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‘Star Wars: The Mandalorian’ episode 5 review: Back to the beginning

The latest episode of ‘The Mandalorian’ brings us back to the beginning of ‘Star Wars’

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A photo of the Mandalorian on a speeder bike in episode five, “The Gunslinger.”

A photo of the Mandalorian on a speeder bike in episode 5, “The Gunslinger.”


Warning: Spoilers for “The Mandalorian” episodes one to five below.

“The Mandalorian” brought Star Wars fans back to the beginning of the franchise with its latest episode, which could mean an epic turn of events is on the way.

The latest episode — called, simply, “The Gunslinger” — finds our hero Mando chased down by a fellow bounty hunter. His ship is wrecked. He lands on a foreign desert planet called Tatooine for repairs. While there, he runs into a young bounty hunter, who wants to seek out a deadly assassin to build a reputation. Mando agrees to help. So begins this week’s adventure.

The pattern for the episodes of “The Mandalorian” are rather formulaic. Mando and young Baby Yoda arrive on a planet. They seek refuge. They’re called to do a job. They execute the job. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail. Sometimes it leads to disastrous consequences.

The same can be said for this recent episode. Without going to deep into spoilers, Mando chases down a target, battles said target and the results speak for themselves. After it’s over, he’s off again to another planet to seek out his next bit of work.

But the latest episode did something that the show has done in snippets — it brought us closer to Star Wars lore. Specifically, “The Gunslinger” episode brought us back to the beginning of the Star Wars franchise.

Mando lands on Tatooine, a planet that’s become famous in the Star Wars franchise as home to Luke Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker. It’s the first planet we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe, too.

Funny enough, director Dave Filoni, who has worked on “Star Wars Rebels” and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” shot the scene of Mando traveling to Tatooine at the same angle as what we see in “A New Hope.”

It’s a classic callback. And it’s surely not the only one.

We see multiple DUM-series pit droids in the episode. These droids briefly appears in the prequel series and in special edition versions of the original trilogy.

Don’t forget about the banthas and the Tusken Raiders who appear in the show, too.

Seriously. We get some old school Star Wars nostalgia in this episode, which will make you immediately remember the days of “A New Hope.”

And the cliffhanger ending indicates more of that nostalgia may be on the way. There’s a brief appearance of a foot that some social media claim to be Boba Fett. Talk about throwback.

All of this is to say that “The Gunslinger” episodes wraps us right back into the Star Wars lore that we fell in love with. The episode comes at a timely moment with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” set to open and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge launching its new ride at Walt Disney World.

This is the sort of episode that will immerse new fans into the universe and bring old fans back to the classic show.

References to older characters and more nostalgic moments may be a play for the heart strings and attention spans of the viewers. It may be a cheap ploy. But it’s OK. It works well. It’s definitely better to have older references to the beginning of the project than put you somewhere unfamiliar.

And that shows the power of “The Mandalorian.” The show can transport us to an unexplored planet and new characters. It can bring us back down to the worlds we already know.

It can teach us that a good story always looks forward and back, teaching lessons along the way.