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Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 1 Chapter 5 The Gunslinger Review!

Mando stole the TV!

Star Wars: The Mandalorian Chapter 5 The Gunslinger Review!

Star Wars: The Mandalorian Chapter 5 was a bit better than last week’s episode. It was actually a pretty daring episode in a lot of ways as it began with a short dogfight, took us to familiar locations, into the wilderness, had a doublecross, and Amy Sedaris from the comedy classic “Strangers with Candy” as the wacky Peli.  

The Razor Crest really takes a beating in this show. That ship can’t catch a break. The opening dogfight was pretty cool for the scope of the sequence. The pilot in hot pursuit of The Mando was pretty corny when he said our hero’s line about taking the victim in “hot or I can take you in cold.” It was even weirder when he kind of broke the fourth wall to comment on it, but it was so cheesy it was hard to dislike it (I like cheese). It was a nice way to get us to the setting of the episode.

We are finally seeing Tatooine in this series. I’m glad, honestly. It still makes the Arvala-7 choice earlier in the season a little strange to me, but at least we got to Tatooine. The establishing shots were really blue milking the hell out of the nostalgic vibe of the series and I’m all about it.  

When the Mando touches down in the docking bay, it was nice to see him greeted by Pit Droids. The droids almost did their Three Stooges bit from The Phantom Menace before attempting to get to work on the Razor Crest. The no-nonsense Mando fires a blast at them and Peli (Amy Sedaris) cracked me up as the eccentric mechanic. I really cannot stress how happy I was to see Amy Sedaris playing Sabacc with Pit Droids for bolts. It’s a dream come true I didn’t even know I had. 

Maclunky Culkin:Baby Yoda’s Home Alone

The shot of Baby Yoda walking down the ramp of the Razor Crest reminded me of E.T., the smokey exhaust of the ship really selling it as a callback that was likely intentional. Remember in E.T. when he sees the little kid dressed up as Yoda and starts to say “Home!”? Or when E.T. was in the senate in The Phantom Menace? Yeah, this series sold that idea a little more, but it had Amy Sedaris and Pit Droids discovering the little green kid and scooping up some credits for babysitting. The Mando does need some commonsense as a space dad. 

It is amazing we saw the Mos Eisley cantina again. It is amazing we saw debacks. It is amazing we saw this on a TV show. What once defined Star Wars for me can be a weekly endeavor on Disney+ and as a fan, I cannot express how exciting that is. 

Callbacks can get old. We have seen them overused in The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. That said, Dave Filoni kind of deserves these in this episode that he directed. I hope that the series got most of it out in this episode though. 

It was cool that the cantina was the same inside, but the patrons and even the bartenders were new. It has been a few years since Han Solo killed Greedo in this place and I enjoyed seeing new creatures in the classic location. As a monster fan, it used the familiar and furthered what I liked about it in the first place. R5-D4 was hanging out in there, the droid detector was gone, and if I had one criticism it was that Modal Nodes weren’t playing that day. 

El Toro!

Toro Calican’s introduction was cool but it felt like TV. Which it is. But it is also a very cinematic show which is where the weird tension lies for me. There are times I feel like I’m watching a Star Wars film and then other small moments it feels like I’m watching something on the SyFy channel. I find these little inconsistencies in quality to be a little jarring at times. I think the lack of coverage for the shots made the initial conversation with Toro Calican less than interesting. 

Toro Calican finally becomes interesting to me when he destroys the tracking fob for the bounty of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). It was the first telling moment which  established that this dude is wet behind the ears, but he is a smart rat. The Mando is back in the mix to solve the money issue that he is faced with, and we find ourselves in a solid adventure on Tatooine. 

The shots of The Mando and Toro riding the speeder bikes over the dunes of Tatooine were visually delightful. They’re visual elements of the Star Wars universe that are familiar, but we haven’t actually seen used much before outside of Anakin’s ride to find his mother in Attack of the Clones, and that scene had a totally different vibe. 

The Tusken entrance was kind of cringey. The way they just appeared out of nowhere with the familiar sound effect of their cries but the actors inside the costumes made no such gestures to match the audio. The Mando being familiar with the indigenous sand people made his character feel knowledgeable of the universe and I thought using Toro as the audience was a smart move in the sequence. 

The Environmental Visual Effects

The giant LED screens that they’re using to make the sequences come together with visual effects are pretty cool. I never really thought that they were in Tunisia for these moments, but I mostly didn’t find myself caring about it either. Before we can really get too used to it, we get back to a more visually stunning speeder bike sequence that made my first viewing pretty fun. It was also wise to move the setting to night time sooner than later. Will the daytime visual effects hold up on my third viewing as well? We’ll see. 

The Fennec Shandling Show

Fennec Shand’s snipping was pretty brutal. I like what they’re doing with Fennec Shand so far. I don’t for a second believe that this will be the last of Ming-Na Wen’s character. I like her helmet. I liked how she attempted to turn Toro against The Mando. Was it just me, or does her outfit look very “Imperial?” I speculate that she will connect up with the Imperials and Death Troopers that we know are coming soon. 

Toro shooting Shand was also brutal and very smart on his part. However, poor stupid Toro should have made sure he killed her before moving on. I loved / hated this character for being a clever idiot. When he gets blasted away, I wasn’t too sad about it, but I was worried for Baby Yoda in his arms. 

All in all, Peli was kind of a new spin on Kuiil (little pig dude that’s always saying he has spoken). She was a fun twist on that ally. The episode did not really further the overall story, but it did live in the universe in a way that fans like myself will appreciate. I liked the episode. It was a very good “average” episode, and it was better than the last, which  has been the season low so far. I hope that these allies continue to pop up in the future episodes, because that’s been the strength of the series so far. The characters that The Mando meets has made the show what it has been so far. The callbacks do not. I’m giving this episode a pass, but after this it will be gratuitous. 

It was fun television. It was a good time. I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed it as Star Wars. I’m happy. It has the merits of a good series, because I can’t help but wonder what’s up next. 

Final Random Thoughts:

  • The use of synth music during Shand and Toro’s fight was nice too. I like how every episode gives us a little piece of rad music that’s notable, especially for a streaming show. 
  • The planet Greef Karga runs his operation out of  is called Navarro (spelling unsure at the moment).
  • Steve Jay Blum who played Zeb in Star Wars: Rebels was the Spaceport Operator!
  • That sounded like Boba Fett kneeling over Shand’s body, and it kind of looked like it was a Mandalorian too. It had the tech sound effects and the spurs when he walked in. They even said “She’s no good to us dead,” at one point which is pretty similar to Boba’s “He’s no good to me dead” line from The Empire Strikes Back. But then again, the episode called back to every single thing in Star Wars ever, so I’m excited but with cautious reservation. 


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Jason Ward (EIC)

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