By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – December 8, 2019)
CHAPTER 5: THE GUNSLINGER
So, whose boots did we see… and HEAR… at the end of the episode? That might be the biggest takeaway from another Mando quest and another close shave for the Child. The past few installments have been standalone in nature, but that’s to be expected, as long as there’s a detectable tie-in to a continuing plot line, which there was. The speculation is those boots and their cowboy spur sounds might just be Boba Fett.
We’re on Tatooine, which just so happens to be the last place we saw the bounty hunter as he fell prey to the Sarlacc Pit. The series is essentially built on a lead character based closely on Boba Fett, plus Fennec Shand is a target, being chased by bounty hunters, of which Boba Fett is the most famous in the history of pop culture. But, the more sensible answer, which has been mentioned in many places, is it’s Moff Gideon, an Imperial Governor we haven’t seen yet, but know is coming as Giancarlo Esposito is playing the role. It’s fun to think it’s Boba Fett and certainly Jon Favreau could go that direction, but it might also just be a little tease.
If Fett doesn’t show up at some point during The Mandalorian‘s run, however long it is, we’d all be stunned. There’s no reason not to do it and everybody is hoping for it. That doesn’t mean it needs to happen six weeks in or even within the first season, although to end the first stretch of episodes with that reveal would be the way to draw saliva in the form of drool from every Star Wars fan breathing in the galaxy.
The episode was packed full of callbacks and easter eggs, from our hero’s visit to the Mos Eisley Cantina, the appearance of Tusken Raiders that seemed to value binocs, the assassin that took down crime syndicates, “including the Hutts,” even the late reference from Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) to Beggar’s Canyon. This was the chapter to serve red meat to the long-time diehards, while not alienating anyone new to the proceedings, again because NOTHING here was complicated. The Mandalorian is not trying to fool anybody with its base story, which this week centered around an early space battle, a damaged ship, another job in the interim, and a betrayal by a young, dumb bounty hunter whose life vaporized when he tried to ransom Baby Yoda and Peli.
Along the way, we saw Banthas and Dewbacks and watched Mando and Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) ride speeders across the Tatooine deserts, which took us to a happier time and a happier place in our infancy of understanding the universe. Remember the first time you saw this area and how much it still lingers in your brain? This brought us back in a euphoric way. Some have mentioned there was too much fan service, but there’s an important factor in play here.
December 20 is just around the corner, and what we’re all looking for right now is a whole lot of fan service and good vibes to send us sprinting for a land speeder to get to the movies to see Rise of Skywalker. There’s no such thing as too much fan service, provided it isn’t every single week. To this point, we were seeing just a little bit here and there, mainly in the form of Baby Yoda, and this week we got the motherlode. It won’t always be this way, but making the fans smile a few weeks before the new movie releases is probably a worthwhile business strategy.
Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) manipulating and corrupting Calican wasn’t a new story to tell, but the classics usually work, that’s why they’re the classics. He was young, he was naive, and she took advantage of him, although he thought he outsmarted her. Actually, he did outsmart her, but outsmarted himself by thinking Mando was a simpleton or a rube. The manner in which he found out was unpleasant, but deserved.
PUT THAT CHILD DOWN… NOW. I literally said it out loud when he carried Baby Yoda out to try and force the issue with Mando. I liked the matronly babysitter with an edge (Motto), but a gun on her I could tolerate. This was George McFly, “Get your d— hands off her” stuff though when that punk was carrying the child like a sack of lettuce.
Back to the pre-Toro heel turn, the way in which Calican unwittingly played the role of decoy’s decoy was fun, and the flash bangs worked to explain how they could flank Shand and keep her guessing. We learn just how strong Beskar is as Mando takes a sniper bolt to it and survives, actually gets hit a few times and he’s fine. We knew it was big time, because of the way the Client and later Greef Karga payment was viewed, but here we see it, which is always the way to make it stick in our brains.
The episode was visually dark, almost too much so, but it had to be. My TV kept overcompensating and going way too light, which may be a setting issue for me, or perhaps Disney+ is still ironing out some of the kinks. This wasn’t the best of the five eps, but it was a taut 35 minutes including credits and flew by. I kept seeing Princess Caroline every time Sedaris was on screen, but that’s because you just don’t forget a show as great as BoJack Horseman. The acting was good, though nothing stood out as special.
There is no easier watch on all of television than The Mandalorian. It’s appreciated, and I still thoroughly enjoyed this week’s trip, both to the present, and down memory lane.
I’m @JMartZone, but you can all me Womp Rat behind my back.