Lee Isaac Chung steps in to direct this week’s episode of The Mandalorian, titled “The Convert”, and knocks out a fantastic entry in the series, filled with exciting moments, some of the best action the show has displayed, and possibly one of the best performances as well. Since everything in the show is surrounded by secrecy, we shall refrain from giving away specifics for now, leaving them for the spoiler-filled section.
The episode kicks off moments after the ending of last week’s Chapter 18, and has a lot to unpack in the cold open alone. But it goes way beyond that; this episode added in a new layer to the season that was already teased by the trailers, but that we probably didn’t suspect it would take up this much screen time. Without diving too much into it, we cut to a New Republic subplot spearheaded by an unlikely protagonist, that served as payoff for a few plot threads that were left hanging from previous seasons, and that also recontextualizes where the series might be heading next.
The episode might be polarizing for some people, but deviating from the main plot for a moment works simply because it’s been properly set up by the first two seasons, and because it is actually meaningful for the context of the show and the franchise overall. Grogu and Din Djarin take a step back this time, yet the episode still felt intrinsically Mandalorian-like, and expanded upon the mythology and world-building of the galaxy far, far away. Let’s dive in a bit deeper!
Spoilers ahead for The Mandalorian Chapter 19: “The Convert”
The Mandalorian and Bo-Katan Engage In A Dogfight
We kick off the episode by paying off last week’s intriguing, Mythosaur-big cliffhanger; apparently, only Bo-Katan saw the creature down there, but she’s haunted by one thought — was it alive? We don’t know exactly what is going through her mind, but here is one thought: “How can I use this to restore Mandalore’s glory?” Is this a case of another legend being false, or is it a chance for her to follow her ancestors’ path and ride the Mythosaur as an alternative to earning the Darksaber to become the true leader of Mandalore? The vision comes back to her later in the episode, and it seems like it’s going to be a continuing thread over the next few episodes.
We then cut to one of the most exciting action sequences in the entire series, the dogfight over Bo-Katan’s planet that actually pushes the story forward in a way that the cold open for the season premiere failed to do. What are all of these TIEs doing here? There is something else at play, and we’re not seeing it for now. Many will guess this is Thrawn related, but I would say this is probably Moff Gideon’s doing.
Much like the main part of the episode will be focused on expanding upon the cloning plot thread that was introduced in the first two seasons, one of the mysteries of the show so far has been why are so many Imperials are keeping the flame alive? We will hopefully get answers soon.
The Mando-Grogu-Bo-Katan story bookends the episode, with the epilogue being Bo-Katan now accepted into The Way. This could go many ways now, but I’m guessing that Bo is interested in reuniting all Mandalorians, and with her being accepted into the Children of the Watch, she now has direct contact to pretty much every Mandalore clan, something she will be able to exploit. I’m expecting a subplot later this season to be about Bo-Katan and Din Djarin going around several planets of the galaxy looking for all Mandalorians and convincing them the planet is not cursed nor poisoned.
Dr. Pershing and his unlikely companion
The real meat of this episode of The Mandalorian takes place on Coruscant (and not Hosnian Prime like some of us predicted/hoped after watching the trailer). Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) has more screen time than all of his scenes from the previous two seasons combined, and really steps up to the task. (The Blade Runner 2049 nod with the droid interrogation had me grinning ear to ear )
With this episode, it is clearer than ever before that cloning is a huge part of The Mandalorian, and it will be more relevant than ever this season. The timing of this is very interesting as well, with The Bad Batch exploring similar things in animation, and we could see Star Wars building up a backstory for the First Order and Palpatine creating Supreme Leader Snoke. The Mandalorian is essentially bridging the gaps between all three trilogies, despite what Internet trolls and click-farming sites might try to sell us.
The true star of this episode, though, is Katy O’Brian, who delivers one of the best performances of the show so far (of course it helps that the protagonist has his face covered 95% of the time, and the co-lead is a puppy). There is an edginess to her character from the very beginning, but O’Brian clearly worked very closely with director Lee Isaac Chung to bring up so many layers to her performance that become clear after we’ve seen the entire episode.
It’s not that we couldn’t have suspected she was going to turn, but she was able to keep us on the edge of our seats guessing whether she was a double agent or not, and if she was, who was she working for?
We didn’t get a Moff Gideon cameo at the end, because thankfully Jon Favreau is patient enough with his story to cross that bridge when we get to it. We didn’t need that explanation in this episode, and Moff Gideon deserves his own side adventure — we are going to see him break out of the New Republic prison cell, possibly in the next episode (which Carl Weathers is directing, and a sequence that sounds perfect for the directing sensibilities he showed with his season 2 episode).
The Mandalorian is available now on Disney+. What did you think of this episode? Did you enjoy the “side” adventure or would you have preferred Mando and Grogu to have the main spotlight on every episode? What do you make of all of this cloning? Are we building towards Snoke’s eventual introduction in the series? Where do you think this is going next week? Let us know on our social media, and stay tuned for more content from The Mandalorian!