“The Convert” Takes The Mandalorian In a Dark New Direction

Who’s the “convert” in this episode, anyway?

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The title of The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3 is a bit of a trick. Watching the show’s latest installment, which focuses on Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi) as he finds a new home through the New Republic’s Amnesty Program, you might assume “The Convert” is about this former Imperial scientist who’s trying to do the right thing. But as the episode’s final scene reveals, Pershing isn’t the only convert on The Mandalorian this week.

“The Convert” opens on Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), Grogu, and Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) as they head back to the planet Kalevala. However, they’re intercepted by a squadron of TIE Interceptors. Our heroes manage to defeat the first wave, but suddenly a fleet of Imperial ships shows up and bombs Bo-Katan’s home to smithereens. The good guys are forced to flee, and as they enter hyperdrive the action shifts to Coruscant and our old friend Dr. Pershing.

Together, these two unrelated characters also reveal how The Mandalorian Season 3 has begun to explore new themes that have nothing to do with Din Djarin or Grogu.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3.

The New Republic

Dr. Pershing attends his court-mandated therapy.


Poor Penn Pershing. When the clone scientist first showed up in The Mandalorian Season 1, audiences were meant to despise him for conducting experiments on Baby Yoda. When Mando has a change of heart and decides to rescue Baby Yoda, Pershing claims he didn’t want to hurt the Child. So Din spares his life. After that, we haven’t heard much from the scientist, but it seems like letting him live was the right thing to do after all.

When we rejoin Pershing in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3, he truly seems reformed. He voluntarily joins the New Republic’s Amnesty Program, which makes a noble effort to rehabilitate former Imperial officers — even if it means he’s stuck in a boring cubicle job doing data entry all day.

But the doctor still has faith in his genetic and cloning research, realizing its potential for good, like the regrowth of vital organs, for example. The only problem? The New Republic has banned all cloning technology (fair enough considering Order 66). Initially, Pershing seems resigned to accept this frustrating situation, but he changes his mind after reuniting with another reformed Imperial officer, Elia Kane (Katy M. O’Brian).

Kane befriends Pershing and subtly pushes him to break the rules. This eventually leads to the two of them sneaking into a decommissioned Imperial ship where Pershing finds the equipment he needs to continue his experiments. Unfortunately, to quote a popular Star Wars meme, it’s a trap. Kane was working for the New Republic all along and Pershing ends up in handcuffs.

Even worse, he’s then subjected to a light brain zapping from an Imperial torture device known as the Mindflayer. A Mon Calamari officer claims this will just help Pershing relax and purge any evil thoughts, but after everyone else leaves the room, Kane quietly cranks up the dial, presumably frying his brain irrevocably.

Dr. Penn Pershing is unwillingly subjected to the “Mind Flayer.”


The Children of the Watch

Meanwhile, back in the main Mandalorian plotline, Din Djarin and Bo-Katan arrive on a desert planet where Din’s old covert is hiding out. After he shows them a vial of the Living Waters taken from the mines beneath Mandalore, Din is accepted back into the group. And (surprise!) so is Bo-Katan, who “bathed” in the waters while rescuing her friend from drowning and coincidentally hadn’t had a chance to take off her helmet in the time since.

The Armorer makes it clear that Bo can leave at any time, but that doesn’t make it any less jarring. Not unlike Dr. Penn Pershing’s absolute conversion, Bo-Katan Kryze’s conversion from a “mainstream” Mandalorian to an orthodox member of the Children of the Watch appears to have been involuntary, too.

Will we ever see Katee Sackhoff's face again?

The Mandalorian

Bo-Katan has never tried to hide her disdain for the Children of the Watch. In Season 2, she told Mando that they were “a cult of religious zealots that broke away from Mandalorian society.” And she blames them for dividing her people, which made it easier for the Empire to defeat them and destroy their planet.

If Bo-Katan feels compelled to accept and adopt these stricter religious practices and ethical codes, then Season 3 Episode 3 may have been the last time we see her face. And while it seems more likely that Bo will bail on these extremist weirdos the first chance she gets, if she wants to reclaim her role as leader of all Mandalorians, that technically includes the Children of the Watch. Making some new friends and allies isn’t a terrible idea.

Both Dr. Penn Pershing and Bo-Katan Kryze have much to reflect on (assuming Penn’s brain hasn’t been turned to mush, of course). And while earlier seasons of The Mandalorian may have focused primarily on Din Djarin and Grogu’s father-son dynamic, Season 3 is using a wider cast to explore what it means to be a follower of not just “The Way,” but also any ideological pathway, Mandalorian or otherwise.

The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+.

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