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The Mandalorian season 1, episode 4 review – Chapter Four: Sanctuary

“You ready to lay low and stretch your legs for a couple of months, you little womp rat?” Spoilers for The Mandalorian season 1, episode 4 follow.

On the run from the Bounty Hunters Guild, The Mandalorian finds a backwater planet to hide to protect baby Yoda.

Once there though, he runs into villagers who want to hire him to protect them from raiders.

The Magnificent Two

So far, The Mandalorian seems to be hitting every Western trope ever and so far, there hasn’t been a misstep. Because of that, it was inevitable that there was going to an episode inspired by The Magnificent Seven. Well, here comes this episode, guns blazing.

Every single beat is derived directly from The Magnificent Seven, which itself is a remake of Seven Samurai. Now, put a Star Wars spin on it and you have this episode, which is its biggest problem. It’s competently directed and quite enjoyable, it’s just something that’s been done so many times before – even once before in the Star Wars universe in an episode of The Clone Wars titled “Bounty Hunters.”

Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, this is arguably the best-directed episode of the series so far. It’s exciting and pulls on the heartstrings well, while also bringing out some horror-tinged elements. The action is extremely well done, and it has the best use of an AT-ST to date. Seriously, the AT-ST shown in this episode is cloaked in shadow and utilizes some terrifying red eyes, which makes it seem like a horror monster.

The problem with this episode though is how completely unoriginal it is. The rest of the series has so far been based around Western tropes but still managed to do its own thing. However, the story, plot points, and character interactions here are ripped straight from the aforementioned film, leaving all originality wanting. The character work is still very well done, but the plot is incredibly derivative.

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Not so humorless

Even if the plot is a bit derivative though, there are things that the episode does differently from previous episodes though, namely having more humor. Most of that humor comes one thing and one thing only: Baby Yoda. If you thought he was cute before, his cuteness amplifies tenfold in this episode. He’s so adorable.

Much of the humor revolving around baby Yoda has to do with sight gags throughout the episode, mainly of it popping out of nowhere. It brings a bit of humanity to this baby alien, especially when it gets scared of the Loth-cat in this episode. That cameo alone should please fans of Rebels, but it also works to build character.

The best joke of the episode has to be right at the beginning when baby Yoda keeps pressing buttons, The Mandalorian tells him to stop, and he does it again. It’s hilariously cute.

This is the way

The best part of this episode though is when it deals with The Mandalorian directly. Whether it’s questions about his helmet, his past, settling down, all of it is compelling. It shows a different side to the character that has only been hinted at so far. As much as he doesn’t want to show it, there’s a humanity under that helmet and this episode portrays that very well.

By exploring his humanity, we also get the first hint at what The Mandalorian truly wants to do with his life. He’s only a bounty hunter out of necessity and a form of duty, but it’s not actually how he wants to live life. This episode builds on his character in incredibly subtle ways while also mixing in some overt character development, which is satisfying.

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This week’s episode of The Mandalorian is yet again enjoyable although it’s the weakest episode so far.