Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Chapter 4 - Non-Spoiler Review
He takes his helmet off! Bet that got your attention?
It's weird saying we're at the half-way point of the season after only four episodes, but here we are!
Alright, prepare yourself because things are about to down shift considerably, certainly when compared to the previous chapters.
So, what’s gotten into the Mandalorian anyways? He’s talkative, plays with babies, takes his helmet off. This is not the aloof, hardened man we’ve seen for the most part, “baby Yoda” is clearly having an adverse affect on our Mando!
The question is, is it for the better, or for the worse? Who knows, but it has changed his trajectory quite literally as this episode starts off with him looking for a planet to lay low on for a couple of months. So, no more bounty hunting for the foreseeable future.
The chapter starts with a cut scene where we see some peaceful villagers fishing and gathering, their kids playing, just generally enjoying life.
Then, with very little warning, they are plundered by a gang of Klatooinian raiders. They ransack the village, taking as much food and supplies as they can, then disappear back into the nearby woods. The villagers appear to be helpless and are either unable or unwilling to prevent their village from being pillaged.
Back on the Razor Crest, the Mandalorian spots an auspicious planet called “Sorgan” which appears to be mostly uninhabited and a suitable place to hideout. He lands in an open field and sets off to find lodging.
You’ll be shocked, as the Mandalorian talks more in his first 30 seconds of screen time than he does the first three chapters combined, and he even puts the baby on his lap at one point. It’s more of that “baby Yoda cuteness” that will have everyone’s hearts aflutter.
But seriously, the Mandalorian is clearly in a more relaxed state, feeling somewhat safer off-planet. He never shuts it down totally, his heightened awareness, but he seems adept and recognizing a safe-ish situation and acts accordingly.
So, he’s checking out a nearby town and stumbles across a cantina. It’s here we finally get a look at Cara Dune, played of course by Gina Carano. After a misunderstanding, the two of them sit down and discuss their current situations. He’s a bounty hunter, she’s an ex-Shock Trooper, ex-Rebel hired muscle. Basically, she’s all business and is also looking for a place to keep a low pro.
Later, back at his ship, he is approached by two members of that village we saw earlier, and they want to hire him to help with the Klatooinians. He agrees if they also provide food and lodging, which they do, and he recruits Cara as well, giving her all the credits.
We meet Omera, a woman from the village who is charged with taking care of the Mandalorian while he’s there. She’s kind, calm, and caring, and the two seem to strike a bond quickly.
Alright, the helmet. Yes, he takes it off, but no, we don’t see his face. It’s Omera who asks him about it, and we learn he took it off just yesterday. We also learn he hasn’t taken it off in front of someone since he was a little boy, when he first put it on. He tells her that the Mandalorians took him in and raised him after the death of his parents.
Later, Cara asks him what happens if he takes it off, jokingly asking if they come after him and kill him. He responds “No, you just can’t ever put it back on again”
So, we’re getting to learn a little more about the Mandalorian culture as it stands currently. They’ve clearly sworn an oath to never reveal themselves to anyone. Is it an honor thing that started after the fall of Mandalore? That might just be the end of it for the time being, but we need more Mandalorian deets!
Anyways, if you’ve seen the Magnificent Seven, Seven Samurai, heck, even The Three Amigos, then you’ll get the gist. Not only do they hope to help the villagers by fighting the raiders the next time they attack, but also teach them the skills they’ll need to defend themselves going forward. Cue training montage.
That’s where I’ll stop with the recap and let you enjoy the final half of the chapter which is pretty good overall. And it’s where we get the big “holy smokes” moment of the episode. It concerns a weapon the Klatooinians possess which I won’t say here, but you’ll most definitely recognize it, and you’ll most definitely love seeing it.
So, how does this chapter rate?
A lot happens in a short period of time, too much really, and that makes for an uneven chapter. This is the first episode where the short run time affects the storytelling, there’s simply too much happening in too small a timeframe. The relationships felt hurried, even forced at times, and all the interactions felt a little to convenient, which in turn quickens the pace.
This episode, more to the point, this idea for an episode, needed room to breath, and the script just didn’t allow that to happen.
None of this is the fault of director Bryce Dallas Howard, that’s the writing. Her eye for lighting and composition definitely takes after her fathers’ and she does a great job framing the action sequences, especially the “weapon” bits.
It’s finally nice to see Cara Dune on screen and as expected, she kicks a ton of butt. She isn’t given much to say really so we don’t learn too much, just the basics, so here’s hoping as the season progresses, we get some more revealing stuff.
A standout is Omera, who is played by nicely Julia Jones. She’s a modern take on a Temptress archetype, where instead of being bad news for the hero, she’s exactly what he needs. Will the Mandalorian recognize a good thing when he sees it?
In the end it appears The Mandalorian has come down to earth and produced only a pretty good chapter, instead of a great one. And if this episode represents the low point of season one, we are lucky indeed.
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6/7 - Michael Pennington
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