The flagship series on Disney+, The Mandalorian (and especially one little green alien) has captured our hearts. Following an eventful first four episodes, the latest chapter of the series has its bounty hunter hero (played by Game of Thrones actor Pedro Pascal) return to one of the most iconic locations in the Star Wars universe for a deadly adventure.
There’s a lot to absorb in each episode of The Mandalorian, so here’s a recap of what happened in episode 5, as well as a breakdown of some noteworthy elements. (Note: There will be discussion of plot points from the episode, so consider this a spoiler warning. You can also go back and read our recaps of Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, and Episode 4.)
On the run and chased by bounty hunters after turning on his guild, The Mandalorian is forced to make repairs on his ship after narrowly escaping the latest pursuer. The closest planet just happens to be Tatooine, so he lands on the famous desert planet and goes in search of work to pay the dock’s mechanic (played by Strangers With Candy actress Amy Sedaris).
After negotiating a deal with aspiring bounty hunter Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) — in the Mos Eisley cantina, of course — the pair set off to bring in the infamous assassin Fennec Shand (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ming-Na Wen). Their mission brings them into contact with Tusken Raiders, dewbacks, and a long list of other familiar elements to Star Wars fans, and ultimately ends with Fennec in custody.
Events take an unexpected turn when Fennec convinces Toro that the bounty on The Mandalorian is far more valuable than the one on her head. In the end, both the assassin and the aspiring hunter end up on the wrong end of a blaster before The Mandalorian and The Child (a.k.a. Baby Yoda) head back into space. Before the credits roll, however, a mysterious figure is shown approaching Fennec’s body.
So. Many. References.
With the exception of the show’s first episode, this installment of the series — titled “The Gunslinger” — might be the most jam-packed with call-backs and references to the Star Wars universe so far.
From the episode’s setting on the planet Tatooine, to The Mandalorian’s visit to the Mos Eisley Cantina, to the bounty hunters’ encounter with Tusken Raiders, “The Gunslinger” is an episode packed with fan service.
Along with the more overt elements, the episode also manages to include a passing reference to Correllia, Han Solo’s homeworld, as well as Beggar’s Canyon, where Luke Skywalker and a young Anakin Skywalker each proved their mettle as pilots at various points in the Star Wars timeline. The mechanic played by Sedaris is even shown playing Sabacc, the game that won Han Solo the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian — with her droids.
As if that wasn’t enough, we even get a call-back to another famous bounty hunter with an affinity for Mandalorian armor. Late in the episode, The Mandalorian channels Boba Fett in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back by telling Toro that Fennec is “no use to us dead.”
And that’s just the tip of the nostalgic iceberg.
The Tatooine connection
Few planets have been as important to the Star Wars saga as Tatooine, where Obi-Wan Kenobi first met both Luke Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker, among countless other key moments in the franchise that unfolded there.
Episode 5 didn’t spare any nostalgic opportunities in its use of Tatooine, sending The Mandalorian to the same cantina where Luke and Obi-Wan met Han Solo and Chewbacca, and delivering one scene after another that evoked the various installments set on the planet. Even the sequence featuring The Mandalorian and Toro riding across the desert on swoop bikes was brimming with visual and musical cues inspired by similar scenes in Episode I – The Phantom Menace and the franchise-starting Episode IV – A New Hope.
It’s worth noting that Tatooine is also the planet formerly ruled by crime lord Jabba the Hut, making it the place where Boba Fett seemingly rocketed to his death in the belly of a Sarlacc during Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. That means that the episode might put The Mandalorian and Boba Fett, still being digested by the Sarlacc, on the same planet (depending on what you believe about Boba Fett’s post-Return of the Jedi activities).
Tatooine’s most infamous hive of scum and villainy, the Mos Eisley spaceport is another franchise landmark that received plenty of attention in the episode.
Although the cantina appears to have relaxed its restriction on droids established back in A New Hope, the layout of the bar doesn’t appear to have changed much. In fact, the booth where Toro is seated when he first calls out to The Mandalorian is the same booth where Han shot Greedo in the very first Star Wars. (And yes, Han shot first.)
Behind the camera
One reason for the episode’s gloriously nostalgic elements could lie in the person behind the camera for “The Gunslinger.”
Both the series premiere of The Mandalorian and episode 5 are directed by Star Wars veteran Dave Filoni, one of the franchise’s most prolific behind-the-camera creators. Filoni has been one of the mainstays of the Star Wars franchise for several decades now, primarily working on the franchise’s popular animated series and films, including The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, which each expanded quite a bit of the existing canon.
The episode is also written by Filoni, making it the first so far to not be written by showrunner and creator Jon Favreau.
Disney’s The Mandalorian is. The next episode premieres Friday, December 6.
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