This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.
The Mandalorian may have unleashed its most Star Wars-y story ever with “The Spies,” an episode that features Mandos vs. Imperial stormtroopers with jetpacks, several references to Legends canon, and yet another tease for Grand Admiral Thrawn. It also features the single best Grogu gag of the entire season with the arrival of IG-12 and his “yes” and “no” buttons. The episode is everything you could possibly want from a Star Wars adventure and then some. Plus, some very serious stakes are introduced ahead of the finale.
All the way through, we’re also treated to plenty of easter eggs, references, and callbacks to the wider Star Wars galaxy. Here are the ones that caught our attention…
Captain Gilad Pellaeon (Xander Berkeley)
With the Mandoverse reintroducing tons of Legends lore from Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire to the official canon, we always knew it was only a matter of time before we met Captain Gilad Pellaeon in live action. Introduced in that classic 1991 Star Wars novel, Pellaeon is Grand Admiral Thrawn’s right-hand man for much of the original Thrawn trilogy. Later on down that now non-canon timeline, Pellaeon would actually rise the ranks to become the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Remnant, effectively acting as the faction’s leader, and eventually forging a fragile peace with the New Republic during the Yuuzhan Vong crisis.
Commandant Hux (Brian Gleeson)
Yes, you assume correctly, Sequel Trilogy fans. Commandant Brendol Hux, a member of the Imperial Shadow Council and head of one of the most advanced Imperial training facilities, is General Hux’s father. Commandant Hux trained some of the most elite Imperial units during the height of the Empire as well as in the years after the Battle of Endor, as we saw in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath books and Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson. In fact, it’s after one last decisive defeat at the hands of the New Republic that Hux journeys with what’s left of the Empire to the Unknown Regions, where they’ll reorganize as the First Order. Technically, if we’re going by what was established in Aftermath: Empire’s End, that latter bit is supposed to have already happened by the time we catch up with Hux here, so it’s unclear what his status is in connection to Thrawn’s plan.
On The Mandalorian, he’s brought to life by Brian Gleeson, General Hux actor Domhnall Gleeson’s brother, and you can sort of see the resemblance. You can read more about the Commandant here.
Charles Baker, aka Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad!
Breaking Bad fans are freaking out about Charles Baker’s surprise role on The Mandalorian. Better known as Jesse Pinkman’s scumbag henchman Skinny Pete, Baker plays a Mandalorian who’s been surviving in the wastelands of Mandalore ever since the Great Purge. Credited only as “Survivor Scout,” Baker’s character is fiercely loyal to Bo-Katan and the Nite Owls.
Shadow Council and Grand Admiral Thrawn
“The Spies” introduces us to the Shadow Council, the governing body that rules over what’s left of the Empire. It’s made up of other Imperial warlords like Moff Gideon, all of which are scrounging for resources and trying to keep a hold of what territories they have left. While all of these warlords seem to have their ambitious agendas for the future of the Empire, it seems likely they’ll fall in line once Grand Admiral Thrawn reemerges in Ahsoka. Pellaeon signals during the meeting that the time for Thrawn’s return is very near.
The Shadow Council was first introduced in the Aftermath books, scheming to take back power from the New Republic but failing miserably. The secret group was thought to have been dismantled after the Empire’s defeat at the Battle of Jakku (yeah, that’s what that ship graveyard in The Force Awakens is all about), but somehow, the Shadow Council returned.
We learn the Empire is working on a “Project Necromancer,” clearly referring to the cloning plot that runs through all three seasons of the show. At the start of the episode, we even watch Moff Gideon walking past some tanks that seem to be connected to the strand-cast experiments Dr. Pershing was running on Nevarro in season 2. While it’s not confirmed this episode, we have a pretty good idea “Project Necromancer” is a codename for the experiments the Empire is conducting to revive Emperor Palpatine in a new clone body (although an imperfect one). Eventually, the First Order and the Sith Eternal will succeed in this mission just in time for The Rise of Skywalker.
“Necromancer” is a very suitable name for the project as well since necromancy is the practice of summoning or resurrecting the dead in tons of genre fiction and video game RPGs. Very nice touch.
The red-armored Praetorian Guards from The Last Jedi make their chronological live-action debut in “The Spies,” here under the command of Moff Gideon and the Shadow Council. Unlike most of the units of the Empire, these warriors are highly skilled in melee combat, as poor Paz Vizsla learns at the end of the episode. They’re absolutely deadly with those energy staffs. These guards and the future First Order Elite Praetorian Guards all descend from the Emperor’s Royal Guards from Return of the Jedi, who also wore red armor and robes and preferred melee weapons.
Here we have the confirmation: the Children of the Watch, the Mandalorian extremist group of religious zealots that Din belongs to, descend from Death Watch, the terrorist group that opposed Bo-Katan’s pacifist sister, Duchess Satine, during the Clone Wars. Bo-Katan was once a part of Death Watch too during the civil war that broke out on Mandalore’s surface. Unlike her sister, Bo-Katan believed Mandalorians needed to preserve their warrior culture.
On The Clone Wars, Maul manipulated Death Watch in order to take Mandalore for himself, killing Satine in the process. It’s the betrayal that made Bo-Katan break away from Death Watch. As we learn from the Armorer, Death Watch eventually broke off into splinter groups, all vying for control of this sub-section of Mandalorians.
Imperial Jumptroopers/Super Commandos/Dark Troopers
This week, we’re introduced to what looks like Imperial Jumptroopers in live action. Obviously, they’re stormtroopers skilled in the use of jetpacks and wearing beskar armor, just like the Mandalorians that Moff Gideon aims to supplant on Mandalore. They seem to be the next evolution of Gideon’s Dark Trooper project and also recall the Imperial Super Commandos — Mandalorian warriors loyal to the Empire — who showed up on the Rebels animated series.
Gideon’s New Beskar Dark Trooper Mandalorian Armor
Gideon’s new armor is the most overkill piece of Imperial gear that’s ever been introduced in live action Star Wars. He’s wearing Dark Trooper armor reinforced with nearly impervious beskar metal, complete with a Mandalorian-style helmet adorned with horns, which calls back to the Mandalorian Super Commandos who served Maul during the Clone Wars. It’s a lot.
Elia Kane’s Blade Runner Vibes
Finally, a shoutout to the way Elia Kane’s scene in this episode gives off clear Blade Runner vibes, as she walks through the neon-drenched streets of Coruscant and into a dark alleyway for her secret meeting with Gideon via probe droid. It’s very neo-noir.