Remember how I mentioned the end of the last episode felt like the end of a clear and defined arc, akin to what we’d see in The Clone Wars? My assessment on that turned out to be correct as the narrative, setting and plot all shifted during the events of Sanctuary. Did it move the plot forward a lot? Not terribly so, as this episode feels more like a pit stop between arcs, but cinephiles should enjoy this Kurasawa inspired episode.
Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, this episode sees the Mandalorian arriving to a backwater planet in order to lay low with the child after the explosive events of the last episode. It’s here that he stumbles across Cara Dune (Gina Carano), the former Rebel Shock Trooper who is operating as a mercenary post-Endor. The two quickly strike up a budding partnership and help a small village fight back a group of outlaws who have an AT-ST in their arsenal.
Being just under forty minutes, the whole “training the village how to fight” montage came across as quick and made it hard to believe that they would have succeeded in defending the village. More entertaining-and believable-was Mando’s marksmanship and Cara Dune’s nerves of steel in taking down the AT-ST almost head-on, luring it into a trap. While The Seven Samurai angle is interesting to see in Star Wars, one must bear in mind that it was already done in the Clone Wars episode “Bounty Hunters”, making the events feel a bit redundant to fans who take in as much content as they can.
But the episode wasn’t all about action. We got to learn a bit more about Mando today, including a lot about the mask. This felt pivotal and much needed to the character and setting. Mando hasn’t shown his face to anyone since he was a child and only takes his mask off when he’s alone, usually to eat. Cara asks him bluntly why he doesn’t simply take the mask off and settle down in the village, live a quiet, humble life? Mando revealed that he’s not actually of Mandalore, but after his parents were killed in the Clone Wars, they took him in and raised him as such. This explains why he has no clan or house but is likely trying to establish one of his own. In the midst of all this, Baby Yoda continues to be the cutest thing I’ve seen on any screen this decade. Despite not speaking, he’s cute, heartwarming and innocent and steals every scene.
This episode very much felt like a pit stop. Mando and Baby Yoda have to hit the road again after a bounty hunter tracks them down. I hope we see Cara Dune again soon, as she had good chemistry with Mando and got him talking quite a bit. She parted ways with him but hopefully, the Imperial Remnant brings them back together. There are four episodes left now and we’ve yet to meet Giancarlos Espisito’s Moff Gideon yet-here’s hoping we get to that sooner rather than later. The show can use a villain at this point, a threat beyond the arbitrary capture of Baby Yoda by the Guild and The Client. We need to have a confrontational opponent, a proper antagonist to challenge the Mandalorian and that should hopefully fall into the latter half of the season.