The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3 – titled “The Convert” – takes a different approach from previous installments. It does pick up on the aftermath of Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) taking a dip into the Living Waters of Mandalore, and what it means for Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) to have dived in after him. But the title also has a double meaning as most of The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3 focuses on Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and his life following Moff Gideon’s capture.
Pershing has been accepted into the New Republic’s rehabilitation program, as the fledgling government is working to dismantle the Empire’s legacy. But he chafes in a dead-end desk job and feels that his cloning work can be used for the New Republic’s benefit. Soon he ends up striking an alliance with another former Imperial, Elia Kane (Katy M. O’Brien) to continue his research.
Many fans might chafe at the idea of a Mandalorian episode that has so little of the title character in it, but creator/co-showrunner Jon Favreau and writer Noah Kloor manage to immerse the audience in Pershing’s plight. And it happens in the very first scene, as Pershing reveals the tragic reason for delving into cloning research. Throughout “The Convert”, it’s also revealed that the New Republic is struggling to steer the galaxy into a post-Imperial state and that not every Imperial was on-board with the Empire’s fascism. In a way, The Mandalorian takes a page from Andor‘s book to highlight how the galaxy functions outside of the characters fans have grown to know and love.
It succeeds thanks to Abtahi’s performance. Abtahi’s been a part of The Mandalorian since its first season, but here he takes center stage. He plays Pershing as a noble, but frustrated individual; first, his life’s work was perverted by the Empire, then the New Republic doesn’t allow him to use said work for good. Much of Abtahi’s emotions are conveyed via his eyes and facial movements – there are subtle twitches during an interview with his droid parole officer that suggest that he hasn’t quite adjusted to post-Empire life, no matter what he might say. The best part of the Pershing storyline is that, unlike previous Star Wars shows, it isn’t setting up a future storyline but rather enhancing The Mandalorian‘s ongoing narrative.
Keeping in line with previous seasons, The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3 boasts a new director in the form of Lee Issac Chung. Chung, who directed the heartbreakingly amazing Minari, immerses the audience in the world of Star Wars. Much of the episode takes place on Coruscant, and Chung takes great care to show off the various elements of the city planet. My favorite part was having an entire fair set in the middle of the city. People ate glowing ice cream, there was a magic trick involving what looked like a cross between a bird and a dragon, and Pershing even tried to touch the top of Courscant’s mountains. These little details make the world of Star Wars such a fascinating place, and I’m glad Chung touched on that.
Chung also handles the sole action sequence in the episode, featuring a dogfight with Djarin, Bo-Katan, and a squadron of TIE fighters. His camera dips and weaves but never loses focus of the ships as they carve through the sky, trading blaster bolts. Djarin also dives from Bo-Katan’s fighter in a Mission: Impossible-level stunt – although, unlike Ethan Hunt, he has a jetpack to slow his fall.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3 takes a detour from its main storyline to highlight the fragile state of the galaxy, resulting in a thoughtful character piece. I don’t know how this will affect the ongoing story, but it’s a great reminder that sometimes the best Star Wars doesn’t have to feature lightsaber fights or even the characters we’ve grown to love. It’s a big galaxy – creators should be able to push their boundaries.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 3 is available now, with new episodes of The Mandalorian premiering Wednesdays on Disney+.
Born and raised in Texas, Collier “CJ” Jennings was introduced to geekdom at an early age by his father, who showed him Ultraman and Star Trek: The Next Generation. On his thirteenth birthday, he received a copy of Giant Size X-Men #1 and dove head first into the realm of pop culture, never looking back. His hobbies include: writing screenplays and essays, watching movies and television, card games/RPG’s, and cooking. He currently resides in Seattle.