The Mandalorian

"Chapter 4: Sanctuary"

2.5 stars

Air date: 11/29/2019
Written by Jon Favreau
Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Now wanted by all his former bounty hunter colleagues, Mando looks for a place to lay low for a few months with the Child. He settles on the backwoods planet Sorgan, hopeful no one will find them there. He lands the ship, strolls into town, and almost instantly finds himself in a scrappy fight with Cara Dune (Gina Carano), a former Rebel soldier who is also here hoping to stay off the grid. Before too long, the two are recruited by some locals to help solve a problem with some marauders who have been attacking from the forest and stealing all their food.

Keeping with the whole western thing, "Sanctuary" once again feels archetypal: The cowboys who aren't from around these parts are asked by the townspeople to help ward off the area raiders. So the cowboys agree, but need numbers, so they help train the locals how to fight (which we get in a montage that manages to seem self-aware without winking). When the bullies come back tonight, we'll be ready for them with a trap.

But there's a catch: The raiders have an Imperial walker in their arsenal, which is more than Mando and Cara signed up for. So they'll need to be extra clever with their plan — digging trenches, preparing ambushes, and relying on the element of surprise. (Although I wondered why the Imperial walker, which seemed like it had sniffed out and avoided the trench trap, proceeded to later take the bait anyway.)

The story is pretty threadbare, employing its time-honored template. "Sanctuary" is as technically proficient and competent as its predecessors as a piece of fun action cinema. But it's about at this point in the season I wonder how many western standbys The Mandalorian can retell through its lens of prolonged Star Wars action sequences, while barely inching forward a larger story. There just isn't much substance here. Mando does befriend a local woman and her young daughter, which is potentially interesting when you consider he could just walk away from his gunslinging life and retire in the quiet countryside — but nothing happens between them; he won't even remove his helmet in front of her.

It's just as well, because a bounty hunter has tracked him here, and if he stays, others will follow. It seems Mando is doomed to a kind of purgatory where arrives somewhere, does his reluctant hero thing, makes some allies and/or enemies, and then leaves. This is the way.

Previous episode: Chapter 3: The Sin
Next episode: Chapter 5: The Gunslinger

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3 comments on this post

Latex Zebra
Tue, Mar 2, 2021, 5:05am (UTC -5)
Quite a cliched episode but I like it, that kind of homage to old 80's TV.
Leaf
Thu, May 6, 2021, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
This episode is an homage to the Kurosawa film Seven Samurai. Lucas himself took inspiration from another Kurosawa film, The Hidden Fortress, when he wrote Star Wars.
Tim C
Fri, May 14, 2021, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
The weakest episode of the first season, I think. As you mention, there's just not much here, and it feels a little too cliche`.

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