When Pirate Swamp Thing (the worst pirate design in the history of pirates) and his band of lawless bandits open fire from the air upon Nevarro and then invade it, Greef Karga makes an urgent plea to the New Republic to send a patrol to restore order. The message is received by Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), the X-wing officer who saved Mando from certain spider death back in "The Passenger." Teva returns to Coruscant to report the situation and ask the New Republic to intervene. Notable is how slowly this message seems to be relayed given how urgent the situation is on Nevarro. A city is being laid to waste, and this guy has to walk casually through office cubicles and file a report in person.
The New Republic does not intervene. Colonel Tuttle (Tim Meadows) — who also happens to have Elia Kane working in his office (take note) — says Nevarro is not a member world, and there's already a backlog of requests for resources on member worlds. Teva, sensing sinister Empire interference and wanting to do something to help, takes Karga's plea to Mando, whom he tracks to the Mandalorian hideout through Mando's Republic-issued droid, hoping Mando will intervene to save his friend. (Pretty big lapse in security protocols with that droid, Mando!)
As in "The Convert," the slow, overburdened bureaucracy of the New Republic and the rampant lawlessness in the Outer Rim already seem to be a recipe for the Empire's gradual resurgence. If one of the things The Mandalorian does is document how the First Order rose from the ashes of the Empire (something never adequately explained in the sequel trilogy), I'll consider that a worthy storytelling gap filled. There's a place for slow-burn serialized background plot on this show, and an episode like this is a good way to do it.
"The Pirate" is all the better because it actually advances the New Republic story, as well as the Mandalorians' story, rather than spinning its wheels as last week painfully did. Din Djarin makes a case to his fellow Mandalorians to intervene (Karga has already offered them a permanent home — above ground! — on Nevarro for Mando's role in repelling Moff Gideon), and he's joined by Paz Vizsla, who plays the "WE ARE MANDALORIANS!" card. And it's about time. What else are they going to do? Hide in these caves for the next 10 years?
What ensues is an epic battle by air and ground to take down the pirates and take back the city. It's rousing, well-motivated, and expertly crafted. This is action I can get behind, because it has real stakes and makes logical sense (as opposed to last week when the Mandalorians camped at the base of a mountain overnight while the child they were supposed to be rescuing could easily have been eaten during that time, but for plot reasons wasn't). The Mandalorians are successful, of course, but it's a grueling, sustained effort — and, more importantly, it moves their cause forward.
In the closing scenes, the Armorer talks of the Great Forge of Mandalore, the legend of the Mythosaur, and the apparent significance of Bo-Katan having seen it. She declares Bo-Katan the One who can unite the Mandalorian people and retake Mandalore, and allows her to remove her helmet so she can "walk in both worlds" — I suppose those worlds being the ones who walk the Way and the ones who don't. Absent from all this is the Darksaber, which was previously so important but has gone undiscussed for several episodes. The Armorer's cryptic doublespeak and all the nonsense with the Creed and the helmets is still arbitrary and more silly than convincing (the whole Mandalorian culture is still really amorphous and ill-defined), but this is a step in the right direction toward something new, so I'm all for it.
In an ominous final scene, Teva finds the remains of the shuttle on which Moff Gideon was being transported to stand trial. Gideon was busted out, the crew was killed, and there are beskar shards among the remains, indicating Gideon was taken by Mandalorians. As the Dude would say, that's f***ing interesting, man.
This might be the best episode of the season so far. It does the Mando thing, and it does these other New Republic things, and it puts them together in a single package where it all seems to fit and advance the narratives.
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