We’re now past the halfway mark of the third season of The Mandalorian, and today’s episode is another strong one in the series.
It contains exciting action, a thrilling cameo, important character moments, and some intriguing galactic developments. Let’s dive in to our review of “Chapter 21: The Pirate”, and as always, full spoilers are ahead!
As Greef Karga works with engineers to plan further expansions on Nevarro, the planet is attacked by pirate king Gorian Shard. He demands Greef’s surrender, but the high magistrate refuses to abandon his people. Shard begins firing upon the city, forcing the people to evacuate as the pirates take over. Greef leads the survivors out of the city to establish camp while he waits for help to come. He sends an urgent message to Commander Carson Teva of the New Republic, asking for assistance. Teva takes the request to Coruscant, asking for additional resources, but the New Republic is unable to send the needed aid, especially to an independent world.
So, instead, Teva heads to the Mandalorian covert, informed of their location by an old rebel ally, R5-D4. He informs Din Djarin of the trouble Greef is in, and then leaves. With the covert gathered together, Djarin asks his clan to aid Nevarro, and his friend. In return, he discloses that Karga offered him a plot of land, meaning they could make a new home and not live in hiding any longer. Paz Vizsla then speaks up, mentioning their previous fight against Greef… but then saying that he trusts Djarin and Bo-Katan, and believes they should help. Bo-Katan devises a plan and the clan heads for Nevarro.
Djarrin draws Shard’s attention in his N1 starfighter, luring out the pirate’s fighters and drawing them away from the city. That allows Bo-Katan to fly in with the Gauntlet and drop the Mandalorians into the city, where they begin fighting against the pirates. Several different teams converge on the city together, aided by particularly heroic acts from Paz Vizsla and the Armorer. They liberate the city while Djarin and Kryze take out the fighters in the sky. Sensing his defeat, Gorian Shard turns his attention on the survivors on the ground and begins targeting them, but the two Mandalorian fighters in the air take down Shard’s cruiser, killing him.
In the aftermath, Greef Karga thanks the Mandalorians and offers them a new home on the planet. The Armorer meets with Bo-Katan, having come to believe her story about the Mythosaur, and sees her as being the one who can unite the Mandalorian clans. The Armorer asks Kryze to remove her helmet, saying that Bo-Katan can walk both ways and thus can be the one to bring them together. The Armorer and Bo-Katan walk out to a stunned covert, and the Armorer tells them of Bo-Katan’s quest. Meanwhile, off in space, Carson Teva comes across the remains of an attacked Lambda shuttle. As he investigates, he finds the New Republic officers dead, and confirms that this was the transport carrying Moff Gideon to trial. It’s proof of the rumors of his escape, but as Teva investigates further, he finds beskar alloy in the shuttle as well, leading him to conclude that the Mandalorians took Gideon.
This was another strong episode of the series, with some pretty big moments for the characters and some intriguing in-universe developments. But let’s not delay in getting to the biggest one: ZEB IS BACK, and he looks freaking fantastic in live-action.
At the New Republic base, as we see all the pilots gathering together at the bar (which includes Dave Filoni’s Trapper Wolf, complete with a cowboy hat!), Carson Teva receives the message from Greef Karga. After listening to it, a big alien comes over to talk with him. It’s a Lasat, the first time we’ve seen the species in live-action, and the credits confirm that it’s Zeb, voiced once again by Steve Bluem. He was one of the Spectres in Rebels (Spectre 4, to be exact), one of the main characters of the show. It’s an awesome moment (and seriously: he actually looks really, really good in live-action), and one that will surely connect to the Ahsoka series. In that series, it has already been confirmed that three of the six Spectres will appear: Hera Syndulla (Spectre 2), Chopper (Spectre 3), and Sabine Wren (Spectre 5). Additionally, though it hasn’t been officially announced, Ezra Bridger (Spectre 6) has been cast and will be appearing, as the series will follow Ahsoka and Sabine as they search for him. Zeb appearing here means that we have all five of the surviving Spectres present in this time period and appearing in the Mandoverse, which is insanely cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get an announcement at Celebration next week that he’ll be joining them in Ahsoka. It’s one of the best cameos this series has had, and it makes me even more excited for Ahsoka, if that’s possible.
While we’re on the subject of the New Republic, let’s stay there for a moment. This feels a lot like what Rangers of the New Republic was meant to be, and I love it. There are two main threads converging with the New Republic storyline in this season; the first is the struggling government, and the second is the growing threat. We see more evidence of the New Republic’s struggle to lead, which is exactly in line with the way the government has been portrayed in other canon material. It’s not that they’re bad, but simply that they find establishing a new government far more difficult than overthrowing the previous one. To establish a new government that tries to establish its rule without trying to come across as being a repeat of the Empire is difficult, and it makes the Republic officer’s response more understandable. He can’t allocate resources to Nevarro, in part because they don’t have the resources to spare. He mentions there are other worlds requesting aid, and they can’t keep up with it all. Put another way, this government is struggling to keep up. That’s why they won’t prioritize aiding independent systems, especially because they don’t want to come across as taking over these worlds like the Empire did.
It can be hard seeing the New Republic this effective, which is why it’s important to remember that there are many good people working to make it better, people like Chancellor Mon Mothma (and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she shows up in the Mandoverse at some point). They aren’t trying to harm people, but they’re simply overwhelmed. That has the adverse effects of not being able to focus on what they should be focused on, and missing things they shouldn’t ignore. Because all the while, something is happening in the outer reaches of the galaxy, and Teva continues to be concerned about it. He’s convinced the Empire is growing, and that they’re allied with these pirates attacking Nevarro. We don’t know whether that is true, but it’s notable how insistent Teva is on the fact, plus how Elia Kane wants to keep the Republic away from it. If I had to guess, Teva’s probably on to something. Maybe there’s more to those pirates than meets the eye.
But, well, they’re mostly all gone now, because the Mandalorians saved the day. It was great seeing them work together as a clan to do it, led by Bo-Katan. We continued to get some great starfighter action, which this season has been giving us an abundance of, plus great scenes on the ground. Paz Vizsla and the Armorer in particular stepped up, and they continue to be compelling characters who surprise. When Vizsla got up to speak I was sure he was going to oppose the effort on Nevarro, but it’s great seeing how the actions of Kryze and Djarin in the last episode are paying off. Their willingness to help rescue Vizsla’s son have caused him to follow them, and the Mandalorians value honor. The actions, however, are about more than just honor: it’s about giving them a new home. That feels like a big development in this season that’s already shown us Mandalore, as the covert has now established a new home on Nevarro where they don’t have to remain in hiding any longer. They’re beginning to re-build their people, working from this new home.
And there’s one person in particular who can gather their people together, and it’s no surprise to viewers of this series and other Star Wars media: Bo-Katan Kryze. The Armorer surprises everyone by instructing Kryze to remove her helmet, and we see that she’s more reasonable than we thought. She believes in the Way, but she recognizes that not all Mandalorians do. And Bo-Katan having seen the Mythosaur seems to cause the Armorer to soften a bit on her insistence that everyone follow the Way so rigidly, as perhaps this new age of Mandalore, which seems to center around one who would be considered an apostate for removing her helmet so willingly, means they must be a bit more understanding. I absolutely love this development, because it mean that the Mythosaur’s appearance has now caused both sides to come closer together. It was seeing the Mythosaur that caused Bo-Katan to start to believe that maybe there’s something to following the Way, since it appeared after one of the believers bathed in the waters. But the fact that it was Bo-Katan, a non-believer, who saw it has now also caused the Armorer to believe that maybe the rigidity of the Way isn’t the only way. This is how the legend of the Mythosaur can signal a new age for the people, by bringing them together despite their differences.
And who better to do that than the one who can walk both ways? It’s a great moment seeing Kryze walk out alongside the Armorer without her helmet, and she has a quest: to gather the Mandalorian clans from across the galaxy. There’s a whole number of Mandalorians who could appear over the final three episodes, whether that be Sabine Wren or Fenn Rau or others. But there also could be some less friendly Mandalorians, as Teva discovers hints that perhaps some of them sprung Gideon from the New Republic transport. Could these be members of Death Watch who were formerly allied with the Empire?
Whoever it is, this series continues to explore the evolution of the Mandalorian people, and we’re seeing the beginnings of them being re-united. We’ve seen Bo-Katan and this clan come together, and we’ll see more to come, I’m sure. They now have a new home on Nevarro from which they can operate. And, as I’ve said before, Bo-Katan and Din Djarin are the perfect ones to re-unite the clans. One of them was disillusioned with the Way and the other follows it rigidly, but both of them are allies working together for a common cause. One of them has previously led their people, and the other wields the darksaber. And the symbol of these two working together is a compelling example to a people whose downfall came because they couldn’t stop fighting each other. Plus, they have a Jedi padawan who is a Mandalorian foundling, bridging another ancient divide. There’s no better choice to re-unite Mandalore than this crew, and we’re seeing that develop as the season goes on.