The Mandalorian Season 3 Explores Faith and Forgiveness in Episode 3

Light on Mando and Grogu interactions, "The Convert" instead focuses on other characters' searches for meaning and purpose, giving a richer view of life under the New Republic.

by | March 15, 2023 | Comments

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(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The third episode of The Mandalorian’s third season — “The Convert” — featured a number of conversions, but which one will stick? Beyond that, though, the hour concerned itself with a surprising update and a look into a rarely examined area of the New Republic as it attempts to restore order galaxy-wide. The story also begs the question, “Does life on Coruscant ever change?” Let’s answer that question and look at the converts of the tale.

Spoiler alert: The following reveals details from The Mandalorian season 3 episode “Chapter 19: The Convert.” Stop reading here if you have not watched the episode and wish to avoid spoilers.

Bo-Katan Redeemed

Katee Sackhoff and R5-D4 in THE MANDALORIAN

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Considering how late the title card actually appears in the episode, it is understandable if most assume Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) is the titular convert.

Picking up from last week’s fade-to-black, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) awakens to find himself redeemed by bathing in the Living Waters and Bo-Katan asking if he saw anything down there. He replies in the negative and she withholds any mention of the mythosaur. Nevertheless, it is interesting that she neglects to remove her helmet from that moment on — a genuinely unusual thing for her to do as she typically roams around sans helmet except when battle is imminent.

Whether a planned act or an accidental happenstance of the situation, failing to remove her helmet once she emerged from the water allows her access to the Armorer’s (Emily Swallow) covert because, by Creed, she has also been redeemed. Again, the ambiguity of Bo-Katan’s choice here is notable as, from a tactical standpoint, staying with the covert is advantageous now that a detachment of TIE Bombers has destroyed her home on Kalevala. At the same time, though, her reluctance to join the covert’s refrain of “This is The Way” suggests she may not be fully on board with The Watch. And considering her comments about the group in the past, it is difficult to believe her conversion would be that easy.

Then again, the memory of the mythosaur in the mines may sway her back toward the Path of the Mand’alor. At the very least, the creature’s presence in the waters and her own failures when she possessed the Darksaber indicate the prophecies have some validity. Perhaps The Way is a path toward uniting the Mandalorians. But can she use it to her advantage?

A Return to the Homeworld?

Pedro Pascal and Mandalorians in THE MANDALORIAN, season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The events in the covert, particularly Djarin declaring the rumors about Mandalore being nothing more than a way to keep its people off planet, suggest some resettling of the homeworld may yet happen. Previously, we believed the Imperial Remnant still held sway there, but the bombing runs of the Great Purge also made Boba Fett’s (Temuera Morrison) statement that the world had been turned to glass the more likely truth. But with a breathable atmosphere, it is possible for Mandalorians to return to their ancestral home and, maybe, import resources from nearby planets to aid in restoring their world.

Unless, of course, the Remnant is already at work setting up its own outpost on Mandalore.

Beyond that, though, is still the issue of the Darksaber. By Creed, Djarin is in place to rule, but it is still unclear if he wants it. Indeed, his tendency to “fight against the blade” indicates a great reluctance. Bo-Katan, now redeemed, could win the laser sword back from Djarin and fulfill her greatest wish. But there is a third claimant who could pose a problem. Or, at least, continue the Mandalorian tendency for infighting.

Mandalorians in THE MANDALORIAN, season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher, voiced by Jon Favreau) is a decedent of Tarre Vizsla, the Mandalorian Jedi who forged and first wielded the Darksaber. He first voiced his intention to restore the saber to his clan in episode 5 of The Book of Boba Fett and, as we see this week, that ambition is still on his mind even as Djarin and Bo-Katan are welcomed into the covert. But even beyond that desire, he has personal reasons to clash with the two redeemed apostates.

As seen in The Mandalorian’s earliest episodes, Paz and Djarin were always on a collision course. The former objected to Djarin’s business with the Remnant as he despises all things Imperial. This led to a physical altercation between the two which the Armorer had to break up. And although Paz offered support when Djarin and Grogu needed to escape Nevarro, it is clear they have never been friends.

His distrust of Bo-Katan could be personal, too, but we imagine it has more to do with their respective clans’ constant conflicts and, perhaps, his assumption that her actions led to the Night of a Thousand Tears. Or, perhaps, he sees himself more fit to rule than any other Mando within or outside the Watch. In any event, his clear objection to her presence (and Djarin’s for that matter) speaks to the problem of Mandalorian infighting she mentioned to Grogu last week. He could prove to be a mighty thorn in any plan to retake Mandalore. Unless, of course, his hatred of the Empire supersedes all of his personal prejudices and ambitions.

The Cartwheels Have Been Removed 

Omid Abtahi and a parole droid (Regina Hermosillo) in THE MANDALORIAN

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Another potential convert of the title is Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi). As revealed through the course of the episode, he has spent the last several years in a New Republic re-education institute for captured Imperial troops and agents. Recently released into the amnesty program on Coruscant, he is allowed to discuss his research into cloning but not continue it.

Honestly, we are with the Republic on this one as Pershing’s research crosses into some terrifying places. In his presentation, he mentions a wish to combined the “best” traits of DNA donors into something new — a eugenics program with a softer sell. While he couches it in the hopes of creating better cloned organs, the Empire’s desire for the technology is quite clear. Pershing even mentions a man looking to harness cloning to obtain more power. He could be referring to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), the Client (Werner Herzog), or even Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), but no matter who approved his research, it is clear the intent was not to just elongate a lifetime, but infuse it with access to the Force via Grogu’s genetic material.

Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

If this proves to the be the method by which Palpatine “somehow” survived to reveal himself in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and puppet the Force-wielding Snoke (Andy Serkis, pictured above) in the earlier Sequel films remains to be seen.

For Pershing, though, an honest attempt at conversion to the New Republic thinking is clear. He mentions several times that cloning is an ethical hornet’s nest. Though restless, he is happy to work at whatever task the amnesty program assigns him. And, ultimately, his reluctance to go along with Officer G68’s (Katy M. O’Brian) plan to steal Imperial tech marked for disposal reflects a wish to be redeemed.

Then again, Dr. Pershing has a toady quality to him that G68 exploits to the fullest degree. He may have just regarded the Republic as his new superiors.

But let’s step back from Pershing for a moment to note the way the New Republic is trying to integrate Imps back into society. Whether by intent or obliviousness, the amnesty program still dehumanizes the Imperials by making them use operating numbers (G68, L57, etc.) in lieu of their actual names. It is possible the choice was made to make Stormtroopers comfortable as they worked to assume more individualized identities, but it seems to make things harder for officers and agents like G68 — given name Elia Kane — or Pershing.

Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian season 2 poster

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Of course, Kane appears to still work for Gideon (pictured) and her re-integration is just a façade so she can keep certain things away from the New Republic. Case in point: her befriending of Pershing just to lead him astray and to implicate him in the theft of contraband Imperial equipment was all just to ensure his research never became valued by the Republic. Also, dialing up the mind flayer likely wiped away any memories of Grogu and Gideon’s true intentions for the child.

No matter the real reason behind Kane’s actions here, the fact she could pull any of it off reflects poorly on the amnesty program and leaves us to wonder if the Remnant is organized within the veneer of amnesty officers feigning rehabilitation for social worker droids. If that’s the case, the rehabilitation effort has more problems than just dehumanizing its participants.

Perhaps Kane’s suggestion that Coruscant is still the same planet she knew years before with just the Imperial “cartwheel” logo removed is more telling than it seems.

Odds And Ends

A TIE fighter pilot in THE MANDALORIAN

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

• Speaking of Coruscant being largely unchanged, it seems its aristocrats hardly notice epochal shifts. One, while speaking to Pershing at the opera house featured in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, even mentions how hard it is to keep up with all the factions. It suggests Palpatine rarely meddled with their lifestyles throughout the Imperial Era to keep them pacified and on his side. The moment also speaks an Andor-like truth while still being funny. The obviousness of Coruscant’s well-to-do is a brutal injustice even an Imperial officer can see.

• The park Pershing and Kane visit in the middle of the episode is inspired by concept artist Ralph McQuarrie’s first portrait of the galactic capital for what would become Return of the Jedi. The earliest drafts of that film featured the planet — then called Had Abbadon — and the curious yurt-like structures seen in the park loomed large in his imagining of the city world. The setting is The Mandalorian’s latest honoring of the legendary artist by adapting one of his unused concepts.

• With the arrival of Taungsday and Benduday in the episode, the galactic daily calendar begins to take shape in live action Star Wars. According to the Wookiepedia entries already forming about the terms, Taungsday — named after one of Coruscant’s formerly native species — is the third day of the week. Benduday is the fifth and final day of the week and takes its name from the Bendu monks, a precursor group to the Jedi. The day names first appeared in issue #61 Star Wars: Build the Millennium Falcon magazine and included a fourth day of the week: Zhellday. Each name references some aspect of Coruscanti history and culture, but it seems the supremacy of the planet as the capital means its day and week system has been adopted galaxy-wide.

• After Pershing shouts “It’s a trap!” in the mind flayer room, the shot cuts from him to an inordinately long take of the Mon Calamari doctor administering the procedure. The reference is, of course, to Mon Calamari Admiral Gial Ackbar’s (voiced by Erik Bauersfeld) famous and endlessly meme-able line in Return of the Jedi. The moment is another example of The Mandalorian’s sense of humor. Your appreciation of it will vary, of course, as Star Wars humor is very, very subjective.

85% The Mandalorian: Season 3 (2023) new episodes stream on Wednesdays on Disney+.

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