I’ve seen some viewers complaining online that the title character in The Mandalorian is a bad dude (he did vaporize a handful of unsuspecting Jawas just for swiping parts of his ship), but I think what these people are forgetting is– as I mentioned in last week’s review— the concept of a redemption arc. In the new episode that debuted this morning on Disney+, entitled “Chapter 3: The Sin,” the Mandalorian (played in a beautifully understated manner by actor Pedro Pascal) revisits the locations from the premiere, going through similar motions with different eyes.
He returns to the planet where he first got his assignment from Bounty Hunter Guild leader Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), prize in hand, and delivers it to the Client (Werner Herzog) and his scientist assistant Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), hesitantly collecting his substantial reward. The beskar steel he receives as payment is enough for the Armorer (Emily Swallow) to use to smelt him an entirely new– and very shiny– suit of armor, but something is nagging at him. Speaking with Karga back at the cantina, he wants to know what the Client intends to do with the Child.
Convinced to forget about it and set out on his next assignment, the Mandalorian makes his way back to the Razor Crest, only to be reminded of his all-too-temporary companion once aboard, triggering a fairly radical change of heart. Our protagonist then returns to the settlement, setting in motion of chain of events that will make him an enemy of the Guild and force his fellow countrymen to relocate their underground hideaway.
The final two-thirds of the episode are made up of a couple incredibly suspenseful and kinetic action setpieces filled with cheer-inducing moments, as the Mandalorian extricates the Child from the grasp of the Client and Dr. Pershing, then must go up against a horde of bounty hunters while escaping through the streets and back to his ship. There are a few more fan-baiting Easter Eggs, an extended cameo appearance by series creator Jon Favreau, and a climactic battle in which we finally get to see the other members of the Mandalorian’s exiled clan in action.
So thus far we’ve seen the Mandalorian transform from a ruthless killer who only cares about himself and his own kind to a savior willing to risk it all to rescue an unknown entity he fears he may have put in danger. It’s clear our hero felt some kind of kinship with the Child, or at the very least pity after being directly responsible for the being’s fate, but this still represents a classic path of atonement echoed time and again through hundreds of years’ worth of storytelling. The question at this point is where does the character go from here? We’ll have to wait until next Friday to find out.
A considerable commotion has been made about “The Sin” being the first example of live-action Star Wars content being directed by a woman, and the episode itself establishes conclusively that gender has no bearing whatsoever on whether the output can be considered good or not from that perspective. Deborah Chow (Better Call Saul, Jessica Jones)– who is already set to helm the Ewan McGregor-starring Obi-Wan Kenobi series coming soon-ish to Disney+– does an excellent job and this installment remains consistent with the high-quality production value, pacing, and performances of the previous two.
It’s no accident that The Mandalorian looks and feels like a movie: the series’ 2.35:1 aspect ratio, sprawling vistas, and top-notch cast are all meant to match the overall atmosphere of the theatrical Star Wars entries. And while I haven’t looked into how the budgets compare between the average episode of this show and one of the large-scale blockbuster releases in the saga, I think it can be concluded from the evidence at hand that Favreau and company have found a way to make small-screen Star Wars stories feel very big.
The Mandalorian Chapters 1-3 are available now on Disney+.