It’s official: When Moff Gideon menaces The Mandalorian, it makes for good television. Obviously, the emotional center of this series has always been the relationship between the title character and the young creature known as Grogu (or Baby Yoda, whichever you prefer). And it always will be. However, an effective villain is a plus, and The Mandalorian 3×07 delivers that in one of the season’s best episodes.
This show began when Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) rescued Grogu from the shady scientific experiments of remnants of the Empire, led by Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). Along with friends, Din managed to keep Grogu from Gideon’s clutches until late in the second season. But Din and fellow Mandalorian Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) got the better of Gideon and turned him over to the New Republic in the second season finale. Just a few episodes ago, viewers learned Gideon had been extracted from his prison transport. Another confrontation with Din and Grogu was inevitable. And now, it begins, with more at stake than before.
That’s what makes The Mandalorian 3×07 one of the best episodes of the season. The storytelling of different plots combines to create a lot of impact and excellently sets the stage for the season finale.
“This isn’t working for me.”
The opening minutes of this episode reveal that Gideon has gone right back to being a major player in the covert efforts to bring the Empire back to prominence. They already have a Shadow Council and are careful to appear more scattered and unorganized than they actually are. Gideon is subtly encouraging discord between the others, though. One superb aspect of the writing this season has been the way the foundation is being laid for the rise of the First Order. The tyrannical regime from the Sequel Trilogy of films is clearly on its way. One character here is even the father of General Hux from the sequels. And he’s played by Brian Gleeson, the brother of Domnhall Gleeson, who played Hux!
Given the fact that this series is set shortly after the Original Trilogy, many references to the wider Star Wars universe have related to those films. The writers have a chance to also touch on the way fascism can be hard to destroy, though. And this season they are seizing that chance. In addition to that, they namecheck a character here that I know fans of the animated series in this fandom will be excited by.
“What means more to me is honor.”
Meanwhile, Din and the other Mandalorians all come together for the first time on Nevarro. The different tribes don’t like each other but they all agree to join together to retake their home planet. Before they go to Mandalore, though, Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) presents Din with the refurbished IG-11 droid. The memory unit has been removed so someone small needs to sit in it to operate it. And Grogu fits right in. Seriously, whoever had the idea to put “Yes” and “No” voice buttons on that droid should take a bow. Grogu using them at various times is a highlight of this episode. Truly a genius move. It’s like he’s talking but he’s still non-verbal at the same time.
The alliance between the tribes of Mandalorians may be uneasy but they journey together to their damaged world anyway. They come across a small band of Mandalorians who managed to survive on the planet after the Empire’s purge. Bo, as a member of Mandalore’s ruling family, receives their loyalty as the leader. Din is also more vocal about supporting her than he has ever been before. Bo may have natural authority but that doesn’t stop Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher) and Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides) from coming to blows for a few minutes. Their real problems are just ahead, though.
“This is the Way.”
The Great Forge is the heart of Mandalorian culture, so the group travels there to settle and begin to rebuild their world. Unfortunately, they walk right into an ambush. Gideon has Stormtroopers, now outfitted with Beskar armor just like the Mandalorians, waiting for them. They have jetpacks too. (I’m reminded of Finn’s “They fly now?” from The Rise of Skywalker.) The Mandalorians give the Troopers a great fight, but Gideon manages to capture Din. Bo gets the rest of them, including Grogu, away. Except for Paz. He makes a valiant last stand, and it even looks like he might triumph…until three Praetorian Guards arrive. We’ve seen Paz antagonize Din in the past but they had gained respect between them lately. It’s sad to see him go down.
Gideon’s capture of Din here parallels the second season plot point when Gideon captured Grogu. With only one episode left this season, the viewer is left wondering how the reclaiming of Mandalore might entwine with the rescue of Din. Bo admits in this episode that Gideon persuaded her to surrender to the Empire’s forces but then betrayed her. That’s how he came to possess the Darksaber. The Mandalorians have emotion on their side, but Gideon has also ordered fighters to engage with Bo’s fleet waiting to land on the planet. Things look dire indeed. But The Mandalorian 3×07 assuredly progresses the story so well that the audience won’t be able to stop themselves from wanting to see what happens next.
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney Plus.