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Did… did the Mandalorian just find his ride-or-die? A bruiser who is aware that he’s a total mess, but hangs out with him anyway, and sneers (lovingly) at all of his terrible decisions? Is this the team up of my dreams? “Sanctuary” delivers on that and also a quaint little farming village full of blue shrimp.

 

Summary

A krill farming community on Sorgan is raided by a band of Klatooinian marauders. The Mandalorian decides that he and Baby Yoda will hide out on Sorgan for a few months since it’s a pretty quiet planet without any major ports. They arrive at a local watering hole, and the Mandalorian notices a warrior type hanging around the place who only arrived recently. When she disappears from view, he heads outside to keep an eye on her. This leads to a brawl, which ends in a stalemate, so he invites the woman for soup. Her name is Cara Dune (Gina Carano), a former Rebel shock trooper who’s just looking for a quiet place to retire. She tells him that she arrived on-world first, so he better move along.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

As the Mandalorian is prepping to leave, two farmers from the previously-attacked village find him and ask if they can pay him to defend their home. He’s not interested in the money, but decides that the village might be an ideal hiding place, and gives their money to Dune for an extra pair of hands to help him fight off the bandits. Once they arrive there, the duo realize that the raiders have an old AT-ST at their disposal and advise the villagers to move elsewhere. They refuse, eager to learn how to fight themselves. Dune and the Mandalorian come up with a plan to destabilize the Imperial walker in a ditch, and spend time teaching the villagers how to fight and shoot whatever weapons the Mandalorian has on hand.

The plan doesn’t go off without a hitch, but they do manage to defeat the marauders and destroy the walker. Baby Yoda is enjoying his time in the village, and the Mandalorian decides he should leave the kid there and move on, despite Dune’s suggestion that he stay and settle down with the widow Omera (Julia Jones) who clearly likes him and has agreed to look after his child Baby Yoda. Unfortunately, Baby Yoda’s tracker is still active, and a bounty hunter comes to kill him. Dune stops the hunter, but the Mandalorian knows that more will be coming for the kid, so he can’t stay there after all.

Commentary

Just a note before I dive in: Pedro Pascal let the Mandalorian’s name slip in an interview a couple weeks back. It’s not much of a spoiler (i.e. it’s not a prominent name in the Star Wars universe), but I haven’t been using it in case anyone wants to find out on their own. So I’m going to keep that one under wraps.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

This is my favorite episode so far, probably because we saw so much character work and the formation of a lot of great bonds. And Baby Yoda trolling the heck out of his guardian by pushing all his ship buttons. You know the Mandalorian is out of his depth when he tries to tell his charge to sit quietly in the cockpit while he checks things out, even though he still has no idea whether or not the kid can understand him.

I have been waiting for the arrival of Gina Carano, and dearly hope her character shows up later in the season because she was everything I was hoping for. Cara Dune’s role in the Rebellion wasn’t the same as Leia and company; she got to work clearing up Imperial messes all over the galaxy, a job that was probably pretty thankless and rough from the outset. She doesn’t give any indication as to why she went looking for early retirement, but it’s a safe bet that it was nothing good. The easy rapport Dune builds with the Mandalorian is both hilarious and perfectly aligned—they are of a kind. The fact that he doesn’t take her murder attempt personally proves that. That, and the fact that he actually allows her to borrow his pulse rifle to take down the AT-ST. That’s code for BFF in Mandalorian. She saved his baby from a bounty hunter and they’re getting matching necklaces now.

The flirtation going on with Omera is very sweet, particularly because our guy is dressed in head-to-toe armor and still manages to look awkward and soft every time she so much as glances at him. Has he ever flirted with anyone before? Had a crush? Dated? I’m starting to think maybe not. No wonder he’s so desperate to look cool, hanging out next to her front door with his actually-cool pal and agreeing to food “maybe later.” Slick, my dude. And this goes on for longer than we see—the Mandalorian makes mention that the fight against the marauders happened a few weeks ago by the end of the episode, so they’ve been homesteading for a while at that point. And he’s been eating alone the whole time.

Of course, the concept of “help/teach the locals to defend themselves from raiders” is a plot trope in many Westerns, and more importantly the plot to Seven Samurai by filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, whose work Star Wars has always lifted heavily from. Star Wars has dipped into this well before, in fact—The Clone Wars season two episode “Bounty Hunters” saw Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan Kenobi help four bounty hunters protect a group of farmers from pirates, in direct homage to Seven Samurai. What we get here is much the same, without the magical number seven attached.

We now have confirmation that “foundlings” of the Mandalorians do play into their concept of adoption and lack of care toward bloodlines; our guy was adopted into the fold by their people when his parents were killed, and he’s been Mandalorian ever since. What’s interesting is the conceit of never being able to put the armor back on if you take it off in front anyone (or have it removed, it would seem). That was definitely not a thing for Mandalorians before the Purge, not as far as we’ve been shown.

Here’s my guess: The idea that one can never remove their armor and remain within the culture is a part of ancient Mandalorian tradition, a set of old rules that have been reasserted in the wake of their near-extinction. This would explain a lot of things, including their reversion to idea of signets in order to establish new clans and so forth. Which is a shame, because while I understand their desire to return to a baseline of traditions in order to help rebuild the Mandalorian people, the idea that our guy has to forgo any chance of peace or family in order to remain a part of it is depressing.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Which is a large part of why he’s so desperate to offload Baby Yoda. But despite that pressing need on his part, it doesn’t change the fact the everyone around him has decided that’s his kid. Without a moment’s confusion. Dune accepts it, the villagers all accept it, Omera talks about the kid like it’s his boy and vows to adopt it if he has to abandon the little guy. (She also gets that he’s going through “new dad” jitters, and talks him down from panicking over the kid playing outside with her daughter.) It makes me deeply curious as to what the endgame of this relationship is going to be. Because even if Baby Yoda has to go off and live with more Yodas, or he needs to be hidden away to stay safe, you’ll never convince me that the Mandalorian isn’t spending the rest of his life as the kid’s fairy godfather. This is some unbreakable Force-binding nonsense.

It’s a little perplexing why our Mando hasn’t located the tracker in the kid and deactivated/removed it, though. Maybe he can’t? Maybe it’s a special procedure to get it out? Maybe that’s the plot of the next couple episodes? I was more surprised that he forgot about it after Karga straight-up told him that everyone had a tracking fob and they were all coming after the bounty right before he escaped. But then, he is my dumpster boy. Keeping it all together isn’t really his strong suit.

Things and asides:

  • We get a nice peek from the inside of the Mandalorian’s HUD, and get an idea of how the Mando tech can be used for tracking in this instance. (Here, we see its ability to pick up and isolate recent footprints.) I’ve noticed people around the internet asking if you can see out of the Mando helmet without the display, and… no. I’m speaking from personal experience. Boba Fett’s HUD was supposed to display a 360 degree view of his surroundings, so they’re not relying on the T-visor to tell them much of anything.
  • Question about the local booze, spotchka—the farmers claim to make some themselves. They farm krill, which are basically blue shrimp. The Klatooinians are drinking a blue booze that glows. Is the booze made of blue shrimp? I need to know.
  • The Klatooinians are a species that pop up in Star Wars frequently, including around Jabba’s entourage in Return of the Jedi. And yes, this is because George Lucas chose to name two species and a character in Star Wars around the phrase “Klaatu Barada Nikto” from The Day the Earth Stood Still.
  • The Good Place’s Eugene Cordero was playing the farmer Stoke in this episode, and boy was it fun to see him.
  • In regard to my theory last week about Jon Favreau doing the voice of the heavy infantry Mando, this has now been confirmed, and the character’s name is listed as “Paz Vizla”, which means he is indeed related to Pre Vizsla.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • There is a tooka on Sorgan, we get to see a realistically rendered tooka-cat, this is the best day ever. So, the weird cat thing that hisses at Baby Yoda in the cantina first premiered canonically on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and became more prominent on Star Wars: Rebels via a subspecies known as loth-cats that come from the planet Lothal. They were designed as a sort of ode to the creatures of Miyazaki films. But of course, when you render a tooka “for real” in CGI, the effect is semi-terrifying? This is my new favorite thing.

See you next week! Who knows where we’ll wind up next…

Emily Asher-Perrin is going to make friends by inviting them inside for soup from now on. You can bug him on Twitter, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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