Spoilers for both this episode and season 4 of Star Wars Rebels.
Last week’s episode of Disney+’s live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, was fine but left something to be desired. I argued it didn’t move the plot forward in any meaningful way, despite being a fun and often humour diversion. This week’s episode, directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, is definitely not guilty of that, and not only moved the plot forward, set up plenty of exciting things to come while also being wicked entertaining at the same time.
The episode picks up shortly after the ending of last week’s episode, with Mando and his passenger adrift through space on their way to the planet Trask. After a very bumpy and almost fatal landing, “Frog Lady” finds her husband and Din inquires about the other Mandos on the planet (which is occupied by Mon Calamari and Quarrens alike, two species who used to be at war with each other). After getting a tip, Mando takes a boat passage but is double-crossed, with the child almost being eaten and Din nearly drowning. But he’s saved by none other than the heiress of Mandalore herself: Bo-Katan Kryze.
Just like how Cobb Vanth was the first time an original book character has crossed over to live-action, the introduction of Bo-Katan is the first time an animated character (from both The Clone Wars and Rebels) has made the cross. Keeping with continuity, she’s played once again by Katee Sackoff. Unlike Din though, she and her squad (oh hey, Sasha Banks isn’t a baddie) of Mandos waste no time in removing their helmets, which then answers a longrunning question with The Mandalorian. Din was raised as a Child of the Watch, which is a term I’ve never heard before but likely connects to Death Watch, the group that saved Din during the Clone Wars. Death Watch were extremists and saught to return Mandalore to their warrior ways, while Bo’s sister, Satine, was the ruling pacifist leader of the planet. Don’t forget that Din (and likely all of these Children of the Watch/foundlings) aren’t native to Mandalore.
Bo and her two companions sort of eye-roll internally when Din challenges them about taking their helmets off, as he believes only real Mandalores refrain from showing their faces. But Mandalorians were always taking their helmets off in the show, so when Bo begins explaining things to Din briefly, we learn that he likely had a very sheltered and biased upbringing and that those Children of the Watch were heavily manipulated. Needless to say, Din’s beliefs and his own upbringing is being challenged. He’s always thought the armour and the philosophy made you Mandalorian, but after Cobb and now Bo, he’s beginning to see that this may not be the case.
She convinces Din to join up for a mission to stop an Imperial cargo ship loaded with weapons in exchange for information on the whereabouts of the Jedi. Din leaves Baby Yoda with the Frog couple, and even instructs him to behave himself this time. During this well-directed raid, we learn that Bo is there looking for one thing: the darksaber. See, Bo used to be the custodian of the saber, as it was entrusted to her by Sabine Wrenn to unite the clans and rule Mandalore. But then Gideon (who shows up this week via hologram and confirms the presence of an Imperial fleet), took it from her. How and why, we’ve yet to learn, but Bo is hunting for it in order to rule Mandalore once again, as it is her birthright to do so, and she desperately wants it back.
Of course, the saber isn’t there and the captain is ordered to kamikaze the ship into the sea to kill the “pirates”, all in the name of the Empire, which operates more like a really well-greased crime syndicate at this point. Once the situation is under control, Bo reveals that Din can find none other than Ahsoka Tano on the planet Corvus. Ahsoka Tano went from one of the most loathed characters in the fandom to one of the most beloved, so it’ll be interesting to see how she makes the jump to live-action, what information she can offer Din, and if we’ll learn about Ezra at all. While he’s on route to meet the former Jedi padawan, I wouldn’t be surprised if this payoff doesn’t come until episode five, which is the episode Dave Filoni directed. Also, Razercrest still looks like it’s about to fall apart, so perhaps a pitstop to see friendly faces (on Navarro perhaps?) before we head that way.
Overall, Bryce Dallas Howard directs arguably the best episode of the season so far and despite being around 30 minutes long, manages to pack the runtime full of world-building, story development and the promise of more to come. It even finds room to make Baby Yoda/The Child cute again, as he’s no longer eating Frog Lady’s eggs and actually bonds with one of the spawn who hatches early on. More like this please, this is the way.