The Mandalorian Recap: Kicking the Battle Droid

0
SHARES
0
VIEWS

The Mandalorian

Chapter 22: Guns For Hire

Season 3

Episode 6

Editor’s Rating

4 stars

The Mandalorian

Chapter 22: Guns For Hire

Season 3

Episode 6

Editor’s Rating

4 stars

Photo: Disney+

A theme has started to emerge in The Mandalorian’s third season. The first six episodes keep coming back to characters who are in search of redemption (or at least claiming they’re looking for redemption in order to carry on with their old ways). Redemption was the focus of “Chapter 19: The Convert,” in which Dr. Pershing and Elia Kane embodied two different possible outcomes of the New Republic’s post-Empire deprogramming efforts. The theme returns again here with the introduction of Captain Bombardier (Jack Black). Once an officer in the Empire, Bombardier and his love, the Duchess (Lizzo), are now the benevolent rulers of the seemingly utopian planet of Plazir-15, a place that prides itself on being “the Outer Rim’s only remaining direct democracy.” Bombardier seems to be fully reformed, and the galaxy a better place for it. But not everyone on Plazir likes the way things have changed.

Plazir provides the setting for most of “Chapter 22: Guns for Hire,” but only after the episode opens with a check-in with the stolen fleet once commanded by Bo-Katan. It’s now under the control of Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides), with Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) and some other familiar faces by his side. With their plans to retake Mandalore currently shelved, they’ve resumed doing what Mandalorians do: bounty hunting.

After a tense introduction to the Quarren captain, who immediately starts to suck up to the “Imperial friends” she assumes to be traveling on the Imperial ship, Axe announces their intention to retrieve the son of a Mon Calamari Viceroy aboard her ship. The captain attempts to explain she would never jeopardize the peace between their two peoples, but Axe already knows that the passenger he wants is there because of love. (On Mon Cala, the enlightened apparently believe that love doesn’t care what variety of squid you look like.) Given no other choice, the two lovers part. For them, it might be the end of a tragic love story. For Mandalorians, it’s strictly business.

That business has also taken them to the green planet of Plazir, whose citizens mostly live in luxury inside a dome where droids meet their every need. Hoping to reignite their desire to reclaim Mandalore, Din and Bo-Katan (with Grogu and R5-D4 in tow) travel to Plazir to seek out Axe and the rest of the stolen fleet, but only after a detour that drops them squarely in the middle of the planet’s droid problem. Though they were brought there involuntarily, Din and Co. receive a warm greeting in the court of Bombardier and the Duchess. The pair are presiding over what appears to be a never-ending feast attended by a multicultural representation of Plazir’s residents. “I hope you like secretions,” Bombardier says, shortly after asking Din, Bo-Katan, and Grogu to join them. Who could say no?

Not that they have that much choice. Though Din and Bo-Katan would prefer to get down to business, they first have to listen to Bombardier’s life story. Once an Imperial facilities planning officer, he’s now a proud graduate of the New Republic Amnesty Program, which put his skills to use in rebuilding Plazir-15. There he found love with the Duchess. But don’t, they insist, let the title fool you. Though the Duchess is a member of the royal family that once ruled the planet, Plazir is now a direct democracy. And though their charter requires them to outsource security to privateers, there’s an upside to this: They can spend all that money on their people. What’s more, there’s enough wealth to go around that no one wants for anything and nobody has to work. (Except the people in security and the Ugnaughts and the morgue attendants. But it’s a mostly egalitarian society.)

You’d be forgiven for expecting the episode to inevitably reveal Plazir’s dark side (or, more accurately, its Dark Side), but that reveal never comes. Just as Bombardier seems like a truly reformed ex-Imperial, Plazir is a place that works. Mostly, anyway: Bombardier and the Duchess are hospitable people, but they have a reason to insist their visitors spend time with them (besides being taken with Grogu, who quickly takes up residence in the Duchess’s arms). Their droids might seem to be malfunctioning in a suspiciously coordinated fashion. Like Bombardier, they once belonged to the Empire. And, also like Bombardier, they’ve been rehabilitated. But maybe that rehabilitation didn’t take?

Din and Bo-Katan are soon on the case, which means talking to Commissioner Helgait (Christopher Lloyd), Plazir’s security chief. After reviewing some alarming (but kind of funny) clips of droids gone wild, the Mandalorian pair suggests just, you know, turning them off. But Plazir simply cannot function without droids, so a mass shutdown is not an option. Taking out all the rogue droids one by one, however, is very much an option by Helgait’s reckoning.

That first means acquiring a naughty-and-nice list from the Ugnaughts, “the hardest-working species in the galaxy.” And though they’re skilled droidsmiths, they aren’t easy conversationalists. Fortunately, Din knows how to communicate with Ugnaughts thanks to the time he spent with Kuiil (RIP). Step 1: Drop the name of your dead Ugnaught friend. Step 2: Don’t suggest their work can be anything but perfect. With the probable location of the next malfunctioning droid in hand, they head to the loading docks.

There, Din sets about finding a malfunctioning battle droid by administering a series of swift kicks and waiting for one to get angry. The Mandalorians are not fond of droids (there’s a history there), but Din seems especially anti-droid and the fevered chase through the mall-like streets of Plazir does nothing to disabuse him of his prejudice. It does yield a clue, though, in the form of a spark pad bearing the name of a droid bar called the Resistor. And with that, Din and Bo-Katan are off to interrogate some refreshment-seeking droids.

If there’s a negative-image version of the Mos Eisley cantina, it’s the Resistor. Instead of a place where no droids are allowed, it’s a place where the presence of humans causes the droids to clam up in suspicion. A conversation with the bartender eventually eases the fears on both sides. Din and Bo-Katan aren’t here to harass them (at least not after Bo-Katan talks Din down), and, they soon discover, the droids actually do want to help them track down the bad apples in their midst. They may have served the Empire but, like Bombardier, they’re gotten a second chance on Plazir.

After delivering a lesson on what exactly droids do at a droid bar — consume a lubricant called Nepenthé — the bartender determines that all the malfunctioning droids consumed the same batch of Nepenthé. At what can only be described as the droid morgue, a coroner helps Din and Bo-Katan discover that the bad Nepenthé batch contains infectious nanobots and trace it back to its source. (Following a short fight with a rogue droid in their midst.) Turns out, it was ordered by Commissioner Helgait, an unreconstructed Separatist who’s still loyal to the vision of Count Dooku.

Helgait threatens to turn all Plazir’s droids against its citizens, but the threat doesn’t last long. (Bo-Katan cuts it short while dismissing his speech as “politics.”) When Helgait is brought before Bombardier and the Duchess, he’s apologetic to the latter but rude to the former, and so is sentenced to exile. Din, Bo-Katan, and Grogu make their own exit not long after his departure, but only after receiving a key to Plazir and a knighthood for Grogu. It’s nice to make new friends.

Old friends, on the other hand, can be difficult, as Bo-Katan discovers when she reunites with the stolen fleet. Axe is not particularly happy to see her and has no intention of giving her back her fleet without a fight. And so, they fight. Bo-Katan emerges as the victor, if not easily, but even this isn’t good enough for Axe, who refuses to yield, despite being bested, and denies her claim of leadership. She doesn’t wield the Darksaber, so how can she call herself their leader?

Here’s how: a loophole. Din lost the Darksaber to that strange creature in the caves of Mandalore, and though he holds it now, it’s Bo-Katan who retrieved it from his foe. Thus, it’s really hers. Thus, Bo-Katan is back in charge. Thus, the dream of retaking Mandalore lives on.

• A fun episode with some of the series’s least-expected guest stars (if anyone expected Black, Lizzo, and Lloyd to appear on The Mandalorian, they almost certainly didn’t expect them to appear all at once), “Guns for Hire” suffers a bit from trying to tell a self-contained story while also advancing the season’s overarching plot. But even if the bookends feel like they don’t quite match the episode’s middle section, both parts still work.

• The Plazir-15 stretch does kind of feel like a throwback to The Mandalorian’s first season: Din and his companions show up in a new location, meet some new people, solve their problems, then take off again. Plazir-15 is an intriguing stop too. From the outside, it looks like a Star Wars take on EPCOT. Inside, it looks like Logan’s Run, only less ’70s and less dystopian. Maybe that resemblance is why it’s easy to wait for a twist about Plazir that never arrives. (Then again, maybe it will be revealed on a return visit.)

• Nepenthé takes its name from a drug of forgetfulness found in Greek mythology. Specifically, it first appears in The Odyssey, where Helen drinks it to forget the sorrow of the Trojan War. That kind of makes the Resistor seem a bit more melancholy than it first appears, doesn’t it?

The Mandalorian Recap: Kicking the Battle Droid

Read More

Next Post