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The Ending Of The Mandalorian Chapter 5 Explained

Contains spoilers for The Mandalorian chapter 5, "The Gunslinger"

Trust is the most precious commodity to the Mandalorian, and on chapter 5 of his Disney+ series, what little trust he can invest pays few dividends. A brief layover on the most familiar of planets — Tatooine — ends with Mando (Pedro Pascal) getting little more than he started with beyond a fixed ship and a blaster-scorched chestplate. As you would expect of an episode set on the OG planet of the Star Wars universe, the Easter eggs are laid on thick — and, in all honesty, the biggest twist occurred during the last moments, much in the way the story did during the first chapter of the show.

Beware: we're about to enter major spoiler territory.

On The Mandalorian chapter 5, entitled "The Gunslinger," we saw Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) seemingly murder Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) after she attempts to manipulate him into releasing her and following her back to one of Tatooine's spaceport cities, Mos Espa. At first, we consider that maybe it was just a stun and she will eventually wake up, but several shots cut back to her to underline that yes, Shand is most likely dead. In the last five seconds of reel, black boots and a cape approach Shand's body folded over on the sand. Jingling spurs are the only sound we hear, and just before the episode cuts to black, the mystery person kneels beside her body.

After chapter 4's heavy focus on Mando and his personal motivations, The Mandalorian chapter 5 is more interested in stepping back perspective to be less about him and more about the greater circumstances of the world in which he lives. Mando may be its center, but the universe that orbits around him sometimes takes greater precedence, leaving him to be an actor within it. The galaxy is getting bigger and bigger with each new episode of The Mandalorian, and Mando is in rapidly decreasing control of it. Let's dig into those circumstances, and discuss why The Mandalorian chapter 5 is most interested in setting pieces for later exposition.

A puzzling (presumed) murder on The Mandalorian chapter 5

The apparent murder of Fennec Shand and the aftermath of the incident made up the biggest plot twist of The Mandalorian episode 5. Ming-Na Wen is one of the most recognizable actors who was publicly attached to The Mandalorian prior to its release, and she has taken interviews to discuss her inclusion on the show and her character as a whole. Since the show debuted on Disney+, a ton of famous faces who weren't revealed ahead of time – like Brian Posehn and, most recently, Amy Sedaris – have popped up on episodes. All credits attached to Mandalorian episodes don't publish most accurately until after each one airs, so who's to know exactly how many episodes Wen is supposed to appear on? Perhaps it's only this single one, maybe she'll show up in flashbacks later on, or maybe she isn't really dead after all. Star Wars as a franchise doesn't have much historical precedent in reanimating officially dead characters by mystical or scientific means, but it does go to a lot of effort jumping through hoops to fake deaths. Darth Maul's fascinating journey provides an excellent example.

The obvious question is this: Who's the dude swaggering on up to Shand's (supposedly) dead body at the end of The Mandalorian chapter 5? Our first and best guess is whomever she was supposed to make rendezvous with back at Mos Espa — remember, that was the exact deal she pitched to Calican: "Take me to it, and I can pay you double the price on my head." We don't know how far apart Mos Eisley and Mos Espa are from each other, but time can be conveniently fickle for the sake of storytelling. 

Now, that obvious question becomes more nuanced and slippery when we start to turn it over in our hands. Shand has a rendezvous, but why was she on Tatooine at all? As far as we know from the information that Calican originally presented, she's been using the planet as a hideout. We don't see Shand in the middle of some other job out in the desert wilds, either. Who is she going to meet while on the run that's going to pay her

The Mandalorian chapter 5 takes the time to explicitly mention that the New Republic has cut off a lot of Shand's usual contractors by defeating the Empire and its subsidiaries. Mando is taking commissions while on the run, too — chapter 5's whole premise is built around this need. Perhaps Shand picked up the job that will make her flush and able to get off-world at last. However, Shand's an assassin. Mando kills people as necessary for cash, but his general job description is to bring them in alive — and up until recently, that was done according to a code of ethics required by the guild. Killing others is a possible outcome in a rough job, but no one is killed for anybody. Assassins have different and far less patient contractors. 

That said, it's not entirely impossible that the aerial dogfight at the beginning and Shand being on Tatooine are related. Does the twist lie in the planet being a honeypot to ground Mando? Was Shand somehow contracted to separate Mando from the Child (a.k.a. Baby Yoda) and kill him? She clearly prioritizes killing him during the fight — so much so that Calican can get up to her and threaten to shoot, which is rather sloppy on her behalf. That possibility is a little overly-complicated and contrived, but the fact that Shand is aware of everything that happened at Nevarro is rather suspicious. 

The order in which she pitches her deals to Calican is interesting, too. She tries to get herself free first without mentioning the high price attached to Mando, but later feels forced to cut in the possibility of splitting the (probably astronomically-high) reward that killing Mando provides. She presents this rendezvous at which she will be paid and the bounty attached to Mando as two separate things, but there's no guarantee that's true. If so, Shand definitely came out the losing end in this bargain, and there would be severe consequences for her (if she's still alive), whoever contracted her, and, of course, Mando and the Child.

How any of this ties back to Mando is completely inscrutable for the moment, but we know it must do so eventually, regardless of whether or not Fennec Shand is actually dead.