This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 5: Chapter 21
Sometimes, you just want to see a good ol’ Star War. Episode 5 of The Mandalorian’s third season is meat-and-potatoes Star Wars goodness served up on a shiny platter, and man, that original recipe still hits. The skirmish for Nevarro delivers everything you’d want from a classic, good versus evil Star Wars battle, and the season’s larger story develops in tantalizing ways in the background, making this one of the best, most robust episodes of the series yet.
The fight over control of Nevarro between Gorian Shard and his pirates and Greef Karga and his people is simple to understand and pretty effective here, thanks to a rock-solid performance by Carl Weathers and some cursory backstory that makes the issue between the former associates feel at least a little personal. It would have been nice to see more of Shard (Nonso Anozie) on the show partly because of how damn cool his design is, but his fiery send-off is appropriately grand nonetheless.
Before diving into how well the battle itself works as a set piece, it’s worth recognizing how the stakes are established going into it. We know that Karga and his people are building a cleaner, safer, economically thriving community, and Shard threatens to halt all of their progress. The Mandalorians have their honor on the line as well, as Paz lays out so eloquently in his pre-battle hoo-rah speech, and they could very well build a new beginning for their people should they successfully defend the city. And there’s the lurking threat of Moff Gideon as well, whose influence seems to be tied to Nevarro in some way. The story is set up incredibly well, and again, the show is doing a tremendous job of building the narrative at a gradual pace, folding different elements in so that the story can evolve in a way that feels organic.
Seeing Captain Teva (a returning Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) become more involved in the show as a point-of-view character is…kind of interesting. He’s not exactly the most exciting character on the show, but seeing things from his perspective as he navigates the bureaucracy of the New Republic does make the universe feel a little richer and more fleshed out. And his tense interaction with Elia Kane does add to the looming threat of Gideon and the Empire. Tim Meadows as requisitions officer “Colonel Tuttle” is also a fun reference to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, a satire about a society run completely via bureaucracy.
But even Meadows’ enjoyable cameo is eclipsed by the return of Zeb Orrelios (Steve Blum also reprising his role) from the Rebels animated series! While the new CGI Zeb is only on screen for a minute or two, it’s enough to catch us up on what the Lasat freedom fighter has been up to since the end of the war. It looks like he’s an Adelphi Ranger now, even though he’s a bit skeptical about how the New Republic is operating these days. It remains to be seen if he’ll abandon his post to go on an adventure with Ahsoka and the rest of the Ghost crew in due time on the upcoming spinoff show.
Teva going to the Mandalorians’ secret cave to enlist their help is mostly a means to an end, but it is nice to see the little bit of camaraderie between Captain Teva and Din develop over time. There’s an understanding between them, a mutual dislike of the Empire. And Paz sticking up for Din while he’s petitioning the rest of the Mandos to lend Nevarro aid is a nice callback to when Din helped save his son last episode. All of these little character developments are really well thought-out, which makes the show super easy to get invested in.
One of the simple pleasures of Star Wars is listening to the heroes go over battle plans, and listening to Bo-Katan detail how the Mando army is going to ambush Shard’s fleet just hits the spot. From there, the ground and air combat commences, and it’s an absolute showstopper of a battle scene. Simply put, it’s a ridiculously nerdy chunk of television goodness that is more badass than it has any right to be.
There are just way too many standout moments to mention. There’s the Mando surfing on a Snubfighter going down in flames, Paz laying waste with his gatling blaster, the Armorer wrecking pirates with her hammer. Ooh! And then there’s Vane watching on helplessly as his crew gets obliterated by Din’s N1. “He’s above you! He’s below you!” Boom! Boom! BOOM!
This thing was just too much fun. And it was shot well, too, with the geography of the battlefield laid out clearly so that the action is easy to keep track of. And that shot where the camera is mounted on the Gauntlet as Bo-Katan lands the final blow on Shard’s Corsair? Absolutely jaw-dropping. It looks like the craziest Go-Pro footage ever shot. Director Peter Ramsey and the rest of the team really outdid themselves here.
It’s gratifying to see the Mandalorians have a full-circle moment on Nevarro, going from hiding in the city sewers to now becoming the saviors of its people. They’ve got a new home now, and the rest of the scattered Mandos look to be brought back into the fold in intriguing ways. Bo-Katan has now been tasked by the Armorer with uniting the displaced Mandalorian tribes so that they may walk the Way together and kick off the “next age.” And as we learned in the delightfully creepy epilogue, Gideon was evidently broken out of captivity by rogue Mandalorians, which adds a whole new wrinkle to the saga. Like all great serialized stories, The Mandalorian keeps enticing you to come back for more every week. And every week, the show continues to deliver the goods.