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'The Mandalorian' Season 3 Finally Punches The Hyperdrive With An Awesome 3rd Episode That Expands The Star Wars Canon

In reading some of the reactions from social media, it's kind of a shock to see how polarizing this week's episode of The Mandalorian is. To focus on Mando's side of the narrative in particular, he finally emerged with a sample of the Living Waters from the Mines of Mandalore. By carrying out the ancient ritual at that site and providing proof to his covert, he is redeemed.

Was I the only one who thought the payoff for that took way too long and was quite anticlimactic? You have eight episodes of a show, and you spend a quarter of them plus a little extra just to hit that plot point? Eek. I get that Din Djarin doesn't have any other sense of belonging other than his son Grogu. He was an impressionable orphan taken in by a radical band of warmongers and knew no way of life other than, well, The Way. I'm just surprised he hasn't realized how toxic his clan is, or if he does and just chooses them out of no superior alternative.

But doesn't Din have a better alternative in Bo-Katan? Based on the way the covert reacted to her presence at the end of the episode, it's doesn't appear as if she's been ostracized by all sects of her people, if any. The Mandalorians are so fractured in these sort of factions, and there's still so much setup to explain where they collectively stand that it's hard to make sense of it or care that much. 

Bo-Katan isn't a psycho and actually removes her helmet, as opposed to Din's covert.

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They're don't even care that she doesn't live by "The Way." They're just kinda like, "Oh that's cool. You're good." In part because Bo-Katan saved Din from the Living Waters. They're likely desperate for allies/alliances, too, to rebuild and unify the proud Mandalorian culture that's been scattered across the galaxy.

In short, they finally moved the main plot forward after a couple slow-ass episodes of meandering, stumbling into half-baked set pieces and mere hints of danger. And getting redeemed in the Mines of Mandalore. Congrats, Din. Hope it was worth it. Glad you didn't get eaten by that mythosaur that you didn't even see.

Oh. Right. That whole thing took up only a fraction of Wednesday's latest episode. And what went down outside of that is pound-for-pound some of the best Star Wars content of the entire Disney era. Because guess where we got to go for the first time in live action during the post-Return of the Jedi era??

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CORUSCANT BAY-BEEEEEEEEE. It's so vital to Star Wars history, yet is a key location that hasn't been driven into the sand  (respect, Anakin. I got you) ground as Tatooine.

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Some of the criticism I've seen is something along the lines of, "Oh I guess they forgot this was a show about Mando for a minute!" Well guess what? Good. Because that show was pretty boring to kick off Season 3. Secondly, I didn't really see this pushback when Mando crashed The Book of Boba Fett. The Mando-centric episodes were the best part of that spin-off. Then, the exceptional first season of Andor tied together myriad plot threads with supporting characters that came together so well.

I feel like this Mando 'sode "Chapter 19: The Convert" was Andor-esque and that's obviously a massive compliment. It follows the impeccable Omid Abtahi's Dr. Penn Pershing and a former Imperial officer named Elia Kane. We saw her before. She used to be under Moff Gideon's command. Dr. Pershing is being integrated into the New Republic's amnesty program. That is, rehabilitating and reforming the exes of the empire.

It's so cool to see that Coruscant is still the sort of city-planet/pseudo-capital of the galaxy, if not its political center. For all the flak George Lucas took for injecting politics into Star Wars, he actually had a lot to say and (shocker) was ahead of his time. That political intrigue was fleshed out far more inThe Clone Wars animated series, which was a massive reason I was Grogu levels of excited for the return to Coruscant in the post-ROTJ part of the timeline.

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Here's what's really going down here, though: Dr. Pershing wants to continue his CLONING RESEARCH. He explains how they were on the verge of major breakthroughs before the Galactic Empire fell. As part of his introduction to this episode, Dr. Pershing is in the Senate chambers (edit: Or, it seems, the opera house?!) of Coruscant explaining that he got into cloning science in the first place because his mother died, and a cloned organ could've saved her.

Dr. Pershing is encouraged by Elia to keep up with his research despite it being prohibited by New Republic protocols. She knows of a shipyard with a junked Star Destroyer where he can obtain basic lab equipment. After gathering everything he needs, they are promptly caught redhanded. Turns out Elia set our poor guy Pershing up. When he comes to, he's strapped in and ready to undergo what looks like Star Wars' tame version of electroshock therapy. What was meant to be a light bit of mental reconditioning via a light, controlled zap contraption turns dark really quickly when Elia clears the room of medical personnel and cranks that machine up several notches.

No telling what this will do to Dr. Pershing's psyche. Will he become more submissive and obedient, go mad and give in to his darker instincts, or basically have his memory wiped? The outcome is ambiguous, but not as ambiguous as Elia's motivations. Is she low-key still working for Moff Gideon? Is he already angling to infiltrate the New Republic from the inside? Questions I imagine we'll get answers to soon.

Because The Rise of Skywalker established that cloning is how Emperor Palpatine returned from the dead, the Disney+ shows are all setting up to explain how that came to be. The Mandalorian has hinted only vaguely at it multiple times with quick shots of failed strandcasts and the failed Gideon-Pershing operation to harvest Grogu for his blood/midi-chlorians/etc.

Ever since this particular clip of Star Wars was delivered, I've felt like a delirious Darth Maul drifting across Tatooine's desert of the Dune Sea, thirsting for any kinds of details or answers. Years have passed. NOTHING. We're finally getting there.

Fun side note: We're introduced to space popsicles thanks to this little outing we get from Dr. Pershing and Elia in the heart of Coruscant. Some nice little comedic moments in this scene as well. Nice to see The Mandalorian give us a liiiiiittle bit of humanoid flirting and dashes of humor not generated from the cuteness factory that is Grogu.

I loved this episode of The Mandalorian because there's so much to fill in about the political landscape before the sequel trilogy, and we're finally filling in some of those gaps. We're getting an introduction into some of the New Republic naiveté that'll eventually give rise to the First Order. Adding depth to key supporting characters — while drawing some short-term blowback from fans, perhaps — will benefit this show in the long run. That much I'm pretty confident about.

Not that the last two episodes were terrible. Let's not twist this write-up into something it's not. Put anything Star Wars-related in front of my face and I'll find something positive out of it. Alas, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't underwhelmed a bit. My reassuring self-talk all along has been how well Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau understand this galaxy and the bigger picture. 

While the economy of storytelling overall could stand to improve in The Mandalorian — a la The Clone Wars and Rebels animated shows — "The Convert" made all the waiting between Mando seasons worth it. Hyperdrive is engaged. Shit is really about to go down. Can't wait for the last five episodes of Season 3.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok

Keep an eye out soon for Robbie and Clem recapping and breaking down this Mando episode on My Mom's Basement!