The Mandalorian (S01E04) “Sanctuary”

Chapter 4 of the new Disney+ show, The Mandalorian was a change of pace from the previous 3 chapters. We open with peaceful villagers farming blue krill from ponds on a forested planet. But it doesn’t take long to realize that all is not the paradise it seems, when bandits (who look suspiciously like LOTR Urak-Hai) raid the village, stealing the krill harvest.

Some distance away, Mando (Pedro Pascal) flies his ship while having the most adorable game of ‘Don’t touch that’ with his precious green kid who insists on flicking buttons on and off every time Mando does it. Like father like green son. It’s too cute for words! It appears they have been together a little while now, as Mando is far more familiar with the child, sitting him on his lap, talking to him, and affectionately calling him a little womp rat (“I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home.” – Luke Skywalker). Pedro Pascal may be the star, but baby Yoda has stolen the show.

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But on the run from every bounty hunter in the parsec, Mando needs a safe port to lay low. And he finds on one the planet Sorgan, with no space port, low population, and off the grid. All seems perfect, and he lands in a clearing after flying over a small village. The same village of krill farmers we saw at the beginning. After another adorable exchange with the kid about “You stay here. Stay.” before the child promptly follows his new dad, they set off for a small town.  While at an eatery, Mando notices a woman across the room. She’s obviously a soldier, or a bounty hunter. Ordering bone broth for the little one – but nothing for himself – Mando asks the waitress about the woman he saw. He doesn’t get much out of her, but when the waitress leaves, the woman across the room has gone.

With orders for the waitress to “watch the kid,” Mando exits the eatery, using infra-red tracking to follow her. But he’s attacked from above when the footsteps end. Both evenly matched, the two fight, giving as good as they get. As they grapple each other to the ground, drawing their weapons and neither one besting the other, they hear a slurping sound. And I defy anyone not to have laughed out loud at the sight of baby Yoda slurping his cup of soup broth, watching his new dad and the woman aiming weapons at each other. This little green being is adorable! And Mando’s, “You want some soup?” to the soldier woman nailed that scene. Hilarious!

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Turns out the woman is former Shock Trooper, Cara Dune (Gina Carano). When she assumed Mando was tracking her, she went on the defence, attacking first. It appears Cara is laying low also. But the planet isn’t big enough for both of them to hang out and chill, so Mando returns to his ship. As he’s preparing to leave, two villagers approach him, offering a few meager credits. They want his help with the raiders – the Urak Hai looking dudes – who stole their entire Krill harvest. Mando says no, it’s not enough money. Until one farmer grumbles about returning to their village. It’s a day away in the middle of nowhere – exactly what Mando is looking for.

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But first, he locates Cara Dune’s campsite. She’s good in a fight, and the village could use the help. Travelling through the night, the villagers welcome them the next day, where the child is an instant hit with the children. Given sparse lodgings, a widow, Omera (Julia Jones) brings food in for Mando, noticing he did not eat with everyone else. Well, it’s kinda hard to eat when you can’t take your helmet off. When Omera asked how long it’s been since he removed it, he replies “Yesterday”, which while humerous, also answered a myriad of questions. He has never removed his helmet publicly since he was a boy, after being taken in and raised by Mandalorians. Yes – our titular Mandalorian is not a Mandalorian by birth. As a foundling himself, it’s the central theme of this series and why he could not abandon the little green foundling child.

And the scene we have waited for came. Omera left food for Mando, and standing at the window, inside the darkened building, he removed his helmet to eat. But we only saw him from the neck down, from the back. Yeah, not time to see Pedro yet. As he ate, he watched his kid play with the village children.

Later that day, Mando and Cara scope out the area around the raiders camp. Finding the tracks of an AT-ST Imperial Walker, they return to the village. Mando informs them they all have to leave. Admonishing him for his lack of bedside manner, Cara explains that they cannot win this fight. There are only two of them, and AT-ST’s are capable of wiping out entire battalions. Nope, they have to leave the village. But the villagers show more backbone than we gave them credit for. Refusing to leave, Mando decides to help them fight. And here we get Star Wars meets The Magnificent Seven as they train the villagers. With their pointy sticks and Mando’s considerable armory, the villagers are ready. Well, kinda, but they are willing.

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All they need to do is get that Imperial Walker to step in a very deep krill pond, and kill the raiders.  Sounds simple enough. And after dispatching a couple of raiders, then setting of an explosion in their camp, Mando and Cara get the attention of the Walker. And it looks great. Rising to full height amid the tall trees, red ‘eyes’ glowing, guns firing, it follows the running duo. Back at the village they wait at the barricades as Mando and Cara come running from the trees, Walker in pursuit. But the darn walker stops a few feet from the krill pond trap, flexing its feet. As it hesitates, the raiders charge from the trees.

As the villagers fire on the raiders, it’s time for Plan B on the Walker. Borrowing Mando’s pulse rifle, Cara runs toward the Walker, firing at it. As she jumps into a pond, she fires again, and finally, the Walker steps forward. Down it goes, amid the cheers of the villagers. It’s then quickly finished off by Mando, tossing one of his small bombs inside it. As the smoke clears, the village is battered, but survived.

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A few weeks later, all is calm. Mando, baby Yoda, as well as Cara have settled in. Omera and Mando have definitely grown closer. She clearly wants Mando to stay. Cara teases him, and asks what would happen if he did remove his helmet. His answer was that he could never again wear it as a Mandalorian. And while he may want a simpler life with Omera, raising ‘his boy’, he can’t have that. Later, Omera asks him to stay. And he’s torn. To the point he almost lets her remove his helmet, but then stops her. He can’t stay. He doesn’t belong and must leave, but he is leaving the kid in the village where he is safe. She promises to raise him as one of her own. I almost cried, and even Mando’s voice cracked. No… they can’t split up Mando and his kid now!

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As they discuss the child, a bounty hunter walks through the forest, tracking fob beeping. The bounty hunter lines up baby Yoda in his rifle sight, and time seemed to stop. Don’t you dare kill that child! A shot rings out and Mando swirls toward the sound. And there we see the bounty hunter falling dead, Cara standing behind him, weapon drawn.  Baby is safe, bounty hunter is dead, and everyone is thankful. But of course, if one bounty hunter tracked the kid, others will follow. It’s no longer safe on Sorgan for the child. And I can’t tell you how happy that made me!

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With tearful goodbyes, Mando and the child say their farewells, then prepare to head back to his ship. Cara and Mando part, ‘until they meet again.’ We know Cara Dune is in more episodes. The final shot of baby Yoda sadly watching his playmates fade into the distance was so sad. But he was safe, and daddy Mandalorian aims to keep him that way. And it’s clear now he cannot simply hide the child somewhere safe. Nowhere is safe.

The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+ with new episodes available Fridays.

Images copyright Disney.