Last week’s episode of Star Wars: The Mandalorian concluded with Bo-Katan Kryze getting an eyeful of what appeared to be the fabled Mythosaur — a sight that potentially turned her cynical view of Mandalorian culture completely on its head. Din Djarin didn’t see the creature because he had a concussion (for the second time), but he did finally manage to bathe in the Living Waters, thus atoning for the sin of removing his helmet.
This week, we continue Bo-Katan and Grogu/Din Djarin’s journey while also checking in with Dr. Pershing, the scientist/cloning engineer who was previously employed by Moff Gideon. The last time we saw him, he’d been captured by Din Djarin & Co. to help rescue Grogu. This week, we get to see what happened to Pershing after presumably being turned over to the New Republic.
As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers along with some brief explorations of Star Wars lore.
The episode opens with Bo-Katan sitting in contemplative silence as she waits for Din Djarin to wake up. When he finally does (much to Grogu’s delight), the Mandalorian declares himself to be redeemed. Bo-Katan concurs, affirming that she witnessed him bathe in the Living Waters. Before they leave, she asks if he saw anything alive down there. When Djarin says he didn’t, Bo-Katan decides to keep her Mythosaur encounter to herself.
As the pair fly back to Kalevala, Bo-Katan’s ship (the Gauntlet) is fired upon by a group of Imperial TIE Interceptors — an issue that’s bound to come up when you steal an Imperial starship. With their destination close by, Djarin offers to provide backup in his N-1. Before that can happen, however, they need to actually reach Bo-Katan’s castle in one piece.
After entering the planet’s atmosphere, Djarin manages to take out one of the TIEs with the Gauntlet’s cannons before jumping out of the ship’s bay door. He narrowly misses the enemy fighters, waiting for them to pass before firing up his jetpack to control his descent onto the castle’s landing pad. He then hops into the N1 and promptly outduels an incoming TIE.
Meanwhile, Bo-Katan does some nifty flying through a valley over an ocean floor to avoid the other bogeys. Din Djarin catches up and blasts one out of the sky, leaving two still in the air. After he takes out another, Bo-Katan shoots down the last TIE with one of the most badass aerial maneuvers in Star Wars history.
Following that bit of awesomeness, the pair praise each other and fly back toward the castle. Unfortunately, they find that Bo-Katan’s home is being obliterated by a squad of TIE bombers.
*Side Note: While I understand why the Imperials would want to go after Bo-Katan, the timing of their decision to destroy her palace now is extremely narratively convenient.
Bo-Katan understandably wants to go after them, but Djarin convinces her to break off when a new and significantly larger squad of TIE Interceptors appears. Instead, he sends her hyperspace coordinates, allowing them both to leave Kalevala’s atmosphere and escape.
New Leaf, Same Tree
After the opening title, the episode jumps to the planet of Coruscant, where Dr. Pershing is giving a speech to a large audience about how the New Republic’s Amnesty Program saved his life. One of the people in attendance is former Imperial Communications Officer Elia Kane, who also previously served under Moff Gideon.
Pershing explains how much he regrets working for the Empire — especially since they took his cloning research and attempted to twist it into something awful. Now, however, he hopes to put his considerable skills to use for a good cause. The doctor then struggles to hold back his emotions while explaining how his mother died when he was a boy due to having a faulty heart. If organ cloning had been available on his planet, then her death could have been prevented. He has now made it his life’s work to ensure no one else has to endure the same loss he did.
From there, Dr. Pershing explains how he hoped to build off Kaminoan cloning techniques by using multiple genetic strands and combining their best attributes.
Following his speech, Pershing is surrounded by fawning dignitaries and aristocrats. At one point, a man jokes about how he was almost drafted into service. When his wife reminds him that it would’ve been with the Imperial military, the pair casually makes some telling remarks:
Him: Empire, Rebels, New Republic…I can’t keep track. That’s why I should just keep my mouth shut.
Her: We try not to get involved.
*Side Note: I normally try to stay away from going over specific/individual lines of dialogue during these recaps, but this one’s important. Beyond establishing that there’s a callous upper class on Coruscant (as there’s always been), it also reveals that the bureaucratic rot that helped doom the previous Republic has begun to set in once again.
On his way back to Amnesty Housing, Pershing is called over by a group of former Imperials to have a drink. After reluctantly joining them, he’s surprised to see Elia Kane, who the doctor identifies as having worked with him on Moff Gideon’s ship.
Upon hearing Gideon’s name, the other ex-Imperials discuss a pair of conspiracy theories surrounding the infamous Moff:
- He escaped custody before trial.
- He was hooked up to a mind flayer.
*Side Note: A mind flayer is not the mind-reading creature from ‘Star Wars: Rogue One,’ which was a Mairan. It’s actually a device that erases memories and/or brain functions. It’s only been mentioned previously and has never been seen in expanded universe materials or onscreen…yet.
Kane dismisses any talk about Gideon, explaining that her focus now is on contributing to the New Republic. This leads the group into a much lighter/friendlier discussion about their post-Imperial lives. When the subject turns to the very few things they miss about their time with the Empire, Pershing admits he was fond of the travel biscuits that used to be packed with their rations.
Later that evening, Pershing is about to go to bed when he hears a knock on his door. He opens it to find that no one’s there, but a box of the travel biscuits has been left on his doorstep.
The next morning, Pershing goes to his job archiving data from recovered/scrapped Imperial materials. A coworker who was at his speech the previous evening mentions how odd it is for a person with the doctor’s skillset to be stuck with such a mundane task. Pershing responds that he’s happy to do whatever is asked of him.
That evening, Pershing heads out on the town with Kane. As the pair begin to bond, he admits his frustration at how close they were to some major scientific breakthroughs — especially since that knowledge could now be used to help the right side. When Kane asks why he simply doesn’t continue his research on Coruscant, Pershing responds that the New Republic is uneasy about the ethics of cloning. Kane counters that it’s worth pursuing if it can help people.
She also points out that blindly following orders is what caused them to be used and manipulated by the Empire in the first place.
Sometime later, Pershing meets with a New Republic Amnesty Program droid, who gives him a gentler version of the Shawshank Redemption parole interview. Once he’s finished answering, Pershing asks the droid if it would be possible for him to continue his cloning research recreationally. The droid responds that it would be against the new Coruscant Accords and therefore illegal.
That evening, Pershing tells Kane about his strong desire to continue his research to help the New Republic. After expressing her support, she reveals she knows how to get him the supplies he needs. Unfortunately, it would require them to travel outside of their designated living area — a big no no for people in the Amnesty Program.
Pershing initially shuts down the notion, but Kane convinces him to sleep on it.
The next day at work, Pershing notices that the New Republic is about to scrap a ton of Imperial equipment that’s still in good working order. When he asks his co-worker if anything can be done, the man is only able to offer ineffective solutions covered in red tape.
Later, Pershing has another meeting with the Amnesty Program droid. This time, he takes a moment before answering the question about if he felt any anger or resentment toward the New Republic. When the questioning is completed, Pershing pointedly asks the droid if helping the New Republic supersedes all other considerations.
When it answers yes, that’s enough to convince him to accept Kane’s offering of assisting him in creating a mobile lab.
The next evening, Pershing and Kane sneak aboard a train headed out of their designated area to a ship scrapyard. They’re nearly caught by some security droids, but manage to leap off the train just as it’s slowing down before the last stop. During their adventure, Pershing gradually morphs from being terrified to gleefully thrilled.
The pair sneak onto a junked Imperial Star Destroyer, where the doctor is overjoyed to find a lab filled with everything he needs. Despite Kane’s assurances that no one would be guarding decommissioned ships, they hear footsteps approaching as they attempt to leave. Upon running outside, they’re surrounded by New Republic forces, who place Pershing under arrest…but not Kane, who steps in front of him and takes the illegal medical contraband as evidence.
Later, Kane watches as a doctor tells Pershing that he’s about to undergo a procedure to help combat his Imperial brainwashing. Pershing immediately recognizes the device he’s being hooked up to as a mind flayer, but the doctor assures him it’s a much less invasive machine designed for pain-free rehabilitation. Pershing begs for the chance to explain himself, but to no avail.
As the process begins, Kane’s supervisor laments the former Imperial scientist’s presumed relapse before praising her for doing the right thing. When he suggests they leave, Kane asks if she can stay since Pershing was her friend. After the supervisor departs, she cranks up the mind flayer past its setting of pleasant surface memory erasure to one that looks significantly more permanent.
Kane bites into a travel biscuit and calmly watches as Pershing begins to writhe in pain.
The Way Forward
That would be a tragically awesome place to end the episode, but there are still a few minutes to go.
We swing back to Bo-Katan and Djarin, who’ve arrived on the planet from the first episode where the Mandalorian covert is. They’re met at the cave entrance by Paz Vizsla, who refuses them entry on account of Djarin being an apostate. When he dismisses Djarin’s claim about bathing in the Living Waters, Bo-Katan backs him up as a witness. Paz Vizsla responds by dismissing her as an apostate for being part of Clan Kryze. Djarin then shows him that he brought a sample of the water back, earning him a reluctant entrance to the cave.
The Armorer takes the water and does some sort of test that proves it’s legit. After declaring Djarin redeemed, she does the same for Bo-Katan on account of her diving into the waters, as well. When Bo-Katan counters that she doesn’t live by their creed, the Armorer asks if she’s taken off her helmet since going into the Living Waters. After Bo-Katan reveals that she hasn’t, the Armorer explains that she has thus far met the requirements for redemption and acceptance to their covert. She may leave at any time, but for now, she is one of them.
Both Djarin and Bo-Katan are then surrounded by the other Mandalorians, who offer well wishes and congratulations (except for Paz Vizsla, who’s totally pouting underneath his helmet). Although we can’t see her face, Bo-Katan is clearly moved by the prospect of being part of a Mandalorian group/family again…or maybe she’s simply considering the possibility of having a new and even more dedicated army to help her retake Mandalore.
Either way, her lingering stare at the Mythosaur symbol indicates that she might be willing to stick around for a while.
Let’s start with the Djarin/Bo-Katan part of the episode before we get into the really heavy stuff.
You could be cynical and say that the opening action sequence was to make sure the audience was hooked for the rest of the episode, which was considerably less exciting. You would also be correct, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. Aside from the ridiculous timing of Bo-Katan’s home being destroyed, it was as good of a sequence as we’ve ever had from the series — and not just the because of the thrilling aerial dogfight. It was also great seeing Bo-Katan and Djarin in sync like they were.
Hopefully that’s something we’ll see even more of now that it looks like she’ll be sticking around with the covert.
The final moments of the episode provided us with all sorts of implications for the narrative moving forward — no small feat considering how much was communicated without dialogue by characters wearing helmets.
As for the meat of the episode, I hope folks don’t think my observation about its lack of excitement means it wasn’t enjoyable. On the contrary, Pershing and Kane’s story was equal parts engrossing and tragic. In the end, we saw how the New Republic is definitely not the shining beacon of post-Imperial goodness they think they are. In fact, much of the hubris and bureaucratic rot that doomed the first Republic is already apparent.
Meanwhile, Pershing’s genuine desire to do good is contrasted by Kane finding a way to continue being a successful sociopathic within her new environment. Some folks might think her final act was proof she’s still an agent of the Empire, but it’s more likely her way of insuring a potential loose end from her past is tied up that she can also use as a bloody stepping stone.
Omid Abtahi and Katy O’Brian were absolutely superb in their roles, as well. Even the painfully dull chase scene on the train couldn’t take the luster off their organic and believable chemistry — something that made Kane’s betrayal at the end even more painful to watch
It’s hard to say how (or if) Elia Kane’s story will tie into the rest of the season. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that Star Wars: The Mandalorian has some great potential narratives to explore over the next several weeks.
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