By: John M Jerva

REVIEW: The Mandalorian Episodes 3 and 4

STARRING: Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, and Gina Carano

Episode 3 Directed By: Deborah Chow

Episode 4 Directed By: Bryce Dallas-Howard

THE REVIEW: Let me just say that the first ever live action Stars Wars series The Mandalorian won me over after the pilot episode and it only intensified after watching the second. Like I said in my first review, this is the stripped down, bare bones Star Wars saga that we have been waiting for. With the last film in the saga, The Rise Of Skywalker, finally making its way to theaters next month, this series is the perfect companion piece to firmly get you pumped up for all things Star Wars.

The Mandalorian plays like a sci-fi western with Pedro Pascal’s lone gunslinging bounty hunter serving as the perfect ant-hero for a galaxy far, far away. I love the fact that we never see his face as he never removes his helmet. He’s just one kick ass, cool as can be character who radiates awesomeness by just entering the room.

EPISODE 3: THE SIN

In episode 3 titled The Sin, Mando returns to The Client (Herzog) to officially drop off the precious baby Yoda even though the child saved his life in the previous episode and even though he’s honor bound to finish the job, he has a connection to the infant that he has never felt before. He questions The Client as to exactly how many fobs were sent out to which he responds that he needed to make sure the job was done so pretty much every hunter in the galaxy was given the job. Mando then asks him what will happen to the child to which The Client criticizes Mando as one in his profession is supposed to never ask a question like that.

With payment of Beskar Steel in hand, Mando returns back to his tribe of Mandalorians who are basically in hiding. Mando visits The Armorer played by Emily Swallow so she can craft new armor for him to replace the one that was damaged in the battle with the mud horn bear. Unfortunately, Mando’s peers are upset with him for taking a job for the remnants of the Empire as they are responsible for the tribe’s current living conditions. Mando tangled with another hunter and after he proclaims that he has never removed his helmet or has had another remove it as that is “The Way.” The Armoer also crafts a special weapon for Mando called Whistling Birds which is a very powerful weapon to be used wisely against his enemies.

After his visit to The Tribe, Mando pays Greef Karga (Weathers) a visit and demands a new job to which he finds out the he has drawn the ire of the guild of bounty hunters because he was able to finish such a high profile job. After accepting a new mission to apprehend the son of a Mon Calamari nobleman, Mando prepares to depart but stumbles across a reminder of The Child which triggers his feelings for the little one so he embarks on a rescue mission to retrieve the infant before it’s too late.

What transpires next is an all out adrenaline rush as Mando assaults The Client’s residence taking out an army of Stormtroopers in one hell of a battle. After making his way through the gauntlet, Mando discovers the child and is able to extract it with the use of the Whistling Birds in a standoff.

With The Child in hand, Mando makes his way to his ship only to be ambushed by Greef and a group of mercenaries as Karga wants the package returned or else. When all seems lost, Mando is saved by his clan of Mandalorians who have come to protect one of their own and in one epic display of firepower and bravado, the tribe of Mandalorians dispatch the mercs in awesome fashion. Once inside his ship, he’s confronted by Karga and Mando seemingly kills the leader of the guild. Unfortunately, the Bekstar Steel which Karga received as his share of the bounty for The Child saves his life so we will see him once again.

EPISODE 4: SANCTUARY

In Episode 4 titled Sanctuary, we are introduced to the peaceful villagers of a new planet called Sorgan who are attacked by a group of raiders who kill off some innocents as well as steal their supplies which leads the viewer to believe that Mando will surely be helping these villagers out in the future. Sure enough, Mando with The Child in tow, has chosen the planet of Sorgan as a place to lay low until things quiet down. Upon arriving, Mando tells the special infant to stay behind while he looks for shelter only to allow it to tag along as it persists in following him.

Mando proceeds to visit a canteen where he stumbles on a mysterious woman who takes interest at the bounty hunter and as it turns out, she has only been on planet for a week and when Mando follows her outside, she ambushed him resulting in a skirmish that ends in a standoff. Upon realizing Mando is not after her, she introduces herself as Cara Dune, a former Imperial shock trooper who has become disenchanted with being delegated to a peacekeeper after the fall of the Empire. Cara realizes that Mando is not there to collect a bounty on her and asks Mando to leave as the planet is not big enough for the two of them.

As Mando prepares to leave, he is approached by the villagers who urge him to help save them from the raiders who are preying on them night and day. At first, Mando declines but then decides to accept as they offer lodging for him in the middle of nowhere. Mando offers Cara an opportunity to help and the two set off to take care of the threat once and for all. Unfortunately, the raiders have their hands on an Imperial AT-ST Walker which will make it harder for them to fight against. During his stay, Mando draws closer to a woman villager named Omera and her daughter named Winta.

Mando proceeds to train the villagers for the upcoming battle and after some time of training, he sets out with Cara to execute their plan which involves a trap that they set up to take out the AT-ST. What culminates next is another harrowing action set piece where Mando and Cara take out the raiders with some blistering hand to hand combat and when they destroy a tent with supplies, the raiders unleash the Walker and when all seems lost, Cara bravely attacks it forcing it into the trap.

Weeks after the victory, Mando plans on leaving the planet while leaving The Child with Omera, Winta and Cara whom the latter grows angry with him for deserting them. Mando reveals to her that he cannot remove his helmet in front of others and if he did he would never be able to put it on again as that is “The Way” of his tribe. While talking with Omera who almost removes his helmet, a bounty hunter accents on them using a fob to track The Child and Cara races to the rescue killing the hunter before they can get the upper hand. This altercation prompts Mando to change his mind and he leaves the planet with The Child in tow once again.

Each episode of the series is its own standalone story arc with the main plot of The Child keeping it all wrapped together. This type of series reminds me of the glorious days of the 80’s when series delivered weekly episodes that were like their one little movies for that week. It’s refreshing to know that we won’t have to follow a marathon of 20 plus episodes with a plot that is heavy handed. We know that there is more to the story, but the way it’s choosing to get there is refreshing in its own right and I commend Jon Favreau for taking this route. I do hope that all of Disney + shows will follow this as it is a recipe for success.

The Mandalorian and his tribe are interesting to say the least and while you want to learn more about them, the aura of mystery that surrounds them is enticing to keep the viewer coming back for more each week. This is the way Star Wars should be and hopefully with the success of the series, future movies and series will all be like this.

I also love the action set pieces in each episode and with each installment, we are treated to way better than average choreography and special effects and the series has the look and feel of a feature film. It is also refreshing to note that these two latest episodes were helmed by women in Deborah Chow in ep 3 and actress turned director Bryce Dallas Howard for ep. 4. Howard who is the daughter of famed Hollywood helmer Ron Howard clearly has her daddy’s genes as she crafts one of the better episodes of the first season. It just goes to show you that like I’ve always said in the past, the ladies can play just as rough as the men.

Former MMA warrior Gina Carano finally makes her appearance as Cara Dune in ep. 4 and it was great to see that they used her fighting abilities to the fullest as she gets down and dirty with the action. A lot of her films leaving me wanting more in terms of action especially her latest Daughter Of The Wolf but here she gets to let loose with more uncompromising gusto. Even though it looks like her character is relegated to just episode 4, hopefully we will see her once again.

I really applaud Pedro Pascal for taking on the role of Mando as it is pretty thankless in regards to never seeing his face. Maybe he will remove his helmet while alone on a future episode but I love this particular plot trick as it broadens the mystery of his character for the fans.

With the success of the show, there have been rumblings of Favreau taking over the films as well and I for one am definitely onboard with that decision if it comes to fruition as Favreau is a master craftsman in his storytelling and he has created one of the most interesting Star Wars story arcs ever. This is the Boba Fett film and/or series we always wanted to see.

All in all, at the halfway point in the season, The Mandalorian has proven its weight in Beskar Steel and here’s hoping that we get many more adventures of this character for years to come. Disney has certainly stormed out of the gate with its first heavily anticipated live action show and it bodes very well for all the future series that are set to come from this universe and Marvel in the future. This might be the way to go with Star Wars but we will surely get more films after The Rise Of Skywalker but if Favreau is in control then the Force will be very strong with this one.

Until next time when I review the next two episodes, “May the Force Be With You” cause it’s high noon at the edge of the galaxy and “This is the way!”

VERDICT: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!!!

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