Jon Favreau and his team have done an amazing job engaging Star Wars fans of all generations by inserting a mind-blowing number of Easter eggs, fan nods and callbacks into each and every episode of The Mandalorian. As a service to Star Wars fans everywhere, we're attempting to identify and catalog all the references in each episode. If you think we've missed something, let us know in the comments or on social media. We'll be happy to add it to the list after verification and credit you for the submission.
When you're done browsing through all the Easter eggs in this episode, have a listen to our podcast review for the The Mandalorian: Chapter 4.
And don't forget to check out our Easter Eggs list for all the other episodes of The Mandalorian:
[*** This list may contain episode 4 spoilers ***]
Chapter 4 - "Sanctuary"
Some fans of the show have been keen on pointing out apparent plot holes in this episode. One of the gaffes being that Mando left his ship behind when it would have been a serious asset in this battle. Another we've heard is that Mando and Cara lead the AT-ST back to the village, instead of just destroying it in the bandit's encampment. Believe it or not, these seemingly arbitrary elements of the plot were likely intentional, because the entire episode is a very deliberate adaption of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954). So we're going to start this list out a little different by pointing out many of the parallels with the aforementioned film.
The main protagonist in Seven Samurai is a Samurai with no lord, also known as a Ronin (not unlike our Mandalorian). Based on advice from the village elder, the villagers seek out Samurai to defend their village from bandits who frequently pillage and steal their crops (just as the raiders do in this episode). The villagers have little money, so the elder instructs them to find hungry Samurai (our villagers will ultimately give Mando food and shelter as payment because they also have little money). Reluctantly, the protagonist agrees to help and eventually enlists the help of other Samurai to assist him (much like Mando enlists Cara Dune to assist).
Rather than fighting their battles for them, the Samurai train the villagers to aid in their own defense against superior forces (just as Cara Dune and Mando do). They also show them how to erect primitive defenses around their rice paddies (or krill farms, in the Mando's case) to gain a tactical advantage in the event of another assault.
The bandits in Seven Samurai don't have a chicken walker, of course, but they do have a major technological advantage over the farmers: flintlock pistols. And much like our farmers are limited to spears and blasters for self-defense, the farmers in Seven Samurai are limited to bamboo spears and bows. This is most likely why Mando's ship is left out of this episode - the bandits needed to have the upper hand, technologically speaking. And since Mando wouldn't be found dead without a few firearms, the AT-ST serves as a metaphorical stand-in for the flintlock pistols. If you need a better explanation than that, let's just say Mando didn't want to have his eyesore of a ship anywhere near the village where he was trying to hide himself and the child.
While training the villagers, one of the Samurai develops a relationship with a farmer's daughter, but it isn't meant to be. And Mando's emerging relationship with the widow in the village is almost surely a callback to that element of the original film's story arc.
Eventually, the Samurai learn the location of the bandit's camp. They launch an attack and burn it down (or blow it up, in Mando and Cara's case). The film then culminates with the remaining bandits launching an assault on the village, from which the villagers and Samurai emerge victorious despite the odds against them.
If you've never seen Seven Samurai but still feel as if you've seen elements of this story before, it's quite possible you have. This story has been adapted to varying degree in other more recent works, including: The Magnificent Seven, Seven Warriors, The Invincible Six, the steampunk anime series Samurai 7, and even an episode of The Clone Wars titled "Bounty Hunters."
For those that are not aware, George Lucas was an avid Kurosawa fan and his films - particularly, The Hidden Fortress - had significant influence on the story writing in the original trilogy. So this episode is both a major nod to Lucas, as well as one of his largest influences, Akira Kurosawa. Plot holes or not, we must say, "This is the way."
[01:46] That's a Curious Looking Droid
In the opening village scene, there's a chicken-like, bi-pedal droid that's walking along the water's edge carrying a basket of krill. While this droid isn't one we recall seeing previously in the franchise, it does bear some striking similarities with the Imperial AT-ST walker, and may very well be a precursor to what's coming up later in the episode.
[03:53] The Klatooinian Species
At least some of these raiders, if not all of them, appear to be Klatooinians. The species was first introduced in Return of the Jedi, where they serve as henchmen aboard Jabba the Hutt's sail barge. They also appear in several episodes of Resistance and a couple episodes of The Clone Wars. Klatooinians are native to the Outer Rim planet of Klatooine.
[05:10] "A real backwater skug hole."
When describing the planet Sorgan to the little Yodalorian, Mando refers to it as a "real backwater skug hole." Skug was a common insult used by the Zygerrian species. It was first introduced in The Clone Wars episode titled "Slaves of the Republic."
[05:16] "Womp rat"
Mando affectionately refers to the Yodalorian as a "little womp rat." Womp rats are a large rodent species native to Tatooine, which are considered pests by the local moisture farmers. These creatures were first referenced by Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, when he says, "I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They're not much bigger than two meters." Given the lore around these creatures, it seems only a Mandalorian would consider this to be a term of an endearment.
[07:18] A Loth-cat
As Mando and the Kid are walking through a village common house on Sorgan, a loth-cat resting under a chair jumps out and snarls at the little guy. These temperamental creatures, native to the outer rim planet of Lothal, first appeared in the Rebels animated series. There is also an animatronic version on display at the Creature Stall in both of Disney's Galaxy's Edge themed areas.
[9:56] "Saw most of my action mopping up after Endor."
This is a reference to the Battle of Endor, of course, depicted in Return of the Jedi. It's a fitting reference for what comes later in the episode. In this scene we learn that Mando's new acquaintance, Cara Dune, was once a shock trooper for the Rebel Alliance.
[13:08] A Droid-Piloted Skiff??
As Mando and his companions are making their trek to the village, we can see that they're riding in a skiff piloted by a droid. Mando's general distaste for droids is something of a theme in this series, which is why we're mentioning this scene. It's a sensible aversion on his part, given that his flashbacks suggest that Super Battle Droids probably killed his entire family. But is Mando's attitude towards them lightening as time goes on - at least a little? In episode 1, he flat out refuses a landspeeder with a droid pilot. Then he runs into IG-11, which he reluctantly uses to help him with the job, but ultimately destroys. In episode 3, he hijacks a droid-piloted skiff in an effort to escape the other bounty hunters. Now in episode 4, he willingly rides in a droid-powered skiff without so much as a complaint. This is circumstantial evidence, at best, so it may amount to nothing.
[18:42] An AT-ST Footprint
As Cara and Mando are searching for signs of the bandit encampment, they come across a very large "footprint" in the forest. Cara immediately recognizes it as belonging to an imperial AT-ST. All Terrain - Scout Transports (AT-ST), also known as Scout Walkers or chicken walkers, were light weight, bi-pedal walkers used by the ground forces of the Galactic Empire (a modified version of this vehicle would later be used by the First Order). These vehicles were first seen alongside AT-ATs in Empire Strikes Back. However, they also feature prominently at the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, where the Ewoks manage to make short work of several of them using primitive traps.
[19:58] "I've seen that thing take out entire companies of soldiers in a matter of minutes."
Being there to 'mop up' after the Battle of Endor, you'd think Cara Dune might be aware that a handful of rebels and a band of tiny teddy bears took out several of these walkers. Perhaps, she missed the actual battle and just dropped in for missions afterwards. In any case, AT-ST walkers have been shown to harbor a number of weaknesses, including limited armor plating, exposed gear mechanisms under the cockpit and a susceptibility to losing their balance with trip lines or pit traps. Obviously, she is aware of the latter as we will soon find out. But that makes her initial comment to the villagers even less sensible than it first appears - maybe it was just thrown in for a laugh.
[20:17] The Rebel Logo (as a tattoo)
You can tell Cara Dune has a tattoo on her face in the initial scene. But this is the first time we get a decent close-up look at it. It's definitely the Rebel logo, known more formally known as the Rebel Alliance Starbird. According to canon sources, this symbol was created by combining the personal crest of Sabine Wren with the three-pronged symbol used by Saw Gerrera. While the symbol made it's debut in A New Hope, it has been used in many works since then. The same symbol would eventually be adopted by the Resistance when they were fighting against the First Order.
[20:41] It's a trap!
As we mentioned, Cara Dune is clearly aware of the AT-ST's balance issues and she's going to try to exploit them. Apparently, nothing on the planet can damage the legs of these things, "... so we're gonna build a trap." Anyone who has seen Return of Jedi is already aware that the Rebels and Ewoks on Endor also built traps to take down these armored vehicles. This scene is no doubt a direct callback to that segment of the film.
[24:59] An AT-ST Walker
We finally get to see the AT-ST walker up close. Unfortunately, it's really dark throughout the entire battle and hard to tell if there are any discernible markings on it. But there is one striking change from previous walkers we've seen in the franchise: the lights inside the command module are red, making the AT-ST appear as if it has glowing red eyes. And while it's difficult to make out during this battle scene, we can tell from the licensed toys that were released earlier this year that it has a unique red/brown and white striped paint job on its legs.
[30:54] "You just can't ever put it back on again."
Some time after the battle, Cara and Mando are sitting outside watch the children frolic. Cara turns to Mando and asks, "So what happens if you take that thing off? They come after you and kill you?" His reply to her inquiry is simply, "No. You just can't ever put it back on again." This is potentially another reference to Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, but it goes a bit deeper than that.
When we are introduced to Kambei in Kurosawa's film, he's cutting off his top knot while a priest shaves his head. The top knot, or chonmage as it is more properly known, was a status symbol for Samurai in the Edo era of Japan. To have one's chonmage cut off (by choice or otherwise) was considered a disgrace and would cause the Samurai great shame. In a very similar vein, this particular Mandalorian tribe's culture appears to place a great deal of emphasis on keeping their helmet firmly in place. This doesn't mean he never removes it, as he explains earlier in the episode - he just doesn't remove it in the view of others.
That's at least another 11 Easter eggs, fan nods and callbacks in this episode. But we've probably overlooked a few, so please let us know in the comments what we might have missed!