THE MANDALORIAN S01E04 “Chapter 4” review

The Mandalorian (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The Mandalorian airs new episodes weekly via the Disney+ streaming service and comes to the UK in March 2020.

Synopsis

The Mandalorian teams up with an ex-soldier to protect a village from raiders.

Review

I’ve complained about The Mandalorian (episodes 1-2, here), respected it’s attempt to be original (episode 3, here) and now I can finally say I am enjoying it with episode four.

What sets “Chapter 4” apart from its predecessors, above all else, is a measured attempt to tell a story within its runtime. It came as no surprise that including credits, this episode ran to forty-one minutes. It’s a successful attempt to tell a story in a format more familiar to network television.

In comparison to the previous, shorter episodes there’s a defined three-act structure and events within the narrative flow much more naturally.

The series still seems to be struggling with its reason for existence. Though the first three episodes feel heavily connected everything still feels like a quests in a long-running computer game. Let me explain: episode one was the first level and it set the overall story; episode two took us on a side quest to collect pieces to repair our ship, episode three took us back to the main story and now in episode four we’re roaming the galaxy in search of the next point-scoring mission.

The problem I still have with The Mandalorian isn’t the format, it’s the lack of a strong connective tissue to bring all the disparate elements together. I still feel like we’re telling stories for the sake of television and not because they’re a worthwhile story to tell. That being said it is much improved this week.

Putting those feelings aside, “Chapter 4” is bolstered by an impressively inflated runtime. It allows Jon Favreau and guest director Bryce Dallas Howard to craft a much more well rounded story with adequate time to develop its characters, setting and to also give them a satisfying conclusion.

“Chapter 4” is easily the most dialogue heavy episode of the season to-date. Introducing Gina Carao’s Cara Dune and Julia Jones as Omera helps to round out the world as well as give further insight in to Pedro Pascal’s Mando.

It was clear from the cold opening that “Chapter 4” was going to be an entirely different entity. It felt fresh and took us to uncharted territory as well as setting up the conflict for later in the episode. In under a minute Favreau and Howard are able to make us care for Omera and her people

The villagers, in general, become an excellent source of story which, momentarily, take the focus from Mando and Baby Yoda. Their plight connects well with Mando and Cara’s stories even if their ultimate goals don’t align.

Carao is a breath of fresh air for the series. Firstly, it’s excellent to see a female character in the vein of Felicity Jones in Rogue One. She’s a strong female with no romantic ties to any of the male characters on the show. She can hold her own in battle and in true Star Wars style her motivations are unclear.

Given that she was billed as a major player in the cast it does remain to be seen how the character will return. It seems there may be a second chance meeting down the line.

Both Cara and Omera are able to elicit snippets of history from Mando. We learn more about The Guild and why Mando never removes his helmet but also about what motivates his character.

The episode’s flirtation with a love interest feels very out of left field. I felt sure throughout that nothing would happen but it was intriguing to see that Mando was tempted. Fav real is slowly unravelling the emotional complexity of Pascal’s character and it’s beginning to feel compelling.

At designated points within the episode the story does fall back on its reliance on the cuteness of Baby Yoda. Whilst he is undeniably cute, scenes like his constant disruption to flying the ship will begin to grate very soon. What did work, however, were the moments when he interacted with the children in the village.

I also understand Mando’s protective feelings towards the child. But twice now the story has focussed on him leaving the child behind. Firstly with the Empire before he changed his mind and now with the villagers to keep him safe… before changing his mind.

It felt a little repetitive and was a major drawback in an episode which really pushed the series forwards.

I’m leaving an ATAT sized hole in this review so as to not give too many spoilers. But the third act of “Chapter 4” roots the series in classic Star Wars lore without using it as a crutch. IT’s the best conflict we’ve seen to-date on the series and is certainly encouraging for what this production team are capable of.

Verdict

The Mandalorian nears perfection with an episode which truly embraces its roots. “Chapter 4” evokes classic Star Wars adventures alongside some Rogue One sensibilities within an original story-of-the-week format.

9/10

Written by Iron Man‘s Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog and Nick Nolte. The series debuts new episodes weekly on Disney+.


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About Neil Vagg 4080 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG