*** Be warned that FULL SPOILERS ARE AHEAD, so if you haven’t watched this episode, don’t read this article. Trust me, you want to go into this one without spoilers. ***
The Mandalorian continues to exceed expectations and raise the hype, but this week, we got some very intriguing teases and hints that are sure to get Star Wars fans talking.
This episode, Chapter 12, was the directorial debut for Carl Weathers on the show, and so of course it features the return of Greef Karga, alongside Cara Dune – and the Mythrol from season one!
It’s another tremendous episode, and like I talked about, it manages to raise the intrigue and hype about where this story might be going. Let’s dive in to our review, but remember, full spoilers are ahead!
Din Djarin and the Child are en route to Calodan to find Ahsoka Tano, but the Razor Crest is badly damaged and in need of repairs. So Djarin and the Child attempt to fix it, but things don’t exactly go well. As they eat together on the ship, Djarin decides to head to Nevarro to get the proper repairs before continuing their quest. Nevarro has changed since we last saw it, as Greef Karga has taken on administrative duties and Cara Dune serves as the marshal, taking care of criminals. We see her take down a gang of criminals pillaging the old Mandalorian covert.
As Djarin arrives on Nevarro, he reunites with Karga and Dune, who are happy to see him and especially happy to see the Child. Karga orders his best men to get right to work fixing the Razor Crest, while the crew heads into town. Things seem a lot better (and there’s even a statue of IG-11 in the city square), and Karga drops the Child off in a school with the other children, who are learning about the state of the galaxy (learning that the capitol of the Republic was Coruscant, while the current capitol of the New Republic is Chandrila). Mando reluctantly leaves the Child and follows Karga and Dune, and soon he is surprised to see the Mythrol he captured in season one working for Karga – and the Mythrol is just as surprised to see him.
Karga enlists Mando’s help to take down an abandoned Imperial outpost, which would finally eradicate any trace of the Empire from the planet. The four of them (Djarin, Karga, Dune, and the Mythrol) infiltrate the outpost but find that it’s not abandoned. They set it to be destroyed, but as they are escaping they come across a lab with experiments. They recover a recording of Doctor Pershing discussing the experiments they have done with the Child’s blood, but he says they need more. The message is addressed to Moff Gideon, which leads Mando to conclude that it’s an old recording, since Moff Gideon is dead… but the Mythrol says it’s only three days old.
Realizing that Moff Gideon is actually alive, and now knowing what he wanted the Child for, Djarin takes off to go get the kid, fleeing with his jetpack while the others fight their way out, steal a transport, and head off. They are pursued by Scout Troopers on speeder bikes, and then are pursued by TIE Fighters. They try to fight them off, and at the last second are saved by Djarin arriving in the Razor Crest (with the Child!) and taking out the TIEs. He then heads off on his mission.
Later, the New Republic has arrived on Nevarro and Carson Teva is questioning Greef Karga about what happened. Afterward, he talks with Cara Dune, saying that the New Republic could use her help cleaning things up, since even though the core doesn’t believe it, there’s something going on out here. The two discuss Alderaan (Dune’s homeworld), and Teva says goodbye.
We then cut to an Imperial cruiser, where it is revealed that one of Karga’s mechanics installed a tracking device on the Razor Crest. An officer informs Moff Gideon about this, who stands observing a mysterious project: Dark Troopers.
There’s a lot here to discuss! But let me just get this out of the way to start: the Child continues to be absolutely adorable. Every scene with him in it was great in this episode. The scene of him trying to fix the Razor Crest as Djarin told him what to do was quite funny – and I’m just glad he’s ok after electrocuting himself! Then we got a moment of him sitting with Djarin as they both ate (and Djarin lifted his helmet slightly to do so!), as they shared a father/son moment. The moment in the school where he wants the other kid’s macaroons and uses the Force to secretly take them was great. Then him treating the Razor Crest battle sequence like a roller coaster, putting his hands up as they flew, was great – only to be followed by him throwing up his food (and with true dad energy, Djarin used his own cape to clean it up). This episode had some truly great moments with the Child.
It also had some truly great action sequences. The infiltration of the Imperial facility was well done, as was the attempted escape through the canyon and the Razor Crest dogfighting with TIEs. This was definitely an action-packed episode, and it was great.
But there’s a lot more to discuss than just that, so let’s dive into some of the more intriguing parts.
The state of Nevarro
We see that Nevarro has improved considerably under the rule of Greef Karga, who kinda evokes a Lando Calrissian feel as the administrator/facilitator of the city. Cara Dune, meanwhile, has taken up the role of marshal, cracking down on crime. Things feel safer on Nevarro, and it seems the Empire’s presence there is mostly gone (with the exception of the facility they destroy in this episode). But I also really loved the subtle touch of having a statue to IG-11 in the town square, honoring and remembering the droid that gave his life for them so that they could escape. He played a key role in liberating the planet, and it’s cool to see him remembered. My only question: where’s the statue for Kuiil?
Ok, now we arrive at what you’ve been waiting for. The moment in the episode that massively raised the stakes for not just this chapter but the whole season and the whole show came as the heroes discovered that this Imperial facility was actually a lab. They come across some vats of experiments and a message from Doctor Pershing (who, remember, bears the Kaminoan cloning logo on his uniform…). He discusses needing needing a blood donor with a high “M-count,” which is obviously a reference to a high Midi-chlorian count. He doesn’t believe they’ll find a donor with as high of a count as the Child, but he was only able to extract a small sample from the Child, which has been used up. The experiments they are running are some sort of blood transfusions, but the subjects have thus far rejected the blood.
There are a couple of things about this very mysterious scene that stood out to me in particular. I’m not sure whether they are clues about what is to come or mere coincidences, but I want to point them out anyway. First, the subjects in the vat look somewhat similar to the Snoke creations seen in the vat in The Rise of Skywalker. That’s very interesting to me. Second, during this scene, the music that plays has a lot of similarities to Snoke’s theme from The Force Awakens, and then transitions into a subtle variation of Kylo Ren’s theme. Whether this means anything or not remains to be seen.
So what is happening here? Well, that’s the big mystery of this episode. It’s not a surprise to me that there would be some sort of experimentation here, as we’ve guessed at something like that for a while (ever since Chapter 3 of season one, where they were running tests on the Child and Pershing bore the mark of the Kaminoan cloners). To me, there are two main options that seem logical. (1) First, it’s possible that this could connect into the Star Wars saga in a much larger way than we previously thought by showing us some cloning experiments and tests undertaken by Imperial remnants, perhaps with the goal of aiding Palpatine’s Final Order. That would tie-in to things in a major way, and would explain why the tests look somewhat like Snoke. Besides, it seems like one of the problems that Palpatine had in creating these clones was in the whole idea of them being Force sensitive or not, so it would make sense why they need a test subject high in midi-chlorians. (2) Second, it’s possible that this could be an experiment aimed at allowing Moff Gideon to become Force sensitive. There hasn’t been hinting at Gideon being loyal to Palpatine still, so while that’s possible, it seems just as likely (if not more so) that Gideon has much more selfish motives. It seems like the experiments are about trying to give subjects a transfusion of blood high in midi-chlorians, but so far the subjects have rejected the blood. In other words: maybe they’re trying to “make” a person Force sensitive by giving them blood high in midi-chlorians. This doesn’t seem to work, nor should it, but it makes sense why Gideon would try it. And if he winds up getting his butt kicked in a lightsaber duel with Ahsoka Tano this season (maybe even very soon), it’ll probably only serve to fuel his fervor to become sensitive all the more.
If I had to guess, I think the second option is more likely. But the first option still seems quite reasonable to me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the show at least broaches the subject and ties-in even more to TROS before it’s all done.
New Republic recruitment
Near the end of the episode, as Carson Teva wraps up his questioning about the incident on Nevarro, he has a conversation with Cara Dune. He notes that she has a record as a great fighter, and that the New Republic could use her help cleaning things up in the Outer Rim. In other words, he’s trying to recruit her to join the New Republic. While she doesn’t join him, the shot of her standing alone watching him leave makes me think that it’s possible she’s considering it. But anyway, also noteworthy to me here is that Teva believes there’s something more going on out here in the Outer Rim, but that those in the core don’t believe it. That fits in perfectly to what we know of the New Republic: they are so focused on trying to re-build the government and the galaxy that they don’t take seriously the threat over the course of decades that culminates in the massive First Order. Whether this show will ever tie-in to that or not, it fits in perfectly for this New Republic pilot to believe there’s more going on but not be able to garner much support for that in the Senate. And so instead, he (and his buddy Trapper Wolf) are left basically playing the role of cop, which he does here with questioning Greef Karga.
The two also discuss Cara Dune’s home of Alderaan. That had been mentioned in the season finale of season one, but it’s re-visited here and given more attention – and more emotion. Teva asks if she lost anybody, which seems like a dumb question to someone whose whole planet was blown up, but he was likely just trying to ask about the loved ones closest to her that she lost. She responds, though, that she lost everyone, and he expresses his condolences, giving her a Rebel medal (it’s unclear whether it’s his own or not) before leaving. It’s a touching moment that gives us a peek into Cara’s backstory, while also hinting at more possible New Republic involvement down the road.
Moff Gideon’s fascination with the Child isn’t the only mystery hinted at in this episode, as at the end, we see him in-person for the first time this season, and he’s standing amidst rows of soldiers. The audio commentary for this episode reveals that these are Dark Troopers! We also see that the scientist working on them while Gideon observes is wearing the logo of the Death Star scientists, so it’s clear that these are probably related to the weapons division too. That would certainly be true of Dark Troopers! These troopers were first introduced in Legends and are advanced battle droids highly capable in battle. They have been referenced in the Star Wars Commander mobile game, but now they’ve been brought to live-action in this show. In other words, Gideon appears to have an elite battle droid unit at his command, making his forces even more formidable!
In all, this episode was great. It featured great action sequences, great moments with the Child, some great humorous moments (largely provided by the Child and the Mythrol), the return of Greef Karga and Cara Dune, and tons of intrigue about where we could be going moving forward.
And speaking of moving forward, as Djarin and the Child are heading off on their quest, and since next week’s episode is written and directed by Dave Filoni, I’m fully expecting to see the live-action debut of a beloved former Jedi. I can’t wait!
My grade: 10/10