The Mandalorian has continued it’s impressive run with it’s fifth and sixth episodes – “The Gunslinger” and “The Prisoner”. The Gunslinger is centred around The Mandalorian (or “Mando”) (Pedro Pascal) and Baby Yoda (or “The Child”) arriving on Tatooine. Mando joins aspiring bounty hunter, Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale), who is on the hunt for mercenary and assassin, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). However, while on Mando and Toro’s quest, it is revealed that Toro is not at all what he seems.
In The Prisoner, Mando contracts his former partner, Ran for work. Ran asks Mando to accompany a five-man job, that they must use his ship for. The job in question is to rescue a prisoner of the New Republic. Soon enough, the members of the crew begin to double-cross Mando, especially when they discover he has Baby Yoda, and then, Mando must take his revenge.
Although, The Mandalorian is really great, and these two episodes are solid, it does feel like these episodes are slightly filler, particularly The Gunslinger. The Gunslinger is the shortest episode of the series so far, at only 30 minutes, and feels particularly slight and unadventurous.
The episode’s main strength is it’s nostalgic call-backs to the original namesake film, or A New Hope as it will be known to younger fans. These include, among many others, how it takes place on Tatooine, Luke’s home planet; features the same bar, Mos Eisley Catatina, where Han shot Gredo and features the secondary villians, the Tusken Raiders (or Sand People), who meet Mando and Toro on their quest. For a series that, up until this point, has felt very new and original, it was nice to see it addressing it’s past in these cute hall-backs.
Also, much like pretty much all of the previous episodes, this episode also features many interesting secondary characters and guest stars, including Amy Sedaris, Wen and Cannavale. Sedaris is a long-time character actress known for her voice performances, Wen is an actress known for her role in Agents of SHIELD and voice role in Mulan (1998) and Cannavale is a young up-and-coming actor, who is the son of character actor, Bobby Cannavale. All 3 of them are interesting and fun characters, and if they ever show up again (and in Sedaris’s case, I’m sure she will), it would be a very welcome return.
Despite this, however, the whole episode feels a little nothing-y. It felt like the episode was possibly an excuse for it’s cliff-hanger ending, in which we see a rival bounty hunter has arrived, however, we do not see his face. Although this cliff-hanger shows definite promise, the rest of the episode feels like it lacks any real stakes or suspense. As is usually the case, Baby Yoda ends up in peril, and this is starting to become a little tiresome now. That being said, the episode overall is still a fun one that will pass the time finely, even if it pales in comparison to the other episodes.
The sixth episode, The Prisoner is very similar, in how it feels slightly filler, but it feels more adventurous and creative. Firstly, like the previous episode, the guest stars and secondary characters are really interesting. The crew that accompanies Mando includes Ran (Mark Boone Jr.); ex-imperial sharpshooter, Mayfield (Bill Burr); a strongman, Burg (Clancy Brown); knife-wielder, Xi’an (Natalia Tena) and the droid pilot, Zero (voiced by Richard Ayoade).
Although, none of these characters are particularly likeable, they are all fun characters, who are quite interesting. Also, as is always the case with any Star Wars universe project, the effects and make-up are terrific, and the design of all of these secondary characters are great. It’s also really nice to hear Ayoade (of The IT Crowd fame), and I love how the majority of droids in the Star Wars universe are being voiced from funny comedians, from Taika Waititi to Rogue One’s Alan Tudyk.
This episode is very similar to the show’s third episode, “The Sin” in how the action is glorious and really wonderful. The action takes place as Mando is fighting against the crew. Much like The Sin, the action never drags or feels dull, as each person that he fights against has a new, original and creatively choreographed fight sequence. One of the episode’s highlights, is when we see Mando approaching something from behind, and the light flickers until Mando conquers him, which is one of the most vibrant and colourful moments of great visual style for the series.
Pedro Pascal remains as impressive as ever in these two episodes. In particular, his performance in the The Prisoner is great, as he has to show a lot of emotions, with just subtle body movements and vocal performance. Also, his relationship with Baby Yoda is very cute. I do wish that Baby Yoda was getting a little more to do in this series, however, as he has been reduced to just a damsel in distress for both of these episodes. The series keeps teasing that Baby Yoda has some big powers up his sleeve, and I’m hoping that we will see these powers come into play for the two-part finale.
This episode, as a whole, does feels like a filler episode – something to get us by until the big two-part finale. That being said, the episode is a lot more narratively ambitious and creative that it’s previous part. The episode has more thoroughly developed characters, and has everything you want from a Mandalorian episode – it has action, laughs, adventure, thrills and tension to spare, even if it is a little insubstantial.
In conclusion, these two episodes of The Mandalorian are not among the best, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t fun episodes that are worthy of your time. The Mandalorian is by far one of the best TV programmes of 2020 so far (along with Better Call Saul and Inside No. 9), and I can’t wait for the hopefully epic two-part season finale.
Rating (for The Gunslinger): 7/10
Rating (for The Prisoner): 8/10