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The Hardest Episode Of The Mandalorian Season 1 To Film

The first episode of Disney's new documentary series Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian – now streaming on Disney+ — is a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes intel straight from the series' vaunted creative team. In the course of discussing the first live-action Star Wars series ever to reach fruition, showrunner Jon Favreau revealed that the most challenging episode of The Mandalorian to film was the fourth, entitled "Sanctuary."

"Sanctuary" concerns leading bounty hunter Mando's (Pedro Pascal) attempt to find a safe place to deposit The Child — better known as Baby Yoda. His quest takes him to a rural planet, where the local farmers are locked in a violent conflict with a band of off-world warlords armed with decommissioned imperial munitions. Mando helps a former alliance soldier, Cara Dune (Gina Carano), beat back the pseudo-imperial threat in an action-packed story that involves hundreds of background actors and several carefully choreographed fight scenes.

Fortunately, Favreau had a dream team of talent behind him to ensure every minute The Mandalorian season 1 was shot to perfection. The creator and showrunner joked that he tapped directorial newcomer (but seasoned actress) Bryce Dallas Howard to handle direction of the season's most challenging episode as a kind of trial by fire.

"By the way, now that you're [referring to Howard] done and you did a great job, we threw you in the deep end of the pool, because that was such a difficult episode to do, and we were like, we got to pick the new person who's never done this before," Favreau said. "Cause they won't know how hard it is what we're asking her to do. Because we were you know — with a forest and water and shooting and background extras, and it was too much. It was too much."

Fortunately for fans, Howard didn't shy away from the challenge.

Bryce Dallas Howard proved she was up to the task

The Mandalorian directory of photography Baz Idoine explained on the first episode of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian why "Sanctuary" was such a heavy lift to film: "Bryce's episode was a really unusual departure from all of the other episodes because it was on an agrarian type planet, very green very forested." He added, "Bryce's emotional appreciation of the drama and how to work with the actors was extraordinary to work with. She was really lovely director." High praise from a veteran DP.

Although Howard is a relative newcomer to the directing game — especially compared to her Mandalorian cohort, which included filmmakers like Rick Famuyiwa and Taika Waititi, plus TV vets Deborah Chow and Dave Filoni – she clearly has the gift, and she comes by her talent honestly. The daughter of director Ron Howard said of the experience at the helm of episode 4, "It was incredible. And the truth is, is that so much of this process is about iterating and reiterating and figuring it out and problem-solving and making breakthroughs. I think it goes back to this thing of like when I watched Jurassic Park, it's just the — oh my God, I will get emotional. The power of storytelling is immense, but if the magic act doesn't work, then everything fails."

It will be interesting to see what new locales The Mandalorian reaches on season 2, and which journeyman directors get tasked with bringing exotic corners of the Star Wars galaxy to life. With directors like Howard creating such a high standard, they'll have a lot to live up to.