By Mike Redmond | TV | March 17, 2023 |
By Mike Redmond | TV | March 17, 2023 |
Previously on The Mandalorian: Mando finally got to take his bath, and Bo-Katan saw a dinosaur. I wish I was joking, but that’s literally all that happened, and so far, it’s still the strongest episode of the season. No foolin’!
Picking up directly after last week’s cliffhanger ending, which saw Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) rescue Mando (Pedro Pascal) from the Living Waters in the Mines of Mandalore, Chapter 19 “The Convert” opens with Bo-Katan watching for another sign of the mythosaur that she spotted while rescuing Mando, who’s slowly regaining consciousness from his special boy bath. As he comes to, the show thankfully settles the pressing matter of did he step into a drop-off like an idiot or did he get pulled under by the mythosaur? Turns out, our dude waltzed into an unexpected hole, but it’s honestly not his fault. As Bo-Katan explains, the Imperial bombing probably caused seismic activity that turned the once-shallow mines into a watery grave waiting to happen.
That revelation is pretty important because it means the mythosaur only showed itself to Bo-Katan, which is further confirmed after she asks Mando if he saw anything in the water. He did not, so she keeps her little encounter under her helmet. Unfortunately, that means this episode is not about to go buck wild with magic space dinosaurs. Mando has a cult to impress the shit out of with his special bath, so they round up Baby Yoda and get the hell out of Dodge.
While aboard Bo-Katan’s ship, she and Mando share a little banter about his redemption, which ends in both of them saying, “This is the way,” but someone else wants to join in. In what is almost definitely a massive neon sign that this season is going to end with Baby Yoda talking, the little guy does his best to join in the chant, but he’s got a ways to go. However, the adorable moment is cut short by the sudden presence of TIE Interceptors.
What happens next is truly the culmination of everything that George Lucas dreamed of for a Star Wars TV series. We’re talking top-notch, movie-level visual effects that deliver an action spectacle that could easily go toe-to-toe with any blockbuster scene from the past decade. This is Industrial Light & Magic doing what it does best, and similarly, both Mando and Bo-Katan are firing on all cylinders as they take on the TIE Interceptor assault. Just pure badassery across the board, but things quickly go south for our heroes.
While they were awesomely wrecking Interceptors, a squadron of TIE Bombers snuck in and blew up Bo-Katan’s castle, and even with a helmet on, you can feel Katee Sackhoff’s anguish that quickly turns to anger. It’s not easy finding a quiet space castle where you can spend hours looking like a… *consults Internet Dictionary For Olds*… mother lesbian. (Nailed it.) Justifiably pissed that her throne-sitting days are over, Bo-Katan takes off after the Bombers, but that’s also another trap because whoever planned this attack is pretty damn crafty. Thanks to a heads-up from Mando, she narrowly turns back as the two fly off into orbit. Mando shoots her coordinates for a location where they can lay low, and the two blast off into hyperspace.
With a 58-minute runtime, surely, we’re going to keep the incredible momentum going. This show is really starting to cook with gas, so the last thing you’d want to do is tank the next 45 minutes with, I dunno, let’s say some meandering subplot about a side character that everyone completely forgot about. (You know that weird primal scream that Paul Dano’s The Riddler makes in The Batman when he attacks his first victim? That was me for the rest of this episode.)
Going into these recaps, I’ve actively tried not to compare The Mandalorian to Andor because they are very different shows telling very different stories, which is great. The beauty of Star Wars is that there’s room for both. Unfortunately, The Mandalorian didn’t get that memo because it decided to blunder right into Andor’s wheelhouse and play act at profundity for what felt like an eternity.
Following Mando and Bo-Katan’s escape, the episode cuts to Coruscant where the New Republic is in the very early stages of power. For reasons that are never explained and dropped quicker than Mando’s insistence on repairing IG-11, Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi) is giving a space TED Talk about cloning to a jam-packed crowd of Coruscant’s elite. If you don’t remember Dr. Pershing, he’s the Imperial scientist from the first two seasons who — How do I put this? — harvested Baby Yoda’s blood and injected it into human test subjects who freaking died. If you think that stopped him, nope! Pershing requested more Baby Yoda blood resulting in the little guy’s capture in Season 2.
But that was before. Now, Pershing is a proud member of the New Republic’s Amnesty Program who just wants to get back to his cloning research so he can save lives like his mom, whose heart failure wouldn’t have been a death sentence if organ cloning was a thing. The rich people in attendance seem to love his ideas, which amounts to jackshit because he’s shuttled back to his Amnesty life where he’s referred to only as “L52” and forced to do monotonous office work.
“The Empire and the New Republic aren’t so different after all” might as well have been flashing on the screen because that’s the amount of subtlety going on here. Again, Andor, this show is not.
While back at his Amnesty housing, Pershing meets other recruits including one he recognizes from his days on Moff Gideon’s ship, G68 (Katy O’Brian). The two form a friendship that’s mainly G68 constantly goading Pershing to restart his cloning research for the good of the New Republic, and the whole thing drags on forever. The two of them visit an outdoor festival on Coruscant, and it’s some green screen nonsense that’s practically a spit in the face after the technical wizardry of Chapter 19’s opening. This is some weak MCU shit, folks, which isn’t helped by the fact that O’Brian was literally just in Quantumania.
Anyway, after some nonsensical shit about how the New Republic is scrapping whatever Imperial technology is laying around — And also Rebel Alliance stuff? God, I miss Andor. — Pershing finally gives in and agrees to restart his work. After a mind-numbing train sequence, G68 leads Pershing to an abandoned Star Destroyer where she reveals her real name is Elia Kane and apologizes for never introducing herself during their time on Gideon’s ship. She’s laying it on real thick, which should be obvious that things are about to take a turn.
Shortly after securing the equipment Pershing that needs, they quickly realize they’re not alone on the ship. As they make a run for it, they’re stopped outside by New Republic officers who notably only say that L52 is under arrest. Elia turns off her act and picks up the case full of equipment as she makes her way over to the officers. Pershing is clearly boned, and like everyone watching, he has no idea why.
Cut to an Amnesty facility where Pershing is being strapped to a Mind Flayer. Turns out the New Republic are still hanging onto Imperial tech, but only after discovering that this particular piece of equipment is handy when used at very low levels. As a Mon Calamari officer explains from personal experience, the machine will help relieve Pershing’s trauma from working for the Empire so he can better acclimate to his life in the New Republic. He assures Pershing that they’re not the Empire, and it’s safe.
Meanwhile, observing from the next room, Elia is thanked by another Amnesty officer for being such a valued asset to the program. Apparently, her job description is entrapping Amnesty recruits? Sure, why not? As he gets ready to leave, Elia asks if she can stay because Pershing is a friend, and she feels bad he relapsed. Left alone, she cranks the Mind Flayer all the way up and watches as Pershing’s mind is turned to goo. Nefarious!
Following that 800 year long detour, we catch up with Mando and Bo-Katan who arrive at the beach location from the Season 3 premiere. Mando’s big plan is to hide out with his old covert, and of course, make a huge deal about his special bath, which the weirdo does right out of the gate. With Bo-Katan as his witness and a tube full of Living Water in his pants (They don’t call Pedro Pascal “Daddy” for nothing.) The Armorer proclaims Mando’s redemption — but also makes another announcement.
You see, Mando wasn’t the only one who bathed in the Living Waters. So did Bo-Katan, who hasn’t removed her helmet in the time since. According to The Way, she’s now part of the covert that she just spent several episodes calling a nutjob cult. Before she can protest, the members welcome her to the group with the notable exception of Paz Vizla (Jon Favreau) whose house Bo-Katan has some bad blood with thanks to her old Death Watch days. This could get interesting, or end up burning another episode on some random character for hours on end. Hard to tell.
— So the big question seems to be what the heck was Elia Kane’s deal? Some people think her goal was to restart Pershing’s cloning project because she took his equipment, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. He just took standard equipment from a random Star Destroyer and not his own. That’s like trying to copy somebody’s cookie recipe by stealing their baking sheet. Good luck! A more probable scenario is she’s tying up loose ends and turned him into a vegetable before he shared more details of the Empire’s cloning experiments.
— Speaking of, the episode made it a point to note that Moff Gideon escaped after being captured by Kara Dune, so let’s just go ahead and chalk that one up to Gina Carano’s transphobia. (Look what you did, you dunce.) Is Gideon the Imperial that coordinated the attack on Mando and Bo-Katan? Possibly. However, fans are already speculating that the attack was the work of a particularly cunning strategist, Grand Admiral Thrawn. His name was already dropped in Season 2, and it’s practically inevitable that he’ll pop up in Ahsoka. Since these shows are Marvel-ized up to their nips, there’s a good chance we’ll see more cross-promotion in the weeks ahead.
— As for why The Mandalorian is going so hard on cloning, J.J. Abrams really painted this franchise into the corner. Even though there’s still a 25-year gap between this show and the sequel trilogy, Star Wars cannot help but be Star Wars and over-explain the balls off of everything. The New Republic has to be bad because it fails, and the Empire has to be big into cloning because otherwise no Snoke and, somehow, Palpatine returning. Again, this show doesn’t have to lay the groundwork for any of that stuff, but here we are, still hopelessly chained to the Skywalker Saga.
God, I miss Andor.