The Mandalorian is back. The sixth episode of the third season premiered today, just days in advance of Star Wars Celebration, and it was an interesting one.
It was full of cameos, was goofy and strange, and included some very important developments in the big picture of the storyline. Let’s dive in to the review of “Chapter 22: Guns for Hire”, and as always, full spoilers are ahead!
A Quarren cruiser commanded by a Quarren captain who is journeying with her runaway Mon Calamari lover is apprehended by Axe Woves and his band of Mandalorians aboard the Imperial cruiser stolen from Moff Gideon. They were hired to bring this Mon Calamari prince back home, and they do exactly that, working for the highest bidder. Later, Bo-Katan Kryze, Din Djarin, and Grogu arrive on Plazir-15, an independent world where Wolves and his team are hanging out.
Before being able to have an audience with the Mandalorians, however, the trio is brought to visit the planet’s leadership, an ex-Imperial named Captain Bombardier and The Duchess, part of the planet’s royal line. Together the couple leads the democratic world, and they have hired the Mandalorians for protection since, as an ex-Imperial, Bombardier is not allowed to have military of his own. But that protection is not allowed inside city limits, where some rogue, malfunctioning droids are causing havoc. He asks for Kryze and Djarin to help, and in exchange he’ll grant them an audience with the Mandalorians they seek. The heroes begin to investigate, leading them to meetings with Ugnaughts, plenty of droids, and more. They eventually trace the source of the problem back to the security officer, who is revealed to be a Separatist still admiring Count Dooku. He is arrested, and the heroic trio of Kryze, Djarin, and Grogu head out to meet Woves and the others.
Woves rejects Kryze’s leadership, so she challenges him to a duel. She emerges victorious and implores the others that the Mandalorians must stop fighting against themselves. Woves accuses Djarin of not being a true Mandalorian, but Kryze vouches for him. When Woves then says that Djarin should lead them because he has the darksaber, Djarin then vouches for Kryze, saying that since she defeated the alien on Mandalore that had defeated him, the darksaber is rightfully hers. The others recognize this, and Djarin hands the darksaber to her.
In many ways, this was the most an episode of Star Wars TV has really felt like George Lucas since he sold Lucasfilm. It felt a lot like some episodes of The Clone Wars: a bit eccentric and goofy, full of droids, featuring some notable cameos, exploring a new world and its political realities and allegiances, spending time on a side quest, and then having a few moments of important developments in the bigger-picture of the series. Yes, that’s the Lucas MO, and there’s a lot to love about it. Of course, it also explains why the episode isn’t appealing to everyone, because that’s precisely what happened to Lucas.
This episode left me with a strange feeling, one where I thought the episode was fun and enjoyable but just odd, particularly in the bigger picture. Looking at this one episode in particular, it was fun! Looking at how it fits in to the overall season, it was curious! For the most part, a lot of the goofiness worked for me. There were some very notable cameos, including Jack Black, Lizzo, and Christopher Lloyd, and we got to explore this brand new and mysterious world of Plazir-15. The worldbuilding was fun, and the mission to stop the malfunctioning droids was fun enough but felt way too random and prolonged.
What did emerge from that, however, was seeing how Din Djarin and Bo-Katan Kryze work well together and how they need each other. When they’re trying to get the information out of Ugnaughts, Djarin knows how to communicate with them whereas Kryze is angering them. Djarin knows that to accuse Ugnaughts of faulty work is an insult. It’s great to see the lessons he learned by being friends with Kuiil in season one coming into play. But though he knows best how to communicate with Ugnaughts, it’s Kryze who knows best how to communicate with droids. She knows that to accuse droids of not reasoning is an insult that makes no sense. It’s odd to see Djarin react with such anger against droids; yes, that was a part of his character early on, but after his encounter with IG-11 the series portrayed him as having come to embrace droids more than he used to. Maybe it was just the sight of battle droids (the same ones that scarred him as a kid)… but it felt like a reversion on his character for him to react against droids like this. That was puzzling. But I suppose the point that Jon Favreau was trying to get across is that both Djarin and Kryze work together best as a team, using their past experiences to help round out the weaknesses of the other. That point did get across, even if it felt a little messy in getting there.
And I guess the reason why Djarin’s interactions with the droids felt especially odd is because the main theme of this episode was all about second chances. Djarin had a second chance to treat droids better, and he’s not doing it. In that way he’s actually portrayed as closer to Christopher Lloyd’s character, which I’m sure wasn’t the intention. I loved the Count Dooku name-drop, and it makes perfect sense why there would still be those sympathetic to the Separatists in the galaxy. After all, it’s often easy to forget that all of this is taking place just a few decades after the Clone Wars, so there would be plenty of people in the galaxy who remembered those days. And not everyone sided with the Republic. Yet the character was given a second chance, and he used it instead to try to ruin the second chance the droids were given.
The droids knew that these malfunctioning droids could mean they would all be deactivated, which is why those in the droid bar complied with Kryze’s investigation. These droids, particularly the battle droids that were used by the Separatists, have all been given a second chance on Plazir-15. It’s stated that if they were subject to the New Republic they would just be scrapped for parts, but here they’ve been given a new lease on life and are able to serve. The droids have been given a second chance, and others are conspiring to take it away.
Another person given a second chance is Captain Bombardier, an ex-Imperial. We’ve seen a lot about the New Republic amnesty program this season, where former Imperials can be rehabilitated, and Elia Kane has given it a bad name for the audience. But Bombardier seems, at least, to be trying to be better. He’s been given a second chance too, and he’s trying to make a better life with it.
Which all sets up the final moments of the episode, which were undoubtedly the best. If the whole droid plot on Plazir-15 dragged on a bit, the final minutes of the episode redeemed it and gave us some great, and significant, takeaways. But keeping with the theme of second chances, it culminates with Bo-Katan Kryze being given the darksaber for the second time. It previously happened in Rebels, when Sabine Wren handed it to her and Bo-Katan tried to use it to unite Mandalore – an effort that failed. Now, she is truly being handed a second chance at it: a second chance to use the darksaber to unite Mandalorians under her leadership. This time, however, in the eyes of the other Mandalorians it’s earned.
It’s earned because of a technicality, one that Din Djarin conveniently kept to himself until right now. When Bo-Katan defeated the alien on Mandalore, technically she could have a claim to the darksaber. It feels a bit forced, but it works enough that it’s believable. Best of all, though, is that the darksaber is back in her hands, and I’m incredibly eager to see her using it. She has matured since the previous attempt, and now her ambitions are more genuine. As the Armorer said, she is the one who could unite the Mandalorians. We get an example of that in this episode, where Axe Woves begins to accuse Din Djarin, a foundling, of not being a true Mandalorian. It is Bo-Katan who speaks up in his defense, saying that he’s every bit as much of a Mandalorian as they are. That’s a notable moment, and Kryze is uniquely able to say it – and have others believe it.
Some Mandalorians, like Woves and his followers, believe that foundlings are not true Mandalorians. Other Mandalorians, like the Children of the Watch, believe that those who remove their helmets are not true Mandalorians. Bo-Katan is able to connect with both groups, but is also able to help both groups see how their way of thinking is far too narrow and divisive. That’s why she is the one who could unite them, and now that she has the darksaber, her efforts will be validated by the symbol all Mandalorians recognize.
With just two episodes left I would have hoped that we would have gotten more about Moff Gideon, the mystery teased at the end of the last episode, or more obvious connecting points, but at the end of the day Bo-Katan Kryze has the darksaber, she has her fleet back, and she’s well on her way toward reuniting the Mandalorians. And, well, with next week’s episode co-written with Dave Filoni, and with Kryze on a quest to find other Mandalorians, perhaps a certain member of Clan Wren could make an appearance? We can only hope.
I have extremely high hopes for the final two episodes of the season, and even though this one might have felt more fitting toward the beginning of a season, I think it sets some things up for where the story is going from here, and I’m excited for it.