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Mando sails the high seas on a mythology-heavy episode of The Mandalorian

Illustration for article titled Mando sails the high seas on a mythology-heavy episode of iThe Mandalorian/i
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It’s like “this is the way” doesn’t even mean anything anymore, you know? This week marked another action-packed episode of The Mandalorian, but once he’s got a chance to catch his breath, Mando is going to have a lot to think about. This week’s episode was quite mythology-heavy compared to last week, introducing characters from Dave Filoni’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars whose backstories are, to be honest, too extensive to go into here—but you can catch up on some of the most prescient bits in Kevin Johnson’s recaps of season seven here on The A.V. Club.

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In short, Katee Sackhoff takes Bo-Katan Kryze from animation to live action in “The Heiress,” and the character has aged quite well over the 30 years or so that have passed in-universe since her introduction. A former Manda’lor, or supreme leader, of the Mandalorian people and a longtime Imperial resistor, in the New Republic era she’s traveling the galaxy with rebel group the Nite Owls, searching for leftover Imperial weapons to commandeer for their cause with her comrades Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado, a.k.a. the WWE’s Sasha Banks).

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Mando’s guiding motivation in the season thus far has been to find others of his kind, and he gets that wish this episode—but not exactly the way that he planned. I’m intrigued by the idea of Mando belonging to a fundamentalist Mandalorian breakaway sect, The Children Of The Watch; it gives his character a new dimension, suggesting that the battle-hardened warrior may actually be a sheltered innocent in the context of the larger Mandalorian world. (The Mandalorian equivalent of Amish, maybe?) He certainly seemed clueless when he mentioned taking The Child to the Jedi in front of the Nite Owls, revealing that he knows absolutely nothing about the centuries of animosity between the two creeds.

As well as bringing in the politics and power struggles within the Mandalorians, “The Heiress” also marks the highly anticipated return of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito)—who, as he did last season, appears as a hologram before actually showing up in person. (For what it’s worth, IMDb lists him appearing in every episode of the second season from here on out.) Bo-Katan and Moff Gideon are locked in a power struggle for the Darksaber, a weapon that’s changed hands a few times since it was created for the first Mandalorian to join the Jedi Order—who we’ll presumably meet next week, with the promised and also highly anticipated debut of Ahsoka Tano in the live-action Star Wars universe. But in the meantime, we get the pure, guilt-free joy of watching Stormtroopers flying around like wood chips off a chainsaw, including what I thought was a very funny moment of a Stormtrooper smacking against the windshield of the Gozanti Cruiser. I was a little peeved to hear Imperials talking in American accents, however—everyone knows that Imperials are British, and Rebels American! But I suppose one does not question the methods of Bosch, a.k.a. Titus Welliver, who appears in a one-off role as an unnamed Imperial Captain.

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And I haven’t even mentioned Mando and The Child’s adventures aboard a Quarren pirate ship, which on the one hand turned out to be a bit of a red herring only lasting for a few minutes, but on the other had perhaps the most thrilling and well-assembled action scene of the episode. I thought the cross cutting between Mando trapped in the hull with water rising around him and the Nite Owls swooping in to rescue the errant duo was great, even if this season is getting a little lazy in terms of getting Mando out of trouble once it becomes obvious that he’s in over his helmet. That happened twice this episode, once aboard the ship and once on the docks on the water planet of Trask; the first one was necessary enough, but the second, entirely unneeded. The deus ex machina trope of reinforcements arriving at the last second is something I discussed in recaps last season, but suffice to say that A) I know it’s common in sci-fi and fantasy, but B) it’s still not my favorite storytelling device.

This all runs parallel to a sweeter storyline wrapping up the tale of Frog Lady, who has a heartwarming reunion with her husband Frog Man (that’s what his name would be, right?) on a grungy industrial dock. Viewers who were scandalized by The Child sucking down Frog Lady’s eggs like a bodybuilder last episode (which I guess I get—I thought it was funny, myself) should be pleased to see the little guy behaves himself in “The Heiress,” in which we find out that the Frog People are a gentle and forgiving species willing to babysit even a little trash monster who ate half of their (unfertilized) children. When it comes to The Child, the predator became the prey this week, as he came under attack by a handful of squid-like creatures from his chowder bowl to the stomach of a Mamacore—a new creature that we don’t get a good look at, but seems to be in the general Sarlacc “giant worm with a leech mouth” mold. One could also argue that Mando also tries a little harder to keep his 50-year-old toddler in check this episode, but go easy on him. He’s got a lot going on right now.

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Stray observations

  • Bryce Dallas Howard, who directed the season one episode “Sanctuary,” returns for “The Heiress,” an episode that similarly blends gentle kindness and kinetic action in a damp climate.
  • If you’re ever tempted to take this all too seriously, remember that there’s a Star Wars species whose official, in-universe name is “Mon Calamari.” Great sweaters, though.
  • Space octopus chowder from a ceiling tube. Yum?
  • On that note, the shots of The Child and Koska Reeve slurping squirming tentacles into their mouths made me think of the scene in Oldboy where Choi Min-sik sucks down a whole live octopus.
  • So, like—Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni must be big Deadwood fans, right? Titus Welliver is the third Deadwood actor to appear in season two, after Timothy Olyphant and W. Earl Brown in season premiere “The Gunslinger.”
  • At this point, the Razor Crest may be junkier than even the Millennium Falcon when Rey discovered it sitting in a scrap heap on Jakku.
  • The scene where they played “The Mandalorian Theme” as the camera pushes in on the pirate ship from above, swinging around to land on Mando and The Child standing on the deck? Yeah, I was vibing.
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