Quick, quick, slow: Mando Number 5 hits high ‘C’ for pirating / politics…

Avast, Pirates! A vast conspiracy? Latest 'Mandalorian' has uneven template of fast action and slow politics...

The thriving enclave of Nevarro comes back under pirate attack and Greef Karva sends out a plea for help. But while the New Republic response is bureaucratically slow, Din Djarin tries to convince his fellow Mandalorian warriors to offer assistance. Bo-Katan takes the lead but the Armorer may have a more important mission for her…

Elsewhere, a derelict shuttle transport is found drifting. What – or who – was it carrying and who raided its ‘cargo’?



Last week’s episode managed to pack a lot into a notably short running time. In some ways the opposite is true here. Back to a more average running time of around 40 minutes, it’s all fine but there’s really not enough narrative to fit. There’s a lightness and simplicity throughout, every inch the glossed-up Saturday Matinee feel with creaky exposition dialogue and certain action beats to hit.

Ever moreso, The Mandalorian has felt like a decent CGI series, with most of its key ingredients being in the post-production decoration and voice talent rather than in-place actors. I’ve said it numerous times, but for show marketed so much on Pedro Pascal and Katee Sackhoff’s participation it’s telling that we can go weeks without seeing them on screen even if their characters are there… all due to that rather incoherent and inconsistent Mandalorian lore that hobbles momentum and logic. Here, at least Sackhoff is allowed to appear in person, instructed by the Armorer to de-helmet in her presence (for some nebulous reason that feels contractual) for their forge-side discussion, but then given the task of going out to find new recruits sans helmet and perhaps investigate that mythosaur a bit more closely. (Last week she was dismissive, now she’s embracing Bo-Katan’s experience wholesale because of… more reasons) However, Din’s helmet remains  – and must ever remain firmly attached on the penalty of another dismissal despite him being just as ‘feet-in-both-worlds’ (REASONS, dammit!) but he’s hardly the focus of attention anyway once he’s finished rallying the troops – even Grogu is largely surplus to requirements. Though there’s a big scene and a big deal about made about co-ordination and following plans (led, once more – because, why not? – by Bo-Katan, who is rapidly becoming the series’ main character) in an effort to thwart the bad-guys who out-number them, the ensuing skirmish with Gorian Shand’s pirates is fun but mostly quick-cut, abstract and ironically disorganised. The dueling space-craft emulate dog-fighting planes to good effect and the street-fights feel like shiny video game action with lots of kinetic energy, gunfights and explosions. But there isn’t the feeling of any real high-stakes, just a random un-emotional ‘pew-pew-pew action-figure‘ vibe that’s delightful to watch in the moment but doesn’t get the heart pumping or stick in the memory once the credits roll.

As ever, the dialogue isn’t what you are tuning in for – and feels like am-dram stage-directions, full of contrary logic and – really – I expect better from writer and show-runner Jon Favreau who can produce sparkling dialogue when he wants. (At one point, Din’s appeal to his fellow Mandalorians to engage with Gorian’s forces talks of their children knowing how it feels to once again play in the sunlight – which seems somewhat incongruous for a tribe that don’t seem to have many children and don’t remove their helmets at the best of times).

While the street-fights whistle by anonymously, some of the rest of episode has all the urgency of a trade and tax discussion in the Senate. X-Wing Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) takes Karga’s plea for general assistance to Coruscant and it receives the general denial, apathy and in-triplicate non-authorisations of yet more bureaucracy. It’s somewhat on purpose, demonstrating that the Rebellion may have won the war on a fundamental level, but all their good intentions are dying the death of a thousand paper-cuts. We also see Elia Kane (Katy M. O’Brian) flexing her position of slight influence and scuppering Teva’s plan to get help.  Whatever the reason, it both slows down the episode to a snail’s pace and also seems to make a mockery of intergalactic distances – because for it all to work, Teva has to make it all the way across the galaxy in the time it takes the Nevarro battle to be engaged and won. Practically and production-wise it’s trying to show of the connective tissue between the more Andor-esque entry and the wider galaxy. However, that’s also part of the problem: in an effort to be world-building on a Disney+ platform-wide, galactic scale between its many Lucasfilm projects (current and forthcoming), there’s a real danger that the individual entries will start to lose distinction, merely zigging and zagging between tone and content on a whim and with casual cameos (here we also have Star Wars: Rebels‘ Zeb Orrelios voiced by Steve Blum). Something for everyone doesn’t work so well if everyone doesn’t know what they’re getting or it’s all diluted.

Carl Weathers’ supporting/recurring character (Greef Karga) has been interesting thus far, often shown to be ruthless, manipulative, aspirational and pragmatic as the moment demands. But in this latest stage of Greef, he’s reduced to little more than the kind of ineffectual bureaucrat he’s called out for being by Man-Thing/walking hedgerow Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie). Tellingly, his most interesting moment is as that nostalgia-inducing flickering-blue holo- projection sent (Princes-Leia style) in an SOS appeal for help. Nevarro itself seemed to be a thriving enclave, clawing its way successfully back from Mos-Eisley-esque lamentations and making its own mark away from both Imperial and New Republic restrictions. Its streets were bustling, its markets busy and its buildings growing…yet it’s notable that when Karga leads them out to the nearby mountains, there’s about twenty citizens and a handful of possessions between them. When the townsfolk eventually celebrate victory with all the innate joy of background day-players ending their shift and ultimately return to the town (which we saw getting heavily bombarded earlier and narrowly avoiding being squished by the crashing pirate ship) it’s not clear if they’ll have the people or resources to recover. Perhaps the presence of the new neighbouring Mandalorian stronghold, ‘gifted’ by Karga, will enable them to assist each other.

The end of the episode sees Teva discover the remains of a half-destroyed shuttle that he realises was supposed to be carrying Moff Gideon to trial for his crimes. One can understand that the New Republic might want to keep such an escape quiet, but it’s also hard to work out how the wholesale absence of the planned grand trial isn’t a bit of a giveaway. Teva’s discovery of Bespar metal used by the Mandalorians seems like planted evidence, but we’ll see how things develop…



'The Mandalorian  S03 EP05 - Chapter 21: The Pirate'  (Disney+ review)
'The Mandalorian S03 EP05 - Chapter 21: The Pirate' (Disney+ review)
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