[The following contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Mandalorian. Read at your own risk.]
On the interplanetary road to who-knows-where, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is caught in the laserfire of a quip-plagiarizing bounty hunter. The last time we saw Mando, he was fleeing Sorgan with Baby Yoda. He had just smashed the tracking fob of another bounty hunter (now a mess of singed flesh) pursuing his infantile cargo.
We can't quite explain how all these fob shenanigans work or how this new bounty hunter ship was able to find the Razor Crest. In the past it seemed that the fob would only pick up a signal when near the target. Was this guy just randomly drifting through space when his fob activated and he found Mando? Was he tipped off by the late Kubaz bounty hunter from the previous episode? Before these questions can be answered, he becomes space dust.
Now stranded in space, Mando performs a ballet of flipping a bunch of random switches (Baby Yoda sits out the one time his skills would come in handy). This jumpstarts the Razor Crest enough for him to pilot it to the nearest planet. And wouldn't you believe it, that planet happens to be familiar old Tatooine.
In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Queen Amidala's ship was forced to land on Tatooine after the Trade Federation damaged its hyperdrive. Tatooine is like that one pit-stop you have to hit right before you cruise into the desert, lest you run out of gas and have to start waving down cars with dubious-looking drivers.
Your engine is overheated and you're stranded on the shoulder. Your sweaty brow has begun to attract flies. You've eaten all your leftover beef jerky and it's starting to give you the runs. Mom warned not to crank the AC in this kind of heat, but shouldn't that actually cool the engine down, you wonder. Suddenly, the only car you've seen for an hour appears on the horizon. You frantically put your shirt back on and rush out into the street, waving your arms like a madman. The truck pulls over and you notice they've got three unique license plates on the front of the car. You are too desperate to heed the warning signs.
There's a leaky cooler in the back seat and the driver asks for a pint of your blood in exchange for safe passage and you really have no other option. You hop in and the needle looks clean enough. As things start to go hazy, all you can think about is how you shouldn't have ignored the "Last Gas for 120 Miles" signs. Your mother was right all along: Your stubbornness would land you in hot water.
In our recap of Episode 2, we speculated that the planet that Mando was exploring was Tatooine. We realized we were wrong by Episode 3. But, now that we are... well... actually on Tatooine, it bears repeating:
"In the original Star Wars, Luke established Tatooine's remote geography: 'If there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from.' Now, Tatooine is more like an airport, the kind of place where sometimes you just you randomly run into your 3rd grade teacher."
Mando has a lot to learn about caring for babies, particularly babies that people with guns want to kill. Last episode he tried to get Baby Yoda to stay on the ship but forgot to shut the door. He learned his lesson in this episode enough to shut the door, but forgot to lock it! That lands Baby Yoda in the hands of Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris), who sees dollar signs in Baby Yoda's big eyes. (Everybody wants to make a quick buck off Baby Yoda — except Disney, apparently, who aren't making plush dolls fast enough!) She's not really the "call Child Protective Services" type — she's more the "drag a corpse into the canyon" type.
Last episode paid homage to Akira Kurosawa's legendary cinematic touchstone The Seven Samurai. This episode re-introduces a familiar group of three DUM-series Pit Droids from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, themselves paying homage to the classic cinematic touchstone The Three Stooges.
This week's episode might give us a glimpse into a closely guarded secret of The Rise of Skywalker. Kevin Smith, filmmaker and die-hard Star Wars fan, visited Pinewood Studios as a guest of J.J. Abrams during the shooting of The Rise of Skywalker. He told IGN that crews teased one particular set that would blow his mind: "They kept telling me I should see the set." According to Smith, Abrams shooed him away: "You don't want this spoiled. You want to be in a theater when this happens. Trust me."
Fans have been speculating that this hyped set could be a nostalgic location from a previous film. Well, after this week's episode we have a hunch: What if the mystery set is a re-creation of the original Mos Eisley Cantina — the very same set we see in this week's episode? If so, it would make sense that Lucasfilm would want to reuse such an iconic set to maximize the production value for the (relatively) low budget of The Mandalorian. Although the two productions did have overlapping production schedules, their home studios were on different sides of the pond, so the jury's still out on whether this kind of resource sharing is practical. Whatever the spoilerific mystery set turns out to be, it is supposedly the final shot of The Rise of Skywalker. If we turn out to be right in two weeks, we are very sorry we ruined the last moment of the entire saga for you.
Either way, the reveal of the Cantina, as established by an identical exterior shot from Star Wars: A New Hope, turned on the nostalgia faucets. While so many elements of this show are copy-pasted without any new context, it was curious to see what the fall of the Empire had done to this familiar locale.
Turns out the "no droids" policy was the first thing to fall, as the bar is now being tended by two EV-series droids, last seen torturing fellow droids in Jabba's Palace. An R5 droid is seen rolling up to the bar, probably about to order a spotchka. Is it just us or were those bartenders eyeing him with devilish intent?
Remember how in the original Star Wars, when Luke was looking through binoculars at Tusken Raiders and banthas in the distance, and then suddenly Tusken Raiders popped up right in front of him? If you remember that, you must love seeing the same thing happen again! Funny how they can sneak up on you. This episode finally reveals that teleporting to binocular-using people is actually the Sand People's secret power. Turns out all they wanted was some binoculars!
We never really learn much about Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), except that she's an assassin with a bounty on her finely coiffed head. Yes, her name is based on a fennec fox, creatures known for their Yoda-like ears. But mainly, she just exists to prompt the Mandalorian to quote lines from Star Wars: "She's no good to us dead," "She's got the high ground," etc. She dies unceremoniously.
Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) wanted his name to be legendary. Close your eyes, count to three, and try to remember his name. Can't do it, can you? Toro's eminently punchable face perfectly sets up the most satisfying death yet in the series. Thank the Maker we've seen the last of him.
The episode ends with an exciting tease — a cape and a pair of mysterious boots come upon Fennec's body, accompanied by the sounds of a scanner and jangling metal (perhaps ingots of Beskar). This could be anyone — Boba Fett was last seen on Tatooine! Maybe Dr. Aphra from the comics is ready to make her live-action debut in a cape? What's the cantina's droid-racist former bartender up to these days?
But let's be real: It's Greef Carga (Carl Weathers). It exactly matches his costume from Episode 3, and if the boot fits...
Previously on The Mandalorian...
New episodes of The Mandalorian are available Fridays on Disney+.