Episode 4 of The Mandalorian finds the Mando looking for a place to lay low for a while, and a new planet brings new surprises that will be familiar to longtime Star Wars fans and general cinema buffs alike. Here’s our guide to the references and easter eggs in this week’s episode:
– An ex-soldier, Cara Dune says that everything changed for her after the New Republic rose to power. Before that, she was a Rebel shock trooper, fighting against ex-Imperial warlords. Afterward, “politics” changed her life. What exactly this means is yet to be revealed in full, but she isn’t the first Star Wars character to notice that fighting on the side of good is sometimes harder after the good guys aren’t the underdogs any more. That’s one of the main challenges characters like General Leia and Hera Syndulla face in the tie-in books set after Return of the Jedi.
– Historically, hand-to-hand combat in the distant galaxy has been classed as Teräs Käsi, a fictional martial form practiced most notably by Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace and Qi’Ra in Solo. It isn’t an exact equivalent of any martial art in the real world. In canon, it is said to have been developed specifically to counter Jedi. There is no confirmation (yet?) as to whether or not Dune’s hand-to-hand prowess is based in Teräs Käsi training, but it does tend to be a go-to for giving fisticuffs a science fiction flavor.
– The Mando’s helmet is equipped with a sensor that allows him to track a person by the heat of their footsteps. Infrared and heat trackers have been mentioned in the Expanded Universe before, albeit briefly. In Legends continuity, Jango Fett is said to have infrared scanners as part of his beskar kit, so it’s fitting for the Mando to be similarly suited to tracking down people who don’t leave visual footprints.
– Speaking of Mando’s helmet, the bounty hunter reveals more about the a new piece of the strict code his Mandalorian tribe follows: if he ever removes his helmet in front of another person, he can never put it on again. Mando hasn’t shown his face to another person since he was a child. This is the way.
Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress
– Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film seems to be a direct inspiration for the overall plot of episode 4. In Seven Samurai, the seven samurai of the title defend a peaceful town from bandits. In the episode, the Mando and Cara Dune concoct a similar plan to the samurais’ plan, in which they strike the bandits first to draw them out to an easier field of battle.
-Another Kurosawa staple is referenced near the beginning of the episode, when two villagers ask for help. The two might be drawn from Tahei and Matashichi, two characters who kick off the plot of The Hidden Fortress (1958) after their hapless attempt to join a battle. The two “everyman” point of view characters have a similar down-to-earth tone as the two villagers, but the similarities end there. The Hidden Fortress was another major influence on Star Wars, and Tahei and Matashichi sparked some of Lucas’ ideas about having R2-D2 and C-3PO as point of view characters.
– Cara Dune teaches the villagers to use spears in an action-movie staple that evokes Kurosawa.
– This isn’t the first time Star Wars has directly used this plot: The Clone Wars episode “Bounty Hunters” (2010) also used the same basic plot with a very different cast.
Star Wars Rebels
– Baby Yoda runs afoul of a loth-cat, one of the denizens of the planet Lothal. These creatures first appeared on the animated series Star Wars Rebels, where Jedi apprentice Ezra Bridger finds an affinity for the natural world in general and these small animals specifically. This isn’t technically the first live-action loth cat, if Disney parks count as live action: one of these sharp-toothed creatures can be spotted in a cage in Galaxy’s Edge if you know where to look.
– The AT-ST (All Terrain Scout Transport), or “chicken walker,” is a more agile version of the four-legged AT-ATs. The one in The Mandalorian appears to be automated rather than piloted, and slightly larger than the ones in the Original Trilogy.
– The raiders terrorizing the farmers are Klatooinians, a race that hails from the planet Klatooine. A member of this race first appeared in Return of the Jedi. Unsurprisingly, Klatooinians often work as bounty hunters, mercenaries, or henchmen.
– The farmers harvest little, bright blue sea creatures used to make spotchka, a popular drink on the planet Sorgan.
– At one point in the episode, Mando calls Baby Yoda a “womp rat.” This is a reference to the creatures Luke Skywalker used to shoot in his T-16 on Tatooine.
– Most of the episode takes place on the forest planet Sorgan, which makes its first appearance in Star Wars canon. The planet seems to be mostly populated by farmers.
– Cara makes a reference to Endor, which you’ll know from Return of the Jedi. It was the site of the definitive battle of the Original Trilogy where both the Emperor and Darth Vader fell.