The fifth episode of The Mandalorian season three brings some excellent action to an otherwise sparse offering since the start of the season. Audiences also finally get a clue at the bigger picture both for the season and the wider galaxy, but there is some fumbling at the end with confusing writing.
This episode is a relatively simple affair. Gorian Shard, the pirate from episode one, moves into Nevarro, and claims it as his own. There is an excellent shot of his cruiser laying waste to the city below, aerial bombardment is always a pleasure to watch. Greef Kargo sends a distress signal to the New Republic (NR), pleading for help.
This signal reaches a tropical base where Carson Teva is located. And he’s joined by surprise cameo Zeb Orrelios, a tease of what’s to come with live-action Star Wars: Rebels. His design is well executed, and having the same voice actor is a great touch. Teva doesn’t waste time on the base though, and quickly goes to Coruscant to get help.
Or so he thinks. The NR won’t accommodate his request, turning Nevarro down because they’re not a member planet, especially with Elia Kane whispering in their ear. It’s a sad look into NR affairs, and shows how quickly the government collapsed. It’s somewhat confusing how Kane got this amount of influence so quickly, and what happened to Pershing, with this being glossed over.
Teva instead appeals to the Mandalorians, who are at least more receptive to his request. But what follows is more confusing, and it permeates the last half of the show. Instead of using the darksaber, Din has to petition the Mandalorians for help. Why he does this isn’t explained, but it does give a small character moment to Paz Vizsla, someone who has shone this season.
What follows is engaging action both in the air and on the ground. There is some inventive use of the cruiser, a well-designed ship that looks to have taken cues from the Imperial Eclipse. Once this is over, the confusion in the writing just noticeable goes into overdrive, with the Armorer letting Bo-Katan take her helmet off, contradicting her cult’s most sacred tenet. It brings into question why the helmet rule is enforced at all, with the Armorer picking and choosing.
The Armorer tells Bo the covert will retake Mandalore, though the planet was last seen unoccupied, so there isn’t a big deal. All it takes is some cleaning of the local pests, not a hard task. But this gives the season some focus in its final three episodes, after three that have spun the wheel and worldbuild but don’t feature much plot. Perhaps a new force has moved in over the planet.
Confusing writing doesn’t stop here. Bo-Katan is tasked with finding more Mandalorians, but this really should be Din. For one, it’s his show, discovering more Mandalorians sounds like a fun adventure, and so shouldn’t be conducted by a side-character, but it muddles the darksaber rules. Bo doesn’t have the saber, so no Mandalorian will follow her, but Din does, and no one is bothered by that. The darksaber is completely forgotten. Seeing a Mythosaur trumps owning the saber it seems.
Teva discovers the wreck of the shuttle carrying Moff Gideon, and finds Beskar in the walls, suggesting Mandalorian involvement. While actually seeing Gideon would be nice – the only word on him so far is that he never made it to his NR trial – the development opens up a number of interesting possibilities, all equally likely. It could be the truth, a setup, or a mix, and each would take the season in a fresh direction.
Overall, this episode showcases some stellar action, but the writing fumbles the clear rules that govern Mandalorian society. Bo-Katan seems to be not only making a power-play within the show, but a power-play for the show, a troubling prospect for Din’s future. Larger forces than him are at play, he isn’t just a bounty hunter alone in the galaxy anymore.