"Chapter 19: The Convert"
Air date: 3/15/2023
Written by Noah Kloor & Jon Favreau
Directed by Lee Isaac Chung
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
And now for something completely different.
First, let's cover the stuff that's the same.
After leaving the mines on Mandalore (no follow-up to the Mythosaur or whatever was in the water), Din and Bo-Katan return to Bo's palace, which is currently being attacked by Imperial fighters and bombers, who destroy the palace. After an exciting, rip-roaring chase and dogfight through the skies of Kalevala, Din and Bo escape to the world where the Children of the Watch are holed up. Din announces he has bathed in the waters of the mines on Mandalore. The Armorer confirms this, and announces he has been redeemed. Furthermore, because Bo-Katan has also bathed in the waters, she is also welcomed into the tribe (presumably making her the titular "convert"), provided she does not remove her helmet from this point forward.
The arbitrary nature of all this strikes me as silly. That removing your helmet gets you automatically kicked out of the Watch is probably the dumbest thing for the writers to cling to for telling a story about straying from the duty of a faith. That bathing in these waters (which everyone somehow thinks are unreachable on an uninhabitable world but are actually right there; all you need is a ship and you can go there yourself!) gets you automatically reinstated is just too easy a reversal. What's to stop a member of the Watch from straying from the rules as often as they want and then taking a quick jaunt to Mandalore so they can wash themselves clean of dishonor and be reinstated? The Armorer is just following instructions from the Watch rule book, with no principled opinion on Din's awful "disgrace" whatsoever.
And, yes, I realize that these sorts of goofy rules exist in real-world religions. But the casual technicality of it all here just cheapens, from a dramatic standpoint, the whole idea of the Creed, and makes all the Mandalorians look like mindless rule-followers who don't question why they believe things or why forgiveness for breaking their rules is so bureaucratically easy. And now Bo-Katan is (for now) brought into the fold rather than her convincing Din Djarin to leave. How very tidy and non-dramatic.
Anyway, the scenes I've described above are merely brief bookends to a show that otherwise takes a sharp swerve into territory completely unlike anything previously done on this series, making you wonder what it means. We find ourselves dropped into the city-world of Coruscant, capital of the New Republic, formerly capital of the Empire, formerly capital of the Old Republic. These scenes are intriguing — albeit entirely inconclusive — and are completely separated from the rest of the show in every possible way. It's a whole other thing happening way over here, and it's very clear this is going to go somewhere and matter at some point, but we're not sure how yet. It's essentially a post-Empire take on those great scenes on Coruscant in Andor, although the stakes are very different because we're dealing with a post-fascist wind-down of the Empire rather than the very ominous rise of that fascism.
What's most striking and interesting is how Coruscant itself seems relatively untouched from all the turmoil that happens in the galaxy around it. Before, during, and after the wars and the Empire, it's essentially the same seat of productivity and decadence. This is highlighted in the scene where we overhear someone trying not to do a deep delve into all the annoying politics. I mean, Imperial fascists? Rebels? Who can keep track? It's all the same to me! It's a dangerously detached sensibility for those not directly affected, and it rings very true.
These scenes follow "L52" (formerly the cloning expert Dr. Penn Pershing working under Moff Gideon) and "G68" (formerly Elia Kane, an officer on Gideon's ship) as they are reintegrated into society under the New Republic's Amnesty Program. (Meanwhile, rumors float that Gideon himself escaped during a prison transfer.) There are some interesting notions here, like the idea that the New Republic itself has its own Orwellian-lite tendencies, at least for those who used to be allied with the Empire. They use oppressive tactics — mind control machines, identity stripping, state-supplied jobs, lack of choice — without quite calling it prison; it's the "Amnesty Program." There's already this sense that the New Republic is going to be undone by its own bureaucracy and short-sightedness regarding those who are walking about discontented, and may soon face its own rebellion.
The plot is very simple. It follows Pershing — who wants to use his knowledge of cloning for good, but is stymied by the New Republic, which has outlawed it — trying to find usefulness in a society that has no use for his skills and instead sticks him in a cubicle to do soul-crushing busywork. Kane, meanwhile, slowly and gradually grooms him to break the rules. She lures him into thinking it will be okay if he steals some cloning supplies from an old Empire ship that's about to be scrapped. They are caught, and it turns out she orchestrated the entire situation to entrap him.
The New Republic puts Pershing in a device that is absolutely not a "mind flayer," they assure him, but a similar device with a lower setting that can ease his destructive desires for recidivism. But Kane, clearly up to something so she can use Pershing for her own (or Gideon's) purposes, manipulates the situation so she can turn the machine to a much higher setting, which I assume will allow her to take agency over his mind in some way. We just don't know yet.
There's some impressive material and world-building here, but it all has an arid lack of tension in the way it's performed and executed, as if it's going out of its way to be the anti-Mandalorian with its aesthetic. And, yes, it's very unclear where this is going. This is an intriguing off-format show, which hints that The Mandalorian has some other ambitions in store for us, and may be our best hope for exploring how the First Order rose up, since the Empire, while defeated, never completely went away. But for now, especially with the incongruous bookend scenes, put me on the fence.
Previous episode: Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore
Next episode: Chapter 20: The Foundling
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41 comments on this post
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 8:19am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 8:29am (UTC -5)
1) What is the Empire doing in the Mandalore system?
2) Could they make the doctor traitor and Gideon officer any more obvious? But there are obviously twists
3) lame robot security train pursuit
4) I did love the last scene. Bo-Katan redeemed, with a new "family" of the cast off cult she disdained.
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 8:46am (UTC -5)
The Mandalorian part: 3/4.
The Coruscant part: 2/4. (Although I did appreciate the movie-style scenery.)
I assume this long, long doctor-rehab-mind wipe plot will eventually Mean Something?
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 8:46am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 8:48am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 9:01am (UTC -5)
But most damning is the way the New Republic is shown as basically the Empire Lite. This is what Luke and company fought for?
Oh and the unavoidable visual and tonal similarities to Andor.. It punches you in the face with how much worse this is.
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 9:44am (UTC -5)
I'm glad Gideon escaped, because everybody wants Giancarlo Esposito to show up. But I'm quite certain he was not behind the destruction of Bo-Katan's Skyrim castle; every Imperial remnant we've seen so far has a few TIE Fighters at most, not a ton of Interceptors and Bombers. This seems like something much bigger, a Star Destroyer or a fleet of them. That's something usually commanded by an... admiral.
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 10:24am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 10:52am (UTC -5)
I assume the Mind Flaying machine turned up to max is to remove all of the Dr's New Republic reprogramming so he can do Very Bad things once more.
Oh but Booming you've missed baby's first words!
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 11:08am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Maybe. But what a waste of the character - why spend over half an hour on him only to fry his brains and make him of no further use to the show?
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
Din and Bo segments were flawless, and the Pershing section, while a little clunkier production wise, was at the same the kind of thing I've been waiting for this show to do for a while.
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
-I thought to myself "hey, a good episode!" during the pretty fun dogfight/chase/etc at the beginning, right after chuckling at how quickly they left the cave after spending what felt like 80 years there last week.
-Then I was aaalmost on board with the extended Coruscant stuff (aka the whole episode) but it really did play like a poor man's version of many of the Karn scenes from Andor. "Office Drone seeks something more."
-The droids "chasing" them through the train was nearly as exciting as the Power Rangers 10 mph chase on Boba Fett.
-The two of them running out of the salvage yard WITH THEIR FLASHLIGHTS STILL ON was dumb.
-Then in the end, it's inconclusive, and his mind is wiped, or not, who knows. But LOL at him telling the Ackbar lookalike that It Was A Trap.
-Finally, we see Mando again, and everything is all better now. So it took about two episodes to reset that plot already, kind of like how Boba Fett took that amount of time to reset the end of Mando S2.
-I don't know what to think about this show still. 2.5 stars. What Is The Way?
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 6:47am (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 7:23am (UTC -5)
Is this an 'Andor' inject like we got in TBOBF when Mando showed up?
I don't know.
Elia is DESIEL!! Not sure who's side she is on... why set him up like that? ... did he do something to her on Moff Gideon's ship? Is she acting on Gideon's behalf?
Great dog fight to open the episode and great ending as well. I'm glad to see Mando welcomed back and was a little surprised that they welcomed Bo as well. I'm thinking her myth viewing might be changing her views on Mandalorian tradition? Is she the "convert" in this episode?
This one kind of slugged along... nothing really bad per sey, but out of the ordinary for Mando for sure.
2.5 stars for this one.
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Wasn't the point of the final moments of season 2 was Din learned that his love for his son was far more meaningful than the creed, and that all the dogma was no substitute for what matters?
Did they lose their story?
This episode was done much better when Karn became a corporate drone. Doctor Pershing is really naive here.
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 8:43am (UTC -5)
The New Republic appears to be trashing everything from the OT that they can get their hands on.
I'm sure Luke et al are fine with the type of 'rehabilitation' going with ex Imperials too. Luke did wear a lot of fascist looking black in ROTJ.
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, I thought the whole bit but with the doctor and the bureaucratic rehabilitation system was quite suspensful. It was going somewhere, it went there, and it's not done going places.
I'm not surprised the New Republic is a red-tape hell. Give an establishment enough time, even if the original intentions were good, and you will see it slowly get calcified into rules and rigid morals. Basically the process Dr. Pershing's character is going through.
I don't mind these kinds of episodes. I enjoy just hanging out in this universe and watch how it operates. There's a whole lot of world building being done here. I don't need an action scene every five minutes. Isn't that the point of a TC show? That we extend our attention span and allow the stories to breathe?
The same thing goes for this entire connected universe. Favreau is like a kid with his lego toys, mixing and matching, Mandalorian episodes in the Boba Fett show, seemingly unrelated storyline about a side character that we forgot existed in the Mandalorian show... The guy takes chances and doesn't go the easy and expected route and I gotta respect that. He shows lots of confidence in the material and I'm sure he knows that he runs the risk of alienting many viewers, but for this viewer, no compaints.
I'm willing to enjoy this show on its own terms.
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
Also (spoilers), it was a little too obvious from the get go that he was being set up and would be double crossed.
Another also: super Orwellian that ex-Empire folks don’t get to keep their names - not to mention the Clockwork Orange bit (and the mind flayer operator just leaving).
Fri, Mar 17, 2023, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 18, 2023, 1:48am (UTC -5)
"The arbitrary nature of all this strikes me as silly."
They run this like a cult religion; and that statement is one of the foundational flaws in religion. Plenty of arbitrary rules that get you redeemed and saved or banished and punished. I think jammer things this is bad writing, but it really is a statement about how much irrational nonsense religion does. Dont eat this, eat that, dont wear this, wear that, perform this ritual or say these words and you are cleansed and forgiven.
What I see is an analogy on religion, not bad writing.
Sat, Mar 18, 2023, 1:56am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 18, 2023, 11:34am (UTC -5)
I acknowledged that very point when I said, "And, yes, I realize that these sorts of goofy rules exist in real-world religions."
But I don't think the show, at least not yet, is calling this out. It seems to blindly follow along with Din and the Armorer as if this is all the proper way of things, nod and smile (under a helmet), with no dialogue whatsoever from anyone else challenging these assumptions, nor any sense of irony or discomfort around the blind faith of it. If this is a statement, it is an extremely subtextual and subtle one and not one the show takes a position on. That's not to say this won't come up in the future. There was a reason Bo-Katan was brought onto the show and why she labeled the Watch a bunch of zealots. Hopefully that will play out.
But for now, the lack of discussion about it just buries any dramatic point. Mando was disgraced and then redeemed. Everyone nods. Okay, and...?
Sat, Mar 18, 2023, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 18, 2023, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
If it is just the water, then fill a few tons in a tank and do whatever.
Sat, Mar 18, 2023, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 18, 2023, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 18, 2023, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 19, 2023, 11:06am (UTC -5)
The Mythosaur is bound to reappear in future episodes. I think Bo Katan is still coming to terms with what she saw. I also think Grogu could play a role in communicating with the Mythosaur, that his use of the Force to tame the Rancor is a foreshadowing of this.
Sun, Mar 19, 2023, 11:34am (UTC -5)
That whole scene with Elia and Pershing on the train... filled with laughable stupidities that could have easily been avoided. Elia puts her foot to keep the entrance gate open? Once in the train, they just open the door and jump from wagon to wagon to escape while under suspicion? Are we having a random fucking day with two people trying to get from point A to B in the Paris metro of the 1980s? Pathetic.
Mon, Mar 20, 2023, 11:01am (UTC -5)
It's a shame because I liked the show a lot. And it's not JUST that Andor was excellent. Though using that as a comparison doesn't help this show
Fri, Mar 24, 2023, 7:01am (UTC -5)
In the immortal words of Marlo Stanfield: you want it to be one way. But it’s the other way.
This is the way.
@Derek said, "LOL at him telling the Ackbar lookalike that It Was A Trap”
I laughed like crazy at that.
This episode of The Mandalorian was the most like Andor we’ve had so far (h/t @Yanks). And in the immortal words of Susan Ivanova whispered to her lesbian lover, "so far, I cannot tell if that is good or bad.”
But in the end, I agree wholeheartedly with @Lynos: "I enjoyed this episode very much… . Favreau is like a kid with his lego toys, mixing and matching.”
Fri, Mar 24, 2023, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 25, 2023, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 28, 2023, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Even the first season was not much. It’s just not fulfilling the potential of Star Wars. The old movies (that George made), the video games and books of the past are timeless and can be enjoyed over and over.
I don’t think this show has much rewatch value. It just got traction because of the (understandable) desperation to find something good about modern day Star Wars after the abomination of the Disney sequels (starting with the ludicrous TFA) and the extremely adorable Baby Yoda who himself deserves a better show set in a different time period (such as pre TPM).
However, I would say after Andor, the benchmark has been reset to expect and desire excellence again that we were used to from this beloved franchise. That was a show that was epic, timeless, story driven and superbly acted along with its sublime soundtrack. Whereas this show has been the polar opposite reeking of mediocrity from day one. And the Emperor’s invisible clothes of “the Volume”, Filoni (who constantly contradicted the original saga movie canon), and Marvelesque multiplication has hopefully become to unravel.
In fact I am not sure this show is even that good on a first watch. I honestly think the problem is number one bad writing of individual episodes and characters’ actions, number two the fact it is set post ROTJ and forced to lead to TFA (until the Disney sequels are abolished and the storyline reverts back to the happy ending of ROTJ, or follows whatever George intended), and number three it is purely absolutely aimless.
Virtually all of the time during these escapades is thinking what could have been. Frankly the actual Mando character would better fit a story set a few thousand years before TPM. Same goes for Baby Yoda. Or live action Clone Wars or immediate post ROTS.
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