The writers of The Mandalorian are really starting to fall back on Deus Ex Machinas in a pinch too frequently. Last episode was resolved by the X-Wing pilots swooping in to save the day at the last minute and this episode starts with Mando needing to be saved again after being captured by pirates.
Convenience is a tool a writer can only get away with so many times before it gets lazy.
That said, episode 11 is probably the coolest episode of the season so far! The season is finally starting to get comfortable playing the cards it has and more or less lays out the story for the season that I predicted.
The episode begins with Mando and the frog alien landing on Mon Calamari, the homeworld of Admiral Ackbar’s species. This might sound like unwarranted fan service but the detail is actually quite downplayed. Other than the fact that we see other aliens of his species walking around, there’s not much about it that’s special other than the fact that it’s a water planet.
In canon, Mon Calamari was one of the most important worlds in most eras of the galaxy. It shows up for in each of the Cartoon Network Clone Wars series as a strategically important Republic world.
During Imperial rule, the planet defected almost immediately to the Rebellion and became the most important Rebel shipyard for the duration of the war. It was so powerful that the Empire never bothered to attack it because of the resources it would tie up.
This episode is the first time we’ve ever seen it depicted in live action. That said, it’s just set dressing for the more important details of this week’s plot.
The series has finally pulled the trigger after three episodes by introducing the long awaited Covent of Mandalorians who can get Mando to a Jedi to help the child. Lo and behold, the casting rumors were correct and Katie Sackhoff is indeed here playing Bo Katan. If you don’t know why that’s important, just know that she’s an important character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Mando immediately tries to conscript her assistance but quickly realizes that he’s not on the same page as her when she removes her helmet. This ends up serving to answer an immediate question about why Mando’s tribe is so different than the other depictions of his people seen in the series.
As it turns out, Mando is a child of an extremist cult known as The Watch which broke off and attempted to recreate radical Mandalorian values off world. Bo Katan, a member of the radical terrorist cell Death Watch, considers The Watch to be more radical than her. That’s actually kind of thought provoking, albeit I don’t know where they’re going with this idea.
Mando ultimately relents and agrees to help the Death Watch with a job robbing an Imperial cargo ship in exchange for information that will lead Mando to a Jedi who can help. The four Mandalorians lay siege to the ship and more or less capture it effortlessly in one of the coolest action set pieces of the series so far!
The episode offers two more major reveals from this point forward:
1. Bo Katan is trying to reestablish her right to rule over her home planet of Mandalore and needs to capture the black lightsaber (the dark saber) from Moff Gideon to earn the moral right to rule her people and retake her world from the Imperial Remnant.
2. The Jedi that Mando needs to track down is, as rumors suggested, Ahsoka Tano. Bo Katan gives Mando a lead on her location and he parts way with the Death Watch covent.
This isn’t a super dense episode overall. It’s very action focused and pours out a ton of exposition to get the story moving after jogging in place for two pretty okay episodes at the start of the season. That said, it’s probably my favorite one so far of the three!
Maybe it’s just my dumb Star Wars fan lizard brain working again but I just loved watching the Mandalorians pick fights in this environment with these enemies and these characters. I loved that some of my assumptions about the direction of the series proved right.
Even so, we still have five episodes left. This series moves at a breakneck pace so it’s possible that anything could happen for the duration of the season. We still don’t know how (if) Boba Fett will play into the finale even. Overall, I’m excited to see where this is going!