The Mandalorian Learns a New Way in Chapter 11, “The Heiress”

This week a whole lot of questions are finally going to slot into place with the return of a familiar face…

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Summary

The Razor Crest makes it to the Trask moon (just barely, crashing into the sea and needing a lift out), and Frog Lady’s husband points Din in the direction of a tavern to get his intel. Once there, a Quarren offers to take him by sea to find the Mandalorians he’s looking for. This turns out to be an elaborate ploy; the Quarrens are pirates who let a sea monster swallow Baby Yoda in order to encourage Din after him. They mean to strip the beskar from his body and get rich. Luckily, three Mandalorians jetpack in and disperse the entire crew with ease, rescuing the kid in the process. When they remove their helmets, Djarin is taken aback, insisting they they are not true Mandalorians. What he doesn’t know is that he’s been rescued by Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), last member of Clan Kryze, an old Mandalorian family. She realizes that Din is a member of the Watch, a splinter sect that means to return Mandalore to its ancient ways, hence their creed never to remove their helmets.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Chapter 11, The Heiress

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Bo-Katan is able to direct Djarin to a Jedi as he requests, but only if he’s willing to help in her mission first: She is going to raid an Imperial ship leaving the planet for weapons to outfit her people in the fight to reclaim Mandalore. Din is convinced that Mandalore is a cursed planet, as he was told by his own clan. Bo insists that he shouldn’t believe everything he hears, and that Mandalorians are stronger when they act together. Djarin leaves Baby Yoda with Frog Lady (Misty Rosas) and her husband as her very first egg hatches.

The group board the ship and begin dispatching troopers. They manage to secure the cargo bay, then let the bridge officers know that they’re planning to take the whole ship—which wasn’t part of the original plan Bo-Katan sold to Din. Nevertheless, they move to storm to cockpit, and Djarin takes heavy fire in order to clear out the passageway leading up to it. The ship is also currently crashing because the commander (Titus Welliver) signaled to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) about the situation, and the Moff decided that they were already too late to be saved. Bo-Katan’s crew manage to pull the ship up in time, but the captain takes a suicide pill after smugly letting Bo-Katan know that Gideon definitely has the Darksaber. Bo asks Din if he doesn’t want to join their cause because she’d be happy to have him, but he’s determined to get Baby Yoda to the right people. She relents gives him directions on where to find—

—Ahsoka Tano.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Chapter 11, The Heiress

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Commentary

This episode makes a lot of lore and cultural issues come clear here, so let’s start by unpacking that…

Bo-Katan Kryze was first introduced in the Clone Wars animated series and then later reappeared in Star Wars: Rebels. She is the sister of Satine Kryze, who was Duchess and ruler of Mandalore during the Clone Wars. Satine and Bo-Katan never quite saw eye to eye; while Bo-Katan was proud of Mandalorian heritage, Satine wanted their people to take a more pacifist route (hence her being Duchess of the people rather than the Mand’alor, as their traditions dictated). That choice in wartime was never appreciated to its full extent, and Satine was eventually killed at the hands of Darth Maul… who was wielding the Darksaber at the time, ironically enough. This led to an era of upheaval right as Chancellor Palpatine was fast approaching his coup to destroy the Republic and create the Empire.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Chapter 11, The Heiress

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Later on, Sabine Wren of Clan Wren sought out Bo-Katan when she discovered the Darksaber on Dathomir. The intent was to see Bo-Katan installed as the new Mand’alor to reunite the Mandalorian people against the Empire. We’re not quite sure about the specifics of what happened after, but safe to say, it didn’t work out as planned—Bo-Katan is looking for Moff Gideon because he has taken the Darksaber, the symbol of leadership for her people, an item that she was rightfully chosen to wield in recent memory. She understandably wants it returned, and is doing everything in her power to frustrate Gideon and his cronies.

What Bo-Katan tells Din Djarin is arguably more important, however, and explains the most perplexing aspect of his allegiance to the Mandalorians that we’ve seen thus far. She tells him that his clan is a splinter sect known as the Watch, who seek to restore the ancient Mandalorian ways—which makes it clear why they never remove their helmets. This is more or less what I was expecting in regard to an explanation, and was excellently seeded as well; the Mandalorians who save little Din in last season’s flashback during the Clone War bear the signet of Death Watch, the very splinter group that Bo-Katan is referring to. (Apparently, they’ve shortened their name to just “the Watch” because “Death Watch” probably wasn’t doing them many favors toward inflating their ranks. Cute.) During the Clone Wars, the Death Watch were viewed as a radical terrorist sect who reveled in violence and sought to destroy the new regime of pacifist thinking.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Chapter 11, The Heiress

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

But there’s another key bit of info that Bo-Katan omits when she’s explaining the rough cut of Mandalorian history to Din: She used to be a member of Death Watch. She was lieutenant to the group’s leader during the Clone Wars, Pre Vizsla (voiced by Jon Favreau, which is the reason why he voiced another member of Din’s clan in the first season—he’s meant to be a descendent of Vizsla). Of course, she had her reasons, but in modern parlance you could argue that it’s pretty close to your standard teenage rebellion phase: My sister wants pacifism, I hate it, time to join a cult for a while. She breaks from Death Watch after they fall in with Darth Maul, who wants to use the group as a means to seize power for himself.

Now, all of this history is well and good, but poor Din is understandably shaken by the information and what it means. Granted, part of that is down to almost losing his kid to a giant sea monster, but you can’t mistake the tremble in his voice after Bo-Katan gives him an updated definition of his own clan and way of life. I really hope the show delves into this for the sake of his character arc, rather than having him skip right over it to a place of fuzzy camaraderie; Din was indoctrinated to the Watch as a child. It’s going to be incredibly hard for him to square that he hasn’t been told the whole truth about the Mandalorian people and heritage. Having him slowly learn more about Mandalore and the full extent of their history, and make his own choices about how he wants to belong—that’s a great story. They should really dig into what that means for a figure in Djarin’s position because it makes him unique.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Chapter 11, The Heiress

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

And if the long arc of that journey just so happens to lead to the restoration of the Mandalorian people on their homeworld with Bo-Katan Kryze in possession of the Darksaber as the Mand’alor? Sign me up. (Also, the Watch could relax their rules again and let poor Din show his face. Then he could maybe go back and make a nice homestead with Omera? Seems like he’d appreciate that option.) He’s so awed by their competence when they storm that ship, it’s fantastic—the realization of what it could be like to really work with his people toward common goals, even if just for a moment. I also adore how Bo uses the Mando mantra against Din to twist his arm into aiding her, because she knows how Death Watch worked and how it gained loyalty and what her people truly value. She knows that Din is one of them, and she wants them all to be on the same side. Give us more of her.

I’m still not sure what the intention was with the Frog Lady and her partner, and having Baby Yoda around for the birth of her first child. Are we supposed to infer that the kid has learned something about the sanctity of life now that he sees that the egg brought forth another baby? Is this going to lead to him being more sensitive in the future? Did anyone even consider how awkwardly that whole concept is positioned here? Because either way, my issues with how this was handled in the last episode still stand—treating it as a comical aside that he ate a bunch of her potential kids wasn’t great. It also feels particularly off-base when the point is that Din knows he can leave the kid with them because they’re parents… but shouldn’t because he knows what happened last time the kid was around the eggs. The tonal shift of how seriously we’re supposed to take Frog Lady’s motherhood from moment to moment is enough to give you whiplash.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Chapter 11, The Heiress

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

And that’s without getting into how aggravated I am that the show racks up tension during the opening crash sequence by continually suggesting that the pod holding her eggs might not survive the landing, which… she could literally set the thing down between her feet while holding that lever—this is Cheap Nail-biting 101 going down here.

A lot of questions here in regard to the zealotry of the Imperial remnants we’re seeing. We already know Moff Gideon is a piece of work, and it stands to reason that a lot of the leftover officers and troopers of the Empire are going to be a little… intense, given what they’ve survived following the regime change. But we haven’t been given much information so far about what these troops think they’re contributing to, or where their resources are coming from. Is this a group that will eventually be folded into the First Order, or are they the last fundamentalist gasp of the Empire’s power? And how have they lasted this long?

In any case, we’ve got a lot to think about, and with any luck… next week we’ll come face to face with Ahsoka Tano. *grabby hands*

Things and Asides:

  • Katee Sackhoff was the voice actor for Bo-Katan on the animated series side of things as well. While not every voice-over actor from those shows will get to play their on-screen counterparts, it’s hardly a surprise that they ported Sackhoff over, given how beloved she is for playing the role of Starbuck on the rebooted early aughts version of Battlestar Galactica. She’s just perfect here, and getting to see that armor rendered in physical form is… ugh, it’s so good.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Chapter 11, The Heiress

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • The other two Mandalorians on Bo’s team are Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado). While you might recognize Kassianides from films and TV, Varnado is best known for embodying the wrestling persona of Sasha Banks. They also all enjoy making fun of stormtroopers for not being able to shoot straight.
  • I forgot to mention that Paul Sun-Hyung Lee from last episode is best known for his work on Kim’s Convenience! (On Netflix, give it a watch.) But more importantly, he’s a giant cosplaying nerd who got to wear Biggs Darklighter’s helmet in that episode, so I’m still crying over that.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Chapter 11, The Heiress

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • Within the Legends canon (that’s the old Expanded Universe books and comics), the Death Watch were very similar to what we currently have on screen, a splinter sect that meant to return the Mandalorians to their ancient ways. In that canon, they were founded by a fellow named Tor Viszla (lol) and opposed Jaster Mereel’s True Mandalorians.
  • The Trask moon is a watery planet full of Mon Calamari (yes, that is Admiral Ackbar’s species and if you didn’t know they named them after a tasty fried snack, then I am happy to bestow this knowledge upon you) and Quarren, two groups that are often found together, though their history is fraught. They share the homeworld of Mon Cala, and were pitted against each other during the Clone Wars by Separatist forces. Obviously, they’re both aquatic species.
  • All I’m saying is, if they’d had ship-hauling cranes like that on Dagobah, Luke wouldn’t have had to worry so much about crashing his X-Wing into a swamp.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Chapter 11, The Heiress

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • The Empire has electric suicide pills now? That’s… that’s dark, y’all.

See you next week, folx!

Emmet Asher-Perrin is probably going to spend the next week quietly chanting “Ahsoka, Ahsoka, Ahsoka” under their breath. You can bug them on Twitter, and read more of their work here and elsewhere.

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