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‘The Mandalorian’ episode four review: Baby Yoda meets ‘The Magnificent Seven’ in the Star Wars show’s weakest episode so far

*Spoiler warning*

Even bounty hunters have to put their feet up sometimes. So too, it seems, do the creators of The Mandalorian – landing three pitch-perfect episodes before giving us one that’s basically just fine. Episode four has its moments of greatness, and it’s nice to see the show taking time to catch its breath, but it feels like filler compared to the opening 90 minutes.

The last time we saw Mando and Baby Yoda they were on the run from everyone. Needing somewhere to lay low for a few months, Mando sets his sights on Sorgan, a rural backwater full of fish farmers where nothing ever happens. Except this is Star Wars, and there are stories to be told in even the dullest part of the galaxy – especially when they let director Bryce Dallas Howard lean even further into the show’s Western theme by restaging The Magnificent Seven.

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It turns out the local fish farmers have been under attack from a gang of Klatooinian raiders (from the planet Klatooine), and they’ve been waiting for someone like Mando to show up and save them for years. Mando gets noticed as soon as he lands, talking himself into a barroom brawl with ex-Rebel shock-trooper-turned-mercenary Cara Dune (Gina Carano – Deadpool) and the desperate farmers convince both of them to help save their village.

Cue the obligatory training montage as the yokels learn to shoot saucepans and swing the right end of a pointy stick – followed by a short, fun battle that’s almost entirely won by the only two people who actually know what they’re doing.

The Mandalorian episode 1
Pedro Pascal in ‘The Mandalorian’. Credit: Lucasfilm

There’s nothing wrong with any of this, and Howard makes the action as swashbuckling as possible, but it feels slightly cheap compared to everything else we’ve seen so far. Out in the open, in the middle of an empty green field, The Mandalorian loses the dark and dusty texture that made the first three episodes feel so cinematic. Stripped of the bigger, weightier, dirtier cloak of mythology in a story that could have been plucked from any episode of Samurai Jack (or, to be meaner, Star Trek: The Next Generation), it doesn’t quite feel grand enough for Star Wars.

Then again, it does have a pretty awesome AT-ST (the powerful robot chicken tanks from Return of the Jedi) battle scene. Staging the fight at night, Howard gives us some of the best Imperial Scout Walker action since the original trilogy, and Mando’s big boss battle looks pretty stunning in the smoky twilight.

Return of the Jedi
AT-ST walker in ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’. Credit: Lucasfilm

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We also get a few new characters to care about. Cara seems relatively one-dimensional at the moment (not helped by Carano’s awkward performance), but she could become interesting if she gets a bit more to do. Omera (Julia Jones from Westworld) is a better addition, if only because she almost gets through to Mando – tempting him with a quiet life on the farm, raising a family, living in peace, and watching Baby Yoda swallow frogs.

Drawn to the idea of giving up the chase, Mando almost takes his helmet off (he even orders a bowl of soup at one point – surely he doesn’t eat everything with a straw?) but fate comes calling again at just the wrong moment. A lone bounty hunter fires a potshot at Baby Yoda and Mando realises that he needs to keep on running – just as we realise that we’re probably always going to have to take it on trust that Pedro Pascal is actually under that helmet. The Client, The Guild and the rest of the scum of the universe have caught up with Mando again. The sooner he gets back on the road the better… and the sooner the show gets back to feeling like Star Wars again.

‘The Mandalorian’ arrives on Disney+ in the UK in March 2020

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