HomeReviews'The Gunslinger', The Mandalorian Chapter 5 Breakdown

‘The Gunslinger’, The Mandalorian Chapter 5 Breakdown

Synopsis and Overview

After a brief one on one space battle that damaged their ship, The Mandalorian and his counterpart, Baby Yoda, find their way to the familiar planet (at least to the fans) of Tatooine. The Mandalorian lands here to try and find a crew to fix his ship from the previous space battle. When they land on Tatooine, Mando knows that he does not have enough credits to pay for the repairs and finds a wannabe guild member and offers to help him track down a high-profile target in exchange for the eventual reward.

Score

The music in The Mandalorian (and all of Star Wars) has been incredibly consistent, and this remains the same for this installment in the inaugural season. Ludwig Goransson has delivered a hit of a score in each of the episodes. When the music of Star Wars is as important as the main characters, it is important to nail the score, and he does just that. The music that he composes helps progress the story along. The music of this show, and throughout this episode, helps paint a picture of adventure. The music was centered around the idea of a new adventure and it seemed so subtle, but I loved every part of it. Score: 10/10

Cinematography and Visuals

This is another area where The Mandalorian continues to deliver at near perfection. It starts with one beautiful fight in space that just had the feel of classic Original Trilogy Star Wars. It created the feeling George Lucas always wanted from Star Wars and made it feel like a fun adventure style Saturday morning cartoon.

When we first enter Tatooine the attention to detail and set design was a great homage to the Originals. The color schemes, although different from the originals, seemed sharper and resembled what we can imagine the colors of A New Hope would have been if it was made today instead of 1977. They recreated some geological locations that again were perfectly crafted, and it showed that the creators of this show care about continuity. Fans will appreciate the effort on this.

The re-creation of the Mos Eisley Cantina was another visual aspect that might have been a tad fan servicey but was well executed. It was fun to just see this old set in a live-action Star Wars story one more time. We even got to see the booth that Han and Greedo had their shootout at back in 1977, which was just freaking cool!

The one aspect of this episode that I didn’t love was how the speeder bikes looked on that desert. Now, admittedly, this is probably a nitpick, but something just looked awkward about it.  Because the series has looked so authentic most of the time, there was just something about these sequences with the speeders in the desert that popped out to me as artificial and took me out of it each time.

Like last week, part of this episode takes place at night and again it looked fantastic. Like I mentioned in the review of chapter four, it is often very hard to create good night episodes, but this show has delivered back-to-back weeks with them. It seemed authentic and like we were right in the middle of the action with everything as clear as day without jeopardizing the feel of it being nighttime in the episode. Score: 9.5/10

Writing

From what I have seen there has been much criticism about the writing of this episode, and I am not sure why. Does it advance our characters and plot on an emotional level, no.  As I mentioned before, it is an episode all about adventure and that is okay. Not every episode of the TV series must advance the plot or create an emotional connection that blows everyone away. Sometimes it is okay to just have a filler episode that is all about a new area, new characters, and side adventure. A major criticism of this episode is that it is not profoundly written, and I think a big part of that thought process is maybe people have different expectations of what they want from the show. Some might want a fun adventure story that has new characters in new locations every episode, while others might want this long-lasting drama compared to something like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. I think my expectations are caught somewhere in the middle of those.

Although this episode wasn’t as emotional as chapter four, I think it still had much heart. One of my favorite moments from the episode was when Mando comes back to his ship and realizes that Baby Yoda is missing. Typically, with a moment of sheer panic like this, the emotion would come from the actor’s face, but with the Mandalorian, we have yet to see his face. We instead recognize by his movements that he has a severe concern about the whereabouts of Baby Yoda. For the audience to recognize the fear and anxiety that Mando has about losing Baby Yoda takes some clever writing before this episode and seems well executed. 

I will say something missing throughout this episode was the witty dialogue that previous episodes have had. In the last episode, we had a significant dialogue between Mando and Cara Dune and at the beginning of the series we had characters like IG-11 and Kuiil that Mando did play off rather well. This episode seemed to be missing that aspect of the story.

One writing plotline that I hope the series returns to is “why did the guild want Baby Yoda?” It was the primary focus of the first few episodes and since then we haven’t gotten any answers on the why. I just hope it isn’t an abandoned plotline because there appears significant potential there from a storytelling standpoint. This is not something that needs to be explained by the end of the season, but some more explanation eventually would help enhance the story. Score: 8/10

Chemistry

Like I mentioned above, there seemed to be something off between the new characters and our recurring ones. The chemistry between the characters so far this season has been great but was not working for whatever reason this episode. Outside of Mando and Peli Motto, played by Amy Sedaris, none of the characters truly clicked with one another.

Even some of the comedic moments throughout this episode, that have hit in the past, seemed off. Maybe it comes down with the timing and delivery of those moments, but for this episode it just wasn’t there. Star Wars has always done a relatively good job when it comes to landing on its comedic moments, and they always seem natural. While the comedy still was natural during this episode, the tone and timing kept missing in my opinion. Maybe part of this is that Mando had a more authentic connection with the characters in the past compared to the new ones in this chapter. Either way, I’m sure the characters’ chemistry will bounce back in chapter five. Score: 7/10

Pacing

Last week my biggest critique was the pacing of the episode. Fortunately for this week’s episode, it seemed that they had fixed that issue. None of the pacing was off and it didn’t jump around with how fast or slow the show was going. While in episode four it felt like it was sped up towards a slower beginning, this week it all was fast-paced and was fairly consistent. Part of this might come down to this week’s shorter run time. It’s only a six-minute difference from last week, but I think some of my favorite episodes have been the shorter ones. I was a part of the group that wanted forty-five to sixty-minute episodes, but if the shorter half-hour or so episodes are better in quality, I am all here for it. Score: 9/10

MVP

The MVP of this episode is The Mandalorian himself. For the first time since the pilot, this felt like one hundred percent his story. As much as I love and adore Baby Yoda (and yes, I would die for him), sometimes he is too cute and steals the show. There was also a lack of compelling new characters in this episode. Even though Fennec Shand, played by Ming Na-Wen, was an exciting character, her story seems to be short-lived, and she lacked appropriate screen time for me to like her enough as a character. The Mandalorian went on this adventure on his own, or at least without Baby Yoda, and ends up having to fend off two different enemies by the end of the episode. We got to see him figure it all out without much assistance and I hope we get more of them in the future.

Final Thoughts 

I liked this episode a lot. From what it seems, I might be in the minority on this one. Sure, it didn’t further the plot that much and it wasn’t a super emotionally driven episode like last weeks, but it was a lot of fun. In the end what I want from Star Wars is fun adventures. This was a perfect filler episode for what hopes to be a climactic last third of season one. It wasn’t this grand spectacle, it was quick, action-packed, and offered a new adventure without compromising that feel of Star Wars. In the future, I do hope we get some episodes that further the plot and deliver on more emotion, but if we have these fun side missions and side stories now and then, that’s perfectly fine by me. David Filoni delivered another good chapter in the Star Wars universe, and we should all be grateful for that. This sounded great, looked great, and kept me engaged the entire time.

Overall Score: 8.7/10

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Will Custer
"We must keep our faith in the Republic. The day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it.” — Queen Jamillia

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