4:33 pm EST, November 29, 2019

‘The Mandalorian’ season 1, episode 4 review: Home on the range

This planet’s taken by more than just a gregarious ex-rebel in The Mandalorian season 1, episode 4.

After last week’s escape from the clutches of evil, the Mandalorian finds himself in what looks like peace in The Mandalorian season 1, episode 4. But what’s the real story?

What happened on ‘The Mandalorian’ season 1, episode 4?

On the remote planet of Sorgan, a woman named Omera barely saves her daughter Winta from a violent Klatooinian attack. The Mandalorian lands on Sorgan to hide, holding the child on his lap, which is important, and scopes out the local watering hole.

There he spots and fights with Cara Dune, a tough former Rebellion shock trooper who is also lying low on Sorgan. She advises him to move on.

As he prepares to leave, two farmers from Omera’s village attempt to recruit the Mandalorian for help. He declines, but agrees to help after hearing that their village is extremely remote and recruits Cara Dune to help.

The Mandalorian is welcomed by Omera, and Winta immediately carries off the baby to play. Omera asks how long it’s been since the Mandalorian has removed his helmet. He says yesterday, but he hasn’t shown his face to anyone else since he was a child out of gratitude and dedication to the Mandalorian Way. In the privacy of his hut, he does remove his helmet to eat, watching the village children play with the baby.

On patrol around the village, Cara Dune and the Mandalorian find signs of an AT-ST Imperial walker in the woods. They immediately want to fold the operation and advise the villagers to move, but they refuse. At the villagers’ urging, Dune and the Mandalorian begin training and preparing them for battle, so they can lure the AT-ST into a trap and destroy it. Omera reveals herself to be an excellent shot; she and the Mandalorian have a clear connection.

The Mandalorian and Cara Dune attack the Klatooinians, blowing up a hunt full of mysterious bubbling vats. They run back to the village, followed by the AT-ST, and join the villagers behind their barricades. But just before stepping into its watery trap, the walker stops, forcing a shootout.

Cara Dune takes the Mandalorian’s rifle and shoots at the walker from the water, luring it forward as the villagers join battle with the Klatooinians. Finally, the AT-ST collapses into the trap and is blown up by the Mandalorian. The Klatooinians flee and the villagers celebrate.

Weeks later, the baby plays happily with the village children, observed by the Mandalorian, Cara Dune, and Omera. Cara Dune asks what happens if he removes his helmet in public; there are no dire consequences, but he can never put it back on again. Cara thinks this seems like a small price for a peaceful life with Omera and the child, but the Mandalorian says he is moving on and leaving the baby behind to be safe. The baby will get over it.

The Mandalorian speaks with Omera, who asks him to stay and moves to take off his helmet. But he tells her he does not belong with them, and she agrees to watch over the baby.

At the same time, a bounty hunter creeps through the woods and aims its blaster at the baby. A blast goes off, terrifying the village, but Cara Dune has taken out the hunter. She and the Mandalorian find the tracker — they know the baby is here, and will keep coming.

The Mandalorian says goodbye to Cara Dune and Omera, while Winta hugs the baby. He and the baby leave, the grateful village waving goodbye in their wake.

‘The Mandalorian’ 1×04 review

The Mandalorian season 1, episode 4 acts as a change of pace from the series’ first three episodes, placing our hero in what seems, at least for now, like a standalone adventure.

“Sanctuary” pulls its story wholesale from the annals of classic Westerns. The “tough lone fighter protecting a peaceful town while making a love connection with a feisty widow” trope animates hundreds of loglines, and The Mandalorian doesn’t stray particularly far from the story’s standard beats. Thanks to the tiny green baby, the toughened Mandalorian doesn’t need as much softening as your average gunslinger, but “Sanctuary” is still designed to expand our hero’s perception of the connection and selflessness of which he is capable.

But in employing this trope, The Mandalorian season 1, episode 4 is less successful in furthering its character work than it is in using the genre standards to illuminate the Star Wars galaxy.

Throughout The Mandalorian, echoes of the Empire have resonated through the story — in the mysterious Client and his stormtroopers, and in the clear power that Imperial symbols still hold. In “Sanctuary,” it becomes clear both through Cara Dune and the plight of the villagers that the husks left behind by Imperial- might are, even disconnected from their sources, themselves capable of perpetuating the terror and pain for which they were created.

For the villagers, the shadow of the AT-ST looms above their peaceful lives. The inanimate thing is no longer operated by Imperials, but its continued existence allows the Klatooinians to terrorize and assault the village, leaving its people even more defenseless than they would otherwise be. While the Klatooinians themselves are intimidating, the threat they represent is exponentially amplified by the walker; the Mandalorian and Cara Dune correctly identify this as the true agent of danger in the otherwise peaceful region.

The presence of the AT-ST in turn forces further violence to come to the surface. Omera’s past remains entirely mysterious in The Mandalorian season 1, episode 4, but it’s not hard to imagine her as a former fighter seeking the respite of peace in a place untouched by the war. Cara Dune’s life appears to be similar; though she has not left the path of combat, she too is drawn into this miniature war without warning. She may be happier to recreate the circumstances of her service than Omera, but there is no question that the opportunity is the last thing she expected to find on Sorgan.

Of course, the returning threat of the bounty hunters at the end of “Sanctuary” further links the Imperial threat back to its ugly origins. We don’t know who or what wants the child, or why they are pursuing it. But with the old engines of ruthless force driving its engine, the Mandalorian finds himself once again in a world without law. Not even bounty hunting can protect him now; as a protector, his only path is an endless forward motion, sure to culminate in some painful confrontation with the past both personal and galactic.

The Mandalorian season 1, episode 5 streams on Disney+ on Friday, Dec. 6.

Our Score

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