Mando is making good on his world and delivering the Frog Lady to her destination, but though the information they give about fellow Mandalorians is honest, it inevitably leads to more complications for the warrior. Narrowly avoiding a watery grave, Mando and the Child find themselves face to face with more Mandalorian armoured fighters, but ones that don’t quite share the same agenda.
His rescuer Bo-Katan Kryze is on a mission to retrieve something very personal and in return for pointing Mando in the right direction for his quest, she’s going to demand his participation in hijacking the cargo of a nearby heavy-weight Imperial craft… but it’s not going to go down without a fight…
The audience for Disney+‘s The Mandalorian has applauded the budget and visuals, but has been somewhat divided on the ultimate sum of its parts. But with the third instalment of the new run (technically Chapter 11: The Heiress) this, perhaps, is the episode that many die-hard Star Wars fans have been waiting for…
While The Mandalorian has positively reveled in its mixture of ronin/western motifs, it’s often felt like a story just slightly adrift from the main Star Wars saga, – yes there’s countless ‘look-at-me’ Easter eggs and connective tissue in the form of references and architecture and sound-effects, but a lot of the time that’s felt very much like expensive set-decoration to a very simple and familiar tale that has little to do with Jedis, Sith and the greater cosmic balance. Force-adjacent, if you will. You recognise the ‘look’ but it’s all viewed from a little distance off.
This third episode’s story might be arguably slight in premise (yet another variant on the ‘I’ll accept a job for the promise of more information… and whoops, that didn’t go as promised…‘ which has fueled the season so far ) but it fully embraces its Lucasfilm lineage in a handful of ways that should excite those familiar with the films, multimedia and other spin-offs. There’s a corridor shoot-out with storm-troopers, even meta-referencing their inability to hit their targets, feels like pure nostalgia. Titus Welliver (most recently Amazon‘s title character in Bosch) has great fun as a traditionally stoic commander and Empire-zealot who’s willing to go down with his ship if ordered to do so and embraces the cold Gestapo-like role with both hands.
Bo-Katan Kryze and her two friends debut with their Mandalorian armour, descending to Mando’s rescue like some variant space-knights. It could have diluted the central concept – after all, lone wolf Mando is frequently not the smartest character on screen this week – but given that it was the similar frame of Bobba Fett who ignited it all way back when, we’re probably well passed the unique branding-rights issue. The inclusion of the character Bo-Katan, a rogue Mandalorian warrior who debuted in The Clone Wars animated series, marks a serious attempt to bring various parts of the franchise together and the casting of Katee Sackhoff (who originally voiced the character for The Clone Wars and was already a sf veteran from her time as Starbuck in the Battlestar Galactica reboot) really couldn’t have been better. Those who know the character already will celebrate the appearance and those who don’t will likely want to know more, especially the connections to the Dark-Saber last seen in the possession of Moff Gideon at the end of The Mandalorian‘s first season.
The sea-bound voyage is a bit predictable, with duplicitous pirates all but signaling their intentions well in advance, but at least the monster of the week is largely kept off screen as a glimpsed presence rather than the more showy beasts of recent weeks. Baby Yoda seems to be settling in as light-relief so far, an episodic punchline of cuteness, but not really adding anything to the stories themselves – though he nearly gets eaten this time. Given that the little green creature was a dominating force last season, one can hope for a balance where we see his worth and importance without him overshadowing the title character.
All the above is delivered with growing confidence by Bryce Dallas Howard, the actor-turned-director who already helmed the Sanctuary episode last season. She seems to know not only know how to bring the best out of the material and but on what to focus and frame with love of the material. There’s even some nice homage-shots to her father’s Apollo 13…
This week’s entry was a solid step in the right direction and the series honestly seems strongest when it isn’t relying on its title character and his ‘cargo of cuteness’ to do all the narrative heavy-lifting…
- Production Design / VFX9