Episode 3 of The Mandalorian Season 3 mercifully bucks the episodic “fetch quest” model we saw in Episodes 1 and 2. In fact, Mando barely appears, only bookending the episode with Bo-Katan Kryze and the other Mandalorians. We got a different protagonist in Episode 3, and the result was surprising. After two seasons of the same honorable Mandalorian helming the action, should this inspire more diversions?
In other episodes of The Mandalorian, there’s usually a clear objective. Mando needs something, he finds someone with that thing, and he agrees to do something for that someone in exchange for the something. Even his longer quests, like his intent to bathe in the waters of Mandalore, were part of a larger quest chain to atone for his sins and rejoin the Children of the Watch.
Episode 3 was different. After a quick catchup with Bo-Katan and a dogfight between Mando and some TIEs, the action shifts to Coruscant, where Dr. Pershing is trying to atone for his sins.
He and his old colleague Elia Kane — previously an unnamed Comms Officer — are part of a New Republic Amnesty program, but Dr. Pershing wants to continue his research for “recreational” reasons, however one clones recreationally. Kane invites him to join her in searching for an abandoned Imperial lab, but the two are foiled by the New Republic, and Elia reveals it was all a setup. Then, when Pershing is being “healed” with the Mind Flayer, Elia ramps up the power, proving she has no good intentions.
This is what The Mandalorian has been missing. Mando’s motivations are always clear, and his code of ethics is explicitly outlined. It’s literally called The Way.
But Elia Kane and Dr. Pershing both exist in a grey zone. It’s unclear why Pershing wants to continue his cloning research; he says it’s to help the New Republic, but it could also be to further his mission to, essentially, create Snoke. Elia Kane, on the other hand, seems like she’s trying to assimilate to the New Republic as best she can. By busting Pershing she’s called a credit to the Amnesty program, and then minutes later she’s wiping Pershing’s memories.
Mando will always do the honorable thing, but muddy morals can make for more interesting viewing. It keeps viewers guessing, never knowing who to trust and what will happen next. It doesn’t mean Star Wars should abandon the Way and Mando’s cut-and-dry ethics altogether, but maybe some spotlight could be shared with more nuanced characters.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3 is now streaming on Disney+.
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