Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7 Review – The Spies

The Mandalorian Chapter 23 is quite simply the best episode of season 3 and one of the best of the entire series.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7 Review
Photo: Lucasfilm

This Star Wars: The Mandalorian review contains spoilers.

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7: Chapter 23

The Mandalorian has really outdone itself with season 3’s penultimate episode, “The Spies.” It’s hands-down one of the best, most thrilling episodes in the Star Wars series thus far, with kickass action, poignant character moments, and a high-stakes energy that permeates from beginning to end.

The episode opens with Elia Kane checking in with Moff Gideon in a Coruscant alleyway via an Imperial Probe Droid (a pleasant pop of nostalgia), in a short scene that will probably go forgotten by many but deserves a shoutout for its gritty Blade Runner vibes. Then, we get the Shadow Council scene, which is worth the price of admission alone.

For goodness sake, this scene is jam-packed with so much drool-inducing setup for the future of the Mandoverse it’s ridiculous. Captain Pellaeon (a big Legends blast from the past!!!) confirms that Grand Admiral Thrawn’s return is imminent, which we already know thanks to the Ahsoka trailer that dropped at Star Wars Celebration over the weekend. He’s one of the most cerebral, layered villains in the entire Star Wars franchise, and it’s nice to see this show continue to set the stage for his return in Ahsoka (played by Lars Mikkelsen), where he’ll most likely be established as the central villain for the entire Mandoverse. The anticipation for the live-action debut of the “Heir to the Empire” is ramping up nicely.

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Beyond that, the scene also features Brendol Hux, a nice little tie-in to the Sequel Trilogy. He’s even played by Brian Gleeson, General Hux actor Domhnall Gleeson’s brother! And that’s not even the biggest tie-in to those films. We’re of course taking about “Project Necromancer,” which hints at the Imperial experiments to revive Emperor Palpatine. It seems clear now how The Mandalorian will be bridging the gap between these trilogies.

All that aside, the most pertinent information revealed in the clandestine meeting with regards to this show is that the Empire is laying low under the guise of scattered, “unorganized remnant warlords,” and that Gideon convinces his cohorts to grant him a grip of resources, namely Praetorian Guards (another nice tether to the Sequels) to stop the Mandalorians from retaking their home world. Gideon’s imposing intellect and influence are on full display here, and Giancarlo Esposito proves once again that he’s a master at playing the most terrifying villain in the room. It’s great to finally have him back on the show.

The episode then shifts focus to the Nite Owls and Children of the Watch as they have an uncomfortable standoff on Nevarro. The Light Cruiser with the Mandalorian signet scrawled on its belly hanging ominously over the city is majestic, and it’s simple but evocative imagery like this that has remained one of the most powerful cinematic staples of Star Wars since the opening shot of A New Hope. And the foreboding tribal drums are a slick indicator of the tension between the two tribes.

The opposing ideals of the two Mando tribes aren’t addressed directly here. The friction is conveyed loud and clear, but they never really get into it verbally, which is actually perfect for the purposes of the episode. No need to get stuck in the philosophical weeds—there are more pressing issues at hand, namely the scouting mission on Mandalore.

Before departing, Din and Grogu visit Greef Karga (Carl Weathers’ delivery is so pleasantly avuncular you can’t help but love him), who gives them the Anzellan-modded IG-12. The tease of IG-11’s return early in the season was tantalizing, and this not-really resurrection is perhaps not what most fans wanted or expected. But maybe it’s better to preserve the permanence of his sacrifice back in season 1.

Despite the insane amount of action and plot developments packed into the episode, Grogu and Din are actually featured relatively prominently here, which is always in the show’s best interest. The gag of the “yes” and “no” buttons is pure gold, and involving Grogu in battle scenes always heightens the stakes and sense of urgency.

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When the heroes arrive on Mandalore in the drop ship, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it POV shot of Paz looking past his feet to the ground thousands of feet below that is so convincing it makes your stomach drop. The show’s artists and cinematographers always do a great job of contrasting visual effects-heavy, wide imagery with intimate shots like this to help sell the scale of it all, and the effect is put to powerful use here.

The group finding the Nite Owl survivors and Bo-Katan revealing to them that she surrendered to Gideon prior to the Purge is a poignant character moment that gives her even more layers of depth. Din pledging to serve her as the tribes’ leader is a nice way of making her a bonafide co-protagonist, and it’s useful to put her in this position because it gives us another hero to root for while preserving Din’s mystique.

The bro fight between Paz and Axe Woves on the ship is only mildly amusing, but Grogu’s intervention is a nice way to involve him in the goings-on. With IG-12, he can now better help in battle, but more intriguingly, he has a new way to exert his empathy, which Din admits to Bo-Katan is completely innate. Or at the very least, it comes from Grogu’s time with the Jedi.

The showdown between the Mandalorians and the Beskar-armored Dark Troopers in the Great Forge is a worthy main event for what has so far been an excellent episode of television. From the violent crossfire in the TIE hangar to the phenomenal corridor shootout, every bit of this is over-the-top, epic action at its finest. 

Gideon snarling as he says “Mandalore will live on in me” is a gloriously despicable low-blow of a line, and Esposito delivers it like only he can. Gideon’s got the Mandalorians firmly under his boot now, and there’s some white-hot heat between him and Bo-Katan that’s definitely going to blow up sooner rather than later. Everyone’s in serious peril, including a captured Din, which is obviously a great way to head into a season finale. 

As if the episode wasn’t insane enough, it ends with Paz Vizsla’s last stand, which is appropriately brutal and poetic. He followed The Way until the very end, and he had the honor of going out in battle on hallowed Mandalorian ground. He took out a damn army of souped-up Imperial Jumptroopers all by himself, and died valiantly taking on three Praetorian Guards. A memorable end for a badass Mandalorian. What an amazing closer to a nearly perfect episode. This finale is going to be one hell of a ride.

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5 out of 5