Well it was bound to happen sooner or later, this unstoppable run of great episodes (in my humble opinion anyway) was likely to come to an end at some point and has done with a big old crash in Chapter 5: The Gunslinger. I understand that a lot of people felt this way about Chapter 4 but I still found a lot to love about it, though after speaking with numerous people about why they disliked it, I can definitely see why they feel that way. It still didn’t change my opinion though, which meant I went into this episode full of hope and excitement… It just meant the crushing disappointment was that much worse.
I’m going to be talking spoilers once again so make sure to tread carefully if you’re still waiting to see chapter 5. You have been warned!
Chapter 5 was always off to a bad start, especially given that unlike most viewers, I really enjoyed the fighting duo of Mando alongside Gina Carano’s Cara Dune. As we found out at the end of the last episode though, she’s gone along with all the relationships and story arcs that were starting to build on the previous planet. Oh the life of a Bounty Hunter on the run eh? So for that reason I was already a bit down but I still had faith. The episode actually starts off hot with a cool action scene as Mando finds himself on the run and locked in a space battle with a fellow bounty hunter, all while the child innocently tries to play with whatever he/she can get it’s hands on. After defeating the hunter in what was a fun but ultimately too short of a scene, Mando finds his way to the nearest planet looking for ship repairs. Hello Tatooine. I suppose this throws my Episode 1/2 theory of being on Tatooine completely out the window but oh well, I was very happy to see it none the less. That was until we head to a near by bar (yay) and meet this week’s newest character – Toro (boo).
From the second we meet Toro, played by Jake Cannavale, I began to lose interest. I’m not sure what it is about the aspiring young bounty hunter, maybe it’s because he was written in a way that we’re not meant to like nor trust him… But I found myself wanting to turn off the TV rather than simply root against him. I also hated his look, I can’t quite pinpoint why but he just didn’t look like he was from the Star Wars universe. He stood out like a sore thumb, much like the entirety of this episode does in a way.
As soon as the Mandalorian meets Toro, the story is set up as another clear and obvious one and done, as they plan to go collect an expensive bounty to pay for Mando’s ship repairs as well as earn some credit for Toro to join the guild. I do wonder if the intention of the writers was to draw a comparison between Toro and Luke Skywalker as they’re both from Tatooine and fed up with how life is going, wanting to make a bigger name for themselves and go out on a big adventure etc, etc. If so, it failed massively. Although Mando and Toro did have half decent chemistry, the new sidekick just felt like more of a hindrance than anything else, and his eventual turn was so obvious that it bordered on insulting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the side characters on this show have been fantastic. Unfortunately though, this episode proves that when the quality of the supporting cast is not there, Mando struggles to be an interesting lead character. It also didn’t help that the child was barely at his side this time round which definitely took something away from our normally beloved Mandalorian.
Speaking of the Mandalorian as a lead, this episode felt like the first time which we didn’t progress his character arc in the slightest. Say what you will about the last chapter, but we still learnt silly facts about Mando, facts such as he still takes his helmet off to eat, and we were given the impression that he’d love to settle down in a location like that if he wasn’t being hunted down for the child he cares for so much. What did we learn in chapter 5? That he needs money? That he’s too trusting of young lads who look like they belong in a terrible boy band? I don’t even think we got a flashback this time… I may be wrong there, but the harsh truth is that I don’t want to rewatch the episode to find out!
I was not surprised to find out in the credits that this was the first episode in the season to not have been written by Jon Favreau, no disrespect to Dave Filoni (who also directed this chapter), but on reflection you can really tell that Favreau was not solely at the wheel this time. Looking ahead to the remaining three episodes has gone from pure excitement to mixed feelings for me now. The next episode will be another one not written by Favreau, before the man himself returns for the final two chapters with Taika Waititi directing the finale. I can’t help but feel we’ll get a bit more fluff similar to this episode come Friday before things begin to ramp up again for the final two episodes. I don’t mind a ‘monster of the week’ style filler episode from time to time, but two in a row with the latter being outright boring is a serious concern. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t now worried for the many plot points which may or may not be addressed with just three episodes remaining. Oh, and remember in Chapter One when I was giddy with excitement about potentially learning more about Yoda’s race? Well that’s now been replaced with the acceptance that ‘Baby Yoda’ is pretty much just here to give Mando a heart and to sell merchandise.
You’d be forgiven for believing I hate this episode; well I don’t. I’m still really enjoying the show overall and really like spending time in this world. The locations in particular in this one was nothing short of spectacular. For example – The Stormtrooper helmets mounted on spikes… More of this pumped straight into my veins please! Seeing Ming-Na Wen from Agents of Shield play the baddy here was nice as well, same goes for Amy Sedaris, who basically played a glorified yet entertaining babysitter in this episode. I also liked the cliffhanger ending which re-lit my hopes a little for what comes next. It’s just that coming off such a high of the previous four instalments to being mostly bored this week has left me a little salty. Chapter 5 is easily the weakest in the series for me so far and can probably be skipped in all honesty. Here’s hoping this is just a dip and we’ll be back on form come Friday!
I give The Mandalorian – Chapter 5: The Gunslinger a: