Come one, come all, fans of The Mandalorian. Each Wednesday morning, we’re breaking down the newest episode, from the best Grogu closed-captioning moment, to what’s going on with the latest friends and foes in Mando’s redemption arc, to what it all means for the rest of the galaxy far, far away. Pop on The Mandalorian theme and dive in. This is the way.
“Chapter 19: The Convert”
Disney+’s Cryptic Plot Summary: On Coruscant, former Imperials find amnesty in the New Republic.
Main Players: Mando, Bo-Katan Kryze, Dr. Pershing, Elia Kane, yellow biscuits.
Director: We have another newcomer to the Mando playground this week: Lee Isaac Chung, who helmed the spectacular Minari. The man knows how to handle a chase scene! Damn. Good news for all you Twister fans, but I am disappointed that Alan Kim didn’t make a cameo in this episode.
Can’t-Miss Star Wars Easter Egg: I have to go with the return of Coruscant, the CGI capital of the galaxy.
Best Grogu Closed-Caption Moment: Another [Grogu coos]. Disappointing.
I’m simply dropping this spectacular fan edit before I get started:
Those Mudscuffers Bombed My Home!
After Mando finishes washing up, he jets away from Mandalore with Grogu and Bo-Katan. The crew is quickly ambushed by a swarm of what we’re told are extra-dangerous TIE Interceptors. In a brilliantly choreographed dogfight, Mando and Bo-Katan make like Top Gun and take them out. Just when they think they’re in the clear—and Grogu opens up his pram again—another group of TIE Interceptors show up. And they bomb Bo-Katan’s home. Just when you think Bo-Katan will deliver a long spiel about why this particular crew has it out for her, we cut to…
Taungsdays, Am I Right?
Dr. Pershing? What? I had to deep-dive on the Villains Wiki to remember who this vaguely evil man is. Remember, you know, one of the original core subplots of The Mandalorian? Moff Gideon’s whole plan to harvest Baby Yoda blood so that he could make Force-sensitive Stormtroopers? Dr. Pershing was the cliché nervous, reluctant doctor who ran tests on our poor, green boy.
Nowadays, he’s giving keynote speeches on his research—going on about its potential to clone organs. This is where things get a little weird. Bear with me. This episode proceeds to do a lot of legwork to tell us what happens to all of the Imperial grunts when they lose to the good guys. The New Republic takes the promising ones and puts them in an amnesty program, where they’re rehabilitated from their evil ways, sometimes through torturous means. The goal is to stick them at a meaningless desk job until they inevitably grow resentful of their overlords and begin committing tiny, random acts of treason. Is any of this reminding you of a certain Diego Luna-starring political thriller on Disney+?
So, Dr. Pershing is a star pupil of said amnesty program. But he still cares about this research he was doing, where he harvested the blood of an alien child in the name of the greater good. Sure, man. I didn’t forget what you did. He’s reintroduced to another former Imperial baddie I needed the recap video to remember: Elia Kane, an old comms officer on Moff Gideon’s crew. Throughout the episode, Kane convinces Dr. Pershing to continue his studies, feeding him space biscuits and leading him to a junkyard to pick up lab equipment. Near the end of the episode, Kane inexplicably betrays him, handing him over to the New Republic. They proceed to go Stranger Things on him and use a contraption Pershing literally calls the Mind Flayer to wipe his brain clean of evil tendencies. If we’re going by Star Wars villain logic here, Kane is trying to climb higher in the New Republic’s regime so that she can feed info back to Gideon (who surely is imprisoned somewhere).
The Mandalorian feels like it’s trying to foil Andor—and show that all mighty regimes are evil, in some way. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised that this seemingly random detour is intended to set up a place where Andor characters can live on after its next and final season. Are we going to see Syril Karn working some desk job as an older man?
This Is the Way (Until I Find a Better Group of People to Hang Out With)
After our 40-minute-long detour to Coruscant, Mando pulls up yet again to see the sad, exiled Mandalorians. They seem especially tired of him mumbling about redemption at this point. Mando says he bathed in the living waters beneath the mines of Mandalore. They doubt it. Mando says he bathed in the living waters beneath the mines of Mandalore. They doubt it. Again. This goes on until he gives the Armorer the 23andMe sample, which shows that Mando, in fact, bathed in the living waters beneath the mines of Mandalore. Redemption! Everyone pats Mando on the back like nothing ever happened. The quest we thought would play out over the course of the entire season is seemingly over now.
Meanwhile, I guess seeing a Mythosaur changes a woman! The Armorer asks Bo-Katan if she also fulfilled the two prerequisites for joining the clan: 1) You took the bath, and 2) You haven’t taken off your helmet. Bo-Katan simply says yes—and, suddenly, she’s walking the way of the Mandalorians again. We’ll see if this crew’s next plotline involves the reawakening of Mando and Bo-Katan’s feud over the Darksaber, or if they’re on the same team after the outing on Mandalore.
As for Grogu? Well, Grogu is simply there.
Official Grogu Metric Rating™
Five Grogus out of ten. The opening chase sequence alone lifts this episode above its predecessor’s exposition dump. The rest of it? I’d be curious to know what fans think, but I’m increasingly feeling that—and this isn’t a totally new thought—without a mainline Star Wars film hitting theaters every other December, The Mandalorian is trying to be all of Star Wars all at once. First, you had The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series spilling over into The Mandalorian, which was fine! Then CGI Luke Skywalker hijacked the Season Two finale. That was fun, absolutely—until he hijacked The Book of Boba Fett.
Now, we’re seeing prequel trilogy and Andor-esque politicking stuffed into the middle of The Mandalorian episodes? What started with Jon Favreau hiring the best directors he knew to make an original Star Wars story continues to become something else. Again: it’s perfectly okay to have Mando fight a big disgusting monster every week and sell Kraft Mac & Cheese shaped like little Grogus! The Mandalorian doesn’t have to bear the weight of 20-odd years of big-screen missteps.
Next Week on The Mandalorian…
Din Djarin stumps on the streets of Coruscant and vows to make the galaxy great again? I simply don’t know anymore. Last week, I guessed that Bo-Katan, Mando, and Grogu, would at least tepidly explore the ruins of their miraculously-not-cursed home world? That this season’s whole McGuffin—Mando’s redemption!—would at least get a tiny bit more airplay? The last thing I expected was the return of Charlie Cox’s Star Wars variant and the revival of the Baby Yoda Prison Experiment subplot. It’s been a weird season so far. I appreciate all of you who have been following along at Esquire. As always, hold your Grogu plushies close. We’ll get through this.