The Mandalorian treads into familiar territory with a blaster-slinging stop on Tatooine. "The Gunslinger" has Mando (Pedro Pascal) looking for work at the infamous Mos Eisley Cantina. He teams up with a novice bounty hunter to hunt for a dangerous assassin. But any alliances are fraught with betrayal and peril, especially when you're target numero uno in the galaxy. Baby Yoda continues his wide-eyed, big-eared charm offensive. The green bundle of cuteness makes a pal out of a crusty spaceport mechanic. We also learn the name of Greef Karga's planet. Navarro is the world where the glorious adventure began.

"The Gunslinger" starts with the Razor Crest under heavy fire in space. The bounty hunter Riot Mar (Rio Hackford) has Mando's ship in his sights. He callously radios, "I can bring you in warm or cold." Mando throttles back with his left engine burning. Riot Mar overshoots the Razor Crest and pays the price. Mando targets and destroys him, "That's my line." Baby Yoda watches from a crate in the cockpit.

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The damaged Razor Crest lands in hangar three five at the Mos Eisley spaceport on Tatooine. Mando delicately hides a sleeping Baby Yoda in a closet of sorts. He fires a warning shot in front of three pit droids approaching to repair the ship, "No droids." He gets yelled at by the bushy-haired mechanic, Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris), "You damage my droids. You pay for it." She observes the ship has been in a "shootout", and leaks fuel. Mando gives her five hundred Imperial credits. "That'll cover the hangar," says Peli Motto. Mando promises to "get her money."

He walks through Mos Eisley to the cantina. Stormtrooper helmets are on pikes at the entrance. Meanwhile back at the cargo bay, Peli Motto plays cards with her pit droids. The Razor Crest's platform lowers and Baby Yoda comes ambling down. He reaches out to a startled Peli Motto. She picks up the little guy, then orders her droids to bring food, "Something with bones in it." She'll watch over the child while The Mandalorian is gone, but will charge him extra when he returns.

At the Mos Eisley Cantina, Mando tells the bartender droid he's a "hunter" looking for work. The droid knows nothing, but the conversation is overheard. Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale), sitting in the booth where Han Solo fried Greedo, has a bounty puck for the assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Her tracking fob points to the dune sea. Mando gets up and begins to walk away, "Fennec Shand is an elite mercenary. You go after her. You won't make it past sunrise."

Toro chases after him. He admits it's his first job. The Mandalorian can keep the money. He just wants the capture to get into the guild. Mando tells him to bring two speeder bikes to hangar three five in thirty minutes. Mando wants the tracking fob. Toro smashes it, "Don't worry, I got it all memorized."

Mando returns to the ship. He's alarmed Baby Yoda's missing. Peli Motto brings the crying infant, "Great, you woke it up. You have any idea how long it took me to get it to sleep?" She chastises Mando for leaving a baby alone on the ship. Baby Yoda coos and gurgles at the attention. Toro brings the speeders. He looks curiously at Peli Motto and the green baby. The speeders take off toward the dune sea.

The speeders race over the sand. Mando tells him to stop. Tusken Raiders are in the distance. When Toro turns around, two Tuskens are behind them. Mando negotiates passage using sign language. Toro is forced to hand over his binoculars as payment. They plow forward until Mando sees a Dewback. A figure lays motionless at its side.

Mando tells Toro to wait behind a dune. He cautiously investigates the body. It's a dead bounty hunter with a tracking fob. He yells, "Get down!" A laser blast hits Mando squarely in the chest. He leaps over the dune as another shot hits his shoulder armor, "Sniper bolt, only an MK modified rifle could make that shot." At that range, the Beskar steel held up. The shots came from a ridge. They'll wait until night to make their move. Fennec Shand observes them from her position.

That night, Mando lays on the speeder sleeping. A goofy Toro mocks him for being asleep, and playfully draws his pistol. Mando, who's awake, gets up, "Get on your bike. Ride as fast as you can." He tosses flash charges at Toro. They'll alternate shots to blind her scope. The speeders hurtle towards the ridge. Fennec has them in her sights. Mando shoots the flare, blinding her. She takes a shot and misses. Toro launches another flare. Fennec hits Mando's speeder. He tumbles off into the sand. She shoots him again in the chest.

Fennec aims to finish Mando, but Toro has the drop behind her. She throws a dart, knocking away his pistol. They fight, but Toro easily beats him. Mando gets up, his chest plate smoking. Fennec has Toro in a hold, choking him to death. But the distraction worked, Mando points his blaster and orders her to let go. He throws handcuffs at her.

"A Mandalorian...been a while since I've seen your kind...you ever been to Navarro?" the cuffed Fennec asks. Mando pushes her down. There's one speeder left. Mando tells Toro to get the Dewback, but he refuses. He won't leave the bounty. Mando obliges and walks into the dark to get the beast. As the twin suns rise, Fennec works on Toro. She can pay double her bounty. Toro doesn't care about money. He wants entrance into the guild. Fennec observes he already has something far more valuable, "A Mandalorian shot up the guild on Navarro and took a high value target. You bring the guild that traitor...and they'll welcome you with open arms. Your name will be legendary."

Toro asks, "How can we be sure if he's the one?" He still has the target with him. "Some say it's a child," Fennec replies. Toro has been convinced. Fennec reaches her hands out to be uncuffed. Toro approaches her slowly, then shoots Fennec at point blank range in the gut. Fennec stumbles over dead. Toro leers over her body, "Thanks for the tip. Who wouldn't want to be a legend?"

Mando returns on the Dewback. He sees Fennec's body in the sand. Later in the day, he arrives back at the hangar. He walks in with his pistol drawn. Toro comes down the Razor Crest's platform with Baby Yoda in his left arm and his gun in the back of Peli Motto. "Drop your blaster. You're a guild traitor Mando," he forces Peli Motto to cuff him. She goes to Mando's back, but sees he's holding a flare. "You're smarter than you look," she whispers.

Mando fires the flare. A blinded Toro shoots wildly before him, dropping Baby Yoda. Mando sidesteps the blasts, and shoots Toro dead. Peli Motto searches frantically for The Child. She finds Baby Yoda hiding behind a container. Mando takes Toro's money pouch. He gives her a small fortune in credits, then enters the ship holding Baby Yoda. Peli Motto beckons her droids to Toro's body, "Drag it to Beggar's Canyon." She watches as the Razor Crest flies away into the night sky. Back on the dune sea, a mysterious figure, with a tracking fob beeping, stands over Fennec's body.

"The Gunslinger" will have every Star Wars fan cheering. The return to Tatooine and the Mos Eisley Cantina was a welcome infusion of nostalgia from writer/director Dave Filoni. Greedo's booth, speeder bikes racing across the dune sea, even the lumbering Dewback had me in a tizzy. Amy Sedaris almost stole the show as Peli Motto. Her doting over Baby Yoda added warmth and humor. Toro's betrayal and Fennec's demise were expected. But the episode introduced a new bounty hunter in the last scene. I have a feeling this adversary will be far more challenging. The Mandalorian returns next Friday on Disney+ apps and DisneyPlus.com.

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Julian Roman at TVweb
Julian Roman