The Mandalorian is still an easy recommendation and easily the best reason to own Disney Plus. I mean seriously, they have Tarzan and Jane on there, but not the ACTUAL Tarzan movie!? Also, WHERE ARE MY GOOFY SPORT CARTOONS!?