By Mike Redmond | TV | March 31, 2023 |
By Mike Redmond | TV | March 31, 2023 |
Previously on The Mandalorian: As Mando guides Grogu towards becoming a full-fledged Mandalorian, our little dude confronts the trauma of his past when left alone with The Armorer after Mando and Bo-Katan race off to rescue a Foundling from a space dragon. Turns out Grogu’s escape from the Jedi Temple during the Order 66 attack was aided by Jedi Knight Kellaran Beq, who risked life and limb to get Grogu off-planet. After coming to peace with the atrocities he witnessed, Grogu is gifted a new piece for his burgeoning Mandalorian armor. Meanwhile, Bo-Katan gains the trust of Mando’s covert by successfully leading a war party to recover the Foundling, who’s revealed to be the son of Paz Vizla. Upon their triumphant return, she shares with The Armorer that she saw a real mythosaur on Mandalore. The Armorer thinks Bo-Katan is simply talking about a vision, but when Bo-Katan elaborates, the covert leader seems curiously conflicted by this information…
Heading into the back half of The Mandalorian Season 3, the premiere has easily been the weakest episode, so I wasn’t exactly thrilled when Chapter 21, “The Pirate,” returned to Nevarro where Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) continues to officiate the burgeoning planet that’s now free from the Empire’s grasp. The whole space pirate subplot wasn’t exactly high on my list of topics to revisit — or even on it — but I’ll be damned if Peter Ramsey didn’t direct one hell of an episode that paid off the premiere’s wobbly setup.
Still carrying a grudge from Mando and Greef mowing down his men, Pirate King Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie) returns with his massive ship and demands the complete surrender of Nevarro. When Greef threatens to call in the New Republic, Shard calls his bluff by correctly noting that Nevarro is an independent planet and not under protection of the new space government. Fully assured that he won’t be challenged, Shard’s ship opens fire on the city as the Pirate King informs Greef that the blasting will cease when he’s ready to surrender.
Wasting no time, Greef pulls the classic Star Wars move of sending a desperate message inside a droid, which finds its way to New Republic pilot Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee). In the message, Greef asks for help fighting off Shard and warns that if he takes control of the planet, he’ll turn it into another pirate base, which is not great for anybody. Teva knows helping Greef is in the New Republic’s best interest, but to reinforce that fact in spectacularly random fashion, freaking Zeb Orellios makes his live-action debut in an oddly brief cameo whose sole purpose is reinforcing that Greef is screwed if left to fight Shard alone. That’s been drilled home several times, but thanks?
Determined to come to Nevarro’s aid, Teva travels to Coruscant, a location this really show needs to stop visiting. No good can come of it even with a delightful cameo. After strong-arming his way into a military office, Teva asks Colonel Tuttle (Tim Meadows) for a squadron to fight off the pirate attack. Unfortunately, Tuttle doesn’t have the manpower to spare, and he becomes even less reluctant to help when a not-even-trying-to-be-subtle Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian) conveniently shows up to inform Tuttle that Nevarro is a “non-member” planet. You see, the New Republic is already stretched thin helping member planets, so the colonel’s hands are tied.
Teva makes one final plea by noting that Nevarro has had several recent sightings of Imperial activity. He knows in his gut that this pirate attack is connected, and there’s something going on in that region. The New Republic needs to intervene before it’s too late. However, again, Elia steps in to suggest that maybe letting the pirates attack Nevarro will serve as an example of why New Republic membership is important. Teva calls her out for using Imperial thinking, which gets him rebuked by Tuttle as Elia lays it on thick as just a sweet, innocent convert trying to help. She’s totally been redeemed by the New Republic, you guys.
Because he’s a space cop who doesn’t play by the rules, Teva has one more card up his sleeve. Do you know how this show just completely throws away things it set up in previous episodes like how Mando really needed IG-11? Welcome to that happening with the secret location of the Mandalorian covert. Apparently, it’s not the best hiding place in the galaxy because Teva found it without even trying. Just showed up right on their doorstep asking, “Hey, wanna fight space pirates?”
(Technically, Teva found the location thanks to R5-D4 being a narc, which… whatever.)
Now aware of Greef’s predicament, Mando implores his fellow Mandalorians to join him in battle. Granted, Mandalorians are born to fight, it’s not an easy sell thanks to Greef aiding the Imperials in wiping out the covert back in Season 1. Mando tries to paper over that by noting that Greef ultimately turned on the Imperials and helped him rescue Grogu, who’s now a Foundling, an adorable little Foundling. Just look at that face. He also sweetens the pot by offering up the plot of land Greef promised him as a new home for their people so they can finally live in the open again. No more sewers or caves with huge ass space alligators outside.
But just when Mando seems to have the covert on board thanks to them big ol’ peepers and a real estate opportunity they won’t want to miss, Paz Vizla takes the floor to seemingly voice his objection. He was there when Karga and the Imperials slaughter their covert. It’s not a memory he easily forgets. He also remembers that it was in retaliation for aiding Grogu, and now because of the little guy, they’re supposed to risk their necks again? Well, you know what? Sh*t yeah, let’s do it. This is The Way, mothaf*ckas!
Despite everything I just described sounding pretty “meh,” this episode honestly moved along briskly. And that’s for the best because once it slips into full Star Wars gear, hot damn. In yet another rip-roaring, pulpy installment, the rest of Chapter 21 goes buck wild as the Mandalorians take on the Pirate King’s forces. They’re kicking space ass and taking space names. Even The Armorer gets in on the action. It’s balls-out Star Wars fun that, again, highlights why Industrial Light & Magic are the best in the game.
After wrecking Gorian Shard’s forces, with the notable exception of Vane (Marti Matulis) who bailed once he realized his boss was heading for a fiery grave, Greef thanks his Mandalorian liberators and gratefully gives them the land he promised Mando. With the pirates flushed out of the city, The Armorer ventures down to the covert’s old home in the sewers and her forge from the first season.
While examining her old melting grounds and in a reflective mood, The Armorer sends for Bo-Katan, who dutifully comes down to the sewers where she’s given an odd command: Remove her helmet. Considering never, ever taking off your helmet has been a huge freaking deal for this lady, Bo-Katan, and me, think this has to be some sort of trick. Nevertheless, she obliges, and that’s when The Armorer reveals her cards. She believes Bo-Katan saw the mythosaur, which means a “new era” for Mandalorians is upon them. An era where all are joined together whether they’re Children of the Watch, like the covert, or unhelmeted heathens. The time for warring factions is over, but there’s only one person who can achieve this goal: Bo-Katan, who now walks in two worlds.
With an unhelmeted Bo-Katan by her side, The Armorer returned to the rest of the covert. She informs them of Bo-Katan’s new mission and the reason for her face no longer being covered. The covert fully accepts Bo-Katan’s role, which could only be good, right? Things are looking pretty sweet for this wacky helmet crew. Perhaps a little too sweet.
While out on patrol in his X-Wing, Carson Teva comes across a badly damaged shuttle that’s clearly been attacked. After a quick scan, he discovers it’s the missing transport that never made it to Moff Gideon’s trial. Teva instructs his droid to launch a probe so he can get a closer look at the inside of the ship. Whatever went down here wasn’t good, but whoever attacked the transport left behind evidence: Beskar, the main ingredient for Mandalorian armor. Ruh-roh, Shaggy.
— Right off the bat, props to my man
Ludwig Göransson Joseph Shirley for adding the pirate remix to The Mandalorian theme. It was cheesy, but just the right kind of cheesy, and that’s coming from a guy who didn’t want pirates going into this episode. (But was sold by the end.) Also, whatever that wicked little jam was at the Rebel base where Carson met Zeb? Loved it.
— The big Moff Gideon mystery. We got a couple of options here, so I’ll rank them in order of likeliness:
1. Gideon planted the Beskar to frame the Mandalorians. This would completely track because they’ve been a constant pain in his ass. From helping Mando escape with Grogu in the first season, to our shiny boy wrecking Gideon in Season 2, which led to him not only losing the Darksaber, but getting turned over to the New Republic. He probably didn’t like that. As for who rescued Gideon, my money is on Thrawn. We’re getting a lot of Rebels needle drops this season, and he’s almost definitely the big one.
2. Paz Vizla and/or The Armorer. They survived the Imperial attack on their covert and Vizla has already openly said that justice for Gideon means death.
3. Bo-Katan’s old crew. After abandoning her, they became mercenaries who are probably very game for mounting a prison ship break.
4. Gideon was not rescued, but instead, captured by Sabine Wren. As a Mandalorian, she could’ve easily left behind traces of Beskar. She is desperately trying to track down Thrawn, and more importantly, Ezra Bridger, so that could factor into her playing fast and loose with civilian casualties. Not to mention, there’s still the unresolved issue of how Moff Gideon got a hold of the Darksaber.
— What’s the big deal with Nevarro? If Teva is right, and I’d bet cash money he is, there’s clearly a concerted effort to retake Nevarro while ensuring the New Republic has no idea the Empire had a cloning facility there. Hence, Elia Kane spending 58 minutes trying to brain-whip Dr. Pershing in Chapter 21. As for why Greef Karga doesn’t seem concerned with it, the guy’s been busy rebuilding the planet. And without a marshal, he doesn’t exactly have the bandwidth to check on a presumably abandoned Imperial facility. But speaking of clones…
— One of the huge fan theories is that The Mandalorian shows are building to an adaptation of Heir to the Empire, which introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn and focused on him taking over the remnants of the Empire while going HAM on cloning. Granted, it’d be a very loose adaptation considering it also heavily featured Luke, Han, and Leia, but then again, I just remembered Uncanny Valley Mark Hamill is running around out there and Lucasfilm recently recreated 1980s Harrison Ford, so this could get real weird, real quick.
— If this episode was any indication what the Rangers of the New Republic spinoff would’ve been like? Hard pass, but still lol at Gina Carano fumbling the bag. They were building an entire show just for you, and you were like, “Nah, I’mma be a transphobe and make movies with an angry elf.”