‘The Mandalorian’ 1×05 Review: “The Gunslinger”

On the whole, I’ve had a blast with The Mandalorian so far. I’ve appreciated the subtle nuances that pay homage to the original trilogy, and other little details within and outside of Star Wars canon. “The Gunslinger” does that very well, taking us back to where this whole adventure began–Tatooine. 

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The desert planet of Tatooine puts us back in familiar territory, with pit droids, speeder bikes, and the Mos Eisley cantina. The stormtrooper helmets on spikes take me back to Endor and Return of the Jedi as well. Clearly the Empire is not welcome here, but Mos Eisley is still a hive of scum and villainy, albeit slightly less scummy and villainous than before. 

With “The Gunslinger,” I appreciate the familiar territory, but overall, I find this episode to be a bit wanting. While I know the stakes aren’t quite as high with the series as a feature film, my main complaint is that while we’re getting interesting vignettes, we are getting nothing that seems to be greatly advancing any sort of overall story. 

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Perhaps the greatest disappointment to me with this episode is the criminal underuse of Ming-Na Wen. After reading about her character, Fennec Shand, before the show’s premiere, I was excited to watch her play a villain. Fennec sounded like a villain that would be a real challenge for Mando, and I’ve always enjoyed watching Ming-Na Wen perform, especially in a physical role (thinking specifically of Agent May on Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D.). However, for her to be introduced and then removed so quickly, felt like such a cheat to me. Especially at the hands of some rookie like Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale). 

I did notice that we only see Fennec fall to the ground. We don’t see blood (usually because Star Wars weapons tend to cauterize wounds as they make them), but we don’t even get a real closeup on her body either, save for the very end when a dark figure stands over her, and that’s only for a split second. Who is this person? It would be a terrible thing to waste an interesting character like Fennec, especially when you’ve got Ming-Na Wen playing her. Hopefully we’ll see this play out in the next episode. 

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One bright spot in this episode for me was Amy Sedaris as Pelli Motto. I enjoyed her humor, her interaction with the droids and Baby Yoda, but I got all up in my feels about her look. The coveralls and the curly dark hair brought to mind my favorite gal from my all time favorite film–Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien. Mando needs a bit of sass in his life, and Motto delivers in that respect. 

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While Mando leads a solitary life, save for his new space baby friend, I would really love to see any of these interesting female characters show up again. I feel that it would do much to tie these final episodes to the rest of the series. Also, it would be an utter shame to waste such interesting characters like Cara, Omera, and Fennec. We’ve only got three episodes left. I’ve said in nearly all of my previous reviews that I expect more plot advancement in the next episode and I’ve been disappointed in that respect each time, save for 1×03, “The Sin”. I’ll say it once more for this review, but if this episode is any measure, I think I may just have to keep waiting.

Until next episode,

I have spoken. 

The sixth episode of The Mandalorian airs on December 13, 2019 on Disney+.

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