November 24, 2020

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Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan in The Mandalorian

Katee Sackhoff stuns in fantastic The Mandalorian Chapter 11

After two so-so episodes I was hesitant to start watching The Mandalorian Chapter 11: The Heiress. Last week’s storyline was frankly a bore and the first 10 minutes of this episode reminded me a lot of that episode. In “The Heiress” we see Mando and Baby-Yoda continue their quest for other Mandalorians after reuniting Frog Lady and her husband. True to their word Mando is shown to inn whose owner provides a tip. For the viewer this all seems too convenient, not in the least because Mando has been fooled. Mando and Baby-Yoda are jumped while travelling onboard a fishing boat. The occupants intend to strip Mando of his armor once they have killed him. I as the viewer then start to wonder why Mando is dressed so conspicuously with his Beskar steel on display. The situation is solved Deus Ex Machina by the arrival of three Mandalorians.

Landing on Trask

Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan in The Mandalorian?

The dubious timing can be explained by the fact the ship had just left port and Mando was spotted by a mysterious woman clad in black robes. After the friendly introductions Mando and the viewer are put on alert when the three remove their helmets. For a moment the viewer, as well as Mando, wonder if he is being jumped by more fake Mandalorians like in Chapter 9. However, their stance and apparent devotion to each other indicate they are not wannabe’s. Yet, that is not the biggest surprise. The three are being led by none other than Bo-Katan Kryze, with the surprise being that she is played by Katee Sackhoff. Readers of this blog will know I have a crush on her. I of course knew she would be reprising the role she originally voiced in the Clone Wars animated series. I assumed we would see her later.

Frog man leads Mando

And so, begins the remaining two-thirds of the episode, which does its level best to undermine all of my expectations. Bo-Katan explains to Mando (Pedro Pascal) that most Mandalorians do indeed remove their helmets. Only those belonging to a sect called the Child of the Watch do not. And so, a little continuity problem is retconned into Star Wars. For Mando it is all too much and he flies back to port with Baby-Yoda. There is he ambushed by relations of the pirates that just tried to kill him. Once again, he is saved by Bo-Katan and her companions. This time Mando takes the hint and decides to have a drink with them. For the viewer this signals season 2 is finally switching into higher gear. Unexpectedly Mando has found Mandalorians, and now he has a chance of finishing his quest – bringing Baby-Yoda to the Jedi.

Titus Welliver as imperial commander in The Mandalorian (2)

Saving Mandalor or the Jedi

The conversation at the inn is tense. Bo-Katan explains she and her companions are on Trask to steal weapons for the liberation of Mandalor. Mando counters the planet is cursed. He tells them of Baby-Yoda and his quest. Bo-Katan asks him what he know of the Jedi. The question feels to the uninitiated as an attempt to hoodwink Mando. Most Jedi are, only Luke is openly identifying himself as such and not many in the Galaxy may know who he is. I was expecting Bo-Katan to say to Mando that all the Jedi are dead. But against my expectations she states she will help him find one. I assumed this would be Luke, but the end of the episode puts a twist on that. In return for helping Mando Bo-Katan asks for his help in stealing Imperial weapons from a armed cargo ship.

Mando saved by three Mandalorians

And so, the episode’s story turns into a heist. As we have seen from season 1 The Mandalorian is not above setting certain conditions. The cargo ship has to for a few minutes fly low over the waters of Trask before it can ascend. This leaves the for off of them with enough time to jetpack onto the ship. At this moment nobody is even bothering to deny that stormtroopers can shoot straight. And several fall to their deaths with Wilhelm-screams included. Onboard the ship we discover that the commanding officer is played by none other than Titus Welliver whom I have admired as detective Harry Bosch for several years. Slowly it starts to adorn to the viewer this is going to be a spectacular episode. Quickly the Mandalorians manage to eliminate most of the crew. Knowing that the game is up the commander signals for help.

Bo-Katan saving Mando again

Ooh yes Darksaber baby!

Help comes in the form of a hologram of that of Moff Gideon played by the brilliant Giancarlo Esposito. Now things are starting to make sense. Several times Bo-Katan mentions she is searching for something besides the weapons. That thing could only be the legendary Darksaber wielded by the first Mandalorian inducted into the Jedi Order. Whoever has it will probably have enough standing to unite all of the Mandalorian clans. In the Clone Wars animated series, the last owner was Bo-Katan. That was before last year’s season finale of The Mandalorian confirmed Moff Gideon possesses it. So, this is the part where the plot thickens, using a quote from Die Hard with a Vengeance. Now I think we can see a glimpse of where the story might go if Mando ever fulfills his quest. Or this part of the story will act as the tie-in to the rumored spinoff.

Titus Welliver as imperial commander in The Mandalorian (1)

Anyway, Moff Gideon makes it clear he cannot help Titus Welliver. His role will be just that off a cameo appearance. The commander kills his remaining crew members (now we know why they looked so nervously) and decides to crash the ship into the waters of Trask. Bo-Katan and Mando have a brief standoff when he mentions he has done more than he bargained for. Instead of abandoning the ship Mando helps them reach the ships cockpit. At one moment he even uses himself as a human shield to assault a group of stormtroopers. They manage to level out the ship just in time, but the commander decides to commit suicide, no doubt out of fear of Moff Gideon. Bo-Katan honors her part of the bargain. She tells him to travel to the city of Calodan on the forest planet of Corvus in search of the Jedi Ahsoka Tano.

The Mandalorian Bo-Katan this is the way Katee Sackhoff

Saving The Mandalorian season 2

And with that the second season of The Mandalorian has been saved. The previous two episodes had their part in the story. They put Mando on his long quest and they made it clear the viewer not to expect shootouts with Moff Gideon every other episode. Yet I am glad the first part of the quest has been completed. The secondary storyline involving Bo-Katan and the Darksaber will no doubt also lead back to Cara Dune and Greef Karga. For now, I am delighted that The Mandalorian and Star Wars has managed to grow beyond the Sequel Trilogy into a new direction. And it does so with leftover story elements from The Clone Wars. Who would have thought? I am also glad Frog Lady story was concluded, it felt little bit too TNG for Star Wars.

Mando's ship wrecked

As for Katee Sackhoff, she is every bit the Bo-Katan I had hoped. Lean and muscular she embodies the warrior spirit perfectly. For Katee playing this role might end up being more important than Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica. The episode was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard who I think did a fantastic job. The humor, action and storyline were top notch yet the story from the first two episodes flowed naturally into Chapter 11 The Heiress. The moments when viewer expectations were subverted made this episode especially memorable. I think loyal viewer of The Clone Wars will especially appreciate the chance to know how the story of Bo-Katan and Ahsoka Tano continues. I was never more than a casual viewer of that show, but I did enjoy its final season. With Dave Filoni attached to The Mandalorian I should have known those loose ends would be addressed.