• Jesse Stillman

SPOILER REVIEW: The Mandalori an Episode 4 "The Sanctuary"

With Episode Four of "The Mandalorian" dropping on Black Friday, we are now at the halfway point of the first season. It’s the perfect place for a tangential pit-stop and that’s just what we got here in this latest episode.

Episode Four was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, whose dad directed last year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. As the second female ever to direct a Star Wars

property, after last week’s Deborah Chow, it is no surprise that writer and producer Jon Favreau would want to save a strong female protagonist for the halfway point.

In this episode, Mando continues on from last week’s shootout and finds a backwater planet called Sorgan. Sorgan is a simple planet full of simple farmers and small villages devoid of technology and industry, save for a couple of fishing droids. Mando decides it is a great place to hide out with The Child. At the top of the episode we meet Omera and Winta, hiding under a basket in the water as Klatooinian raiders invade the village.

After Mando sets down the Razorcrest and they enter a local cantina, we finally get to meet Gina Carano’s Cara Dune. Dune has been prominent in promotional materials and marketing so I have been wondering when she would show up. Cara Dune is an AWOL shock trooper who, according to her, saw most of her action mopping up after Endor. The rebels would send her in on a drop ship with no support to take out Ex-Imperial warlords. Once they were gone, her mission turned to protecting delegates and suppressing riots. So she went AWOL and ended up on this planet for, as she puts it, “early retirement”. Well, Dune recognized Mando and thought he was there to bring her in. This scene, shot in the cantina over a bowl of soup, gave us good insight into Dune but also what life was like in the galaxy after the second Death Star fell at the Battle of Endor.

From here, and for a great part of the episode, we have the peace and tranquility of this sanctuary, the very name of the episode itself. Dune and Mando find themselves in the village of Omera and Winta as the villagers' only hope against the vile Klatooinian raiders and their AT-ST.

The training montage that follows felt very familiar, like something out of a fantasy story with the simple villagers taking on the great mechanized threat looming in the shadows. It felt like something I would see in a Conan movie or in the North of Westeros as a village prepares to take down the Lannister Army of the White Walkers. I suspect the greatest inspiration though came from Seven Samauri by Akira Kurosawa, the same Kurosawa from the Hidden Fortress which is one of the properties that inspired George Lucas to create Star Wars itself. But I figured out what seems so familiar about it to me. The forestry, the simple villagers, the AT-ST; it was all harkening back to Return of the Jedi as the Ewoks, armed with sticks and rocks, attempted to bring down these very same All-Terrain Scout Transport mechs and--as the Emperor put it--

an entire legion of his best troops--on the forest moon of Endor.

The highlight of this episode for me was the reveal of the AT-ST and the gunfight to take it down. The red glow emanating from its eye hatches gave it an evil, monstrous look while it broke through the foggy tree-line. Its bright spotlight illuminated the dark battlefield and bathed the inky darkness in its stark white glow while the villagers took on the Klatooinians on the ground with their new battle skills.

So the villagers ultimately win but the fight isn’t over as we meet the latest bounty hunter to track The Child’s location. This bounty hunter looks just like the long-snooted Garindan that we first met in Mos Eisley all the way back in Star Wars: A New Hope. Cara takes him out, but it’s clear that The Child isn’t safe even on the backwater planet of Sorgan, and it’s clear that Mando needs to continue to protect him as we head in to episode five.

Mandalorian culture is explored a little more in this episode, as we learn that Mando does in fact remove his helmet, but only in private. He hasn’t taken the helmet off in public since he himself was a child and if he should do so, he’s not allowed to put it back on ever again. In this episode, it is a serious consideration of his that this could be a sanctuary to settle down upon. Despite never seeing his face, it’s scenes like these that really help to humanize Mando.

At half an hour in length, the story-telling, while seemingly a self-contained side story, is tight and deliberate. Everything that happens here is to move this story forward; there is little fluff and little which does not matter. And I do mean this as a compliment. Other than the tracking beacon fob and the idea that bounty hunters will continue to bear down on Mando and The Child, I’m not sure what the second half of this season will bring. But, I like that. Is this the last we've seen of Omera, the only one in her village who knew how to handle a blaster? What about Cara Dune? And will we ever learn how that AT-ST ended up on such a seemingly inconsequential planet of farmers? It is a lot of fun to figure out plot directions ahead of time but it is also fun to just go along for the ride, to enjoy the mystery and mystique of it all. It’s this, this mystery and wonder, that are exactly what I love about Star Wars as a whole. With that, I can say they’ve done it again.

About Jesse Stillman

Jesse lives in Fort Lauderdale Florida and enjoys the beach, film, Star Wars, and creating content for YouTube.

He is thrilled to join the Beyond the Blast Doors crew to share his love of Star Wars with everyone else who lives in the Dagobah System. You can follow Jesse on Twitter @ComicsJls