Oh, what’s that? You wanted more Baby Yoda? The Mandalorian provides.
Episode four of The Mandalorian is called “Sanctuary,” as in, what the Mandalorian needs in his life. He just needs a place to hide. Somewhere to lay low while the heat from his previous action dies down. He’s just betrayed the bounty hunters code and inadvertently exposed his fellow Mandalorians in the process. So as episode four of The Mandalorian begins, the bounty hunter settles on Sorgan, a seemingly quiet, backwater planet. Turns out, it’s anything but.
As the episode (directed by Bryce Dallas Howard) begins, it seems like Sorgan will be exactly that. The cold open of the episode showed a side of Star Wars we rarely get to see: Star Peace. Just a group of people, living their lives, farming, children playing, and lots of weird, neon krill. It was a lovely little slice of life.
That lasts all of 60 seconds. A group of nasty looking, dog-faced Klatoonian raiders quickly storm into the peaceful village, shooting blasters, raising hell, and stealing the Sorgan’s food. These farmers need help. If only there was a rogue bounty hunter in need of an out-of-the-way place to hide headed there right now...
A great thing about this episode is we get to see more of Mando in the Razor Crest with Baby Yoda. If you remember in episode three, his floating crib was destroyed, so now the little guy has to stand and walk. And if you thought Baby Yoda was cute before...holy shit. He’s about a billion times cuter walking around. I damn near melted from adorableness in the first scene as he continued to flick buttons, much to the chagrin of Mando. And when they land and Baby Yoda refuses to stay on the ship? He stands there expectantly and starts waddling along like a good little boy. It’s so freaking precious. For the record: Walking Yoda>Floating Yoda.
However, for a duo trying to lay low and stay under the radar, a Mandalorian in bright silver beskar armour, walking with an unusual looking tiny alien, are about as conspicuous as possible. As you can imagine, every single person notices them as they walk into a quiet Sorgan bar. That’s when, finally, we meet Cara Dune played by Gina Carano. Or at least we see her. Like Mando, she’s pretty easy to spot and he quickly figures she’s a bounty hunter out to find Baby Yoda. When she disappears, he heads out to investigate only to get jumped by Cara, though they duel to a stalemate.
The two decide to share war stories instead, but their quick bond is one of the few things that felt off to me in “Sanctuary.” I get it. He thought she was hunting him and she thought he was hunting her so they share something in common. But it felt a little forced for them to open up about their pasts so quickly, Cara especially, as we’re sure there’s a lot more going on there.
Nevertheless, they reach an understanding that they shouldn’t both be hiding out on Sorgan, lest they draw too much attention, and Cara reminds him she got there first so Mando agrees to leave. However, before he can, two of the Sorgan krill farmers find Mando and present him with a proposition: All the money in their village for protection from the raiders. He turns them down quickly but they mention their village is in the middle of nowhere and he realises privacy and secrecy are worth more than money to him. He agrees to help them but needs a little assistance of his own—Cara.
Again, it makes sense in the overall context of the story that he’d ask this former solider he respects for help, but the forging of their two private lives so quickly and powerfully still felt rushed. On the other hand, combining their two encounters, you do believe their trust and friendship. But the journey there was a little rocky for me personally.
While doing reconnaissance for the task at hand, Mando and Cara realise the raiders have an Imperial AT-ST—and as far as adversaries go, way more than they signed up for. Instead of trying to figure out how to destroy it, they beg the villagers to leave their land instead. The villagers grew up in this place, though. Generations of history is there. They don’t want to leave. They want to fight.
During their time in the village, Mando begins to bond with Omera, played by Julia Jones (who we’d seen in a few of the trailers for this series, as well as Westworld). She’s kind, accommodating and helps provide the audience with a few key pieces of information. Number one? Mando hasn’t taken off his helmet in front of people since he was a kid, but (as many people wondered after the comments last week) he does take it off to eat if he’s alone. Number two: The Mandalorians took him in after his parents were killed so although he was raised Mandalorian, he may not actually be a Mandalorian, which seemed like a very curious bit of information to drop in the middle of the episode. Maybe I’m misinterpreting it and his parents were Mandalorian too but the way he delivered the line, it sounds like he may be an outsider.
Either way, the scenes with Omera certainly leave you feeling as if the Mandalorian is comfortable in this place and cares about what happens to these people, so he and Cara agree to help the farmers despite the enormous task in front of them. They’ll have to train the villagers, come up with a plan to outsmart their enemies, and take down that AT-ST for good so it can’t be used against them again. (Of note, Mando and Cara wonder why the machine was even on this planet but the answer isn’t delivered here.) The resulting training montage is cute but the one noteworthy moment comes courtesy of Omera. She’s the only person in the village who knows how to shoot and she’s damn good at it too. Was she a Rebellion fighter? Maybe part of the Empire? Did she escape Mandalore during the Great Purge? It’s also curious and goes unexplained, but I have a feeling we’ll find out at some point.
Mando and Cara raise some hell at the Klatoonian raiders’ camp to lure them into traps the farmers have organised. And it works. Out of the shadow and the mist arises the AT-ST they were so worried about, looking far more menacing in the dark than it ever did in the daylight of the original trilogy. In fact, the shots of it coming out of the forest, as well as the wide shots later, felt very Jurassic Park inspired. Which makes sense since one of the stars of Jurassic World, Bryce Dallas Howard, directed the episode.
Howard is worth mentioning here too because the scenes with the AT-ST are packed with fantastic tension. Though the villagers have set a trap for the walker to fall into, somehow, the driver can see it and stops just in front of it. It’s unfortunate we never find out who is driving the walker because they are by far the smartest walker driver we’ve ever seen in Star Wars. Plus, the entire plan hinges on the walker falling into the hole so, the longer it doesn’t, the worse things are for everyone as the Klatoonian raiders are able to swarm ahead as the AT-ST fires on the farmers.
Cara, quick on her feet, devises an alternate plan to draw the AT-ST into the hole. The plan is basically to go right underneath and shoot it a bunch with Mando’s gun. It’s not the most delicate plan (or the safest) but eventually, after some moments of great anxiety for our her devised by Howard, the AT-ST trips and falls. Mando runs over to blow it up and the day is won. The entire battle felt like a mini-Return of the Jedi. The villagers were obviously in the Ewoks’ role, right down to using sharp sticks as weapons and nature to defeat a technological beast. I must say, I very much enjoyed the parallels.
And so it seemed like all was well for Cara and the Mandalorian on the remote planet of Sorgan. Cara even suggested Mando settle down with Omera, who obviously took a bit of a liking to him. Omera tells Mando that the villagers want him to stay and tries to take off his helmet but he stops her at the last second. He does, however, want to leave Baby Yoda there and when he said that you could basically hear the screams from everyone watching the show who don’t want that to happen. They’ve spent several weeks with these people and Mando feels the child will be able to actually be a child if he stays there instead of travelling with a dangerous bounty hunter.
Baby Yoda is certainly happy on Sorgan. He’s got food and comfort and plenty of little kids to play with. But just as Mando is explaining his reasoning to Omera, we see that another bounty hunter has arrived on Sorgan and it’s got a tracking FOB. It has Baby Yoda in his sights, dead to rights, when BAM! We think the child has been killed but, alas, it was Cara who killed the bounty hunter instead. Mando now knows the word is out on his whereabouts. Not only can’t he stay on Sorgan, neither can Baby Yoda. So Mando and Cara say their goodbyes and he and Baby Yoda set off to the next adventure
“Sanctuary” was an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat episode of The Mandalorian but it felt a little off the beaten path, figurately, as well as literally. So much care was put into humanising these villagers and developing the relationship between Cara and Mando, only to have them all leave each other by the end of the episode. Since we know Cara is back for season two, obviously, this won’t be the last we see of her. And I’m guessing it won’t be the last we see of Omera or Sorgan either. But as it stands now, it felt more like a tangent than a leap ahead, even if it was a fun one. Time will tell just how important these relationships end up being.
HOLY SHIT THERE WAS A LOTHCAT IN THE BAR. I FREAKED OUT.
At the end of the episode, Omera and Mando keep referring to Baby Yoda as “He.” So, we guess that question is settled.
After the previous episode, I mentioned it was odd how much time was spent talking about the helmet. And again here, not one but two exchanges go on about the importance of keeping on your Mandalorian helmet. Mark my words: He’s taking off the helmet by the end of this first season, just you watch. These seeds are being planted for a reason.
Also, a week after I wrote that none of the planets on The Mandalorian had been named, Mando goes ahead and does just that, very organically, in the first scene. Way to be, Favreau.
Was I the only one that a) thought the village huts looked like Hershey kisses or that b) the overhead shots of the village look like the Imperial outpost on Scarif?