The Star Wars Easter eggs are strong with The Mandalorian episode 4, which contains a number of subtle original trilogy callbacks. After breaking the code of the bounty hunters' guild in last week's venture, Mando and Baby Yoda are now on the run, looking for a place to lie low with a pint of spotchka and wait for the entire mess to blow over. After finding a backwater, out of the way planet in Sorgan, the outcast and his young charge become embroiled in a local battle between humble village farmers and a group of forest bandits intent on stealing the fruits of their labor.
Along the way, Mando runs into a former member of the Rebel Alliance in Gina Carano's Cara Dune - the first non-Mud Horn to properly put the Mandalorian on his backside. Despite briefly toying with the idea of staying on Sorgan for the foreseeable future, the arrival of another bounty hunter proves that the hiding spot has been rumbled, and the leading duo are soon on their way towards next week's adventure.
Despite largely being a bottle episode, "The Sanctuary" does contain The Mandalorian's now-expected selection of Star Wars Easter eggs, references and throwbacks, and while some are impossible to miss as they charge through the woods knocking down trees, others are a little more disguised in their delivery. Here are all the Star Wars Easter eggs from episode 4 of The Mandalorian.
R2 Speeder Pilot
For the third time in The Mandalorian, a speeder driven by an R2 droid arrives to ferry the Mandalorian to his destination. The first instance came in the premiere episode, but Mando refused to ride a vehicle driven by a droid. Last week's installment saw Pedro Pascal's masked antihero hijack an R2-piloted speeder during a gunfight but, finally, this week's trip goes smoothly, with the droid pilot successfully making his journey free from droid prejudice or gun-point coercion. R2 pilots have been a part of the Star Wars universe since the original trilogy, albeit mostly in spacecraft, and it's interesting how common the droid Uber service appears to be in The Mandalorian compared to elsewhere in Star Wars.
"I Used To Bullseye Womp Rats..."
During the Rebel Alliance's strategy meeting before the Battle of Yavin, Luke corrects Wedge's complaint that hitting the Death Star's weak point would be impossible by boasting, "I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than 2 meters." In this week's episode of The Mandalorian, the title character fondly refers to Baby Yoda as a little womp rat while desperately trying to get him away from the Razorcrest's control panel. This line acts as a neat, knowing wink to A New Hope, and suggests that "womp rat" might be used as a playful jibe to naughty children in the Star Wars universe, similar to how a parent might call their misbehaving offspring a "monkey" as they start dismantling the TV remote for the twentieth time that afternoon.
The Loth-Cat Scares Baby Yoda
As the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda stride through Sorgan fully aware that they're the hottest duo in Star Wars since R2-D2 and C-3PO, the youngster passes a large, angry cat and is frightened when the creature becomes aggressive. This critter is known to Star Wars fans as a Loth-cat and other such creatures have been seen previously on Star Wars Rebels. Loth-cats are native to the Outer Rim and are infamously temperamental, which not only explains why one of them turns up in The Mandalorian, but also why it seems to take issue with cute little Baby Yoda.
The Empire's Fall Is The Talk Of The Galaxy
While viewers get to know Cara Dune, the former Rebel makes several notable references to both the original Star Wars trilogy and the modern sequels. Dune mentions "mopping up" Imperials after the Battle of Endor, events that take place after Return of the Jedi and have been explored in Marvel's Star Wars comic releases. More significantly, Dune reveals that she left the Rebellion behind when it became more about protecting political delegates than fighting for freedom. This line alludes to the gradual transformation from the Rebel Alliance to the New Republic, the final form of which is briefly sighted getting wiped out in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Once again, it's perhaps telling that few people seem to have a positive word to say about the galaxy's new government.
Rebel Shock Troopers
Further to Cara Dune's damning assessment of the modern day Rebel Alliance, it transpires that the soldier was not just mere fodder against the Empire, but a Rebel Shock Trooper. Even in The Mandalorian alone, it's clear that this role is roughly equivalent to a marine in the real world; a highly trained fighter sent on the most dangerous and important of missions, often without backup. However, this is not the first mention of the role in the Star Wars universe. As highlighted in Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars, Clone Shock Troopers also existed and were later succeeded by Imperial Shock Troopers. It appears that the Rebels liked the sound of that title.
Mandalorian Helmet Rules
One of the ongoing mysteries in The Mandalorian so far has been the cultural, virtually religious link between the title character and his armor. This week's episode elaborates on that idea considerably after Omera questions what would happen if he ever took the helmet off in front of another person, to which Mando replies that he could never wear it again. Aside from revealing what he can do with his helmet, several farmers recognize the Mandalorian purely from the style of his armor, playing into the notoriety of the people/tribe (even the farmers aren't sure) that has been previously established in Star Wars canon.
Mando Wasn't Born A Mando
Following on from the new information concerning helmets and armor in Mandalorian culture, Pedro Pascal's character also confirms his previously hinted-at backstory. The premiere episode had already included a reference to Mando being a "foundling" and the bounty hunter confirms that he was orphaned during the Clone Wars and subsequently taken in by the Mandalorians, for which he is eternally grateful. This is an issue that has already caused confusion with both Boba and Jango Fett within the Star Wars world. Despite all three being the most famous examples of those who follow Mandalorian culture, it appears that none of them were actually born into the way.
Not so much of an Easter egg, but more of an unmissable, arrow-shaped neon sign pointing towards Return of the Jedi, episode 4 of The Mandalorian sees the return of the AT-STs that plagued Endor and its native Ewoks in the original trilogy. With the Empire fallen, some bandits have apparently commandeered an abandoned unit and are using it to terrorize local villagers. The sheer terror one AT-ST can create brilliantly restores the sense of fear surrounding the Empire's weaponry. As an extra movie Easter egg, the emergence of the AT-ST through the forest trees mirrors the appearance of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, and this is surely no coincidence since the episode was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard of Jurassic World fame.
Not The Fastest Hunk O' Junk
Another Star Wars Easter egg relating to the return of the AT-ST sees Mando take a cue from Lando. While fighting against the lumbering, long-legged machine, the bounty hunter angrily refers to his mechanical opponent as a "hunk o' junk." This very same phrasing was used by Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back while referring to the Millennium Falcon.
The raiders of the village on Sorgan are of a species not unfamiliar to the Star Wars faithful. These ruthless bandits hail from Klatooine, a planet that has been referenced in a variety of canon Star Wars movies, TV shows and video games in the past. While Klatooinians are a widely-known race in the franchise, this is their debut appearance in The Mandalorian. Other alien sightings this week include another Twi'lek and the Kubaz who tries and fails to assassinate Baby Yoda shortly before the end credits.
Before The Mandalorian began, many fans were hoping to see some of the cult favorite bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back cameo on the series. While that wish hasn't quite been granted, the original motley crew have been present in spirit; for example, the premiere episode included IG-11, rather than IG-88. One particular lizard-like face many viewers were hoping to see again was that of Bossk, one of the galaxy's most fearsome mercenaries. While the man himself has yet to appear, the gun that Mando hands to Omera in The Mandalorian episode 4 is the same Relby-V10 mortar that Bossk is regularly seen packing. This might imply that the gun is one of several standard issue models among the guild but, more intriguingly, could hint that Mando has already had a run-in with Bossk and claimed the weapon as his own.
The Magnificent Mandalorian
Without fail, every episode of The Mandalorian thus far has featured a heavy reference to a famous Western movie and this week offered undoubtedly the most overt example of this trope. Rather than just an end-of-episode Easter egg as before, "The Sanctuary" is entirely based around the plot of The Magnificent Seven, itself a reinvention of the classic Seven Samurai. The story of a fabled warrior protecting a poor village from bandits informs the plot of the episode, putting a sci-fi spin on a timeless cinematic tale.
The Mandalorian continues December 6th on Disney+.