The Mandalorian: The Convert
As with all Star Wars tales, "The Convert" is one of redemption and Favreau and crew are crafting something special in this show's third season.
Just when you're getting comfy catching up with your buddies Mando and Grogu during "The Mandalorian,” creator Jon Favreau goes and does a hard pivot in the third episode of the season and goes plot heavy.
Don't get me wrong, I loved this episode, but for fans waiting to spend a little time with Mando and his son, boy, are you in for a shock. The duo spent maybe 10 minutes on screen, but what we get is so damn good you won't care.
"The Convert" picks up after Bo-Katan (Katee Stackhoff) has just rescued Mandalorian Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and coming to terms with what she saw in the depths of the Living Waters. Then it's off to her castle, but they are picked up by a squadron of TIE Interceptors, resulting in a fantastic space dogfight to begin the episode. They eventually hyperjump to meet up with Mando's Tribe and you won't see them again until the end of the episode.
Remember when Favreau, just out of nowhere, took a detour in "The Book of Boba Fett" and gave us a mini Mandalorian arc? Here, he and director Lee Isaac Chung swerve us into "Andor" territory, moving the action to Coruscant, shifting to a darker tone and reintroducing us to Imperial clone scientist Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and Moff Gideon's Communications Officer Elia Kane (Katy M. O'Brian).
Why would two agents of the Empire be chilling at the center of the New Republic government? They're part of the Amnesty Program, where former people sympathetic to the Empire are rehabilitated and serve the Republic. But as we see in this episode, lines blur between good and evil depending on who is in charge.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Dr. Pershing struggles to acclimate to his new mundane job and desires to further his research to help the New Republic. Elia convinces him to follow his gut and helps him infiltrate the scrapyard to salvage scientific equipment from a decommissioned Imperial Star Destroyer. But it turns out Elia's plan was a test for Dr. Pershing as the duo are met by New Republic officers outside the Star Destroyer and Dr. Pershing is arrested.
If you thought the New Republic was any less barbaric than the Empire, those thoughts are put to rest quickly when they implement a Mind Flayer, a scary bit of tech that eliminates the bad bits in the brain and helps the person become more receptive to the rehabilitation process.
At the end of the episode, Mando and Bo-Katan find themselves back with The Watch, with not just Din being welcomed back into the fold. Since Bo-Katan was submerged in the Living Waters and has not removed her helmet since she too has been redeemed and is now recognized as a member of The Watch.
There is so much goodness in "The Convert" that I could barely stand it. This is another slow burn, but I loved the episode for many things. The musical cues are wonderful, and fans should keep an ear out for some familiar music that will help bring this eventually into the sequel trilogy.
We get to go back to Coruscant once again and that's a planet I can't get enough of. I fell in love with it reading what is now referred to as the Legends books and wanted more of it in the prequel films. This is a less seedy side of the planet than what we saw in "Andor," and it's great how we get to see the more cultured side of things this time around. Plus, I want one of the damn glowy popsicle things they eat. Make it happen, Disney!
We also get Bo-Katan referred to as Nite Owl – another excellent callback to "The Clone Wars" fans will love and we get to hear Grogu's first words. OK, "words" may be pushing it a little, but we definitely hear him mimic the creed "This is the Way" toward the beginning of the episode.
One aspect of the episode that really struck a nerve was how it shows that the elite of Coruscant isn't affected much at all, no matter who is in charge. They just play the game, align with who's in charge and continue to live in the world they've created. I'd never thought of that aspect of the Star Wars universe before, but it's definitely a fact of fiction mimicking reality.
I could point out little easter eggs here and there, but I don't want to spoil the fun. I suggest watching it several times to pick up a few small things you might miss the first time.
O'Brian and Abtahi are great in this episode, with O'Brian really shining throughout. She plays the villain to perfection, and I look forward to seeing more from her down the road. I also want to praise the special effects in this episode. They looked terrific and rivaled anything you've seen on the big screen lately.
Chung, Favreau and Noah Kloor give us an episode of "The Mandalorian" I didn't expect and that's why I adore Favreau leading the way. He knows the material and has the guts to take risks and tell the story that needs to be told and not strictly stick to fan service to make us happy.
"The Convert" is a great episode filled with intrigue and mystery. As with all Star Wars tales, it's one of redemption and Favreau and crew are crafting something special in this show's third season.