There’s no rest for the wicked in “Sanctuary”, as temporary safety quickly reveals even more danger for Mando and Baby Yoda.
This recap of The Mandalorian Season 1, Episode 4, “Sanctuary”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
A popular – and embarrassingly overeager – criticism of The Mandalorian thus far has been the absence of strong female characters, despite the Armorer (Emily Swallow) being a woman and several ladies featuring prominently in the marketing. The Mandalorian Episode 4, “Sanctuary”, is a strong rebuttal to that accusation, featuring not one but two strong women in the story and another behind the camera – Bryce Dallas Howard, whose father Ron directed Solo in 2018. Disney is keeping the Force in the family and it’s probably just as well since the Howards seem to have a good feel for the spirit of Star Wars.
We’re introduced to one of those women in the opening: Omera (Julia Jones) and her daughter Winta (Isla Farris), residents of a tranquil fishing village on a backwater planet besieged by raiders. Sounds like a job for the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), who arrives on Sorgan with Baby Yoda, who, in his fifties, is at that rebellious age where he can’t stop fiddling with the controls of the Razor Crest.
Mando thinks Sorgan is suitably remote, so his plan is to find lodging and settle down for a while – the chances of this happening are, of course, very low indeed. In the local cantina he quickly meets ex-Rebel Alliance shock trooper Cara Dune (Gina Carano), who promptly kicks him around outside since Carano is one of few actors in Hollywood, male or female, who actually knows how to fight and it’s important to remind audiences of that at every opportunity (especially since her agent seems intent on getting her starring roles in absolute garbage.)
We get some timeline clues in The Mandalorian Episode 4 since Cara reveals she fought in the Battle of Endor. Reference has already been made to the New Republic and the sorry state of the Empire, but there must be enough Imperial remnants knocking around that they can still hire bounty hunters since Mando was hired to retrieve Baby Yoda and Cara assumes that he was also hired to kill her.
He wasn’t, obviously, and on the contrary, he’s willing to hire her after he’s employed by some farmers from Omera’s village to protect their little settlement. He’s initially unwilling, but since it’s in the middle of nowhere it’ll make a great hiding place for Baby Yoda. This is a classic Western setup and if Star Wars wants to send-up The Magnificent Seven that’s fine by me. Besides, Baby Yoda is a major hit with the children in the village, and the prospect of them staying there long-term isn’t too outlandish, providing Mando and Cara can dissuade the raiders.
Before that, though, more exposition. Mando immediately starts to bond with Omera and we learn more about why he never removes his helmet; it’s the way, after all, and he hasn’t removed it since he was a kid and the Mandalorians took him in following the death of his parents. He does take it off privately, though, but we don’t get to see Pascal’s handsome mug just yet.
Anyway, the matter of the raiders needs to be dealt with in The Mandalorian Episode 4, so Mando and Cara track them into the woods and discover a problem: The raiders have access to an Imperial AT-ST, which the villagers knew about and neglected to mention, and what previously seemed like a routine assignment suddenly seems a bit farfetched. There’s only one thing for it: The villagers need to be trained to defend themselves in a montage, during which we learn that Omera knows how to use a blaster, though we’re never told why.
The plan is to dig a massive ditch and lure the AT-ST into it. The villagers can fight off the raiders and hopefully, without their giant bipedal toy, they’ll be discouraged from bothering the farmers again. Or, you know, they’ll all be dead. Either works. In the first of a couple of big action sequences in “Sanctuary”, Mando and Cara go to the raider camp to antagonize them into a pursuit.
This works, and the ominously red-eyed AT-ST gives chase, but it stops right before the trap, almost as if it has had a peek at the script. Time for some improvisation. Cara annoys it from close range until it steps forwards and collapses into the ditch, and Mando chucks a thermal detonator into the cockpit to finish it off. Without the walker to hide behind, the raiders give it legs. All the villagers survive, I think. And Baby Yoda celebrates by gobbling a full frog, though, in a funny nod to the last time he did that, the local kids are so disgusted that he spits it back out again.
Baby Yoda is happy in the village, and Omera suggests that Mando could be too. They have another discussion about his helmet, and what might happen if he takes it off – apparently nothing, you just can’t ever put it back on again. It seems a small price to pay for rural contentment, yet Mando isn’t ready to settle down. He still has bounties to collect and Beskar steel to melt down; Baby Yoda, though, can be happy and safe here, so he decides to leave him behind, even if it might break his little green heart.
Of course, though, there’s no happiness or safety for Baby Yoda just yet, since a bounty hunter has tracked them down and tries to snipe him from the woods. Just as the kid is in his sights, we hear a blaster shot and see him drop to the ground, dead. Cara has saved the day, though how she knew he was out there in the first place is anyone’s guess. But we all know what his presence and bleeping tracker mean: Baby Yoda can’t stay here. The Mandalorian Season 1, Episode 4 ends with him and Mando heading back to the Razor Crest for more adventures. I can’t say I’m disappointed.