There are so many beautiful scenes that will tug on your nostalgic strings in the fifth episode of The Mandalorian, it would almost be considered gratuitous if it wasn’t done so organically well. None of it feels extra, it just feels right.
Warning: There are spoilers past this point.
As soon as Mando steps foot on Tatooine, you know it’s gonna be a fun episode. Seeing a couple of Tusken Raiders in the desert heat was a sight to behold for me. The inclusion of Dewbacks was just icing on the cake. I’m eternally grateful to director Dave Filoni for letting Mando ride one, no less!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The episode starts well enough, with a classic Star Wars space dogfight between the Mandalorian and an opposing bounty hunter, followed up by a guest appearance by Amy Sedaris as a feisty old spaceship mechanic name Peli Motto whom Mando employs to fix his battered ship. She takes a liking to Baby Yoda with some very Disney Channel-esque banter. That’s not a bad thing, I like that the show is family friendly without overdoing it.
What almost became a bad thing was the Disney Channel-esque acting of Jake Cannavale as wannabe-bounty hunter Toro Calican. His doofy demeanor was off-putting at first, but by the end of the episode it made sense. There’s a little twist where he betrays Mando that just wouldn’t have felt as satisfying if he hadn’t been such a dork beforehand.
Once again, I’m getting ahead of myself though. Before the betrayal, Toro convinces the Mandalorian to help him capture the infamous Fennec Shand. At first Mando declines the request, but after the young hunter taps into Mando’s softer side with puppy dog eyes, insisting that capturing Fennec will be the only way the guild will accept him, Mando gives in and offers his assistance.
About Fennec; first, I appreciate her namesake being fennec foxes since she’s hiding out in the desert, second, it was such a joy to see her portrayed by Mulan voice actress Ming-Na Wen. Some will recognize her from TV shows like ER and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but she’ll always be the voice of Mulan to me (and she sent childhood me an autographed picture after I wrote her a fan letter decades ago, so I’m biased). She did a great job in the role, and was a believable badass. Watching her go up against the Mandalorian and Toro was a highlight of the episode, and it was even more gratifying to watch her attempts to manipulate Toro to the dark side afterwards.
While Mando’s problem-solving skills are a bit simplistic, that’s too expected from a show of this nature. Other than its moments with mechanic Peli, Baby Yoda didn’t get much screentime, nor did it have any standout ‘meme-worthy’ moments that I can recall (although the Internet will probably prove me wrong on that assumption). But that’s fine, I don’t want the little tyke to get overused.
So, this episode definitely checked off all my boxes for quality television. The cliffhanger before the credits rolled was a nice parting gift. As the series molds its identity with each passing chapter, I enjoy it more and more. Truly, I’m happy this show exists and this episode is just another reason why.