Ricky Church reviews the third episode of The Mandalorian season 3…
The Mandalorian’s latest episode ‘The Convert’ was something of a mixed bag with a great action set-piece and intriguing aspects to Mandalorian culture, but a different story with a wildly different tone taking up the majority of the episode. The main positive is viewers got to see much more of the New Republic with our first ever visit to Coruscant post-Return of the Jedi, but the story took too long to get to its point with the outcome too predictable.
The opening sequence of Din Djarin and Bo-Katan getting ambushed by a squad of TIE Interceptors is one of the best action scenes in the series to date. The effects were stunning as Din and Bo-Katan dodged in and out of Kalevala’s cliffs to shake the TIEs off and worked together to defeat them. It was an exciting battle that surprised as well as Bo-Katan’s home was destroyed by the arrival of an even larger attack force, raising several questions as to who these Imperial forces belonged to and why they were there. This is the only element of Din and Bo’s story that seemingly ties in with the events on Coruscant as rumours over Moff Gideon’s fate and whereabouts swirled.
As ‘The Convert’ caught up with the pair in the closing minutes, Din was able to prove he had redeemed himself and that Mandalore is not cursed in the way his clan thinks it is, but the real surprise came when Bo-Katan was inducted into the Children of the Watch as she too indirectly bathed in the Living Waters of Mandalore and had not taken off her helmet since doing so. It was a bit of a funny moment as Bo-Katan’s body language seemed to suggest ‘Did I just accidently join a cult?’ as the other Mandalorians were literally patting her on the back, but it is interesting that she didn’t immediately reject joining.
After all, Bo has previously referred to the Watch as zealots and has mocked their adherence to ancient Mandalorian traditions to Din’s
face helmet, but her own beliefs may have been shaken upon witnessing the Mythosaur, a legendary creature of Mandalore’s history, for herself along with the destruction of her ancestral family home. This development puts Bo-Katan in a very interesting place as her journey for redemption continues, yet it’s also ironic she has joined yet another cult. The only difference is The Children of the Watch are more honour-bound and secretive than the warmongering and manipulative Death Watch she once helped lead.
Where the rest of the episode faltered though was in its story on Coruscant as The Mandalorian picked up with Dr. Pershing, the scientist responsible for running tests on Grogu when he was twice held captive by Moff Gideon. Omid Abtahi gave a good performance as Pershing had joined an amnesty program for former Imperial officers run by the New Republic, yet Pershing yearned to continue the work he originally set out to do before Gideon grabbed him. However, while we only saw Pershing in a few brief appearances, he seemed like a very competent and insightful person, helping Din in both instances to rescue Grogu – the second time playing a huge part as he willingly gave Din and his team information on Gideon’s ship.
So it seemed a little out of character from what we had seen that he’d be so easily fooled by Katy O’Brian’s Elia Kane, one of Gideon’s top lieutenants from the second season. O’Brian gave a good performance as Kane, but her moves to get Pershing to break some of the amnesty terms for the ‘greater good of the New Republic’ were too obvious a set up. Pershing’s story took a long time to get to its point, yet despite lasting the majority of the episode it rushed through Pershing’s motivation and trust in Kane to move it along. Their growing friendship never felt quite real, mostly because her pushes for Pershing to continue his research and steal forbidden Empire tech made her betrayal expected.
It was nice to see Coruscant and how the New Republic was handling former Imperials, something fans have still seen little of in either The Mandalorian or Star Wars novels and comics set in this time, and how the new government seemed little better than the Empire in some regard. Coruscant still seemed to be a police state, just new management, and their decision to re-condition Pershing, or as they stated it trying to break his Imperial indoctrination, was played as eerily as possible. The attempts at humour also didn’t quite work, such as Kane’s prank on Pershing during their walk through Coruscant’s ‘park’ or Pershing’s awkward attempts to be inconspicuous on the train. Most egregious of all, though, was Pershing yelling “It was a trap!” and the Mon Calamari’s reaction to that line, an obvious easter egg to how iconic Admiral Ackbar’s moment in Return of the Jedi has become in Star Wars fandom.
Overall, only a quarter of ‘The Convert’ was really enjoyable to watch. Dr. Pershing’s storyline didn’t mesh well with the episode and felt overly long while rushing the beats it needed to hit. Abtahi and O’Brian gave good performances, but their friendship never felt real. It’s not as if the story is going nowhere as it likely ties into Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni’s vision for one story across all the Star Wars series, not to mention Gideon’s possible escape from jail and orchestrating events behind the scenes, but the tone did not mix well with Din and Bo-Katan’s story, making it feel like it was from a completely different show trying unsuccessfully to mimic Andor. With now two episodes in a row that haven’t been exactly great, let’s hope The Mandalorian can bounce back soon.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.