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For Whom the Bell Tolls

Apr 12, 2023


With the penultimate episode of the season, The Mandalorian finally picks up its momentum—tying together its loose narratives and delivering a nerve-wracking adventure. While there is no question that Season 3 has had its standout episodes and fun moments, it has largely suffered beneath the weight of disjointed scripts, which have relegated its titular character to a supporting role and raced through storylines that deserved more careful consideration. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal/Brendan Wayne/Lateef Crowder) remains at the periphery in Episode 7, but “The Spies” does explain why the series has taken such a sharp departure from the magic of Seasons 1 and 2.

After six episodes of teasing the whereabouts of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), following his capture in the Season 2 finale, it is revealed at the top of the episode that he has escaped custody and is, once again, scheming for power. This revelation is paired with the unexpected appearance of the Shadow Council and a character that creates further ties between The Mandalorian and the events of The Force Awakens: Brendol Hux (Brian Gleeson).
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The sequence with the Shadow Council helps to establish what the remnants of the Empire are doing during this period of time, setting the stages for the future of The Mandalorian universe as it continues to expand with Ahsoka, Skeleton Crew, and Dave Filoni’s upcoming film. This is an era that has been loosely explored in the novels and comics, and it is quite exciting to see some of these characters emerge into live-action. In addition to laying the foundations of the First Order, this meeting of minds allows Gideon to continue his destruction of the Mandalorians. With the knowledge supplied to him by Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian), Gideon explains to the Shadow Council that the Mandalorians are attempting to retake Mandalore–something they cannot allow to happen.

Image via Disney+

RELATED: Giancarlo Esposito Promises “Surprising” Conclusion to ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3

On Nevarro, Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) presents Din with a newly repaired IG-11, which is a rather hilarious gift following the previous episode, where Din’s prejudice against droids was on full display. Rather than operating as IG-11 once did, this newly revamped droid requires manual operation. Grogu may be 50-something years old, but Episode 7 brings him straight past the threshold of the “terrible twos” by giving him the ability to say “yes” and “no”—well, mostly ‘no.” Despite Din’s reluctance to allow him to operate IG-11, Greef insists and pure hilarity ensues. Grogu seems rather liberated now that he’s taller than Din and able to announce his displeasure with being told what to do. This newfound apparatus proves quite useful for the next chapter of the story, as the Mandalorians make their way back to Mandalore.

With Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) leading the charge, the Mandalorians are actually in the right position to take back their homeworld, and for the first time—perhaps in decades—the factions are working together towards a common goal. Of course, this doesn’t mean they don’t have their issues with each other. The Mandalorians have always been a contentious, quarrelsome bunch, though the conflict between the Nite Owls and the Children of the Watch is presented as rather surface-level. Most of it resolves around a battle of egos between Paz Viszla (Tati Fletcher) and Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides), which culminates in a silly tussle over a game. Within the episode, The Mandalorian manages to pay off this little tiff by forcing Paz and Axe to have to protect and cover each other in the firefight. It’s satisfying, though it would have hit even harder had it been given a season’s worth of attention.

On Mandalore, Bo-Katan and her team discover that there are actually a few other Mandalorians still living on the planet. This crew remained there following the Night of a Thousand Tears, which means they’ve been living in isolation for roughly ten years. This revelation leads to Bo-Katan admitting that the Mandalorians weren’t actually defeated—she surrendered to Gideon, in hopes that he would spare the remaining Mandos. While this does draw a little ire from the rest of the covert, most of them understand why she was pushed to make this decision. Din makes a point of finding her after the revelation and essentially swearing his fealty to her, but the warm and fuzzy stuff is cut short by a new threat.

Image via Disney+

As if the giant crocodile turtle and pterodactyls weren’t enough trouble this season, it would seem that Mandalore also has a dinosaur problem. Bo-Katan and her covert are attacked by the beast, destroying the ship of the Mandos who remained on the planet, and pushing them all into the mines. There, they make their way to the Forge—which is what they’ve been seeking the whole time—and even there, they run into even worse trouble. Gideon’s troopers descend upon them, taking out a handful of Mandalorians before pushing them even deeper into the labyrinth.

In an anticipated twist, the Mandalorians find themselves ensnared in a trap by Gideon and his forces—though it seems to be Din who is Gideon’s main target. Cutting him off from reinforcements, Din is restrained and brought to his knees. With how the season has been headed for the character, The Mandalorian forces the audience to reckon with the notion that this might be it for the titular hero. Unarmed and defenseless, there is every opportunity for Gideon to make an example of him and behead him right then and there. But the bell isn’t tolling for Din in “The Spies.” Gideon hauls Din Djarin away for questioning and precedes to taunt Bo-Katan about the Darksaber and her valiant attempt to lead a united Mandalorian front. In a last-ditch effort to escape before they end up like Din, Bo-Katan leads a retreat (with the aid of the Darksaber) but in order to safely escape, someone has to stay behind to take out the approaching troopers. And it’s a character whose fate has been largely telegraphed throughout the episode.

From the start of Season 3, The Mandalorian made it quite clear that Paz Vizsla would be playing a larger role in the series. He made plenty of appearances in the previous seasons and in The Book of Boba Fett, but with the introduction of his son Ragnar (Wesley Kimmel) in the premiere, Paz was given stakes and motivations that could only lead to one thing. Death. Paz’s character development across the season was just as disjointed as some of the other narrative components, but “The Spies” does help to tie it all together. Rather than being shown as just the “heavy” fighter in Din’s party, Paz was given something that loosely resembled a personality. He cared for his son, he had his conflict with the Nite Owls resolved, and he mended the strained relationship between himself and Din through the common bond of having a child. Paz’s end is a noble one, and he goes down fighting until the very, bitter end, which is just about everything fans could hope for when it comes to a noble Mandalorian demise.

Image via Disney+

It would seem that, while the title for the series is The Mandalorian, Season 3 has shifted to a much broader scope—one that might warrant the series being entitled The Mandalorians instead. Sackhoff makes for an exceptional lead, which is no surprise given her career and the narrative depths of Bo-Katan. Retrospectively, in Season 2 there were some plot points that may have pointed towards this turn, though they were overshadowed by the allusions that Din might become the rightful ruler of Mandalore as a foundling who was learning to see the good and bad connected to their culture. The Mandalorian has proven to be an interesting series to predict, as it seems to ascribe more to Marvel’s structure of making things up along the way, which doesn’t always match up with the plot that was laid before.

All in all, “The Spies” proved to be one of the better episodes of Season 3, though it is frustrating that they saved the best for last. Season 3 has broken from the styling of the first two seasons—which won the hearts of Star Wars fans and newcomers to the franchise—and it seems odd that they’ve waited until the end to return to what made this series so beloved. With Episode 7, it does appear that Bo-Katan and the Mandalorians will have to, once again, face off against Moff Gideon to rescue Din from certain doom. It’s a fitting end for the season, which does follow the pattern of past seasons. Everyone loves a good rescue mission. One of the big remaining questions, though, is whether Moff Gideon escaped or was rescued. While he may have new armor made from beskar, it doesn’t answer whether or not Mandalorians did help him escape the prison transport, as was hinted at a few episodes ago. Hopefully, the finale will reveal all.

Rating: B+

New episodes of The Mandalorian Season 3 are available to stream every Wednesday on Disney+.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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