Baby Yoda continues his journey across the Star Wars universe in the fourth installment of Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian: this new episode finds the adorable internet celebrity settling into a seemingly tranquil life on the planet Sorgan, far from the reach of the Imperial warlords who want to kill or clone him. Oh yeah, and the actual Mandalorian is there with him too. It’s becoming easier and easier to forget that Pedro Pascal’s character exists, even as the show is trying harder and harder to make him relevant.
Make no mistake: Pascal is trying, he really is. But the plot, which strictly forbids him from showing emotion or even his face, is doing its level best to focus our attention on the series’ true breakout star, the one and only Baby Yoda. Not even the arrival of new characters Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Omera (Julia Jones) can turn the spotlight away from the big-eared, wide-eyed little green superstar – and Carano has been using her social media platforms avidly to try and hype up her character’s long-anticipated arrival. But to no avail! Even though Baby Yoda does little more in this episode than attempt to eat another frog, he’s still unquestionably the one thing that is keeping this show afloat.
The plot, on the other hand, is either stalled or sinking slowly. It’s possible that the throughline of this series – the remnants of the Empire trying to capture Baby Yoda – will be continued and concluded in the show’s second seasons, or even further down the line. But if not, then I have no idea how Favreau and his team of directors plan to wrap up this story now, with only four episodes left to go. Without getting into spoilers just yet, let’s just say that not much happens in Episode 4 to advance the plot. There are hints of something happening in the grand scheme beyond the machinations of our protagonists, and it all sounds pretty interesting, but we’re only being fed Baby Yoda-sized spoonfuls of information about that whole situation. For now, we’re expected to be content with this small-scale drama about a father and his adoptive son planet-hopping to avoid bounty hunters – if, somewhere along the line, we get a sudden revelation about what the Empire is up to, or whether Baby Yoda is actually Darth Vader’s secret nemesis, then that will undoubtedly be the unforeseen consequence of yet another subplot or detour.
Now, for some spoilers – if you haven’t watched the episode yet, turn back now!
Still here? Well, it’s time to talk about the subplots and detours, which are becoming The Mandalorian‘s chief hallmark. In this episode, aptly named Sanctuary, Mando and Baby Yoda make a quick stop on the planet Sorgan, where both of them have an opportunity to stretch their legs and relax before getting embroiled in a bit of casual guerrilla warfare. The tribe of turquoise-clad fisherpeople they encounter on the planet are peaceful – so they hire Mando and his unlikely ally Cara Dune to help them take down a group of…orcs?…and an Imperial AT-ST walker. The episode, directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, has strong fantasy-epic vibes, with its story of a small village hounded by strange, forest-dwelling monsters – there were multiple points at which I felt like I was watching Lord Of The Rings rather than Star Wars. Since our Mandalorian hero has proven himself to be completely incompetent on multiple occasions, it’s no surprise that he opts to train the locals to fight rather than taking on the mission by himself – but in so doing, he becomes intimate with one particular woman, the “beautiful widow” Omera, who turns out to be surprisingly (or suspiciously) adept with a laser-blaster. Of course there’s a battle, during which our real hero, Baby Yoda, is kept safely huddled in a hut with the village children while Mando, Dune and Omera lead the fight outside – though he showed himself to be strong with the Force in the second episode, we haven’t yet seen the full extent of Baby Yoda’s powers. But by Sanctuary‘s end, the battle has been won and Mando has made the not-so-surprising decision to set out once again, running from the prospect of romance, heading for an unknown destination.
So…we’re on the road again, after a possibly inconsequential diversion? Doesn’t that sound very much like the concept of Episode 2? How many more times can Mando keep playing cat-and-mouse with the forces of the Empire? Doesn’t he eventually have to say “enough is enough” and fight back? Or will he just keep running, from planet to planet, shadowing the tiny footsteps of his far cuter traveling companion? It’s all well and good that Mando and Baby Yoda are inseparable now, but neither of them are particularly talkative – couldn’t Cara Dune at least have stayed on for an episode more, just to provide some…oh, I don’t know…dialogue?
All this is not to say that I disliked the episode. I was actually quite intrigued by the premise, and the direction and acting were good. But for every episode we spend exploring alien worlds, fulfilling quests for non-playable characters and collecting points by killing low-level baddies in what feels like the Star Wars universe’s most big-budget open-world videogame, we lose an episode where we could be telling an actual story.
What did you think of the episode? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!
Episode Rating: 6/10