After two solid back-to-back episodes, season three of The Mandalorian grinds the story to an unnecessary halt with the third entry, “The Convert.” It’s here that the first cracks in the show’s Beskar armor are starting to materialize, and that spells trouble for the rest of the season. The biggest problem with “The Convert” is that it repeats the same cardinal sin as The Book of Boba Fett, by shifting the focus away from its main character, and robbing the story of its foundation.
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If done right, this risk could pay off, but unfortunately, the characters reintroduced in this episode are neither interesting, nor important enough to warrant their own time in the spotlight. As such, audiences get treated to a boring and drawn out episode that feels as if it’s trying to set up the main plot arc, with very little in the way of a payoff. It’s a stark departure from the methodical pacing of seasons one and two, which begs the question – have Jon Favreau and his team written themselves into a corner?
After blowing a chance at a good cliffhanger in episode two, the story picks up immediately after Bo-Katan Kryze saves Din Djarin (again) from what we’re supposed to believe was certain doom. Having bathed in the living waters underneath Mandalore in the most unorthodox of ways, Djarin and Kryze leave the planet, and are subsequently attacked by a squadron of TIE Interceptors.
They manage to get away in the nick of time by jumping to hyperspace, at which point the story shifts locales to Coruscant, where Penn Pershing (the scientist who conducted experiments on Grogu in season one) is being rehabilitated under a New Republic pardoning system. He’s well-liked by Republic officials for embracing the new order, but he secretly yearns to restart his research in the hopes of cloning organs to help those in need.
Under the rules of his rehabilitation, Pershing is not allowed to conduct his research, which prompts former Imperial officer Elia Kane to persuade him into raiding a salvage yard for components needed to build his own science lab. The two head into the bowels of an old Imperial Star Destroyer, but Pershing soon discovers that Kane is a double agent working for New Republic security, while simultaneously hiding a sinister secret agenda.
“The Convert” has a few good things going for it, starting with a fairly exciting ship-to-ship battle against a wave of TIE Interceptors. It’s shot well, and there’s a genuine level of energy there which is quite entertaining. Seeing Bo-Katan and Din Djarin tag-teaming TIEs in their respective craft was a nice touch. When the story switches over to Pershing’s plot arc, so too does the scenery.
Once again, Coruscant is front and center, and done to far better effect than on Star Wars: Andor. Glimpses of post-Imperial Coruscant are sparse, to say the least, and this episode manages to cover a lot of the planet’s territory, from rich districts, to refugee housing, and of course, the scrapyard where the bones of old Star Destroyers lay in wait to be stripped for parts.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good seems to stop, with the rest of the episode acting as confusing filler. Eventually, the episode bounces back to Din Djarin to bookend the story before the credits roll, and although the final moments are intriguing, they also seem far too convenient as far as Bo-Katan Kryze is concerned.
Unfortunately, this is one rather boring episode, and although the visual splendor is plenty, the story is hollow and unfulfilling. Focusing on the character of Penn Pershing seems rather silly, as he was little more than a bit player to begin with. However, the episode truly derails itself by reintroducing Elia Kane, one of Moff Gideon’s officers, and perhaps the most uncharismatic character in the entire show thus far.
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Kane’s manipulative moves seem suspect from the beginning, and any attempt to downplay her true motivations was done with a total lack of subtlety. Sure, there’s a minor curve ball at the end of the episode when Kane’s allegiance with New Republic security is revealed, but the writers immediately destroy it by showing that she’s playing both sides, equally.
To what end? That remains to be seen. The bigger problem is, who cares? The last thing Star Wars needs at this point is another subplot regarding cloning technology, yet that seems to be where the story is headed. One working theory is that Elia Kane has no allegiance to the Imperial remnant, but rather, the budding First Order. This makes sense, given Palpatine’s resurrection via cloning technology shown in The Rise of Skywalker.
The problem is that any attempt to build this kind of bridge feels too far-fetched. If Lucasfilm is going to try and move into sequel trilogy territory, it could do so with a more inventive and original storyline. Instead, if suspicions hold true, The Mandalorian will simply retread old ground in a far more boring manner, and the entire season will be a colossal letdown.
This is not the way.
And finally, the convenience of Bo-Katan Kryze being accepted into the Children of the Watch, simply for diving into the living waters to save Djarin’s life, feels quite silly. Since the beginning, Kryze stood in direct opposition to the cult’s ideals and teachings, but now, with the uncharacteristic loss of her Mandalorians, she’s suddenly feeling accepted by a people she never expected.
That might seem clever to the writers, but it feels way too lazy and convenient to audiences. The antagonism and conflict between Kryze’s ways, and those of the Watch, is what made for an interesting dynamic. If Kryze decides to embrace their welcome, it will end up blunting the narrative by attempting to wrap up her story arc with a convenient bow. In fact, I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that Kryze does not survive the season; instead dying a melodramatic death that will have ripple effects for the rest of Mandalorian culture.
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Speaking of the living waters, what exactly was that creature that supposedly dragged Din Djarin down into the depths last episode? Audiences still don’t know, because this episode doesn’t bother explaining anything.
Perhaps in an effort to hide the fact that budgetary constraints are a thing, the showrunners helming Star Wars TV shows seem to constantly rely on subplots that nobody wanted, and character arcs that feel inept and lazy. Sure, there’s a lot to be said for the woeful lack of talent at Lucasfilm, but given how strong the first two seasons of The Mandalorian were, this feels like a surprise.
At least, until one factors in everything that has happened since. Internal politics and bad decision-making were responsible for greenlighting The Book of Boba Fett, Grogu’s decision to stay with Djarin, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s character deconstruction, and of course, the pointless abomination that was the entirety of Star Wars: Andor. As such, “The Convert” feels like more of the same – a show stuck in a universe that has lost any semblance of focus.
These episodes tend to act as hollow filler between the dynamite first and third acts, which is where the bulk of the budget always goes. That’s the biggest problem with Disney’s Star Wars TV shows as a whole. They’re too ambitious for their own good, and neither the writers, nor the budget can properly deliver what fans expect. Seasons one and two of The Mandalorian managed to scoot by based on the strength of the writing, but season three is already lagging far behind.
Either way, this is not a good setup for what’s yet to come, and with only five episodes to go, the show has very little elbow room to make something of itself. Rest assured, Baby Yoda is not strong enough to carry the series if the story turns into dead weight, which means the decision to keep him in the show may have been a counterproductive one.
NEXT: ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3, Episode 2: “The Mines Of Mandalore” Review
- The battle versus TIE Interceptors is exciting and well done.
- Post-Imperial Coruscant in all its glory.
- Convenient and lazy character development.
- The story focuses on two redundant and very boring characters.
- Bo-Katan's "redemption" by the Children of the Watch.