The Mandalorian Chapter 21 – Pirates and Shadowy Threats

(L-R): A design droid, Civic Engineer (Maya Ramsey), Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) and Civic Engineer (London Kim) in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

This week’s episode of The Mandalorian brings tons of action, a new path forward, and some teasing details of what’s to come. Let’s discuss!

Today’s episode of The Mandalorian, titled The Pirate, brings back a familiar green enemy from earlier in the season, while offering a new way forward for Din, the Armorer, and their covert of Mandos. Not to mention some Rangers of the New Republic action to move the bigger story forward, and a whole heap of action.

There’s some fun things to discuss, but as always, I’ll be knee deep in spoilers. So make sure you’ve watched the episode before coming back to this. In the meantime, get caught up with my previous recaps here: Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20.

Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The Story Ahead and Before

I know I don’t normally start these things off with a discussion about things to come, but today this seems like the place to start…mostly because I think it’s been shaping my thoughts on the season as a whole so far. Again, I’m not recapping the play-by-play of the show you just watched.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed today’s episode. Directed by Peter Ramsey (Into the Spider-Verse), The Pirate brought in a lot of great elements and overall production design. You can feel the director’s influence in the shots and general visual prowess. Which is great considering we got one of the biggest action sequences so far combining both aerial and land battling action! They definitely chose the right guy for today’s episode, and the fun factor is absolutely through the roof.

(L-R): Grogu, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

It’s also nice to get a bit more insight into the state of the galaxy in general, and seeing how things are building up to something bigger. The problem, however, is the way it comes about in today’s episode spotlight’s the problems this season has been having.

Don’t get me wrong. Generally speaking, I’m still very much enjoying The Mandalorian. It’s a fun bit of campy Star Wars every single week, and I can’t help but smile the whole time I’m watching. It’s hard to deny, however, that something has felt a bit…off with season three so far. The Pirate helped me solidify some of why I’ve been feeling that way.

Namely, the story has just felt a bit disjointed this time around. While the previous seasons had a bit of this issue, you could still see how certain pieces connected and there was a general flow to the season. This time around, though, it feels like a bumpier ride. There are clear and distinct elements in place for the story wanting to be told, but the individual episodes are just kinda bouncing all over it. Oftentimes this leaves the audience with having to do much more heavy lifting in terms of connecting the dots.

(L-R): Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Take Carson Teva, for example, and a storyline very obviously pulled from the Rangers of the New Republic show that, by all accounts, has been scuttled. First, it’s awesome to see Carson again, and I love how his role has expanded over the seasons. When he gets the distress call from Greef Karga, like any good former Rebel, he’s eager to help out. The result is getting to see a bit of how these Rangers on the outskirts deal with things.

It’s a bit weird, though, that Teva immediately jumps to the conclusion the Imperials are having a resurgence. Even the Lieutenant he talks to (played by the always awesome Tim Meadows) says it’s a big “leap” to make going from pirate incursion to talk of Imperials. Teva isn’t deterred, however, and even when he goes to enlist Din’s help he specifically mentions that the Empire is back on the rise.

Scene from Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Big Leaps

By and large…I think we all understand this is where things are generally heading. With the ever-present threat of Thrawn’s return on the horizon being the culminating factor of all these live-action shows (set in this time period), we know where this is heading. We got a some teases in previous seasons as well with Gideon’s cloning efforts tying into First Order stuff, and the general suspicion that the Moff was answering to someone above him.

But aside from the TIE Interceptors we saw in Chapter 19 (which Teva wasn’t even witness to), there’s absolutely no evidence for Teva’s claims that we see on screen! We don’t doubt that it’s the truth, but it’s another big case of this show TELLING us bits of the story, without actually showing anything.

Much the same with the overall idea of the Mandalorian covert saving Nevarro to claim land of their own. Coming out of the shadows and reclaiming their heritage is something we’ve been expecting out of this season, but it just falls into their laps here. Within the span of minutes, what could have been a season long story thread is brought up and handled.

Yes, there’s more to it as they’ll now need to unite more clans together (something I’ve discussed a few times), but the disjointed way we got to this point is weird. Between jumping around between different points, and having such an ill-defined sense of time passing, this season has relied too much on audiences making connections or using exposition heavy dialog.

Each episode is fun, and all the elements are clearly in place for some excellent Star Wars storytelling…but the scripts are just wonky. I mean, it’s weird that Din went to Nevarro because he NEEDED IG-11 in order to complete his quest to the Mines of Mandalore…but we still haven’t seen IG-11 return and Din seemingly has no interest in that anymore. Not to mention no one seems interested in the Darksaber any more or addressing it’s larger implications, despite such a big focus on it previously.

I know there are still a few episodes left in which these dangling threads can easily be addressed; but it’s worth pointing out how weird they haven’t been touched on yet. There’s a lack of cohesion to the overall story that’s more noticeable than ever before. Again, it doesn’t necessarily detract from the enjoyment of an individual episode (directors have been on point this season), but it certainly leaves me scratching my head.

Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The Armorer’s Plan

All right, let’s talk more about the Armorer and her plan for Bo-Katan. It’s very interesting that the Armorer is suddenly cool with Bo not keeping her helmet on. I get the reasoning, but considering the fact she made Din an apostate, and was only willing to let Bo-Katan into their covert because she’d bathed in the Living Waters as well…it’s a pretty dramatic shift.

For a while now, I (and several other fans) have had the theory that the Armorer isn’t being entirely “on the level” when it comes to the Way. As we saw in The Clone Wars, Rebels, and just about every other canonical mention of Mandalorians, the helmet rule wasn’t really a thing.

Hell, the only canonical depiction we have of Tarre Viszla (the creator of the Darksaber who they all clearly revere) shows his face. The monument/statue was built BY Mandalorians to honor the Mand’alor, which means they chose to show off his face. And this was over 1,000 years ago! So even as an ancient way of living…this helmet rule wasn’t always a thing.

The Armorer herself remains an enigma, and it’s very much by design. Her design. It’s obvious she has a long history within her cult, she knew/spoke about Bo-Katan with a familiarity, and even in The Pirate she talks about the Forges on Mandalore. She’s not talking as someone who’s only heard about them, or read about it. She’s been there. She was there. It’s not a huge stretch to imagine the Armorer is someone we already know.

Who that might be is still up in the air. I’ve been on the Rook Kast train for a bit, largely due to the horns on her helmet, but it could easily be someone else. Who knows, maybe they’re unknown to the audience, but someone of importance to the others and would be instantly recognizable.

I suspect the Armorer is using this helmet rule to protect her identity, and that it’s not explicitly a tenet. Rather, she’s hiding herself by twisting elements of the Way/Creed to fit her own needs/interpretation. With the revelation about the Mythosaur, and having a home from which they can come out of the shadows, perhaps she’s seeing a path forward for herself no longer needing to hide.

By letting Bo-Katan still be included as “part of both worlds,” she’s setting the stage for Mandalorians to unite beyond the cult-like aspects. I’m curious to see how this plays out, as I doubt many other Mandalorian clans out there would be eager to adopt this helmet rule even as they see the need to unite.

The Gideon Factor

Then there’s Moff Gideon. There have been mentions of him having escaped, but today’s episode provided clear evidence it had happened. As Teva comes across a destroyed Lambda shuttle, we learn Gideon was “rescued” by…Mandalorians?

This is interesting for a number of reasons, and could imply a few things. One implication could be that these Mandalorians were grabbing Gideon to exact their own revenge for the atrocities he committed against Mandalore. My suspicion, however, is they’re working together.

We know from Star Wars Rebels that there were factions of Mandalorians who were loyal to the Empire (eg Gar Saxon). Not to mention Gideon had the Darksaber at one point and was quite knowledgeable about Mandalorian culture and customs. Perhaps this group of Imperial leaning Mandos were saving him.

Not only would this give Gideon the time to reassemble his Imperial forces (striking out at Bo-Katan’s castle out of revenge), but it would also bring his group of Mandos into direct conflict with Din and the covert as they expand outward to re-unite the clans. It would make for a compelling reason for the New Republic and the resurfaced Mandalorians to work together.

Oh! It’s also pretty clear, as many of us suspected, that Elia Kane is still very much in Gideon’s employ. I suspect we’ll see more of this play out in the last three episodes remaining of the season….

Easter Eggs

Once again, there are plenty of Easter eggs and fun connections sprinkled throughout the episode. Here are some of the big ones I noticed.

Who Shot First – Just a fun reference to the long-running fan debate about “who shot first.”

The Odds – another fun line of dialog is a reference back to the first season of The Mandalorian, when Din Djarin says “I like those odds.”

Adelphi – Carson Teva mentions the Ranger base on Adelphi, a planet first mentioned in last year’s (excellent) Shadow of the Sith.

Chass na Chadic Influence? – Okay, this is a bit of a stretch and probably more coincidence than anything. HOWEVER, when we first glimpse Adelphi and the New Republic base, we hear some different kind of music playing. More punk/rock based with a funky flair. I couldn’t help but immediately think of Chass na Chadic from the Alphabet Squadron books, who was well known for blasting out rock music while battling Imperials. Again, it’s a stretch, but until I hear otherwise, I’m running with it.

Garazeb Orrelios – Holy shit it’s ZEB! The Ghost Crew member from Star Wars Rebels makes his live-action debut in the Cantina on Adelphi while chatting with Teva. Honestly, at first, I thought it was just another Lasat, an alien race we’ve never seen in live-action, and thought it looked great. The credits, however, reveal that it was none other than Zeb himself and once again voiced by Steve Blum!

Frankly, he looked impressive and way better than I ever imagined a Lasat could look in live-action. If this is a test run for his appearance in Ahsoka (every other Ghost crew member seems to be there), then I’d say it’s very successful.

Trapper Wolf, Sash Ketter, and Jib Dodger – Also in the New Republic cantina, you can see some quick cameos of Trapper Wolf, Sash Ketter, and Jib Dodger! These three New Republic pilots who appeared in previous seasons who were played by directors Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, and Rick Famuyiwa!

Bulloch Canyon -Greef Karga mentions the tract of land he’s giving to the Mandalorians for their help, and mentions “Bulloch Canyon.” Seems like a clear reference to late actor Jeremy Bulloch, the original Boba Fett.

Vane (Marti Matulis) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The Pirate brought a huge fun factor to the table today and I loved the massive action we got. The dogfighting was excellent, and filled with so many fun moments (like watching a Mandalorian SURFING a pirate snubfighter as it goes down). The action on the ground provide more than enough “holy shit” moments between a lot of blasters firing around and getting to see the Armorer go hands on once again.

It’s just a tad frustrating that amid all the awesome, the bigger issues in the season felt more obvious than ever. I’m still having fun, but it’s just kind of wild to think we only have three episodes left and still feel a tad listless.

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Jordan Maison
Editor-in-Chief: Writer and cartoonist who went to college for post-production, he now applies his love of drawing, movie analysis, filmmaking, video games, and martial arts into writing.