Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian chapter five recap: The Gunslinger

Scene from Disney+ series THE MANDALORIAN.
Scene from Disney+ series THE MANDALORIAN. /

Four episodes in and we were all commending The Mandalorian for being one of the most accomplished Star Wars properties on screen. Were we too quick to judge?

The Mandalorian had hoped to find a peaceful system to leave Baby Yoda on, but his dream was shattered when a bounty hunter almost killed the Child. Back on the run, Mando ends up in a dogfight with another hunter at the start of episode five. He uses his wits to destroy the other ship – thereby killing the bounty hunter in overly dramatic fashion – but Mando’s ship gets hit too. To repair it, Mando lands on Tatooine.

I Need a Job

The showrunners of The Mandalorian accurately recreate the Tatooine that we’ve known since the first Star Wars film, down to the look of the hanger that Mando lands in. He meets Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) and asks her to complete the repairs on his ship. Unfortunately, Mando doesn’t have enough Imperial credits to pay her. Reluctantly, he leaves the Child on the ship, warning Motto and her Pit Droids (as seen in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace) to stay away from his ship.

Mando needn’t have bothered warning them though – the Child wakes up and exits the ship. Motto promises to look after him and charge Mando extra for the work. The old woman who instinctively has better maternal instincts to nurture a baby is such a boring trope. Mando has proven himself to be caring and protective. Suddenly he’s being written as an absentee father who knows nothing about bringing up a child. It undoes the work that was done by the previous episode.

More. Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian chapter four recap: Sanctuary. light

Mando heads to Mos Eisley and fans will be giddy at the familiar sights around him. One shocking image though is that of stormtrooper helmets on spikes. Talk about sending a message! Mando enters the famous cantina where we first met the lovable scoundrel Han Solo. The fall of the Empire has hit them hard; the usually packed cantina has a scant few customers and now they’re not only letting droids in, but the droids are running the bar! How times have changed. Mando asks the droid bartender for a job, but hunters aren’t allowed to work on Tatooine. Mando says he’ll take any job, but the droid leaves him high and dry. But luck is on Mando’s side today, or is it?

Beware of Scoundrels

Jake Cannavale is Toro Calican in The Mandalorian
Chapter 5. Jake Cannavale is Toro Calican is The Mandalorian in THE MANDALORIAN, exclusively on Disney+ /

Sitting in the chair where Han famously shot Greedo, is Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale), a bounty hunter on his first assignment. He’s hoping to make it into the Guild, but the task ahead of him is seemingly impossible.

He’s after an assassin named Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), a notorious figure that leaves even Mando quaking in his boots. Toro agrees to offer Mando the entire bounty in exchange for capturing Shand. Calican wants the creds to get into the Guild. It appears the Guild has purposely given him this job; do they want him dead?

Mando agrees to the trade and asks for two speeders as well as the tracking fob to Shand. Calican is surprisingly smart – he smashes the fob so that Mando can’t swindle him. Luckily, he remembers where beyond the Dune Sea Shand is located.

The trouble with Tatooine is the natives, including the Tusken Raiders. They don’t take kindly to trespassers, so when Mando spots some he offers to bargain for passage. They’re easy to negotiate within this episode; all they want is Calican’s new binoculars.

The Gunslinger

Mando and Calican are interrupted once again, this time by a Dewback dragging its rider along the sand. Mando approaches the creature to investigate and finds a tracking fob on the dead rider. It is beeping furiously which means Shand is nearby.

Mando’s instincts are correct. Shand has a sniper rifle and she has killer aim. If it wasn’t for Mando’s new beskar armor, he would be a dead man. Knowing that they are no match for an elite assassin like Shand, Mando decides to wait till sundown to go on the offensive.

His plan is for the two bounty hunters to ride as fast as they can towards Shand, while distracting her with bright flashes. She can’t shoot straight if she’s temporarily disorientated. It’s a solid plan only because Shand is written poorly.

Ming-Na Wen is Fennec Shand in THE MANDALORIAN,
Jake Cannavale is Toro Calican and Ming-Na Wen is Fennec Shand in THE MANDALORIAN, exclusively on Disney+ /

Why would a former assassin wait for the bounty hunters? Her life is on the line, she’s not going to play by the rules. Even if she did, does it make sense for Shand to remain still behind her rifle while the bounty hunters are gaining on her? Where’s her getaway vehicle? She’s in the middle of the desert, she obviously got here somehow.

Infuriatingly, Calican and Mando capture Shand, but she destroyed one of their speeders so they can’t leave yet. Mando requests Calican to retrieve the Dewback, but once again Calican is cleverer than he looks. He refuses to leave his bounty and their only ride with Mando, so Mando leaves.


At sunrise, Shand plays her hand. She recognized Mando as the rogue bounty hunter who shot up the Guild outpost on Nevarro and stole a high value target (as seen in the third episode of The Mandalorian). Shand suggests to Calican that if he brings Mando and the Child, the Guild will welcome him. All Calican needs to do is set Shand free and let her get to her rendezvous in Mos Espa.

Calican looks like he’s falling into Shand’s trap, but at the last minute he shoots her instead. He saw the Child at the hanger, so he knows where to go and what to do. Calican doesn’t need Shand.

Mando reappears to find Shand dead and rushes back to the hanger as fast as he can on a Dewback. Calican has taken Motto and the Child captive. He orders Motto to cuff Mando, but Mando’s got another flash up his sleeve. He blasts it at Calican and while he’s disorientated, Mando shoots him. While the Child is ok, why would any right-thinking person shoot the person who’s holding a child? Isn’t that dangerous? The Child could easily have got hurt, and everything Mando has done so far has been to ensure the Child’s safety. The writing in the episode is so confusing!

With the Child safe, Mando steals Calican’s money and gives it to Motto. As Mando flies away, a mysterious caped figure wearing a Mandalorian suit walks up to Shand’s body. Who is this person (could it be Boba Fett, after surviving the Pit of Carkoon? And does this mean Shand isn’t really dead?

Ming-Na Wen makes her debut on The Mandalorian, but the fifth episode is sluggish and the casting choices are poor. This episode was heavy on homage, just like the Dave Filoni-directed, but with the change in writing duties in the episode, it seems the quality of the show has really suffered. His pacing is completely off, and there’s too much weight put on contrived character moments rather than actual character development. Mando talks too much, and most of the characters make ridiculously poor decisions. The only character with any smarts was Calican, but he was played with little charisma by Cannavale. I can’t help but wonder what this episode would have looked like if the roles had been swapped between the three supporting cast members in this episode – how would Cannavale have handled the caring but mercenary Peli Motto; Sedaris as the grizzled assassin Shand and Wen stepping into the role of a conniving bounty hunter?

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I’m not ready to write off the show yet, but ‘The Gunslinger’ proves that behind-the-scenes decisions do, in fact, have a major impact on the final product. Despite some people’s arguments to the contrary, greater diversity off-camera may have helped this episode veer away from tired tropes.