Chapter 5 of The Mandalorian, The Gunslinger, was chock full of Star Wars Easter eggs. And it was great.
After a space battle with another bounty hunter, Mando needed repairs on his damaged ship. As he approached a sandy planet, a voice came over his radio – from Mos Eisley tower – and the Star Wars fans had come home. Yes, to Tatooine, where a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we met Luke Skywalker. His ship sputtering smoke, Mando landed in hangar bay 35 (as opposed to bay 94 the Millennium Falcon had been in all those years ago). And I defy anyone not to have heard Alex Guinness saying, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy,“ as Mando approached the spaceport.
Leaving the sleeping child in a secure compartment (with a fond look – yes, even through that helmet), Mando exited his ship to find three pit droids. The droids were the Three Stooges and they were great! But we know our Mandalorian hates droids, and made his point with a well aimed shot in front of them. All of this commotion brought out mechanic Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris), shouting at him, before she inspected his ship. Mando stood back while she checked things out, noting a lot of carbon scoring, as if he’d been in a battle. Another Easter egg, right back to Luke finding the same thing on R2-D2 and C-3PO when he cleaned them.
Unable to pay the (unsurprised) mechanic right then, Mando promised to get the money. So off he headed through the sandy streets of Mos Eisley, past staked storm trooper helmets, and to a bar. You guessed it. THE Cantina. Only things had changed somewhat. No longer a human bartender telling Luke they didn’t ‘serve their kind’ – referring to his droids – the bartender was now a droid. When Mando asked if there was any available bounty hunting work, he got a resounding ‘no’. Nothing available, guild or otherwise. Until a cocky young fella – sitting in the exact seat Han Solo had been in – feet up on the table (again, like Han) said he might have something.
Mando listened while the guy, one Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) showed him a bounty puck. The target, notorious assassin, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Mando knew full well who she was, that the kid wouldn’t make it past sunrise if he tried to bring her in. He turned to leave, but Toro begged him, the brashness disappearing. All Toro wanted was to get into the guild, and one big bounty would nail it. And he didn’t want the money. Mando could have the reward. So knowing the kid was in over his head, and that he needed money for ship repairs, Mando agreed to help.
Meanwhile back at hangar 35, Peli was playing cards with the three pit droids, in no hurry to start on Mando’s ship repairs. From the depths of the ship, came a sound. And yes, the same sound Obi-Wan made to scare away the Tuskan Raiders when they attacked Luke. How many Easter eggs is that? A lot. They just kept on coming. As Peli armed herself, she stood ready, when a tiny green baby appeared from the ship. A very sleepy, rather sad baby, at that. Realizing he wasn’t a threat, Peli swooped him up. She’d take care of him until the Mandalorian returned. For a price, of course.
When Mando returned to his ship to grab what he’d need, he panicked at the sight of the open compartment, and no child. His shout woke Peli – and the baby Yoda she was holding. She admonished Mando, because it had taken her forever to get the baby to sleep. Mando, relieved the child was okay, stood there while Peli gave him the what for on raising a child. He’s still the best new dad in the galaxy though, to his little green son. Nothing can take that away! As he left the hangar bay, Peli followed, child in her arms, where Mando met Toro outside. With the speedbikes Mando requested, the duo took off over the sand toward the Dune Sea. Loved all the references to the first planet we met in the Star Wars universe.
En route, they met two Tuskan Raiders, but using Tuskan sign language (who knew, right?), Mando negotiated, getting safe passage through their lands. They found a dewback, those huge lumbering desert creatures, hauling a dead bounty hunter. As Mando turned the body over, the tracking fob on the dead hunter blinked rapidly. Their target was near. Too near, and the reason that bounty hunter was dead. Mando ran, but sniper fire from a distant ridge got him twice, his Beskar armour saving his life. So, knowing they’d get picked off by the sniper, they hunkered down and waited for nightfall. This gave us a funny scene when Toro thought Mando was asleep.
Their route obscured by night, the duo took off on the speeders again, using flash flares to blind the sniper’s infra-red night vision. And it worked. Kinda. Right as they got near the ridge the sniper hit Mando, slamming him off the speeder, wrecking it. As the sniper lined him up in her sights, her shot never came, as Toro held her at gunpoint. He had the upper hand for a few seconds, until she fought back, disarming him. And mid fight, Mando stepped up to the plate, putting an end to the shenanigans while thanking Toro for the distraction.
So, since they were down to one working speeder, taking Fennec Shand back to Mos Eisley could be a problem. But hey, that lumbering dewback was still in the vicinity, so if Toro wouldn’t mind just walking out to bring it back? Not likely. He would not leave Mando with the prisoner (aka his ticket into the Guild), and the only working bike. Mando then set off across the dunes to get the beast.
With Mando gone, Fennec got in Toro’s ear. That if he wanted to impress the Guild, he had a far bigger bounty available than her. The bounty on his Mandalorian companion was considerable after he’d stolen an asset, plus his Beskar armour alone was worth more than her bounty. The asset was a child, prompting Toro’s memory of the mechanic holding a strange child. So, he could capture not only Mando, but the child too, which all made perfect sense to glory seeking Toro. After approaching Fennec, as if to unshackle her, he drew his weapon and killed her. Yeah, that was a surprise. But he knew she’d have killed him as soon as she was free.
When Mando returned, he discovered Fennec dead on the sand, and Toro and the speeder long gone. So after trekking across the dunes on the dewback, he arrived at hangar 35, discovering Toro’s speeder. Toro had double crossed him, but Mando feared for the child. All was quiet when he approached his ship, until Toro, holding the child, with Peli at gunpoint, walked down the rear ramp. Toro held Mando at gunpoint, but Mando still had a trick up his sleeve. Or behind his helmet, to be more precise. One of the flash flares. As Peli went to cuff him, Mando fired off the flare, blinding everyone. Ducking for cover, he then shot Toro. After an anxious moment of ‘where’s the baby?’ he came out from behind a crate, perfectly fine.
So with his ship repaired and Toro dead, Mando still hadn’t got paid for finding Fennec. But before the 3 pit droids hauled Toro’s body off to Beggar’s Canyon (another Easter egg) Mando took the dead bounty hunter wannabe’s credits, then gave them to Peli. It was more than enough to cover her expenses. So, child safely back in his arms, Mando took off, and left Tatooine.
But that wasn’t quite the end of the episode. Back out on the Dune Sea, someone approached Fennec’s body. We never saw who, but the jingle of the spurs, and the boots suggest, perhaps, a resurrected Boba Fett? Many theories abound that he escaped the Sarlac pit. We’ll find out next week!
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+ with new episodes available Fridays.
Images copyright Disney.