This is what happens when I go on my movie review binge. I go and miss the season’s biggest viral moment and go-to meme moment yet. Yeah, this review won’t be breaking any new ground although I absolutely had to speak on the quality of The Mandalorian. Sanctuary leaned the hardest in the series’ samurai western roots complete with the village standoff against bandits. It wasn’t the high point of the series, but maintained the consistent level of quality so far.
Mando and the Kid travel to an isolated planet that’s ideal for hiding a pair of fugitives. They’re late to the party with that idea as Cara Dune (Gina Carano, Fast & Furious 6), a shock trooper with the Alliance has already called it as her hideout. Cara wasn’t on board with the politics of restoring order to the galaxy after the Empire’s defeat and wanted her own sanctuary.
In true comic book fashion, Mando learns this after he and Cara square off. They calm down after seeing the Kid casually sipping some soup and generally being above it all. I’m pretty sure Director Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) wasn’t trying to create a meme here, but she made it seem both incredibly organic and obvious at the same time.
This world has some other issues as bandits are terrorizing the peaceful farmers. Mando realizes the value of helping them out in exchange for setting up camp in an even more isolated area. A widow, Omera (Julia Jones, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2), takes an immediate interest and not so subtly hints that she is interested. Naturally she wants to see what’s under the helmet and Mando tells her he only takes it off when he’s not around anyone else. Of course then he takes it off to eat while watching the village children play with the Kid. At least close the blinds Mando.
Turns out the bandits have an ace up their sleeve as they’ve got an AT-ST for backup. That makes sense that random Empire vehicles and weapons would be scattered across the galaxy for ambitious outlaws to seize before the Rebellion located them. Initially realizing they’re hopelessly outmatched, Cara and Mando decide to teach the farmers how to fight.
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Cara Dune is a character unlike any we’ve seen before in the Star Wars universe. Most of the women in the series have been smaller and in the petite size section. Cara is a brawler tank showing no hesitation in crashing through walls and going hand to hand with a Mandalorian. I’m a big fan and this seemed like the ideal ongoing role for Carano who’s always shown a degree of star power yet lacked the proper vehicle. I loved her chemistry with Mando as a straight-shooting partner who calls it like she sees it.
By the midway point of the episode I was just pulling for her not to get IG-11’d and killed off after making such a memorable debut. The show has made all the right calls so far, but I definitely wouldn’t have minded if Cara joined up with Mando and became a series regular. And if she won’t be a recurring character there’s no reason why a Cara Dune series couldn’t work. It’s not Disney+ can really ever have enough original Star Wars content and if they stay at this level of quality, fill the service up with new and returning characters.
One of the cooler aspects of the series is how the directors are making major moments in a limited space. Mando maybe battled 20 Stormtroopers, but it felt like more. The big showdown with the AT-ST was one of my favorites so far and was way more effective than the farmers fighting 10 AT-STs. Simple is so much better in this case and it’s helping The Mandalorian raise the threat level without cluttering the screen with obstacles.
After defeating the bandits, Mando decides it’s time to roll out. He’s going to leave the kid with the farmers since they’re clearly already a good influence on him — he’s not wolfing down random animals anymore. That plan holds out for about 30 seconds before a bounty hunter comes trying to kill him. Good thing Cara was on the case and saved him.
Sorry Omera, this Mandalorian and his kid have gotta fly. But where to next? I hear Hoth is lovely this time of year…
Sanctuary proved finding a long-term resting place is going to be tricky for these fugitives and introduced another great addition to the Star Wars universe.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Disney+