This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 2, episode 3, titled “Chapter 11 – The Heiress.” To remind yourself where we left off, here’s our Mandalorian Season 2, episode 2 review.
Now this is podracing. The Mandalorian Chapter 11 delivers an exhilarating blend of plot and worldbuilding, delving deep into the mythology of the Star Wars universe while simultaneously finding new ways to develop Din Djarin’s character within its Mission of the Week formula.
Not every episode can or needs to be this focused on plot progression, but it always adds an extra jolt of adrenaline when The Mandalorian peels back a layer of armor and gives us a hint of its master plan. Not only does “The Heiress” introduce Bo-Katan Kryze to the live-action corner of the Star Wars universe, feature the reappearance of Moff Gideon, and namedrop Ahsoka Tano, it also offers us further insight into Mandalorian culture following the Great Purge.
Now we know that Ahsoka is coming, catch up with where she’s been in our Ahsoka Tano timeline recap:
As fans have suspected for a while, it’s revealed that the reason Mando doesn’t remove his helmet when pretty much every other Mandalorian we’ve ever met has no problem showing their face is because he’s a Child of the Watch (aka Death Watch), which Bo-Katan describes as “a cult of religious zealots that broke away from Mandalorian society … Their goal was to reestablish the ancient way.”
Basically, he’s been indoctrinated into a warrior clan that has a lot of very particular rules about what it means to be Mandalorian, even if it stands in direct opposition to how other, native-born Mandalorians live. That raises a larger question of how much Mando actually knows of true Mandalorian history – as we saw in The Clone Wars, Death Watch members (including Bo-Katan back in the day, a fact she pointedly forgets to mention) were extremists, and it stands to reason that Din Djarin and other foundlings were raised to know nothing of Mandalore’s pacifist years or Duchess Satine Kryze’s legacy.
Like most zealots, Mando doesn’t take too kindly to Bo-Katan shattering his beliefs about the way Mandalorians are supposed to behave, but perhaps their meeting will pave the way for Din Djarin (and thus Pedro Pascal) to be able to show his face a little more freely someday. Or perhaps they’ll have a very drastic difference of opinion, if Din is ever forced to choose between the Mandalorians that raised him and Bo-Katan’s more laissez-faire approach.
The explosive addition of Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan to the live-action realm was worth the wait; she looks like she stepped right out of the animated shows, and Sackhoff’s commanding on-screen presence makes these new Mandalorians (including WWE Superstar Sasha Banks – aka Mercedes Varnado – as Koska Reeves and Simon Kassianides as Axe Woves) an immediate force to be reckoned with. With so few Mandalorians left, and the darksaber in play, it’s no surprise that Mando’s path would cross with Bo-Katan’s eventually if she was still alive, and it’s thrilling to see these plot threads converging, setting up an enticing showdown between Bo-Katan and Moff Gideon and, perhaps, the eventual reconstruction of Mandalore as a civilization. (I’m just trying to figure out how old Bo-Katan should be – she’s probably more than a decade older than Boba Fett but has definitely aged better; the Kryze clan must have great genes.)
Check out all the celebrity cameos and characters in The Mandalorian so far:
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The episode also further solidifies what Gideon’s appearance in Season 1 hinted – that there’s clearly still enough of an Imperial infrastructure for Gideon and his cohorts to operate unimpeded, even if they’re now behaving more like any other group of mobsters and criminals in the galaxy, rather than the omnipresent force they were when the Emperor was in charge. It remains to be seen if there are other high-ranking Imperial officers or Moffs running their own little fiefdoms across the galaxy to fill the power vacuum left by the Emperor, but it wouldn’t be surprising – there’ll be a lot of Stormtroopers who just want someone to tell them what to do and where to aim (and miss) and would be willing to follow any bossy Imp they come across. Seems like the New Republic needs to step up their game and start poking around black market ports like Trask if they want to find Imperial holdouts, although to be fair to them, it’s a pretty big galaxy.
Despite only being about 30 minutes long – the shortest episode of the season so far – “The Heiress” is dense enough to be entirely satisfying; it even finds time to (somewhat) redeem Baby Yoda for all his egg munching last week. The show has built up a darkly hilarious sense of tension every time The Child is around small amphibious creatures, but it seems he’s actually taken Mando’s lecture on board and doesn’t try to eat the Frog couple’s first tadpole (they work fast!), seemingly feeling empathy for the little swimmer. And he experiences a bit more karmic retribution after last week’s spider attack – two more creatures he tries to eat try to eat him first – although Mando once again displays impressive (one might even say most impressive) reflexes in defense of his foundling.
Returning director Bryce Dallas Howard pulls off a tightly-crafted and consistently exciting episode here; the show has nailed its tone and knows exactly when to deploy its humor for maximum effect (Mando’s deadpan “don’t play with your food” delivery is excellent, as is the horrified realization on the Imperials’ faces when they hear that the Mandalorians have been trapped in the cargo control area), but there are also moments of heart-stopping drama. While we know Baby Yoda isn’t actually going to get eaten by a mamacore, it’s a testament to the show’s storytelling that we have an instinctual moment of panic that he could.
The only thing keeping me from giving the episode a 10/10 score is that I didn’t quite feel an emotional gut-punch from it, like I’m hoping for when Ahsoka finally makes an appearance. There’s definitely nothing wrong with the episode from a pure entertainment perspective, and I completely understand why others might rank it as a masterpiece, but I’m stingy and reserve my 10s for things that make me misty-eyed with nerd tears. While Bo-Katan’s appearance is undeniably awesome (although I’m curious how her introduction will play for viewers who aren’t familiar with Clone Wars or Rebels and thus don’t have any emotional attachment to the character), I know the show can – and will – take us even higher.
An extra piece of subtle world-building for easter egg hunters: The poor, damaged Razor Crest is fished out of the water by a crane made from what looks like an AT-AT (officially known as an OI-CT), a concept first shown in the opening minutes of Solo – as seen in this concept art by Vincent Jenkins. Another happy landing!
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