Review- The Mandalorian Chapters 5 and 6
The Mandalorian continues to face new obstacles each week, with new adventures and characters constantly being introduced, is it all enough?
We are over the half-way point in the series and I have to say, I wasn't a big fan of these episodes...
Chapter Five which was released on the 10th of April and Chapter Six on the 17th, both had high expectations as the series has previously gone from strength to strength. Since its inception, the show has prioritised action and various different situations, something I feel is starting to wear thin.
Chapter Five gets off to a promising start with a fun continuation of The Mandalorian as a wanted man. We get a small space fight that mixes things up after which Mando pulls off a stereotypical "that's my line" upon defeating his enemy. From here we see our lead character make his way to a very familiar location.
Yes for the first time in the series we are visiting a planet seen in the movies. That planet being Tattooine.
It continues to show Jon Favreau's love for A New Hope, while also sticking to the desert western aesthetic.
We are soon introduced to Peli Motto, played by Amy Sedaris, who manages a landing bay at Mos Eisley (the location famously referred to as a wretched hive of scum and villainy by Ben Kenobi).
As a Star Wars fan, it's hard not to love the attention to detail. The landing bay, the pit droids, the classic cantina, all of it makes you feel like you are on the exact same planet, and barely anything has changed. But my biggest gripe with this episode comes at the introduction of a wannabe bounty hunter named Toro Calican.
As evident in the image above, we are sold this character as a wannabe Han Solo, but by comparing him to the likes of Harrison Ford or Alden Ehrenreich is all the more damaging to Jake Cannavale who plays Calacan.
While that persona of a failed smuggler might be the intention of the creators, especially considering his later actions, his performance was a struggle to get on board with. Never pulling off good or evil, he's just another smug, unlikable person who comes across as forced. It leaves us wondering why we care about his and Mando's entire endeavour?
Calican seems intent on playing up the camaraderie between him and Mando, but with a faceless character as his opposite, the dynamic of the cold, hardened warrior, vs the cocky rookie, just doesn't play out as it should.
The episode eventually becomes a hunt for a notorious assassin named Fennec Shand, who is played by Disney alumni Ming-Na Wen. Unfortunately, this is another example of the show's struggle to utilise its talent. Not only do we already know Wen for her role as another badass character in ABC's Agents of Shield, but we get very little time in the story to justify why she's such a notorious assassin.
Furthermore, after an episode that diverted its story for a one-off mission, it's even more difficult to care about anything here when it doesn't add to the overall narrative. The episode's conclusion is satisfying enough, but after some lacklustre action, Chapter Five certainly comes off as the weakest so far, with Amy Sedaris and Mos Eisley being the only real strengths.
Onto Chapter Six, and we are once again introduced to the adventure of the week. Now while this structure doesn't bother me, the concept seems to be at war with the dark on-going story the series is also trying to pull off.
We are introduced to a crew of mercenaries at a spaceport who take on specific dangerous missions. The latest requires Mando's help particularly because his ship The Razor Crest can go undetected on New Republic scanners.
The variety of aliens and ongoing dedication to Star Wars lore is as always appreciated. We are placed in new locations, with glimpses of how The New Republic operate after the fall of The Empire.
The mission is to break out a prisoner, with the prison ship working well as an isolated location. The droids aboard once again offer us a new type of enemy, with a design that is reminiscent to those seen in The Old Republic video games.
The cast of characters that join Mando are certainly fun and charismatic, with Bill Burr especially giving a great performance. But my main struggle is still the lack of relation or attachment to anyone on screen.
The Twi'lek character is just plain annoying, brandishing a small knife like she's a threat compared to the walking swiss army knife that is The Mandalorian. She's even played by Natalia Tena, who I love, but here just seems to be cast in order to replicate her brutish character in Game of Thrones (she's also given fangs for some reason).
The bulk for the mission Burg, and the brains Zero, are again fun, but simply distracting due to their portrayals by overly recognisable actors Clancy Brown and Richard Ayoade.
The episode ends up becoming a lockdown situation, in which the characters must all fight their way out against Mando, which ultimately disappoints because of the PG rating.
While I've seen a lot of praise given to this episode, perhaps there is something I'm missing? I simply don't feel connected to the story, especially when handed silly-looking prisoners, which look way better in the concept art shown during the end credits.
The constant structure of Mando flying somewhere, taking on a mission, then getting double-crossed, is getting pretty old.
As I previously mentioned, Bill Burr gives a good performance, but I'm never sold on his character as an elite killer, especially when he can't take down three or four droids early in the story. There's no time to make the character impressive, we're just shown he has a blaster on his back as if that elevates him somehow.
The cameos and final twist certainly made me smile, but to only have two reoccurring characters week on week- one of which is a puppet who doesn't speak, and the other a warrior without a face, it makes it difficult to read. It's an unengaging story, where every other character is just a stereotypical double-crosser, with no time or reason to enjoy or even disagree with their actions.
Hopefully, The Mandalorian's final two episodes can pull it out of the bag, to rescue a so far mixed run.