Episode five of The Mandalorian, “The Gunslinger,” begins fast and rarely slows down. There’s a space shootout, droid shenanigans (at least no one got sucked into an engine), Amy Sedaris as a mechanic, a wannabe bounty hunter, mercenary Ming Na, Dewbacks, more Baby Yoda cuteness, and sand people, I mean, Tusken Raiders. (I think I just canceled myself.) It wasn’t the best episode of the series, but it did have a fun connection to what we recently named the second best Star Wars movie.
After Mando’s ship is badly damaged from a run-in with a fellow bounty hunter, he and Baby Yoda land on a nearby planet to get the Razor Crest repaired: Tatooine. Specifically, the spaceport town of Mos Eisley on Tatooine, where, in the immortal words of Obi Wan Kenobi, “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” It’s where Luke Skywalker met Han Solo and Chewbacca, and Ponda Baba lost his arm, and Han shot first at Greedo, all of which happened inside Chalmun’s Cantina.
Tatooine is also, of course, the home of Anakin Skywalker, who later becomes — SPOILER ALERT — Darth Vader. That makes the shot in this episode of the Stormtrooper helmets, attached to pikes as a reminder of the fall of the Empire, all the more powerful. I’ve never much considered how Tatooine residents must feel, post-Return of the Jedi, until this episode. On one hand, the planet can’t be proud of the whole “Anakin was a slave, then he tried to rule the galaxy as Vader” thing; on the other hand (probably shouldn’t have said “hand”), it’s where THE Luke Skywalker grew up. Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen’s corpses are a tourist trap, with Watto as the ticket taker.
This is the first time we’ve seen Tatooine (in a live-action Star Wars project) since Return of the Jedi (it appears in Revenge of the Sith, which is technically the more recent movie, but you know what I mean), and it’s easily the most famous planet in the Star Wars universe. More than Endor, more than Mustafar, more than Kamino. It’s a shame Mando didn’t visit Tatooine in a better episode, but at least he didn’t ask the barkeep, “What time does Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes take the stage?” There’s a limit to pandering to fans (fandering), and in an episode with multiple aliens, animals, and droids from the original trilogy and prequels and Mondo literally saying someone has the “high ground,” hearing “Mad About Me” would have been too much.
But at least Chalmun’s Cantina has dropped its “no droids” policy. Very progressive.