Who would’ve ever thought The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) would make his way to Mos Eisley?
The first episode of the show not written by creator Jon Favreau took us to the first Star Wars world and it’s … quite a different place. Without the Hutts or the Empire, Mos Eisley seems a sleepier town. The port is nowhere near as bustling as it was in the original film — in either its original or Special Edition forms — and droids now run the cantina near the docking bays. Presumably, the wretchedness has receded as well, but bounty hunters still congregate in the starport; making it a place The Mandalorian visits as only a last resort.
As we’re said before, the series often feels like a big-budget fan film series. And in this case, writer-director Dave Filoni (of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels fame) has utilized one of the great go-to fan film ideas: revisiting a setting long after the war has passed. In doing so, he managed to breath new life into Mos Eisley, a place not visited since The Star Wars Holiday Special. And starting with docking bay worker Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris), he used Tatooine in a new way.
Finding work with a green bounty hunter (Jake Cannavale) unaware of his fugitive status, The Mandalorian sets out across the Dune Sea to find Fennec Shand (Ming Na Wen), a notorious crime syndicate assassin with a big bounty in the mid-rim territories. If the rookie brings her in, he will have a place in the Bounty Hunter Guild; which is more important to him than the price on Fennec’s head. But considering she worked for groups like the Hutts and Black Sun, she is no easy prey.
In finding her, we get to see some time-honored elements of Tatooine in a new ways. The Tusken Raiders make their traditional appearance — terrifying a young man using bi-nocs — but we immediately see it is possible to communicate with them if one knows ASL (or its space equivalent). We also see a dewback, but that’s part of Fennec’s diversion.
As a character, Fennec is pretty fierce and, presumably, another character we will see again as the Imperial Remnant’s search for the asset intensifies. We also get the impression her way with words usually works as well as her ability with a blaster, even if it failed her here. But we were left wondering why she has a bounty. Is it the New Republic or one of the syndicates looking for her?
Meanwhile, we couldn’t help but notice the key shot of The Mandalorian on the dewback was a direct call back to an Star Wars trading card image from long ago.
While a seemingly insane thing to do, the visit to Tatooine worked out well for the show. It proved you can go back to familiar locales, honor their meaning, and fit them into new stories without feeling too much like an echo of the past. Then again, Filoni has been doing that for years.
As satisfying as each episode of The Mandalorian proves to be, we are left with one big question about the overall plot: where can The Mandalorian take the asset? With only three episodes left in its first season, it seems the pair will find no peace across the galaxy.
The Mandalorian streams Fridays on Disney+.