The Mandalorian: 2.03 Chapter 11: The Heiress
I've said before, how it often seems that a lot of episodes we get of The Mandalorian veer dangerously, if not fall outright, into filler material. This season's opening episode managed to redeem itself by being a hugely cinematic blast of fun. Last episode was blatant, albeit very funny and strangely tense, filler and I didn't have high hopes for The Heiress. With running times on the first two episodes this season having dropped from 54 minutes to 42 minutes respectively, and with this latest offering clocking in at just 35 minutes I'll admit I was getting worried. Flashbacks to last seasons 50% filler ratio weren't filling me with optimism.
How wrong I was. The Heiress manages to fit more story into its short running time than both the previous episodes combined. Add in the fact that we get some beautifully shot action, some laughs and some heartwarming scenes too, and we get one of the best episodes of The Mandalorian yet.
I particularly enjoy how the three opening episodes of this season continue on almost immediately from their predecessor. It really gives the feeling of this being one long cohesive tale. The Heiress opens with Mando, The Child and Frog Lady all fast asleep in the cockpit of the Razorcrest as they limp through space desperately trying to reach their destination without running into any further trouble. It turns out that reaching their destination won't be the issue, landing in one piece however is another matter entirely. After a spectacular crash landing, and a touching frog family reunion, Mando is soon back on the task of tracking down his people.
Pointed in the direction to go, Mando and The Child soon find themselves out at sea and at the mercy of some pirates. Just as things look dire for our heroes three more Mandalorians come swooping in to help out and the episode doesn't look back from there. An action packed raid on an Imperial Remnant cruiser forms the backbone to the remainder of the episode, with a lot of information and upcoming story elements thrown in for good measure.
A lot of people, myself included, stated that last season's Kurosawa inspired episode from director Bryce Dallas Howard was certainly one of the weaker efforts. Well I am happy to say that she has absolutely knocked it out of the park on The Heiress. Coupled with Jon Favreau's densely packed script, Howard gives us and episode full of world-building, fun action scenes and character development. From the exciting crash-landing to the jetpack led raid on the Imperials, there is always something interesting happening onscreen. The waterfront town our heroes arrive in is particularly well realised with Mon-Cal and Quarren going about their business, two species instantly familiar to Star Wars fans.
The thing that will get fans the most excited is the live-action introduction of Bo-Katan Kryze, the heiress of the episode title who has appeared previously in both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated series. Reprising the role she played in the cartoons, genre stalwart Katee Sackhoff, of Battlestar Galactica fame, is a welcome addition to the cast of The Mandalorian and a good foil for Pedro Pascal to play off. I believe the show works best when Mando is part of a team, as this helps give the audience someone to relate to considering Pascal is hampered by always having to wear a helmet. It seems however that this may be something that is soon going to change.
It seems that Mando may have been misled in his belief that Mandalorians never remove their helmets in public. Bo-Katan and her comrades are only too happy to show their faces immediately upon meeting Mando and The Child. Seeing his shock, Bo-Katan realises Din has been raised as a Child of the Watch, a sect of Mandalorians she describes as religious zealots. Apparently, only they insist on never removing their helmets. I suspect that in time this knowledge will lead Din to casting off his old beliefs and thus allow Pedro Pascal to be seen a lot more, something I think will help humanise Mando and allow for much more character development.
As well as the exciting action sequences as the Mandalorians attempt to seize the Imperial ship, there is also a lot of comedy to be had in this episode, a lot of it at the expense of Baby Yoda. It seems that after his attempts last time out to try and single handedly eat all of Frog Lady's potential kids, it was now payback time. Firstly a squid in his own dinner attaches itself to his face, leading to Mando quipping "Don't play with your food", then he is actually swallowed whole by a massive sea monster. Karma, as they say, is a bitch. Also brilliantly funny was Mando landing the Razorcrest, congratulating himself on a job well done and then a beat later the whole ship falls into the ocean. Also hilarious is the Mon Cal mechanic who does such a shoddy job repairing it, the final scenes showing the cockpit literally being held together with bits of string, and pieces falling off as they jump to lightspeed. The Razorcrest is certainly giving the Millenium Falcon a run for its money as the galaxys new "piece of junk".
The Heiress also earns bonus points for bringing back the villainous Moff Gideon, even if it is in hologram form. His interactions with the Imperial Captain, chillingly played by Lost's 'man in black' Titus Welliver, demonstrate how fanatical and dangerous the remains of the Empire still are. Gideon of course is also the current owner of the Darksaber, a weapon once belonging to a certain Bo-Katan who is hellbent on retrieving the Mandalorian relic. Lots of story elements are being put into place, all of which potentially lead us to some very exciting times ahead.
Not least was the casual namedropping from Bo-Katan of the Jedi she knows, passing her location onto Din so he can seek her out for help in reuniting The Child with his people. If the name of Ahsoka Tano didn't make you grin like a little kid, then I'd suggest you have some reading up to do by next week's episode.