The Mandalorian Ep. 4 – Protecting the Homestead

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Raiders threaten a peaceful village as the Mandalorian seeks safe haven in the latest episode of the Disney+ series. We have the breakdown for all you need to know! 

As always, my breakdown doesn’t hold back on any spoilers from the episode. We’re talking about it ALL, so if you want to go into the episode fresh, turn around now.

Also, be sure to check out our previous breakdowns for Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3 for everything you may have missed.

Story Basics

The title of Chapter 4 is, suitably, Sanctuary. Considering the explosive events of the previous episode, it makes sense that the Mandalorian is eager to find some sort of safe haven for the time being. After all, he not only has the Imperial Remnant to worry about, but pretty much all of the Bounty Hunter’s Guild to contend with now.

His actions in saving the child will most certainly have consequences and sanctuary is needed at the moment. Dealing with those problems, however, isn’t the main part of this episode. Instead, as the Mandalorian looks for a place to lay low for a while, he finds himself embroiled in the problems of a small village.

The Mandalorian and “the child” are drifting through space attempting to find a safe place to hunker down after escaping the the Bounty Hunter’s Guild. He comes across the planet Sorgan, a backwater world that’s out of the way with little presence in the greater galaxy. Pretty much exactly what he’s looking for.

Upon arriving, he meets up with Cara Dune (which we’ll discuss more in a little bit), who makes it clear the planet isn’t big enough for BOTH of them to hide on. As Mando prepares to leave, he’s approached by a pair of villagers, who were attacked in the episode’s intro. They wish to hire him to protect them all from the raider’s who’ve been attacking and stealing their crops.

Seeing the opportunity for a “middle-of-nowhere” place to hide, the Mandolorian enlists the aid of Cara to help him in protecting the village; offering them both a chance to find some refuge. When the raider threat turns out to be bigger than anticipated, he and Cara Dune work to train the villagers how to defend themselves, while concocting a plan to take out the AT-ST the raiders are using to terrorize them.

If the Western vibes weren’t already clear in this series, Sanctuary hammers them home. This is your classic frontier settlers need help protecting the homestead story, and it’s kind of neat to see this Star Wars twist on it.

A New Ally

The big new character in this episode is, of course, Gina Carano’s Cara Dune character. She’s been a big part of the show’s marketing since they started showing things off and Chapter 4 gives us our first intro to the character. It’s a pretty impressive intro, as she manages to put the Mandalorian himself in his place; manhandling the badass character like it’s nothing.

Turns out, she did so because she thought he was there for her as a bounty hunter with a fob. We get a little backstory here in that she was once with the Rebellion, so she isn’t a fellow Mandalorian. To be honest, I wasn’t clear on this from all the press rounds and promotional stuff. Even so, she’s still a badass. Following Endor and the downfall of the Empire, her job as a “peacekeeper” rather than front line soldier didn’t sit well.

Even so, leaving the New Republic doesn’t necessarily equate to a bounty being placed on her head, so there could clearly be more to her story we haven’t heard yet. Regardless, she’s on Sorgan for the same reason, to lay low and be out of sight.

While the episode ends with Cara and Mando parting ways, it’s clear they’ve established a kinship with one another and can call on one another if the need arises. Based on the marketing material (and the fact Gina Carano is already filming on the second season), clearly Cara Dune will likely come to the Mando’s aid fairly soon.

As introductions go, however, Cara gets an impressive one and I can’t wait to see more. The banter between her and the Mandalorian feels natural and instantly amiable. So much of their interactions feel like old buddies hanging out; sharing a commonality as “loners” that make them work so well together. Between the acting and the story, I was immediately engaged with Cara as a character and loved how they played off of one another.

The Helmet Question

Chapter 3 gave us some more Mandalorian lore to chew on. Namely, the idea that they never take off their helmets. The Armorer asks the Mandalorian if he’s ever taken off his helmet, or had it removed by another. His negative answer seems to pacify the other Mandos and reaffirms his right to be part of the clan.

Of course, the internet took off with the idea and many wondered about the practicality of NEVER taking off a helmet. Not only does this bring up many questions about hygiene, but also how they eat and even sleep. Fortunately, Chapter 4 seems to have some answers, even if they’re implied. In fact, removing the helmet seems to be part of a bigger theme in the episode.

Julia Jones’ character, Omera, bluntly asks him when the last time the Mandalorian had taken “that thing off.” Surprisingly, Mando answers that it was just yesterday. Omera clarifies by asking when the last time he took the helmet off in FRONT of someone else, which turns out to be only when he was a little kid.

The implication here is that yes, it’s OKAY for a Mandalorian to take off their helmet in private and do whatever they need to do (sleep, shave, brush teeth, etc). We even get to see this in action as Omera leaves so that he can take off his helmet and eat…even though we still don’t get to see his face.

The “laws” against Mandalorians taking off their helmets only seems to be in terms of in front of other people. Even with this, though, I have a strong feeling the admonition wouldn’t apply to those with familial ties or significant others.

Audiences get more lore/information about it when Cara asks about the helmet at the end of the episode; inquiring what would happen if it did take it off. “You can never put it back on” is an interesting reply.

The obvious implication is that a person taking off their helmet would be an outcast and no longer allowed to be part of the clan. Yet, it may have less ominous meaning as well. It could very well be a way for Mandalorians to “retire,” or as Cara says take it off and settle down for good.

What still has many fans scratching their heads, however, is what this bit of lore means in regards to previously release material. In both the Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, the Mandalorian characters are frequently seen running about without their helmets. Like, they don’t even wear them unless they’re about to do battle.

So how can they get away with it? I mean, considering Dave Filoni is part of the show, and Jon Favreau portrayed a Mando in the Clone Wars series, surely these guys haven’t forgotten what’s already been established. There could be a couple answers here:

1.) The helmet thing could be entirely clan based. We know the Mandalorians are tribal in nature and each clan has their own rules/standards. Perhaps the one we’re seeing portrayed in The Mandalorian has rules about their helmets where the others (like Sabine and her clan) do not.

2.) Something big changed during the “Great Purge.” Clearly something drastic happened to Mandalorians and the Empire from the time we last saw them in Rebels (pre-A New Hope) and now. Maybe their new way of living–in secret–has forced them to adopt this policy for further protection/anonymity.

My bet is it’s a blend of both. Perhaps the Great Purge made this particular clan adhere to the more ancient was of Mandalore. An effort to both secure their history, while surviving into the future. Either way, it was nice to get a little more depth on the helmet issue and what it means for our main character (who still hasn’t been named, though we know he has one).

Heart of Gold

Once again we get to see that there’s more to the Mandalorian than his bravado would lead us to believe. It’s clear that he genuinely wants what’s best for the child, but the extent of his moral code comes into even more focus with Sanctuary.

Again, we see him play the aloof tough guy, only agreeing to help the villagers once he realizes it’s an opportunity for a place to hideout. Once he arrives, however, and sees the plight of the villagers and how happy the child seems to be there, his heart opens up a bit. Even as the true threat of the Raiders comes into focus (the armored walker), he’s the one who suggests teaching them how to fight.

As with his decision to rescue the child and break the Bounty Hunter’s code, this all seems to tie back to his own childhood as a foundling. Being orphaned and subsequently taken in by the Mandalorians is, obviously, forms a major aspect of his personality and morals. In the villagers, he sees the sense of community and pride not unlike what he’s found with his clan.

Much as he likes to portray himself as a lone wolf, hard ass, the Mandolaorian has a fierce loyalty to those he perceives as part of his “pack.” It was evident in his gratitude towards Kuiil, his protection of the child, and now the strong trust he shows in Cara (you think he’d let anyone else touch his special weapon?). It’s an engaging aspect of his character and I love seeing it shine through in each episode. It makes him far more interesting without taking away from his more badass moments.

Omera brings this into a bit more focus as a potential love interest. The episode plays with this idea, though it’s obvious that the Mandalorian feels he’s unable to settle down, even if it might be something he wants. It could form an bigger part of the plot later on, so I’m interested to see if Omera and these villagers come back into play in future episodes.

No Safe Haven

While much of Sanctuary works as a standalone episode, telling it’s own story, it does set up some plot threads for whatever comes next. Namely, the big takeaway from this episode is that nowhere is truly safe for the Child.

It’s a quick reference in a throwaway line near the end, so it might be easy to miss, but it’s mentioned that Cara and Mando have been living in the village for several weeks. The line about “we caused some trouble a few weeks back” is obviously a reference to their battle against the Raiders. This means they’ve been living in relative peace for a bit. Mando sees it as a chance for the Child to have a normal life, something he knows he can’t provide.

Sadly, that dream is shattered when another bounty hunter shows up. The Client, and whatever members of the Imperial Remnant he’s working with, have managed to track down the Child to the planet Sorgan. While it took some time to find them, the story implication is that there’s no safe haven for the unlikely pair.

Mando won’t give up on protecting the Yoda-baby, and he can’t live on the run forever. This, I feel will ultimately form the overarching plot thread for the season. Soon, the Mandalorian will have to find a way to permanently deal with the threats to the child, but doing so could mean trouble for the rest of his clan (who’ve hopefully been able to relocate in the weeks he’s been away).

Personally speaking, I love that the last two episodes have shown what the Mandalorian is willing to do to protect the Child. The previous episode was all about the physical limits he’d go to (literally burning down everything in his way), while this one was more about the emotional side and being willing to step away if that’s what is best.

Minor Tidbits & Easter Eggs

Just some minor things I noticed throughout this week’s episode that are worth noting:

  • Omera seems to have more to her backstory than being a simple farmer. She doesn’t seem shocked by the violence in the beginning and her proficiency with a blaster is obvious. Perhaps she was part of the Rebellion at one point, before hiding out with her daughter, Winta.
  • The Raiders are Klatooinians, which we’ve seen before in Return of the Jedi. It’s kinda funny to me, that they seem to be MOONSHINERS, stealing the villagers’ harvest to turn it into some glowing beverage. Definitely adds to the Western vibe.
  • Did you see the Lothcat!! In the cantina the Mando enters when first arriving on Sorgan we get to see a version of the animal (originally from Star Wars Rebels) in live-action form!
  • I know there’s been some back and forth about whether the Yoda-baby is a boy or girl, but this episode should put it to rest as even Omera refers to him as “the boy.”
  • The villagers are “krill farmers” (those little glowing crustaceans we see at the beginning). In some of the old Star Wars material, Krill were also found on Naboo. Nothing major, but a fun little Easter egg.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed this week’s episode of The Mandalorian, though there were some niggling issues. It simultaneously feels like the most “TV” episode of the series so far, while also managing to expand the scope more than the previous chapters. In many ways, it’s clear this is the start of a new story arc within the season. It’s doesn’t feel as epically climatic as Chapter 3 felt, nor is it as relevatory, but the tidbits we get are intriguing.

While it works great as a standalone episode with some fun elements and action, it also does a solid job of setting the stage for what’s to come. Honestly, this is one of those episodes that seems to get better on multiple viewings (yes, I’ve already watched it a few times). With a great intro for a new main character, and even more adorable moments with the Yoda-baby, there’s plenty to enjoy in Sanctuary.