In Star Wars terms episode four carries a certain weight with it, being ground zero for all things in a certain galaxy far, far away. Episode four of The Mandalorian does not land with such seismic impact, being the first instalment of the series that feels a little less than white hot. Having listened to a conscience that he wasn’t aware he had ‘Mando’ (Pedro Pascal) has rescued ‘The Child’ (you may know him as Yoda…Baby Yoda) from a fate of torture and death and is on the lamb, seemingly planet hopping until the heat is off.
The directorial reigns are taken up by Bryce Dallas Howard and she gives us something of a breath out and pause as the bounty hunter and his charge arrive on the forest planet (because in this galaxy the planets are all or nothing, ice, forest, desert, you may have only one terrain) of Sorgan. It looks quiet enough to lay low on but sadly that’s a short-lived dream as Gina Carano’s Cara Dune, a mercenary with a past, rocks up and kicks seven bells out of Mando, telling him this planet’s not big enough for the both of them. It’s great to see Carano land on the show, she’s a powerful presence but more than that shows a calm openness that let’s us see just how emotionally stunted Mando is. Let’s hope we get to see more of her in the run, it’s a great character and we definitely want to learn more.
The episode takes a turn into Seven Samurai territory, another nod to George Lucas’ original influences seeping into the fabric of the show, as Dune and Mando take on the task of defending a group of simple farming folk from a group of mean old alien bandits, but might the threat be bigger than they first thought?
It’s here where the Lightsaber bright focus of the story so far goes a little astray as Mando gets an almost-love-interest and the bulk of the action has little relevance to the bigger story. It feels like a diversion and as lovely at that diversion is makes the show leave its sleek longform storytelling mode and become a Quantum Leap style baddie of the week serial where nothing too much is gained or lost by the time the credits roll. The stakes feel quite low throughout even when Julia Jones is being great as widow Omera and trying to convince Mando that a better life lies for him here rather than the nomadic existence he has forced himself into. The romance doesn’t have enough time to brew and the final battle while great fun feels like a box ticked rather than a rousing achievement. However we do get a wonderful ‘end of level boss’ that emphasises the scale upon which the creators are working and is another great treat for long standing fans.
While still being fun and giving The Child a fertile playground for demonstrating his internet conquering charm let’s hope episode five is less Quantum Leap and more Hyperspace Jump.