In its 19th chapter, The Mandalorian does something we’ve never seen before: it sidelines its title character. The bulk of the story focuses on Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) as he attempts to reintegrate into polite society as a New Republic citizen — only to be betrayed by a fellow convert (Katy M O'Brian as Elia Kane) who’s seemingly still loyal to the Remnants of the Empire.
Meanwhile, on the literal fringes of The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3, Din (Pedro Pascal) completes his quest and provides proof to the Armorer (Emily Swallow) not only of his redemption but that Mandalore is habitable. Though small, Din’s part in the episode may hint at a secret that would change everything he’s built his life on. On the surface, Pershing and Dins’ stories in Chapter 19 seem unconnected, but betrayal may be at the heart of them both.
The Armorer’s identity is one of the series’ longest-running and most intriguing questions. The hyper-religious leader of the Children of the Watch has guided our hero throughout the series, but to what end? Is the Armorer an ally or could there be a sinister side to Din’s mentor?
In hindsight, a moment in The Mandalorian’s Season 3’s premiere doesn’t sit well with me. After saving the Children of the Watch from the giant croc-a-gater, Mando visits the Armorer to inform her that he is leaving for the planet Mandalore to redeem himself. However, she’s deadset that Din’s redemption is impossible due to Mandalore’s destruction and subsequent toxicity. Even after he offers a Mandalorian inscription as proof that someone has survived a trip to the surface, she actively dissuades him from going to the planet. Eventually, she gives a patronizing “This is the Way,” and he leaves. This exchange begs the question: Why is the Armorer trying to convince Din not to go to Mandalore?
A curious coincidence on Mandalore
In The Mandalorian Chapter 18, we learn that the rumors of Mandalore’s inhospitality have been exaggerated. The surface is destroyed, but the air is clean and the Living Waters remain. The Armorer’s tales of a cursed and poisoned planet begin to fall apart. Not only do the mines remain passable, but they are guarded by a creature that appears to have fed on any Mandalorians who ventured back home, never to return to share the secret.
Later In Chapter 19, When Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Din Djarin leave Mandalore, they’re attacked by a squadron of Tie Interceptors. Following a heart-thumping dogfight, Bo Katan watches in horror as Remnant bombers destroy her castle. This somber scene comes with a question, who attacked them, and how did they know where to find them? Few in the galaxy knew of Mando’s quest to Mandalore. But as soon as he and Bo leave the planet, a massive force awaits them. Were the Remnants tipped off, and if so, by who?
Imperial Operation: Mandalorian Exile
The Mandalorian has wrapped up Din’s redemption quest. Meanwhile, back on Coruscant, the hot gossip is that Moff Gideon had his brain fried by the Mind Flayer. So it begs the question, who are the new central villains, and what’s the main conflict for the next five chapters? The answers may be hidden in Chapter 19.
The Remnants of the Empire can and will use agents to protect against threats. Elia Kane seemingly betrays Dr. Pershing to ensure the New Republic doesn’t learn of their cloning activities. It stands to reason that they would have similar operations in other places.
Before the Purge, the Mandalorians symbolized opposition against the Empire. Now, they are a symbol of Imperial retribution. The last thing the Remnants need is for the Mandalorians to regroup and rebuild. Instead of chasing the last remaining ones around the Galaxy, the Remnants keep them as a symbol. They are now a people without a home, broken and paid for hire. A cautionary tale of what happens when you defy Imperial forces. To further ensure that the Mandalorians stay down, an undercover operative is inserted in their midst to spread disinformation and slander the heroes of their homeland. The Armorer fills this role, hiding behind the ancient Mandalorian creed and her helmet.
Why the Armorer is Season 3’s villain
If the Armorer is secretly working for the Remnants to keep the Mandalorians in exile, then she is doing an excellent job. Whether she was originally a Mandalorian that betrayed her kind or was placed among them, she has embedded herself, using their religions and culture as a weapon to divide them. This polarization keeps the surviving clans fractured and broken.
This theory would also explain why the Tie fighters immediately attacked Din and Bo-Katan after they left Mandalore. The Remnants couldn’t risk Din returning with the knowledge that the Mandalorians could return home. They are already losing. A united warrior race bent on revenge would not help.
Fractured, Mandalorians are not much of a threat to the Remnants but united, they are dangerous. The series could be building to the story of a Foundling that brought the Mandalorians home, but there is still one obstacle in Din’s way.
Mando and Moses
Dr. Pershing learned a valuable lesson in Chapter 19: be careful who you trust. Din’s arc in the episode could be mirroring this theme. If the Armorer is an Imperial mole, then it sets up a character shift for Din. Discovering that he has been lied to and manipulated would turn his life upside down. Story-wise, It creates a perfect conflict for Season 3, Din against the Armorer is symbolic of him rejecting his past and forging a new future. This character change sets him up as a Moses-like character. A man who stands against those who wish to subjugate his people and leads them back to their “promised land.”