Chapter 23 of The Mandalorian was an absolute blast from start to finish, having something for every fan to enjoy. Hints at a dark future? Check. Mandalorian culture? Check. Great action? Check. Goofy moments? Check. It’s all here and more in this episode.
Elia Kane returns in an opening reminiscent of Andor, as most of her scenes have been. With her it’s all very cloak and dagger, achieving her goals through covert means. She informs Moff Gideon (who makes his welcome return) that the Mandalorians are uniting, proving a threat to their goals.
Gideon takes this information, and informs the Imperial Remnant Shadow Council, a secret group coordinating Imperial attacks. They’re attempting to unite, but it isn’t working, with the typical infighting. But two members stand out, Commandant Brendol Hux, and Captain Pellaeon. It’s fantastic to see both in live-action, both hinting at the future of Star Wars.
It’s a moment where the sequel trilogy and Legends unite, as Thrawn’s goals now have to meet what will happen in the sequel trilogy. But it touches on the animated shows too, and even the novels. Favreau and Filoni have always been about uniting strands of the fan base together, and that’s clear in this episode.
Pellaeon’s presence does raise questions about Thrawn’s absence, but that will surely be addressed. Hux’s presence serves to add more detail to the sequel trilogy.
Returning to Nevarro, the Mandalorian fleet arrives, and the two factions that hate each other attempt to tolerate their presence. Unity is the biggest theme of this episode, with the Mandalorians overcoming their differences on both a personal and cultural level, while the Imperial Remnant are succumbing to their individual selfish need for power.
Din is quickly pulled away by Greef Karga, to give Grogu IG-12, a mech fashioned out of IG-11. It’s a hilarious but functional way to give Grogu some more mobility, and he now has yes and no buttons. The walk through the town gives a goofy but funny taste of what a comedy gold mine giving a baby a droid mech can do.
The fleet quickly relocates to Mandalore, with Bo-Katan leading a party of Mandalorians straight for the Great Forge. There, they conveniently meet up with some survivors of the Purge on a barge craft, who happen to know where the Forge is. Axe Wolves and Paz Vizsla come to blows over rules of a game, signifying the tension between Bo’s Nite Owls and the Children of the Watch.
Their ensuing fight was fun to watch, with a great closeup of a vibroblade vibrating. Grogu stepping in to stop them gives a resonant moment to an otherwise goofy mech, and shows the importance of the Jedi .Bo has a moment where she expresses worry about her past and worrying about unity. Din demonstrates his growth over the course of the season, explaining that Bo’s honour means more to him than the sword she wields.
Deathwatch does get a mention, but it’s minor. It’s a shame they weren’t tackled in a larger way. Once a monster attacks, again out of nowhere, the Mandalorians are forced to move underground, where they’re once again attacked by stormtroopers in beskar armour. While this doesn’t seem to protect them anymore than normal, it makes them look cool. These moments come slightly too fast, hampering the pace of the episode.
The Empire is revealed to have a base on Mandalore, which is exciting. Gideon returns sporting a black Mandalorian helmet, claiming that he is the upgrade to the dark trooper, conflicting with Pershing’s view, and showing his ego. Audiences can see TIE Interceptors hanging like bats on the cave wall, which leave to attack the Mandalorian fleet.
Din is captured, a great twist on making sure that Grogu isn’t in distress. Bo-Katan and the others escape, with Vizsla remaining to cover them. His death is one the season has earned, spending more time with him than ever.
It comes at the hands of Praetorian Guards, who were delivered by Hux. Their design is strangely different and more Mandalorian looking than before, which is somewhat confusing, since they have nothing to do with the planet.
This week’s episode managed to tie several strands of Star Wars storytelling together, something that Favreau and Filoni have been keen to do since the very first episode of this show. Next week looks like it will be an amazing episode, with an attack on the fleet while a rescue attempt goes on below. The Praetorians are formidable foes, and are likely to duel Bo-Katan. Could audiences get a proper look at Thrawn too?