Oh, so that’s where this has all been leading. The penultimate episode of The Mandalorian season three (yes, it’s almost over already) was all about paying off moments and stories from earlier this season. The journey of Bo-Katan Kryze, the planet Mandalore, that evil villain that’s been looming over everything, all that and more came to a head this week, which was supremely satisfying and exciting. And yet, it came with a huge cost to our characters, some of whom will never be the same.
Episode seven of The Mandalorian’s third season is called “The Spies,” and despite having watched it multiple times now, I still have no idea who the title is referring to. (We’ll dive into it more near the end.) But it does start with at least one spy, Ella Kane (Katy M. O’Brian), who we find traversing a Coruscant that looks less like Star Wars and more like Blade Runner. In a back alley, a probe droid confirms her identity and links her up with, drumroll please, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). Yup, after multiple mentions this season, he’s finally back.
Kane tells Gideon that their pirate uprising on Navarro (oh, so that was them too?) has been thwarted by Mandalorians. But not just any Mandalorians: the combined tribes of Bo-Katan Kryze and Din Djarin. Gideon is confused because in his mind, those tribes hate each other, but that seems to have changed. He tells Kane to keep on her mission and he’ll deal with the Mandalorians.
Gideon is traveling on a ship, and after passing through those red laser security walls from The Phantom Menace that are seemingly there for no reason (they’re flanked by some very imposing sets of armor that seem to blend Mandalorian and Stormtrooper gear), as well as what looks to be several containers filled with some sort of clones, he arrives at a meeting of the Shadow Council. The Shadow Council is made up of all manner of evil officers who are still loyal to the Empire. They talk about flying under the radar of the New Republic and balancing their true power—and one officer mentions none other than Grand Admiral Thrawn as the person who will return and help them bring it all together.
That man is Gilad Pellaeon (Xander Berkeley), a character best known as a colleague of Thrawn’s from the Timothy Zahn books, briefly mentioned in Star Wars Rebels and now seen in full. He’s joined by Commandant Hux, a name even casual fans will recognize because of General Hux in the films. However, while that was General Armitage Hux, played by Domhnall Gleeson, this is Brendol Hux played by Brian Gleeson. Brendol is the father of Armitage (who has played a large role in many of the canon Star Wars books set in this time period) and Brian is the brother of Domhnall. We could go on and on about this bit of casting excellence, but we’ll stop there for now.
Gideon seems mad that despite Pellaeon’s assurance that Thrawn is coming, he has yet to reveal himself. Instead, they point to something Hux has been working on called Project Necromancer, which could help restore leadership to Empire. This is a term that’s new to Star Wars but the fact that Hux mentions Dr. Pershing, who was working on clones and midichlorian DNA—and in other media, Hux has been creating Stormtroopers—you can begin to loosely connect the dots: clones, troopers, those suits in the previous scene, the First Order is on the way, there’s something brewing here that’s yet to be revealed.
Hux scoffs that Gideon has requested a bunch of backup for some reason, to which Gideon reveals he believes the Mandalorians are thinking of taking back Mandalore. This is not something this Shadow Council wants to see so they grant Gideon everything he wants: Praetorian Guards, TIE Interceptors, and TIE Bombers. With them, Gideon promises to wipe out the Mandalorians once and for all—and oh, by the way, “Long live the Empire.”
This cold open was so jam-packed with stuff it’s almost its own episode of the show. But the biggest takeaway is how very specifically we’re seeing the Empire scrambling to rebuild something. Something we know will eventually become the First Order lead by Snoke, and that Grand Admiral Thrawn will play some sort of role. Sounds like it could be the plot of a movie. (Which, it will be.)
Back on Nevarro, a fleet of Imperial ships arrives, but Greef Karga knows they’re not Imperials, they’re Mandalorians. It’s Bo-Katan, Mando, Grogu, and all of the Night Owls they recruited back in last week’s episode. Bo is worried about how her helmet-removing Mandalorian friends will get along with Din’s helmet-wearing ones since they’ve long hated each other despite never having met. Things start tense but the Armorer herself welcomes the new Mandalorians and says they’ll make a feast in their honor.
Before the feast, Greef presents Mando with a gift of some fine Coruscant booze and... something else. In walks IG-11—only, he’s now IG-12. All memory has been removed and he’s become more of a vehicle for a person of small stature. Mando doesn’t like where this is going but once Greef puts Grogu in the suit, no one has ever been happier about anything in all of Star Wars. Complete with buttons that say “Yes” and “No” in Taika Waititi’s voice, Grogu takes to using IG as his personal puppet and very quickly, his incessant chanting of “Yes, Yes, Yes,” is reminiscent of a Daniel Bryan WWE match. The whole sequence of Grogu becoming acclimated to the suit is in stark contrast to the serious tone of the rest of the episode and works even better because of it. It’s adorable, hilarious, and 100% in there just to make more toys, which we will absolutely be buying.
Back at the Mandalorian camp, Bo-Katan tells everyone her plan to take back Mandalore. A small group will go first and scout the surface; once they deem it safe, everyone can come down and get things rolling at the Great Forge, the center of Mandalorian civilization. But, first things first. She needs volunteers for the scout team. In a very Return of the Jedi/Endor moment, the main characters—Mando and Grogu, Koska Reeves, Axe Woves, Paz Vizsla—all step up, among others. Even the Armorer joins in.
The fleet leaves Nevarro and starts its mission, punctuated by some awesome footage of the Mandalorians dropping back onto their home planet. The group starts scouting and very quickly spots something approaching on the horizon. Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s sort of...a Star Wars pirate ship? And since this massive floating ship gives off pirate vibes, it’s more than a little surprising when their first words are “Do you have food?”
When Bo-Katan says they do, the hungry visitors recognize her voice, and three Mandalorians fly over. Credited as only “Survivor Captain” (played by Charles Parnell, aka Warlock from Top Gun: Maverick) and “Survivor Scout” (played by Charles Baker, aka Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad), they pledge allegiance to Bo-Katan.
All the Mandalorians sit down for a meal and the survivors talk about their experience staying on Mandalore after the Empire bombed it all to hell. They’re proud they never surrendered but Bo-Katan says that’s not true. She did, in fact, surrender—a revelation that cuts to the core of everyone there. Bo explains it was her only choice to try and save the people and their cities, but Moff Gideon betrayed her and took the Darksaber. As everyone lets that sink in, Bo-Katan slips back into leader mode.
She talks about how Mandalore is unstoppable against any enemy but it’s their divisions that have always hurt them. She wishes to bring all Mandalorians of all beliefs together once more. It’s a very powerful speech with ramifications in our galaxy as well as this one. In fact, it’s so powerful, Mando even confides in Bo-Katan that she’s changed his perspective on their entire people. She discusses her misgivings about trying to restore order but he assures her that his people value her loyalty, honor, and character. “I serve you, Lady Kryze,” Mando says. “Your song is not yet written. I will serve you until it is.” It’s a powerful, touching moment and, in a way, almost a transfer of the title of the show. “The Mandalorian” has always seemed to mean Din Djarin. At times, it may have even meant Bo-Katan. But now, it certainly feels like it means the Mandalorians as a people.
Back on the survivor’s ship, we see that the three Mandalorians who came to talk to Bo-Katan are just the leaders. There are many, many other survivors who are too weak to help on the mission, so the Armorer volunteers to bring them back to the fleet as the others continue the mission. This seems a little odd since she’s such a good warrior, but she’s also a good leader, so we think nothing of it. For now.
Everyone is off to the Great Forge of Mandalore but there’s some time to kill. So Axe Woves and Paz Vizsla, basically the two biggest, strongest people in each tribe, play a game, but tensions rise when they realize they don’t play by the same rules. Names are called and Paz tells him to “submit or fight.” Axe chooses the latter.
Everyone lets the two brutes duke it out, knowing a release of tension between the clans is probably for the best, but eventually an unlikely party steps in to stop it. It’s Grogu in his IG-12 armor. “No, no, no, no,” he says, and the two stop the fighting. Bo-Katan compliments Mando on teaching his apprentice well, but Mando admits he didn’t learn that from him—anod to Grogu’s latent Jedi traits.
The journey continues until a scout spots something on the horizon. It’s a mountain that seems to be moving. As some sort of massive creature begins to emerge, our first instinct is to believe it’ll be the mythosaur. It’s not, but it’s still incredibly destructive and with just one swipe of its tail, completely decimates the pirate ship. The Mandalorians hide in the caves, thankfully close to the Forge which was their destination anyway.
At the Forge, the assembled share memories about what it used to be—but before things can get too nostalgic, several more jet-packed figures begin to fly toward them. More friendly Mandalorians? This time, they’re not so lucky. It’s those white-suited beings we saw with Moff Gideon earlier, a deadly combination of Mando and Stormtrooper armor. The Mandalorians are outnumbered, so Axe decides to run to get reinforcements, as the rest of the group is forced deeper and deeper into the caves.
Eventually, they’re forced somewhere new. It looks like an Imperial hanger, and the numerous TIE Interceptors hanging from the ceiling confirm this. When the blast doors close behind them, thwarting any manner of escape, the Mandalorians realize they’ve been tricked. It’s an ambush. Mando takes on seven troopers at once and though he holds his own, he’s eventually defeated and captured. That’s when a black-suited figure flies down, looking like some sort of evil mix of a Dark Trooper, Purge Trooper, and Mandalorian. It’s Moff Gideon, finally revealing himself to his rivals.
Gideon delivers a classic villainous monologue explaining how Mandalore will live on through him as he mines the planet to help create a new army of troopers, mixing the best of clones, Jedi, and Mandalorians. But, to do that, he needs to wipe out the Mandalorians entirely and launches his fleet to attack the one in space. Bo-Katan reveals herself and Gideon demands she return his Darksaber. Instead, she uses it to cut an escape route for her followers as Paz Vizsla covers them with his heavy machine gun. Everyone gets out and Bo calls for Paz, but he says there are too many troopers. “This is the way,” he says as he fights off the remaining troopers, saving his fellow Mandalorians. It actually seems like he’s going to survive too, until three Praetorian Guards arrive. These bad boys were a problem for even Rey and Kylo Ren, so they make quick work of Paz, who is left dead as the episode ends.
As the credits role on “The Spies,” we’re left with many, many thoughts. First of all is, who were “The Spies”? Did someone actually betray the Mandalorians and lead them to Gideon? If so, who? Could it be the Armorer who oh so conveniently left the planet? Axe Woves who fled so suddenly? Could the title be referring to the Shadow Council? Are other spies left to be revealed? We don’t know, but we do think it’s important to remember that somehow, Moff Gideon was broken out of New Republic custody and that whoever did it was wearing Mandalorian armor. Whoever it was, is probably the spy.
All that, plus the touching demise of Paz Vizsla, who leaves behind a child back on the fleet; the capture of the Mandalorian; the defensive capabilities of the fleet; and so much more are on the table as we head into next week’s finale. Things do not look good for our heroes. But, because of that, it makes for very very good Star Wars.
Stream “The Spies” on Disney+ right now.
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