After several tenuously connected episodes—not a complaint—The Mandalorian has begun getting to the point. “The Pirate” uses its longer runtime to begin tying the season’s threads together in a believable way while finding space for another couple of cameo spots. There are not that many episodes left to go, so this escalation is welcome even if I’m starting to get the vibe that the story being built here will conclude this season, much less this series.
Before I get into that, my new best friend Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie) is here to get even with Greef Karga by laying siege to Nevarro. It is so nice to see my beautiful Shard again and for much longer this time. Despite looking like the goofiest muppet, Shard deftly cuts through Karga’s bluffs about Nevarro being under Republic protection, well set up back in the “The Apostate,” and puts Karga properly on the back foot.
The next thread to tie comes from Karga’s desperate plea to the New Republic for help. He sends it to Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), here likely thanks to the collapse of Rangers of the New Republic. Following a talk about things with our first episode cameo in Zeb Orrelios, visiting us from Star Wars Rebels, Teva heads off to Coruscant to rally aid. On the Zeb cameo itself: while I’m not going to complain about Steve Blum getting paid, we’re starting to head down that familiar Star Wars road where the galaxy is smaller than your neighborhood growing up. Zeb doesn’t overstay his welcome here, which is good, but it also means this isn’t more than an indulgence—probably.
A decent chunk of “The Pirate” follows Teva trying and failing to get the clearance to go deal with the muppet problem. We’re treated to more New Republic nonsense as shown before in “The Convert,” complete with an appearance from Elia Kane (Katy M O’Brian), suggesting to guest star Tim Meadows that Nevarro should learn a lesson for not signing on to the Republic charter—which only confirms to Teva that something has already gone sour in the New Republic. He’s the smartest man in the room, being the first person to put together that the events of The Mandalorian might be connected, but obviously, his concerns are brushed off by the bureaucracy.
What’s a space cop to do but enlist vigilante action? Teva tracks down the Mandalorian hideout (turns out that’s why R5 had to be here) and leaves Karga’s message with Din. Din’s rightfully curious about Teva’s aim with this move, and the subtext is finally text—the Empire is bouncing back, and Teva is concerned the suits back on Coruscant aren’t seeing it. We of course know that’s the case (more on that still to come.) For now, Teva can’t convince the clan to act—that’ll be Din’s job.
Din’s petition to his clan is maybe one of the clearest looks yet at what “The Way” actually is. Here, Din makes an honest plea to his clan based on some classic Star Wars themes—Greef ‘s change of heart, the potential to live in peace on Nevarro, and the power of helping each other. This is validated by Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher), who himself has had a change of heart via the rescue of his son last week. The nature of Din’s Mandalorian family has been one of the more mysterious parts of the series and many—myself included—have long expected a shoe to drop. While that still could happen, seeing the group rally around these ideas sends the message that we’re meant to root for The Way.
It is hard not to root for the crew as they pull their best Straw Hat Pirates on Shard’s men. The skill on display is a firm reminder of the reason why a Mandalorian was used for a whole clone army. Television is still not the best medium to show this kind of action at its finest, but this sequence is the best since Din’s last dogfight with the pirates. Rest in peace to my boy Gorian, but obviously, the Mandalorians pull this out and are rewarded with land by Karga. Happy ending and The Armorer even charges Bo-Katan with finding other Mandalorians, even if they don’t follow The Way. Finally, everyone can walk in the light.
Or so it seems. “The Pirate” leaves no loose thread untied, and so we catch back up with Captain Teva after he departs the main plot. He’s found the shuttle transferring Moff Gideon for trial was ambushed and the Moff extracted, as previously hinted. Investigating further, Teva finds what will certainly jeopardize the happy ending on Nevarro—a piece of beskar.
At this point, the elephant in the room can’t be ignored—it’s Thrawn, isn’t it? Regardless if these events give us inner turmoil between Mandalorian Clans or bring the New Republic down on everyone, it can’t be in the service of just bringing back Gideon as the big bad. The reveal of Thrawn has hovered over all the Star Wars shows since Ahsoka spoke it during Mandalorian Season 2, and with Zeb’s surprise walk-on combined with Celebration nearly guaranteed to give us the Ahsoka series trailer it would almost be weirder to not end this season with him. The downside would be that once again The Mandalorian would not be allowed to tell its own story in favor of trying to hook viewers into other shows.
If that is where we’re going—and I can no longer shake the sense it is—that’ll be a shame. “The Pirate” really tied all of this pretty good season’s ribbons together in a solid bow. In true Dave Filoni fashion, everything mattered and had a payoff. Time will tell if the rest of the season follows through. For now, let us all raise a glass to the spirit of Pirate King Gorian Shard.
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‘The Mandalorian’ 3x05 - 8/10