The Mandalorian: Chapter 5 – The Gunslinger review S1 E5

Given all of the franchise’s inspirations it almost seems weird that it’s taken so long to get such an effective space western in the Star Wars universe. If you’d missed it the last few episodes, The Gunslinger leaned in even harder with something that could have easily been a subplot in a classic Western.

The Mandalorian barely escapes a space dogfight and heads to a familiar locale for Star Wars fans — The Mos Eisley spaceport. What’s cool about this is there’s no need for some forced cameo or connection to anything from the rest of the saga. It’s just perfectly natural that a bounty hunter would come to Mos Eisely and that’s all that’s necessary.

the mandalorian - the gunslinger review - toro

Mando’s gonna need some extra cash to have the local mechanic Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) fix the ship. After heading into a very familiar looking cantina, Mando decides to team up with a rookie Corellian bounty hunter Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) who’s looking to capture a massive bounty by bringing in the outlaw Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen, Agents of SHIELD).

It really feels like we’re getting a chance to do a deeper dive of realms and areas in Star Wars that were brief spots on Luke Skywalker’s journey. There’s also some fun in watching vehicles get used for other purposes beyond fighting the Empire like the cool landspeeder scene.

the mandalorian - the gunslinger review - toro and mando head out

Mando fits so easily into the Western setting and this episode he played the grizzled old vet dealing with a talkative and overeager bounty hunter like Unforgiven. Pedro Pascal has to convey all of his emotions with his body language and line delivery and so far he’s done a fantastic job on that end.

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They catch up to Fennec who starts trying to snipe them out because she’s got the high ground. Even before the she’s no good to us dead line it felt like director/writer Dave Filoni was all about dishing out these tiny SW Easter Eggs throughout the episode.

While Mando goes about finding a ride, Fennec starts hyping Toro up that they could team up to claim a far more valuable bounty – The Mandalorian and the Kid. I appreciated Toro not being written like a complete moron as he kills Fennec, but I was a little disappointed with Fennec’s role. It seemed a waste of having Wen, who regularly kicks tale in AOS, in such a throwaway role.

the mandalorian - the gunslinger review - fennec

Mando realizes what’s happened and returns to Peli’s garage where Toro has Peli and the Kid at gunpoint. The trouble with being a rookie bounty hunter is you haven’t seen everyone’s tricks and…well Toro won’t get to see any more as Mando kills him after using the same flare distraction he used to get the drop on Fennec. Speaking of, some mysterious figure stands over Fennec’s dead body apparently looking for something. Who’s this person and were they just searching for Fennec or Mando?

The Gunslinger wasn’t a fancy episode and shows this is a series that doesn’t need to have these major spectacles every outing. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to have an episode that does a good enough job establishing The Mandalorian’s world.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Photo Credit: Disney+

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