The Mandalorian embraces good old-fashioned Star Wars heroics (2023)

Yarrr, mateys! It’s Pirate Week on The Mandalorian, and this episode gave us a long, exciting battle between a bunch of filthy space-scoundrels and our favorite helmet-wearing hermits. As teased by a “previously on” recap that was heavy on stuff from the season premiere, this episode saw the return of Pirate King Gorian Shard, who is still mad about his goons getting hassled by Din Djarin and Greef Karga a few episodes ago (not to mention Karga’s decision to gentrify Nevarro and kick out all of the old criminals that used to hang out there).

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Unfortunately for Karga, Din Djarin never took him up on that offer to be his town’s lawman, which means Nevarro is pretty much completely defenseless when Karga’s ship drops in and starts blowing things up. Karga sends a message asking for help and then everybody just kind of runs out of town and starts walking through the Nevarro deserts as the pirates take over.

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His message reaches Captain Teva, one of the “traffic cop” X-Wing pilots from much earlier in this series, who is now stationed at a swingin’ New Republic outpost on a tropical planet. Teva seems unusually worried to hear that something is up on Nevarro, since the planet has a history with Imperial occupation, but nobody else is particularly concerned—including none other than Star Wars Rebels friend Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, canonically one of the very first people to join the Rebel Alliance.

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Teva goes all the way to Coruscant to talk to Tim Meadows, who seems to be a former shot-caller in the Rebellion even though he’s now just some guy behind a desk, and their conversation about things happening on Nevarro draws the attention of none other than former (“former”) Imperial Officer Elia Kane, last seen brain-blasting Dr. Pershing a few episodes ago. Her vibe is even weirder here than it was there, but Tim Meadows just rolls with it and basically refuses to do anything. Another indication that the New Republic fully sucks at this point, just a few years after deposing the Emperor. No wonder the First Order is quietly able to assemble a massive army before too long.

Anyway, Teva then tracks down the Mandalorian covert by the big lake, thanks to his old Rebel buddy R5-D4 (remember when we talked about that during the premiere?), and he explains that Greef Karga is in trouble and nobody is willing to help. Din brushes him off, because it’s important to him to always be Too Cool, but as soon as Teva leaves he starts trying to convince the other Mandalorians to help. I like the argument he makes, that this is their chance to be heroes and find a place to live in the light rather than in a stupid cave next to a lake full of turtle monsters, but I really like that noted grump Paz Vizsla does a big “Greef Karga is a JERK and a lot of Mandalorians died protecting Grogu on Nevarro” just so he can surprise everyone by saying that he actually agrees that they should help.

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The Mandalorians are supposed to be these great warriors, renowned throughout the galaxy, and this episode finally started to recognize that they’re better than just lonely mercenaries. Mandalorians should be able to hold their own against Jedi, they should be out in the galaxy wrecking shit—not hiding in a cave by Turtle Lake. With everyone in agreement, the Mandalorians quickly put together a plan (let the named characters do the hard work, let everyone else do everything else) and blast off to Nevarro.

Everything from here on out is a lot of fun, with Din blasting pirates in the air as Bo-Katan drops off Mandalorian SWAT teams down to the planet to kill pirates, and the episode keeps cutting back from cool air battles to cool land battles. Even the Armorer gets in on the action, beating a bunch of pirates to death with her hammer. It’s always very cool when she gets in on the action, particularly since it highlights that she’s not just in charge because she likes making helmets (and tortured metaphors about how we’re all like helmets, in a way).

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The good guys win, Swamp Thing Captain Shard gets killed (probably), and Karga presents the heroic Mandalorians with a big tract of land—saying that they may no longer have a home planet, but they now have a home. I like it! It’s nice, classical Star Wars storytelling. Cartoonish bad guys attack innocent people, good guys say “hey, let’s be good guys!” and they save the day. What more do you need?

Well, there is more. The Armorer meets with Bo-Katan and asks her to remove her helmet, explaining that she has proven herself to both these hard-lined Mandalorians and the more freewheeling helmet-removing Mandalorians and therefore seems to be the best person to unite all Mandalorians together—especially since she also saw the fabled Mythosaur on Mandalore. The Armorer leads Bo-Katan back to the others, with her helmet off, and explains that she’s going to send Bo out into the galaxy to find other Mandalorians and convince them to retake their planet. Bo-Katan then gets a nice hero shot, once again establishing that this season has been more of her story than Din Djarin’s.

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Another exciting new quest! Will this one also be abandoned as quickly as possible like the others? Maybe not, because in a pre-credits scene that feels like a post-credits scene, Teva stumbles onto a derelict Imperial Shuttle floating out in space. It turns out that it was being used as a New Republic prison transport that was carrying Moff Gideon, but all of the details about it are classified on New Republic computers. Hmmm!Teva’s droid sends in a scanner, and though they don’t see any sign of Gideon, there is evidence of Beskar armor residue. Then, in case you don’t get it, the guy on Teva’s radio says: “Are you saying Moff Gideon was taken by [dramatic pause]… Mandalorians?” Bum bum bum.

Stray observations

  • I like that the IG-11 “statue” is still in the middle of the town, missing a bunch of parts. I thought that was teasing him coming back, but maybe that’ll happen later.
  • I’m choosing to take it as a cute meta gag that Zeb was an obvious CG character even though all of Shard’s pirates seemed to be made with puppets and prosthetics, since everyone was a CG character on Rebels.
  • The sequence of showing the pirates being all rowdy on Nevarro includes some of them getting drunk on green goo and knocking a big square pizza out of some poor guy’s hands.
  • Din and Bo-Katan going after the engines of Shard’s ship felt like a mission out of a Rogue Squadron game. They should make more of those. (Star Wars: Squadrons was okay.)

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