For a show that’s often been criticized as a slow burn, The Mandalorian has indisputably picked up the pace in its third season. Showrunner Jon Favreau–perhaps in response to those criticisms; perhaps not–seems to have evolved a bit in his storytelling, adapting it to move the overarching plot along more quickly while continuing to build the world of the New Republic. Chapter 21 of The Mandalorian, The Pirate, is perhaps the most impressive display of Favreau’s new approach as it continued to establish the failings of the fledgling New Republic while allowing the increasingly exciting story of the Mandalorian covert–and its future–to push ahead.
Now in the back half of the season, The Mandalorian is making good on some of the plot points left outstanding over the course of the first four episodes..and even the first two seasons. The bulk of the episode’s action takes place on Greef Karga’s new and improved Nevarro. That setting allows Favreau to highlight just how far the world of The Mandalorian has come over the course of three seasons while serving as a reminder that even though things seem on the upswing for these characters, there’s still a terrible evil out there that’s fated to take over. Karga’s renaissance as a man of morals who seeks to serve others in the service of himself illustrates just how fast and loose things are in the Outer Rim while also standing of a symbol of where the galaxy stands in the wake of the fall of the Empire: even though progress is being made, everything is still a work in progress.
As the rest of the galaxy attempts to make progress, no story is as progressive as the story of the Mandalorian culvert. From Paz Vizsla’s tense and passionate speech to the culvert’s return to Nevarro–this time as heroes–to the Armorer’s delayed acknowledgment of Bo-Katan’s experience in the Living Waters, the advancement of the Mandalorians and their place in the New Republic jumped through hyperspace in The Pirate. Since joining the Children of the Watch in Chapter 19, Bo-Katan’s place within the Tribe has been the source of constant speculation by fans, many of whom still don’t quite trust the former Nite Owl despite Katee Sackhoff‘s claims that the character is content falling in line behind someone else’s command. Though it’s not crystal clear in The Pirate, it does seem that while Bo-Katan will fill an incredibly important role in uniting the many tribes and clans of Mandalore at the behest of the Armorer, she’ll do so with the full support of Din Djarin.
However, just as things seem more promising than ever for the armored warriors of Mandalore as they forge a new path to the future…one in which they all look to put their old ways behind them…comes a reminder of their violent past. As much as the emergence of the Mythosaur moves the Armorer to begin the new age and reclaim Mandalore, the ghost of Gideon continues to haunt them. Though he’s yet to appear in Season 3, the architect of the Great Purge of Mandalore is out there and, it seems, there will be no true progress until his story comes to an end. In that regard, Favreau cleverly sows the seeds of the next arc of The Mandalorian into the closing moments of The Pirate. Was Gideon taken by a Mandalorian or were the Mandalorians set up? Given Gideon’s resourcefulness and vision, both seem equally possible and either spell trouble for the Mandalorians as look to reestablish themselves in the New Republic. It would be hard to find a better use of 43 minutes than what Favreau did with The Pirate.