The fifth episode of The Mandalorian, titled “The Gunslinger,” might be the show’s most referential yet, as Mando and the Child land in a very familiar location from the film saga. Along the way, he encounters plenty of other Star Wars references and easter eggs that eagle-eyed fans will surely catch as they watch the episode. Here are the easter eggs we’ve found so far:
– After visiting desert planets throughout the show, the Mando has finally arrived to where it all began: Tatooine. “The Gunslinger” references A New Hope extensively. It’s hard to imagine why the episode needed to be on Tatooine other than the thrill of recognition: here are the Tusken Raiders, here is the cantina (now staffed by the droids previously not allowed).
– Mando needs to cross the Dune Sea to find the infamous assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). He’s accompanied by Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale), a rookie bounty hunter with no experience but plenty of ferocity. As with many characters in The Mandalorian, he fits the classic mold of rogue — like Han Solo, he appears lounging in the cantina, casual and cocky if more easily flustered than Han.
– Like the Jawas in previous episodes, Tusken Raiders were a staple of the Star Wars universe from the word go. In A New Hope, they’re portrayed as dangerous wanderers who knock Luke out to ransack his speeder. Subsequent Expanded Universe authors have been more sympathetic to the Tuskens. This episode is, too: the Mando notes that Tusken Raiders may in fact have lived in the desert before humans arrived. Somehow, he knows how to use their sign language to barter a way across the desert instead of fighting.
– Two Original Trilogy creatures, dewbacks and banthas, have been given a slight facelift for The Mandalorian, but are also part of the classic Star Wars toy box. Dewbacks were one of the first major changes to the Original Trilogy, with CGI mounts accompanying the stormtroopers searching for R2-D2 and C-3P0 in the first act of the movie. Banthas are always present where Tusken Raiders are; some Expanded Universe writers established that owning a bantha is a rite of passage for the young, after which the creature becomes a central part of a family group.
The Phantom Menace
– Yet again, Mando has found himself limited by his crumbling ship. It’s the same situation Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Padmé Amidala find themselves in when they land on Tatooine to repair their ship in The Phantom Menace. Of course, the stop for supplies and parts ended up being more complicated than what Mando faces in “The Gunslinger.”
– The pit droids are another creation of the Prequel Trilogy. Technically designated the DUM-series of pit droids, they’re mechanics’ helpers who can be programmed to do repairs as well as expand out to more unusual tasks (such as hurrying to dispose of a dead body for Pelli).
– Shand actually makes a reference to Mos Espa, which is the spaceport where Qui-Gon and Padme met Anakin Skywalker.
– The bartenders at the cantina are no longer human. Instead, they’re all EV-series droids, the same kind as EV-9D9 from Jabba the Hutt’s palace. EV-9D9 was responsible for assigning Jabba’s captured droids to their tasks, and was happy to spend some of her time torturing other droids to make sure they complied with her slimy master’s wishes. The EVs in the cantina seem to behave according to their original programming, not a deviation like EV-9D9’s. They’re officially classed as “supervisor droids.”
– The red-painted astromech droid in the cantina is reminiscent of R4-P17, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s R4. These astromechs were manufactured during the Clone Wars and sometimes used to pilot Jedi starfighters. They can be distinguished by the shape of their head, which is more angular than R2 units’ heads. (R4-P17 actually has the more rounded shape, presumably so that it was easier for audiences to recognize her as an astromech like R2-D2.)
– “The Gunslinger” offers a second mention of womp rats, the big, aggressive rodents native to Tatooine. They’re a useful shorthand in The Mandalorian, used to express reluctant affection toward Baby Yoda. Womp rats were introduced in A New Hope when Luke Skywalker boasted he was perfectly capable of hitting the Death Star’s exhaust port—since womp rats weren’t much bigger than the target.
– Besides Tatooine, two other planets are referenced in the episode: Toro wants to show off in front of the Mando, insisting that the speeder bikes he picked out are up to par. He says they’re Corellian — from the same planet where foundries produce blisteringly fast starships like the Millennium Falcon, and, apparently, fast and reliable speeder bikes. The first look at Corellia’s foundries in the movies were in Solo: A Star Wars Story, where Han grew up on the streets. In the novel Resistance Reborn, it’s revealed that the First Order also took advantage of Corellia’s reputation for fast ships and took over some of the starship foundries there.
– The other planet mentioned is Nevarro, the Outer Rim planet where Mando spent some of his time getting new bounties from Greef in earlier episodes. It’s also home to a Mandalorian hideout, where the tribe operates in secret under the guidance of the mysterious Armorer.
The Empire doesn’t make an appearance in the flesh, but we do get a sense of how the Imperial occupation of Tatooine ended. Bloody stormtrooper helmets mounted on pikes decorate the streets of Mos Eisley, suggesting that the people of Tatooine eventually took their planet back from the Empire.
While we can’t say for sure that the mystery character in the final scene of the episode is indeed Boba Fett, his cape and the sound of spurs as he walks across the desert at the very least nod at the infamous Mandalorian bounty hunter. We talked way more about Boba Fett’s potential return here.
– The spaceport operator Pelli Motto (Amy Sedaris) notices Mando has this on his ship after his battle with the bounty hunter Riot Mar (Rio Hackford) in the very beginning of the episode. The build-up of black soot from laser weapons is a classic bit of Star Wars pseudoscience. In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker notices that R2-D2 is unusually heavily afflicted with carbon scoring, a sign that he was likely in a battle. It can be cleaned off, but not easily.
– If the aforementioned speeder brikes looked familiar, that’s because they were introduced in Return of the Jedi. At first used by Imperial troops to weave through the redwood trees on the forest moon of Endor, Luke and Leia Organa capture the bikes and use them to give chase. The low slung saddles and long steering vanes on the front create a classic Star Wars silhouette.