EPISODE: “Chapter 11: The Heiress” – Written by Jon Favreau and directed by Bryce Dallas Howard (JURASSIC WORLD)
SYNOPSIS: The Mandalorian braves high seas and meets unexpected allies.
REVIEW (WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THIS EPISODE): Prior to this episode, The Mandalorian’s connections to existing STAR WARS canon has been delivered via easter eggs and smaller references. Now, with “The Heiress”, we have Jon Favreau pulling his series directly into the narrative of The Clone Wars animated series. Picking up directly where “The Passenger” left off, The Mandalorian, The Child, and Frog Lady make a very rocky landing on the aquatic planet of Trask. After leaving the Razor Crest with a Mon Calamari mechanic, the Frog Lady is quickly reunited with her husband. As The Child eyes her eggs, Mando takes him to get some food at a local cantina. There, they enquire about more Mandalorians. The barkeep puts Mando in contact with a Quarren fisherman.
Promising to take them to other Mandalorians, the Quarren boards his ship and they head out to see. In the middle of the ocean, the Quarren captain asks if The Child wants to see their Mamacore. Opening the main hatch reveals a sarlacc-like creature. The captain knocks The Child in and he is quickly swallowed. When Mando dives after, they lock them in and vow to take the Beskar armor. With Mando struggling, three Mandalorians descend and take out the Quarren. They rescue Mando and retrieve The Child. As Din Djarin thanks them, they remove their helmets and reveal their faces. They are Axe Wolves (Simon Kassianides), Koska Reeves (WWE superstar Sasha Banks), and Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff). If you didn’t know, Bo-Katan was a significant character on The Clone Wars and Rebels where she was voiced by Sackhoff.
Mando is shocked to see them remove their helmets and they quickly realize he is a member of The Watch, an extremist group trying to return Mandalore to the ancient ways. Mando doesn’t want to hear this and believes Bo-Katan is lying and flies away to safety. Back at the port, Mando is once again surrounded by Quarren vowing revenge. The trio of Mandalorians arrive and take out the aliens and implore Din to help them. Bo-Katan explains her duty to retrieve stolen Mandalorian weapons being loaded onto Imperial ships so that she can reclaim the throne of Mandalore. She offers to direct Mando to a Jedi in exchange for his help. Mando leaves The Child with Frog Lady and heads on his quest.
Boarding the vessel, the Mandalorians quickly encounter Imperial forces. Stormtroopers and officers pin them down and a heavy gunfight ensues. In the cockpit, the lead Officer (Titus Welliver) instructs his pilots to take off immediately so they can enter hyperspace. The Mandalorians make their way through the ship, taking out dozens of stormtroopers before making their way to the cargo hold. Full of weapons, they tell Mando that they aren’t just looting but taking the entire ship. In the cockpit, the officer receives a message from Moff Gideon instructing him not to let the Mandalorians take another ship. Clearly, Gideon and Bo-Katan have a history. The officer shoots the pilots after saying “Long Live the Empire” and plunges them towards the water below. The Mandalorians make their way to the bridge and, thanks to Mando using some thermal detonators, get into the bridge. While Mando and Koska take the controls, Bo-Katan holds the officer at knifepoint and demands to be taken to Moff Gideon and the Darksaber. Rather than comply, the officer kills himself with a poison pill.
Bo-Katan thanks Mando for his help and leaves the offer open to join them. Mando still remains on his quest and Bo-Katan keeps up her end of the bargain. She reveals that there is a Jedi on the moon Corvus who can help The Child. Her name is Ahsoka Tano. That’s right, next week we finally get to see Anakin Skywalker’s padawan in live-action! Will she be played by Rosario Dawson as rumored? We will find out in just one week. In the meantime, Bo-Katan leaves the offer open for Din Djarin to join them in the future as they head off to find the Darksaber. At the same time, Mando picks the child up from Frog Lady whose babies are hatching. They return to the Razor Crest which looks just as damaged as before. Aboard the seaweed-covered ship, we see them roughly take off before heading to Corvus and one of the last Jedi.
STAR WARS UNIVERSE REFERENCES: There were a lot this chapter. First, the planet of Trask is populated by familiar aquatic species like the Quarren from REVENGE OFTHE SITH and Mon Calamari, Admiral Ackbar’s species. The crane that pulls the Razor Crest out of the water is an old AT-AT. The three Mandalorians we meet continue the mythology of their race from Clone Wars as they are led by Bo Katan, played by Katee Sackhoff who reprises her voice role from the animated series. The Imperial Officer and Moff Gideon say “Long Live the Empire”, a familiar pledge.
COOLEST SCENE: The fight aboard the Imperial ship reminded me a great deal of classic STAR WARS sequences from the films, but seeing the Mandalorians come to the rescue was a highlight and topped similar scenes from the first season.
FINAL VERDICT: The Mandalorian is still in a mode of presenting episodes using the formula of “I Can Help You On Your Quest, But First…” approach to storytelling, which is going to get old quickly. But, for the first time this season, we have some plot that advances the overall narrative of the series. The connection to the animated series lore did not feel forced and seeing a fan-favorite character in the flesh proves that the small screen can be just as epic as the big screen. Sackhoff played her role well and the special effects continue to impress. Bryce Dallas Howard managed to deliver the second shortest episode of The Mandalorian while making it feel as epic as any we have seen so far. The tease about the Darksaber and finally getting to meet Ahsoka Tano next week elevate this episode quite a bit. It is also interesting that revealing these Mandalorian can remove their helmets opens up storytelling for Pedro Pascal to get his face on screen.
“The Heiress” is another sidequest episode but one that balances cute shots of The Child, impressive practical and CGI effects, and delivers connections to the animated and live-action STAR WARS that came before it. Easily the best episode of season two so far. (9/10)
NEXT ON THE MANDALORIAN: Chapter 12 premieres Friday, November 20th at 3am EST on Disney+.