'The Mandalorian' Episode 4: It Takes a Village… (RECAP)

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Spoiler Alert
Disney+/Lucasfilm

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 4, “Sanctuary.”]

After last week’s breathless firefights in Empire bases and crowded city streets, The Mandalorian is taking a bit of a breather.

Sure, that relative peace is implied in the episode title, “Sanctuary.” But what’s not easily inferred from the connotation of that word is the introduction of, at least in this writer’s opinion, the show's most interesting new character with the exception of Baby Yoda.

Gina Carano’s Cara Dune meets Mando in Episode 4, and her backstory is one of the most unique we’ve seen in Disney’s Star Wars universe so far. They join forces for an unexpected quest to benefit a good cause — a mission that ends up reminding Mando of his past and complicating his future.

Introducing Cara Dune

After last week’s firefight in the city, Mando and Baby Yoda desperately need somewhere to lay low. They find such a place on Sorgan, a planet with no outposts and no population density. It’s perfect for them…. well, almost perfect. There’s just one problem: Cara Dune.

Who is Cara Dune? If you followed The Mandalorian’s press tour, you already know she’s a former rebel soldier turned mercenary. This episode clarifies that she’s hiding in the outer rim after serving the rebellion during the war and growing restless during peacetime. But for Mando, Cara’s a complication: They meet in a tavern on Sorgan and she, mistakenly believing he’s there to kill her, beats him up. That fight ends in a stalemate, and they bond over a meal in the same tavern. But they’re not friends; she tells him, “Unless you want to go another round, one of us is going to have to move on, and I was here first.”

A New Mission

So, Mando’s brilliant plan is tarnished. But before he can take off in search of a new place to slip the Empire’s noose, he’s enlisted in a group of villagers’ fight against a band of raiders. (In the opening of the episode, we see these villagers — well, mostly a woman named Omera — fleeing from the baddies as their home is decimated). They don’t have much money, but in return for his services, the people offer him the chance to lay low on their farm in “the middle of nowhere” for a while. That sounds great to Mando.

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To help him in his mission, Mando gets Cara involved. When they go to scout the woods for the raiders, they figure out the band has an AT-ST, which makes things quite a bit trickier. “This is more than I signed up for,” Cara says. When they return to the village after scouting the woods, Cara tells them they have to leave; she’s seen AT-ST’s take out squadrons of trained soldiers. Mando counters her by saying they can show the villagers how to fight.

Cara the Destroyer

What follows is a funny training montage of the peaceful farmers becoming acquainted with the use of sharpened sticks and blasters (some of them don’t even know to follow Arya Stark’s basic tenet of fighting: Stick ‘em with the pointy end). Their plan is for Mando and Cara to attack the raiders’ base, and then they’ll lure the AT-ST into the ponds on the outer edges of the village. The machine, when it steps into the ponds, would short-circuit. That’ll put the raiders on the defensive, and with a little good luck and a lot of good fighting, they’ll get them to retreat.

Of course, the actual operation doesn’t go so smoothly.

Mando and Cara’s attack on the base goes somewhat seamlessly, but when the AT-ST arrives at the village, it won’t step into the water. Cara solves this problem by taking Mando’s vaporizer and firing at the thing from inside the pond, which does eventually get it to take that fateful step — which fizzles it out. The raiders then retreat, and the village is saved. Hooray!

The Importance of the Helmet

From there, it seems a tiny time jump occurs. Mando, Baby Yoda and Cara appear to have been staying with the villagers for a few months, and it’s the perfect place for the child. Mando knows it, Omera knows it, Cara knows it. But there’s a snag with that plan: Mando’s helmet.

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For the most part, audiences are enjoying the first episode.

Okay, his helmet isn’t literally keeping him from settling down. But throughout the episode, the importance of a Mandalorian’s helmet is discussed; Mando reveals to Omera that he hasn’t shown his face to another person since he was very young, when the Mandalorians took him in after his parents were killed. Cara asks him what would happen if someone saw him without his helmet on, and he tells her he “couldn’t put it back on again.” That sounds like an okay deal to Cara, who encourages him to take the helmet off, settle down and raise Baby Yoda with Omera in her village. But Mando feels the weight of his duty to his people and their religion, and that makes it impossible for him to live a villager life.

The Mandalorian

Until Our Paths Cross

And so, Mando decides he can’t stay with Omera. But Baby Yoda can, and he realizes the child would be much happier in the village than he would in spaceships and seedy taverns and wherever else Mando would have to take him to keep him safe. Omera wants Mando to stay, too, and he almost allows her to remove his helmet before he stops her. She understands his inability to remain with their people, and she promises to look after Baby Yoda as one of her own.

Except… Baby Yoda won’t be staying with the villagers, either. Just as Omera makes her promise, a gunshot rings out: Cara has killed a bounty hunter who, based on his tracking fob, was after the child. Mando and Yoda are then forced to move on, and they say goodbye to the villagers and to Cara. “Till our paths cross again,” she tells him, and he repeats it back: “Till our paths cross.”

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Other Observations

  • I’m still upset about the absence of the Taika Waiti-voiced droid, so if this is the last we’re seeing of Cara Dune this season, I’ll be crestfallen. She’s easily my favorite of the new characters, largely because her motivation is unique (have we ever seen a good guy turn into a bounty hunter not for some noble cause, but just because they missed fighting?). I really hope she shows up in the next episodes.
  • On the other hand, The Mandalorian could just be 30+ minutes of Baby Yoda messing with Mando’s ship and Mando telling him to stop it and that’d be perfect to me. I’d watch it.
  • I also wonder if that’s the last we’re seeing of Sorgan, and Omera. Omera clearly knew her way around a blaster, and no one explained why that AT-ST was on a planet in the middle of nowhere. We might never get Omera’s backstory, but at this point, it’s equally likely she might show up again.

The Mandalorian, Fridays, Disney+