Andor returned today with – no, wait, it was The Mandalorian!
The latest episode of The Mandalorian felt a lot like the episodes of Andor, and I mean that in a great way. It’s filled with political intrigue, and it’s set in a period that I’m extremely excited to be exploring more of. The show slowed down a bit for this week’s episode, but there’s still plenty to discuss.
Let’s dive in to our review of The Mandalorian Chapter 19, “The Convert,” and as always, be warned that full spoilers are ahead!
Din Djarin, Bo-Katan Kryze, and Grogu leave Mandalore after the events of last week’s episode, and Bo-Katan opts to keep it to herself that she saw a mythosaur in the waters. As she flies them back to Kalevala, they are attacked by a squadron of TIE Interceptors. She enters the planet’s atmosphere, and Djarin uses his jetpack to flee the Gauntlet fighter and board his N1. Together, the two ships destroy the TIEs, but are then surprised by TIE Bombers destroying Kryze’s castle. They are reinforced by a large amount of TIEs, forcing Djarin and Kryze to flee the planet.
Meanwhile, on Coruscant, Doctor Pershing speaks about his cloning efforts and settles in to the New Republic Amnesty program – alongside Elia Kane, another member of Moff Gideon’s crew. Kane befriends Pershing, and as the two talk and take in the sights of Coruscant, she slowly convinces him to resume his cloning efforts out of a desire to help the New Republic, even though it’s illegal. They sneak out and board a train, taking them to the ship yards, where a bunch of perfectly good Imperial tech sits ready to be decommissioned. Pershing retrieves enough to set up a makeshift cloning lab, but as they leave, New Republic officers apprehend them. Kane then betrays Pershing, with the New Republic applauding her efforts to turn in a person who relapsed. The New Republic runs a ‘mind probe’ on Pershing to help undo the Empire’s conditioning, but as the officers leave, Kane turns the dial up to extreme levels.
Djarin and Kryze arrive on the planet where the remnants of the Watch are. Djarin proves that he had been to the mines, leading the
Armorer to declare that he has been redeemed. She says that, since Kryze also washed in the waters and hasn’t removed her helmet yet, Bo-Katan is now a part of their clan as well.
As I noted earlier, this really did feel like a mixture between The Mandalorian and Andor, and I can’t help but wonder if some of the original plans for Rangers of the New Republic were folded into this series now, since that one isn’t happening. Whatever the reason, though, it was a strong episode.
Let’s start where the episode does, with the storyline following Djarin, Bo-Katan, and Grogu. I’m glad that we picked right up where we left off a week ago, as I was very curious to see how Bo-Katan would respond to seeing the Mythosaur. It turns out, she’s not going to tell. It’s a lot for her to process, and I can’t exactly blame her for not wanting to divulge this pretty massive piece of information. And that’s the interesting aspect to her arc that is explored a bit in this episode; the title is “The Convert,” and though that’s obviously referring most clearly to the stuff on Coruscant, I think it’s also fair to say that Bo-Katan is in a similar camp. I don’t think she’s going to go all-out in following “the way” like Djarin and the Watch, but nonetheless the episode ends with her part of their clan. I doubt she’ll fully embrace it (I hope not), but we had already seen how she’s more accepting of different clans than she used to be.
Her goal is to see Mandalorians unite once more, and I wonder if her experience seeing the Mythosaur appear in connection with Djarin’s ritual has her at least considering whether the ruler of Mandalore needs to have at least a certain level of belief in the way. Bo-Katan has been a skeptic, but maybe the one to unite the clans can’t actually be one who dismisses their traditions so easily. Of course, there’s the other possibility, which is the fact that Bo-Katan currently has no home and no army, so joining this clan temporarily allows her to figure out her next moves. But it could also lead to some interesting moments, as I’m sure the Children of the Watch have something in common with Death Watch, which Bo-Katan used to be a part of. There could be some rivalries brewing, if that’s the case.
The best part of this whole storyline in this episode, though, was the starfighter dogfight on Kalevala. It was epic, and the starfighter action in The Mandalorian season three has really stepped it up to a whole new level. It looks gorgeous, and seeing the N1 and a Gauntlet in action is absolutely incredible. I loved every second of it. But it also raised a very interesting question: where did all these Imperial fighters come from? Bo-Katan implies that a warlord couldn’t have gotten all these fighters, which hints at something more. People automatically began wondering if Thrawn is behind it all, and I still would not be surprised if down the road we learn that he’s the one ultimately behind these Imperial remnants. But at the same time, I doubt Thrawn would have this same kind of personal vendetta against Bo-Katan, so it’s more likely this is the work of Gideon (and, if anything, Gideon could report to Thrawn).
Because, as the ex-Imperials talk over drinks on Coruscant, someone shares a rumor that Gideon escaped on his way to the war tribunal. That’s the first we’ve heard of it, and it starts to put a few of the pieces together. It sounds like he’s no longer in New Republic custody, so he might be the one pulling the strings on this attack on Kalevala. And he’s also probably the one pulling the strings behind Elia Kane’s actions in this episode, as she befriends Pershing only to betray him. It’s unclear whether her primary goal was to retrieve the cloning equipment or, perhaps more likely, to ensure that Pershing couldn’t say anything incriminating about them by wiping his memory. Either way, she’s likely working for Gideon as she does so.
But her interactions with Pershing are great, and she’s very likable as she tries to help him. The episode really humanizes both of them, but especially Pershing. There’s never an acceptable excuse to serve a fascist regime like the Empire, but it’s also overly simplistic to think that everyone serving the Empire was a cold-hearted person who wanted to make others suffer. They certainly had plenty of those people, for sure, but then you have someone like Pershing who got into it for noble reasons (to work on cloning to try to prevent people like his mom from dying) and who just wants to make the galaxy a better place. Some people believed the lie that the Empire would do that, and now the New Republic is trying to convince people that they actually are.
Someone with noble intentions like Pershing can still wind up serving less-than-noble ends, and it can be hard to find that line. That’s a parallel to the state of the New Republic. For instance, with the mind wipe, Pershing insists that’s what it is while the New Republic doctor says that they don’t use it for those purposes and that it’s just a helpful treatment. But where is the line? Kane literally crosses it when she turns the dial up, but why have a dial that goes that high? Why use the same equipment? This episode shows how the New Republic can inadvertently repeat some of the same errors as the governments that came before it, even with the noblest of intentions.
It’s hard to watch at times, because it’s hard to see the New Republic not getting it all right, but it’s remarkably in-line with the characterization of the government in other canon material, which is great. They have sought to move on from war, but that has led to some other consequences.
Seeing Coruscant again though was fantastic, especially for the first time ever on-screen in the post-Return of the Jedi world. The planet looks great visually, and the life on the planet is a noticeable contrast from the way the world was depicted in Andor. We got to see the opera house again, and also the peak of Umate, the highest mountain on the planet. It’s really cool to see it in live-action, after it was glimpsed very briefly in The Clone Wars and also featured in the High Republic era as well. One other note about the Coruscant atmosphere is that I loved the touch of playing “March of the Resistance” in the background during the festival, serving as a sort of in-universe theme for the New Republic (like the Imperial March played as an in-universe theme for the Empire in Solo). It’s not the first time the motif has accompanied the New Republic in The Mandalorian, and I think it’s a great development. But I also loved the echoes of the clone theme in the Coruscant theme that played in this episode, as well as the shades of Snoke’s theme that played when Pershing finally decided to steal the cloning equipment. Joseph Shirley has done a tremendous job on the score this season after taking over the role, and he deserves a lot of credit in this one in particular.
Overall this episode didn’t give us many answers but it certainly ramped up the intrigue, particularly over what’s really going on with the Empire, what they really want with these cloning experiments, and how the New Republic is really handling things. But the episode took time to slow down – something this series hasn’t always done – and focus on the characters, much like Andor did. What resulted was a very different kind of episode for The Mandalorian, but a very enjoyable one.
One thought on “The Mandalorian: Chapter 19 review!”
The fact that we see influential politicians at the opera house who seemingly don’t care about the very real differences between the Galactic Empire and the New Republic, and whose entire mantra is “Don’t get involved,” is another sign that things are not going as well as they should be for the new government. It does help to explain why the Imperial Remnants are seemingly operating unhindered on the Outer Rim, and also sets the stage for the New Republic fatally turning a blind eye to the rise of the First Order.
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