I saw it coming. You saw it coming. We all saw it coming. Everyone saw it coming except for Bo-Katan, Din Djarin and the dozen or so other Mandos who walked right into Moff Gideon’s trap. Things were going far too well for the Mandalorians in their quest to reclaim Mandalore and in a galaxy where peace is not an acceptable status quo, things were bound to take a turn for the worse. After several episodes established Din, Bo-Katan and Grogu as a functional unit at the center of the Mandalorian Renaissance, Chapter 23, The Spies, saw it all taken away from them at the hands of Gideon, calling into question if Mandalore might not just be cursed after all.
While Gideon’s return was already advertised, the live-action debut of the Shadow Council–a group of Imperial loyalists working behind the scenes to ensure the return to power of the Empire–serves as an interesting parallel to the work being done by the Mandalorians. Just as Bo-Katan, Din Djarin and the Armorer seek to round up and reunite Mandalorians from across the galaxy, Gideon seeks to amass the resources of the Imperial remnants from across the galaxy to stop them. Having Gideon launch his plan–and his trap–from the depths of Mandalore, indeed from the heart of their once great civilization, just adds another notch on the belt of this wonderful bastard.
The fallout from the events of this episode promises to be nothing short of transformational for the next arc of the series. Bo-Katan–whose desire to lead again had to be stirred extrinsically–has now led her newly formed army into a trap that cost her the life of Paz Vizsla and steadying influence of Din Djarin. How those losses will impact her next move and how an increasingly independent Grogu will respond to the capture of his father are major questions that will define not only Chapter 24, the Season 3 finale, but also next season and, ultimately, the Mandalorian-centric film set to be directed by Dave Filoni.
While the finale of the episode feels like the beginning of a slow march to the creation of the First Order, their canonical birth is still 5 or so years away and, so far as we know, Gideon is not a part of their sequel trilogy story. So, as parallel as their paths may seem at the moment, Bo-Katan and Gideon are certain to come together again. Will that be the time that Bo-Katan’s song is finally written? As Din Djarin said, Bo-Katan is defined by honor, loyalty and character–all things Gideon knows nothing about. While their goals may seem superficially similar, Bo-Katan’s quest to reclaim Mandalore is done selflessly for the good of her people while Gideon looks to amass the resources of the Empire for his own selfish ends. While the Shadow Council was swayed to play along for now, it’s safe to say that while Thrawn may see value in eliminating the Mandalorians, Gideon won’t find him so easy to manipulate. As things move towards their inevitable end and Bo-Katan and Gideon are positioned against one another, this episode will be noteworthy for its subtle conveyance of the idea that while Gideon seems to have the upper hand, he rules from a throne of fear and manipulation while Bo-Katan has grown from her mistakes and seeks not to lead but is called to it. Short of the Darksaber, which has slowly lost its meaning, Gideon now has everything Bo-Katan, Grogu and The Mandalorians desire. Has that put him in a good place or a very bad place? Place your bets and let’s see what surprises are in store for the season finale!