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 23: The Spies”
Disney+’s Cryptic Plot Summary: Survivors come out of hiding.
Main Players: All Mandalorians, everywhere, all at once.
Director: “Chapter 23” sees another effort from a Mandalorian veteran in Rick Famuyiwa. No offense to Dave Feloni, but Famuyiwa is another person—like Bryce Dallas Howard—I would’ve preferred to see direct the newly-announced Mandalorian-verse movie.
Can’t-Miss Star Wars Easter Egg: I really dug Mando’s “he didn’t learn that from me” line after he saw Grogu playing peacemaker between the two beefing Mandos. With Season Three’s criss-crossing plot, I often catch myself forgetting that the kiddo was trained, once upon a time, by Luke Skywalker.
Best Grogu Closed-Caption Moment: Not a closed-caption, but… YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES.
Giancarlo, We Missed You
Truly, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. It hardly matters what he’s saying or doing—The Mandalorian is simply better when Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon is in the mix. The man believes what he’s saying. As it turns out, Gideon escaped from the New Republic’s clutches after all, and he’d very much like to continue doing Star Wars villain stuff. Through a couple different moments in “Chapter 23,” we learn that Gideon is still hot on his mission to genetically engineer Force-sensitive Stormtroopers—who wear Beskar armor. He also plans to carry this out on his new home base, which is buried deep beneath Mandalore. Frankly, after dealing with space pirates for far too long this season, it’s simply a treat to have Esposito back. Not much more to say there.
Look Under Your Seat—It’s Another Mandalorian!
I don’t want to give too much airtime to this one, because it’s the most predictable subplot of “Chapter 23″—but we see many, many more minutes of the Mandalorians finding each other. They love, fight, hate, and defend each other. The only true—and great, by the way—character-building moment this week is Mando’s pep talk to Bo-Katan Kryze, who is slowly reclaiming the power she once had. “Your song is not yet written,” says Mando. “I will serve you until it is. Damn, Mando, time to write your novel.
The true meat of the episode comes when, just as they’re about to reclaim Mandalore, Gideon’s crew of goons leads them into a trap. In the ensuing throwdown, Gideon takes Din hostage—and poor Paz Visla goes down in a blaze of glory. RIP to a true tank. I had no idea until this week that Jon Favreau himself voices Paz.
By the way, my had-to-Google-it moment of the week is most definitely Paz’s assailants—anyone name-check Palpatine’s Red Guard on the first try?
In Other News…
The towering figure that my colleague, Josh, has deemed Mecha-Grogu? Yes. Simply yes.
Official Grogu Metric Rating™
Seven Grogus out of ten. “Chapter 23” isn’t quite the joyride that last week’s episode turned out to be, but it’s absolutely another step back towards the show we fell in love with. Action! With stakes! It’s nice to have that back. Though I would’ve liked a cut of this episode that: 1.) Ditched all the aimless wandering around Mandalore, 2.) Skipped the inevitable Mandalorian factions don’t like each other! moments, and 3.) Arrived earlier in the season, functioning more as a midseason exclamation mark than this season’s penultimate episode. I can’t overstate what having Esposito’s gravitas brings to this show, but really, at this point, I’ll take anything that’s not the continuing adventures of Dr. Pershing, Elia Kane, and all those randos on Nevarro.
Next Week on The Mandalorian…
I’m having a little bit of déjà vu here! Didn’t Season Two’s last couple of episodes take place in Imperial quarters—and revolve around saving someone whom Moff Gideon imprisoned? Is CGI Luke Skywalker Version 3.0 on his way as we speak?
Probably not. With whispers of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s whereabouts early on in “Chapter 23″—and last week’s Star Wars Celebration news that Lars Mikkelsen will reprise the role in live-action—our Big Finale Cameo feels set at this point. Leading up to that, you can expect more Mandalorians assemble! moments, as they work out a rescue plan—and likely the extraction of Dr. Pershing and Elia Kane to Moff Gideon’s digs on Mandalore. By the end of it all, I bet the Season Three finale will see the reversal of Season Two’s ending: Grogu will save Mando from Gideon’s clutches. The kid hasn’t really had a hero moment this season! And no, reader, bringing the Baby Yoda chicky nuggies meme to life this episode doesn’t count.