Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 6 Review – Guns for Hire
Chapter 22 of The Mandalorian is an overly bloated exposition dump that leans too heavily on distracting cameos.
This Star Wars: The Mandalorian review contains spoilers.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 6: Chapter 22
All of the momentum generated by last week’s rousing fireworks show of an episode, “The Pirate,” is unfortunately lost this week. “Guns For Hire” is an awkward, oddly paced urban detective story whose handful of bright spots are marred by a middling plot that plays out like a video game side mission, stilted exposition, and two of what are possibly the most distracting pop culture cameos one could conjure up in 2023.
The episode opens with a Quarren freight ship that’s been hunted down by Axe Woves, Koska Reeves, and the rest of the Mando mercenaries that split from Bo-Katan prior to this season’s events. The scene is meant to establish that the maskless Mandalorians are morally and ethically blurring the lines in comparison to the Tribe, with Axe being blatantly presented as an antagonist despite the fact that, technically, he’s just doing his job. Nevertheless, the underlying message here is that these Mandalorians are wayward and need Bo-Katan to direct them back to the core tenets of Mandalore and the Creed.
The little moment between the Quarren Captain Shuggoth and the Mon Calamari Viceroy’s son mourning the tragic end of their forbidden affair is a bit of a strange one. Is the exchange supposed to be dramatic or comedic? The actors treat the dialogue with sincerity. Yet, the visual of the aquatic couple staring into each others’ slimy eyes and Shuggoth’s tendrils tenderly caressing her lover’s face come off as comedic. It’s hard to tell if it’s deliberately so. Whatever the desired effect, the exchange feels completely inessential and not particularly amusing.
From there we rejoin Din Djarin, Grogu, and Bo-Katan as they track down her old comrades to the independent Outer Rim world of Plazir-15. They’re greeted by a pair of jet-black Imperial droids whose image subverts the iconic dual silhouette of C-3PO and R2-D2, which is a fun, ominous detail. Plazir’s design is gorgeous, with its massive central dome, sleek tube shuttle, and colorful pops of neon adornments jumping off of the screen. The environments do look a little antiseptic due to their digital nature, though, especially when the actors are plonked in one of the Unreal Engine-powered, LED virtual sets that have been used so incessantly in Disney productions over the past few years. The lighting just never looks quite right…
But what serves as an even bigger distraction in this episode is the inexplicable involvement of Jack Black and Lizzo as Captain Bombardier and The Duchess, respectively. What the hell is this? The art team does all of this hard work to immerse the viewer in this shiny, detailed new world, and then that immersion and world-building is shattered because…hey, look! It’s Jack Black and Lizzo! Hearing Black say things like “Let’s address the bantha in the room” is as eye-roll-y as this show has ever been.
There’s nothing wrong with Black and Lizzo as actors, per se (Lizzo plays the role admirably straight, actually), but who the hell is buying these two as Star Wars characters? And what is that accent Black is trying to do? And oof, those names. The Dutchess and Captain Bombardier. Yuck. And it somehow gets even worse when we meet Commissioner Helgait, who to the surprise of no one, is behind the malfunctioning droids that act as the central mystery of the episode. The great Christopher Lloyd deserves better than this, though it was cool to hear the Count Dooku name drop.
On one hand, the CSI, street detective plot revolving around the hostile droids is kind of fun in that it’s unlike what we typically see on the show. But it’s just not presented in a compelling way, with herky-jerky pacing that gets mired in exposition. It’s really cool to see the callback to Kuiil with the Ugnaughts, and the scene at the droid bar that portrays droids as members of an oppressed social group is a fascinating bit of lore. What kills the flow of the episode, though, is that these little interrogations are woven together by a mystery that itself is a pretty bland and bloodless AI tale. The guy behind the droid insurgence’s name is Helgait, for crying out loud.
Bo-Katan’s duel with Axe in the final act features tight choreography that cleverly incorporates their destructive gadgetry. The real meat of the episode plays out here: Bo-Katan reclaims her role as leader of her people, and Din finds a way to pass along the Darksaber without them having to fight for it. The sad thing is, their duel would have made for some pretty great drama! Maybe there’s a chance we’ll see that matchup down the line anyway.
Oh yeah, and Grogu got knighted by Lizzo. But seriously, who cares? The lack of sustained focus on Grogu and Din is starting to become a problem in season 3. The duo is, hands down, the primary appeal of the show, and yet their relationship hasn’t been featured prominently almost at all this season. Moving the spotlight over to Bo-Katan has been worthwhile, and Katee Sackhoff is chewing up every single scene she’s in, but it seems like a lot of the time spent on the Plazir-15 mystery could have instead been devoted to Din and Grogu, to the show’s benefit. With hope, the show will re-focus on the duo in the coming episodes because some of these side quests are starting to detract from The Mandalorian‘s best qualities.