The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3 “The Convert” tightens up the course that the rest of the season will hopefully take with its best episode yet. Taking the action away from Din Djarin and Bo-Katan, this episode — which Lee Isaac Chung directed — follows two characters from previous seasons in a 1970s-style political thriller on the streets of Coruscant.
Warning: The following review may contain light spoilers. Be sure to check out our review of the first and the second episodes of The Mandalorian‘s third season.
We begin the episode immediately following the events of the previous episode, “The Apostate,” with Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), and Grogu having just escaped a gruesome fate in the Living Waters under the mantle of the planet of Mandalore. After a brief conversation about what happened at the end of the last episode, they shake off the proverbial dust and get into their ships and leave the planet.
While in space approaching Bo-Katan’s home on Kalevala, a group of TIE Interceptors attack the group eventually overwhelming and outnumbering them. They are left barely escaping with their lives while witnessing the destruction of the palace that Bo-Katan called home. They leave the planet, seeking refuge, and that is where the action of the episode shifts to Coruscant.
It is here we are reintroduced to two characters from previous seasons and episodes of the franchise. Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian) are two Imperial scientists enrolled in the New Republic’s rehabilitation program, The Amnesty Program, housed and conducted on Coruscant.
Through the next half hour, we are treated to scenes from Dr. Pershing’s fall from grace: going from working on illustrious science to an archival building, a Spartan and desolate existence without even being able to use his name. He falls victim to Kane’s machinations which leads him once again to fall to what Master Yoda might call “The Dark Side,” i.e. his hubris and lack of common sense in who is leading him astray.
When we leave Dr. Pershin and Comms Officer Kane on Coruscant, we come back to Din Djarin and Bo-Katan meeting with the Armorer, finishing the quest of redemption that Din had set out on in the season premiere.
While the previous two episodes had been solidly marked down in my book as good, “The Convert” firmly landed itself in great territory. With the franchise steeply turning its way back toward what has stood out in recent iterations, this episode is what I hope turns the ship around.
As a lover of all things Rogue One, the political dramas of the prequels, and as a fan of 1970s Cold War-era thrillers, in general, this episode of The Mandalorian managed to keep my attention on the episode and off my phone the entire time. Bringing back familiar faces from earlier episodes worked super effectively to keep the continuity of the story going, all while allowing the episode to flesh out the landscape of the world that The Mandalorian takes place in a post fall of the Empire, pre-Force Awakens space that churns with the machinations of political fallout at the “center of the galaxy.”
Throughout this episode, we are treated to tight scenes with excellent acting from both Mr. Abtahi and Ms. O’Brian. Even the moments that felt superfluous or unneeded were actually necessary to the psychology of Ms. O’Brian’s character, Elia Kane, breaking down the post-Empire walls that Dr. Pershing had thrown up to keep himself alive throughout the downfall. Even those that like to play the guessing game (like myself) during episodes might have struggled with figuring out exactly what Kane’s motives were throughout the episode: was she working for the New Republic? Moff Gideon himself? This thriller of an episode uses scenes scattered over Coruscant — and let me tell you, as a huge fan of Padmé Amidala in both book and novel, seeing the city streets that she might have walked in her time as a senator was absolutely wizard — to make the world that we are being made privy to seem real.
The combination of Dr. Pershing’s lonely existence, his earnest desire to do good — to help people, as he claims at the very start of his appearance — coupled with the failings of the New Republic in how they treat those living under amnesty make for a perfect storm of intrigue, shifting moralities, and betrayal. After a few scenes of watching Pershing’s talent be “wasted” in the basement of the archival building, it makes perfect sense when the chance to do something good, something better for the people of the New Republic comes his way, he jumps at it without a second thought, leading him to his tragic end at the sparky ends of a Mind Flayer.
The importance of belonging comes full circle at the end of the episode, as we come back to Din Djarin and Bo-Katan, who have returned to the Armorer at the hidden covert of Mandalorian refugees. Through some more excellent acting on the part of Brendan Wayne and the other actors under the helmets, we witness a scene that begins with hostility unfolding on both Din Djarin and Bo-Katan ending with both of them being welcomed back into the group. Bo-Katan, who had up until then had scoffed at the ideas of Din Djarin’s clan, is visibly taken aback by the acceptance into the group, arguably the largest one she had been a part of since the fall of her planet and the loss of her family, decades prior.
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. There were moments that I wish had been extrapolated upon further — tell us more about Dr. Pershing’s work, Favreau/Filoni, I want to make it make sense — but overall, every scene in the brilliantly executed A-B-A plot structure worked well and complemented each other.
I understand that for many, The Mandalorian should be about just that: the titular Mandalorian and his space adventures, but as a lover of the Star Wars Extended Universe novels and Legacy material, I’m in the second camp.
Fill the world with smaller side characters. Show us how life is both wholly different and exactly the same as our own. The humdrum ennui of day in, day out archival work at a government building would lead anyone to dream of doing something better with their one, precious life, let alone a brilliant geneticist who still dreams of saving his mother.
It’s through these small stories, these little adventures, that I believe Star Wars does best. The mythos of Luke Skywalker becomes unsustainable when the whole of the canon rests solely upon his shoulders; there is more than just one hero in this universe and every single person has the potential to be the hero in their own story.
Final Score (4.5 out of 5 stars)
This episode definitely earns this rating from me, as one of my favorite episodes of the franchise so far. I do hope we get to see more from the world that isn’t just Din Djarin, with my hopes of seeing what Bo-Katan does with her newly acquired membership into the sect of Mandalorians she had once laughed at coming in high for the next few episodes.
I am also a sucker for a found family story, which is what it seems this season is setting up, with Bo and Din excavating and healing old wounds to relearn what the word means to them. Chung’s directing was phenomenal, as was the set dressing and fleshing out of a city that I honestly wish we spent more in, as a whole. I’m excited for what comes next and hope that Disney sticks with building up the world we find our hero in with smaller, meatier parts, rather than focusing on the flagship character.
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