The Mandalorian

“Chapter 19: The Convert”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 3/15/2023
Written by Noah Kloor & Jon Favreau
Directed by Lee Isaac Chung

Review Text

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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42 comments on this post

    That went downhill almost as fast as Din Djarin in the Living Waters.

    At first it seems like a welcome step up. Great opening action scene, though a bit Death Star valley attack derivative, but then it becomes quickly underwhelming, very underwhelming, the Coruscant scenes did draggggg.....
    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.

    Oh, my: A 56 minute episode with less than 20 minutes devoted to the Mandalorian. What the heck??

    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?

    There is not enough Baby Yoda in a galaxy far far away to make watch this stupid show. Have fun everybody!

    And they are implying Moff Gideon may be....missing. But still a slog. Seasons 1 and 2 were very tightly paced. This episode.....

    It wasn't just boring (the Dr Pershing stuff)... The dialogue was bland, the acting wooden, the twists so painfully telegraphed.

    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.

    I'm willing to reserve judgment on the Coruscant scenes until we see if they're leading to anything, or if they were just tying off the loose end. It was a little disheartening to see how the Republic is struggling to handle governing, but I guess it shouldn't be that shocking. We already knew it was incompetent enough to allow the First Order to rise up right under their noses. I do think they have good intentions; it's just a hard problem to deal with.

    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.

    Funny that there is so much negativity here about the Coruscant storyline. I actually welcome that there will be some world building in The Mandalorian beyond retreading familiar ground. While we need to see where this is going to pass judgement, at least this show is finally trying to say something, and not just churning out short vignettes. I am more encouraged to keep watching than I was last week, even if what we got wasn't masterful.

    The pacing (or do I mean the structuring?) of these first 3 episodes has been quite odd. To create dramatic tension the Coruscant section (which I did quite enjoy although it looks like I'm in a minority) could've been split over these episodes rather than stuffed into the bulk of this one with Mandalorian scenes top and tailing it. As it was it felt far too long.

    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!

    I thought she turned up the mind flayer to basically fry Pershing’s brain, because he was blabbing too much about the cloning experiments.

    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?

    Echo the sentiments of many other posters: this was not a particularly good episode (perhaps the worst in the series), in large part because the focus is on a fairly nondescript and forgettable Dr. Pershing, and offers no real guidance as to where that story may go. The juxtaposition of the kinetic aerial fights at the start of the episode to the story on Coruscant was also quite jarring. Universe building is certainly welcome, but this episode made no real effort to weave together the two disparate story lines that were offered.

    @artymiss I guess it could be sort of in between our two ideas. Maybe it erases his memories, but not his entire mind. He'd still have his expertise in cloning, and can be brought back to Gideon to start fresh.

    Well, I thought this was a great expansion of what is possible in this show. Only downsides were some ropey acting and scripting here and there, but otherwise, excellent. Always love seeing Coruscant as well.
    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.

    @AMA But who says disparate or separate storyline need to be brought or weaved together at all right? All due respect, just saying?

    Random Thoughts:

    -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?

    This felt like an Andor episode but without that show's strong writing.

    So let me get this straight: as part of their desithification program the New Republic is just systematically trashing everything that was ever imperial, from starships to biscuits to medical supplies? That seems ummm wasteful.

    Different episode for sure.

    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?

    Who knows...

    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.

    Before I talk about this episode z I have to ask something about this season's plot:
    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.

    @Jason R.

    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.

    I enjoyed this episode very much. I love how this show keeps trying new things and new tacks instead of repeating itself. The Mandalorian as a show is set in a certain universe and I think the mandate its creators have taken on themselves is to use the show to explore different stories in that universe that ultimatley connectsto its namesake (I have no doubt the Coruscant storyline and the Mandalorian storyline will eventually meet).

    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.

    I didn’t mind an episode set on Coruscant, but I wish it had been a little less simplistic/cartoony compared to Andor (I get that this is a much different show). Visually - super neat, though.

    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).

    Jammer says:

    "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.

    And Katee Sackhoff rules. She is just owning this show right now.

    @dave: "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."

    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...?

    Concerning the ease of being redeemed by bathing in the Living Waters: is there any information how easy it was to access these for a ritual bath before the Empire bombed Mandalore? If that was not easily possible redeeming yourself might still have been a major quest in those times.

    You have to bathe in those living waters to rejoin. Is it about the water that is there or about the place where the water is?
    If it is just the water, then fill a few tons in a tank and do whatever.

    They could've kept this episode. It starts off promising with the dog fight and then devolves into some random interaction with two people I care nothing about. If they had just cut that garbage out we could've found out more about the living waters. We could've found out about the creature living in the living waters. We could've found out more about why the living waters are considered sacred and how it redeems the Mandalorians. Nobody gave a damn about some random dude that got railroaded by the most obvious entrapment known to mankind.

    WHY AND HOW does it.make sense to.NOT.follow.up.on the Mythosaur as Jammer calla it..when will we see it fully emerge..and learn about it as a unique and alien life form??

    I'm hoping the cloning references get incorporated into a similar plot point as the very first Thrawn novels, where the clones are grown to reconquer the New Republic. Maybe Elia is working for Thrawn.


    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.

    This show is beginning to suck really badly. The amount of handwaving required to go through each scene is increasing by the episode and it's sucking the life out of a decent first two seasons with plenty of entertaining bottle episodes - though I'd say the show started to go downhill in the second season already.

    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.

    @Halle I agree. The narrative is starting to fall apart. It was fine I guess when the helmet thing seemed to inform his character in early seasons, but the rules seem silly since it became the main narrative focus. Plus everything seems to have a sheen to it, everything seems to clean. The dialogue isn't subtle or sharp.. but obvious and expository. It lacks wit.

    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

    @Jammer said, "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.”

    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.”

    The way Bo Kataan is utilized is poor judgment by Favreau and co. She is only useful when she can be of service to Mando, otherwise she sits all day in her lonely palace?!!? I am in the camp of MercerCreate and Halle above, the quality of this show and its' current season is below zero compared to its first.

    Who coined the term Mythosaur and when..why isn't anyone else wondering it a combination of myth and dinosaur?.like a portmanteau of those words? Again was the word coined for Star Wars or it existed in English lexicon before this show...or wasit used in some other Star Wars production before...just wondering..


    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.

    Agreed with the comments above. This is not what our heroes fought for in the victory of ROTJ. If this is the alternative to the Empire (which was the legitimate galactic government no less), then I hope the “Alliance to Restore the Empire” attains a swift victory.

    No due process in the so called “New Republic”.

    I was reminded of "Gattaca" -- a very different MAND episode but one that I quite liked for the dedicated focus on this Amnesty group given a 2nd chance by the New Republic (who probably end up looking a lot like the Empire) and Dr. Pershing. Obviously one can smell a rat in G68, but I enjoyed how it all built up, the little things like trying to touch the top of the mountain, the box of travel biscuits. Pershing is a good dude of course but he's hopelessly naive. (Just hope they don't leave him unattended for too long under the neural neutralizer set on max.)

    The structure of this chapter is also pretty different with 2 totally unrelated subplots and the one with Mando being like 10% of the episode. I think this must be by far the longest MAND chapter to date.

    Nothing too special with Mando here -- the tie interceptor fight scene was tiresome but I liked how "Starbuck" was welcomed by the other Mandalorians after she was redeemed. Some good potential for future episodes created here since "Kara Thrace" is not your traditional Mandalorian. It's a bit silly with the helmet removal thing and redemption by bathing in the waters when we don't have much justification for it all.

    Coruscant looked amazing -- a better looking futuristic metropolis than anything on Trek. I really liked how deliberate this chapter was with building up the bond between G68 and Pershing -- the escapade on the train etc. But of course it's all part of a setup, but in what way would it be so?

    3 stars for "Chapter 19: The Convert" -- I applaud MAND for going outside the box here and really focusing 90% of the episode on 2 super-minor characters from earlier in the series. The dismantling of the Empire as a backdrop bears plenty of fruit. I was pretty impressed again with the production and after you watch an episode and listen to the MAND theme song (might be the best one of them all) and the still drawings of scenes from the chapter, you could feel like you've witnessed something exceptional even though you haven't. It's a good trick.

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