The Mandalorian - Chapter Nineteen - The Convert

ctg

weaver of the unseen
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On Coruscant, former Imperials find amnesty in the New Republic.
IMDB score: 7.7 Runtime: 40 minutes
 
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Oh man, what is going on? Firstly, the episode was hyped to be the longest in the Mando history, and it is if you include intro and credits. Second, there's no title, but that is not the first time when someone in Mickey Mouse House has cocked things up. Who? We don't know, but it is equally intriguing that the episode has 7 score instead achieving a higher one, which makes me vary on the content.

Watching through the concept art first, the episode is heavily located in the Coruscant, with also heavy feeling of imperialism still going in the galactic capital, as if nothing has changed. I also noticed a new director and Jon sharing writing credits. Is that the reason?

Let's see...
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I feel you Din, I do. Going to a swim and sinking 30+ meters at the bottom of a cave reservoir would zap anyone energy. We don't know if Groku brought him back, but just like he was with the beasties (Boba's baby rancor as an example), but as a Force user he could have just done it.

Thing is Din had no recollection from encounter the Mythosaurus, but Bo-Katan was clearly affected by her sighting. She acted as if she was a newborn believer, instead of being agnostic about their origins and whether they ever did ride those beasts in the battle. And because of her stoic silence, nothing really changed, even though things could be different then Mando accepting queenies date offer as she said, "I'd invite to a feast, but I'm guessing that helmet isn't coming off!"

"This is the Way," Din replied, because we men are so stupid sometimes that we don't see the subtle hints even if they're shoved in our faces. This is the Way.

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Before she could even think a new way to lure him, they were intercepted by a squadron TIE Interceptors. When asked Mando suggested that they were made about the hijack op, Bo replied, that she'd "scugged off a lot of Imperial warlords."

How many there are left after the New Republic took over? It can't be too many but it's intriguing that they're raiding the Mandalorian system without getting intercepted by one of their patrols from Concordia. The note here is that Concordia being the *Watch world and active so after the Purge.

I loved that Din made a hot drop to get to NG-1 in the middle of the chase. He could have become an accident number, but it also shows how big balls he's carrying to do the drop despite the danger.

Why the castle defences didn't respond to aerial threat? I don't know. And the reason for it cannot be the danger element, as Star Wars is littered with scenes of active firefights, where the counterfire just sprays in all directions.

NG-1 in play, Mando achieved 5th documented combat victory, while Bo gave the Imperial a run around Kalevala's absolutely gorgeous scenery. Sixth came from intercepting the chase, and seventh with Bo's move, before she committed her own kill.

Coming back, they witnessed Tie Bomber demolishing the castle. It was winding Bo so much that she wasn't going to give them the bombing run without a punishment. Except it was a classical lure as they were backed up by 3 squadrons of classical TIE fighters. 16 + 2 bombers vs 2 isn't a fight you want to end up, because the odds are against you. Even though there is historical evidence from WW2 and Israel-Egypt conflicts, not talking about the current one.

I personally believe that Din and Bo are both excellent pilots, and they could have taken the odds and possibly come up with a win. The question however was where did they come from?

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Dr Pershing giving a speech in the same place, where the Emperor twisted Anakin with his tales of immortality. He were telling that the new chance that the New Republic's Amnesty Program for the Imperial had done him good, and made him a new man. Even though he wanted to dissect our beloved yodaling. And yet he couldn't go on but babble about the Kenosian's Cloning Program that he'd been trying to reverse engineer.

The intriguing thing is that a lot of species were intrigued by his transhumanist talk. I guess a lot of them would want to erase the bad in the DNA and become better versions without knowing everything that is involved in it. In one hand it's a dream, but pondering the evidence we've seen it's more likely another way to achieve the First Order cloning business as a success.

Maybe more intriguing detail was that the Amnesty Housing were located on the surface rather than in one of the sublayers. "It is not the way of how the Empire would have handled it," as they said.

Lying straight to his face, Gideon's bridge officer didn't waste anytime on locating and delivering Imperium's favourite travel biscuits to the doc. His deskjob in the office looked pretty much same as where the Deputy Inspector ended in Andor. Mundane and mindnumbing, with occasional watercooler talk.

In a date on a fairly full monument plaza, doc wasted no time on telling the Imperial Bridge Officer that he missed his old work, as if the potential were going to be wasted because the New Republic had ethical standards. But he wasn't willing to break bad and follow the officers' suggestion on going AWOL.

The New Republic interrogator droid were too restricted to understand that every time it did an interview, the doc was getting more resentful and wanted to go back to good old days. Maybe some people just born evil, but maybe the case for him is that the classical smart people do stupid things.

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IG models as train conductor. I get it because I've bummed my way in the public transport, but I don't think doc is a real runner. You just better have one when IG comes to asks for it. Didn't take long before the IG conductor had forced to the end and then they had no choice but to jump.

Rabbit does what rabbit can, and doc was no different. He actually enjoyed the thrill and being amongst the Imperial Junk. All that he needed at his disposal. And Officer Kane were more than happy on delivering them to him.

The twist was that she even faked a run from the chasers to erase doctor's mind.

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Paz Vizla's gang telling Din and Bo that they are not welcomed in the tribal lands, still located next to MegaCroc infested waters. He even called Din a liar, and then questioned her, before she revealed to be the successor to his dad's Pre Vizla's fall from the throne.

Din had to force the meeting by pulling out a vial of Living Waters. And then handing it to the Armourer, who wasted no time on providing that she'd acquired a treasure for her forge work. The thing is that I suspect Beskar armour fabrication requires the Living Waters that has been infested by Mythosaurus biomatter is needed to get a success.

Both Din and Bo were redeemed, but Bo claimed that she doesn't walk the way, until Armourer popped the questions and accepted Bo in the Children of the Watch creed.

This is the Way.

Music and Coruscant scenes were putting me to sleep. They were that bad. So I get the lower score.
 
Disappointed and confused. Mixed feelings all around.

First of all I was really hoping, no, expecting we'd get an explanation as to why Din Djarin dropped so suddenly into the chasm and lost consciousness as if he'd been sucked in by a giant hand and slammed into the lakebed, when clearly it's just regular water you just float in, as Bo-Katan demonstrated when she went after him. The weight of Beskar doesn't explain it since Bo's armor is also Beskar, so I guess the only valid explanation is that the Mythosaur grabbed him and yanked on his leg... But that doesn't explain why it didn't do anything after that and went back to sleep... And Din Djarin should at least have wondered what had happened to him.

Too many questions, not enough answers. I want the latter at some stage this season, otherwise it's just lazy storytelling.

The dogfight on Kalevala was pretty sweet, refreshing even thanks to the scenery. And that was the best this episode had to offer even if the TIEs made it way too easy for our two protagonists and even if tactically nothing made sense. And again, questions... I mean what were those TIEs doing here? Why were they alone for so long? Why did they attack on sight? Why did the Empire just randomly bombed Bo-Katan's palace instead of storming it? If the Empire still has a heavy presence in the Mandalorian system (and why?) what is going to happen to Mandalore itself now? Is the Empire going to want to find out what Djarin and his ally were doing on Mandalore?

Oh well, at least it was semi-entertaining. From here on and like Din Djarin at the end of the previous episode, we're just taking a deep and brutal dive into nothingness.

So, Coruscant. It was cool to see the planet again and some of its landmarks, like the Opera house. And I was glad to see that it was still full of Imperial tech and that not everyone had suddenly just forgotten there had been an Empire for over 20 years.

For some reason, Dr Pershing became the main protagonist of the show, just like Mando had hijacked The Book of Boba Fett before him. I hope this doesn't become the norm in Star Wars shows. When I watch The Book of Boba Fett, I want to see Boba Fett. When I watch the Mandalorian, I want to see The Mandalorian. If I wanted to see your regular Rebel Alliance vs The Empire show, I'd have managed to watch Andor past its second episode.

But I can forgive this momentary lapse because it seemed the show would try to finally move forward along its overarching plot and explain some of the mysteries raised in its first season, like why was Grogu's blood so important to the Remnant and how they intended to use it to regenerate Palpatine (assuming that was the plan).

Turns out we were instead treated to a nonsensical subplot of entrapment and espionage that could have been written by a ten-year-old. This is not hyperbole.

I was also glad that the show didn't depict life under the New Republic through rose-tinted glasses but, man, what a downer that was. If the showrunners wanted to depict the New Republic as a dystopian neo-fascist state, they certainly achieved that. I'd almost root for the return of the Empire after witnessing that rehabilitation program that bears all the hallmarks of indoctrination and scary Orwellian state control. Regular interrogation sessions, segregation, brainwashing and "conversion therapies"... The New Republic has it all, folks! "Have you recently harbored any resentment toward the New Republic or its agents?" Holy Molly! I guess we swapped Darth Sidious for Darth Insidious when the Empire fell (thank you).

There was some good that, along with the hope of seeing Din and Bo again before the end of the episode, kept me going: The two performers (Omid Abtahi and Katy O'Brian) are obviously great actors and would be compelling to watch if they were given some decent material to flex their muscles. Unfortunately the plot kind of goes nowhere, fails at justifying its necessity and, yet again, introduces way too many questions without providing any semblance of answer:
- Why entrap the poor doctor when it looks like Elia Kane was simply after the portable lab, which she all but single-handedly retrieved? If anything the doctor was more of a liability to her - surely someone else on her team could have given her a list of the necessary equipment... So was her goal simply to get the doctor arrested and his brain wiped so he could never talk? But then... Why not just make him disappear with a laser bolt to the head?
- Why is Elia Kane allowed to take the Imperial equipment with her when the doctor is arrested? Surely if she's trying to pass off as an undercover agent arresting relapsing Imperials, she should be held accountable by her New Republic superiors and have to report to them / surrender any hard evidence linked to the case.
- Why have Imperial ships not been thoroughly searched and stripped of all valuable equipment?! Why are they NOT GUARDED?! Yeah, Elia Kane says they're inoperable and therefore don't need to be watched, but come on! Their entrance isn't sealed. they're full of potentially dangerous equipment, like, y'know, scientific equipment that could be used for expressly forbidden research on cloning! Surely that's worth guarding? And why was the power on inside the ship?

I guess I could probably go on but I don't even want to make the effort of remembering all the silly little things that had me shaking my head at the screen.

Thankfully we went back to Din and Bo for the last 5 minutes of the episode as they joined the Armorer and her merrymen to prove they had bathed on the unpoisoned waters of Mandalore. But even then I was slightly disappointed that we didn't get more of an argument or a fight between the two opposing factions represented by the Children of the Watch and Bo-Katan. Instead Bo-Katan kind of went along for the ride and decided that since she hadn't taken her helmet off in the last two hours, well she might as well become one of them for the time being. Actually what disappoints me more is not that Bo-Katan didn't try to expose the Armorer as a silly fanatic, but more that Din Djarin seems clearly intent on going back to his old ways instead of having understood that the Mandalorians should be reunited as one under his or Bo's (or both of their) leadership. A little "One step forward, two steps back" for my tastes.

Last nitpick: The waters of Mandalore magically interacting with the Armorer's forge. I supposed you can just say it's Beskar molecules within the water that are causing an interesting reaction, but I wish the water had yielded no visible reaction and the Armorer had been the only one to "see" (out of blind fanatism or thanks to particularly attuned senses) that it was indeed the water from the mines of Mandalore.

Please, The Mandalorian. Be more like The Mandalorian and have more of The Mandalorian on screen. And please stop raising more and more questions when you haven't even answered the basic ones from three years ago. Seriously this is getting even more infuriating than the X-Files.
 
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- Why entrap the poor doctor when it looks like Elia Kane was simply after the portable lab, which she all but single-handedly retrieved? If anything the doctor was more of a liability to her - surely someone else on her team could have given her a list of the necessary equipment... So was her goal simply to get the doctor arrested and his brain wiped so he could never talk? But then... Why not just make him disappear with a laser bolt to the head?
If this was Andor, I'd say there's something in the play. To be frank, I don't get the whole Imperial scenery either and I kind of hated the end scene in the lab as it reminded me of a tabtetop game called Paranoia and ClockWorkOrange at the same time.
- Why have Imperial ships not been thoroughly searched and stripped of all valuable equipment?! Why are they NOT GUARDED?! Yeah, Elia Kane says they're inoperable and therefore don't need to be watched, but come on! Their entrance isn't sealed. they're full of potentially dangerous equipment, like, y'know, scientific equipment that could be used for expressly forbidden research on cloning! Surely that's worth guarding? And why was the power on inside the ship?
Because they have been portraying from the beginning of the series that the New Republic has soft ideas, and they're kind of dump. The Imperial side is machines, industries and a ruthless dictatorship in a pyramid scheme.

If you compare that to the Foundation's Empire of Man, SW is goofy and chaotic. And it is falling apart, instead of showing us peace, harmony and how the galaxy rebuild itself after Emperor's passing.

Maybe the bigger question should be how the Coruscant story is fitting in any of the Mandalorian main story? At the moment, it doesn't. It's just a filler.
 
While the darkness of the Empire has slunk back into the shadows, largely relegated to the Outer Rim planets, the New Republic now reigns supreme on Coruscant. But in The Mandalorian season 3 episode “The Convert,” we learn from returning characters Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian) that Coruscant and the surrounding galaxy might not be that much better off now that the Empire’s been sent packing.

Until now, the New Republic had existed largely in the periphery of the Mandoverse, although Disney has long teased that it would eventually delve deeper into it. Cameo appearances by space cops Carson Teva and Trapper Wolf in The Mandalorian, as well as Cara Dune’s decision to become a New Republic marshal, seemed to be setting up the Rangers of the New Republic spinoff series. But after Disney parted ways with Gina Carano, the show was quietly shelved.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy suggested to Empire magazine (via IGN) that the planned Rangers storylines would be “absorbed” into The Mandalorian, and now, we get a sense of how the New Republic fits into things. Although the formal government born from the Rebellion is supposed to be the antithesis of the Empire, Rogue One and Andor have both shown that even the good guys sometimes use some less than savory methods to accomplish their goals.
 
If this was Andor, I'd say there's something in the play. To be frank, I don't get the whole Imperial scenery either and I kind of hated the end scene in the lab as it reminded me of a tabtetop game called Paranoia and ClockWorkOrange at the same time.
Oh, boy, that was embarrassing. Firstly, yeah I got Clockwork Orange vibes from it as well. But the worst was that these guys just tie up the good doctor to the machine and then everybody leaves while allowing someone to remain in the control room with all the knobs and buttons within hand's reach. I forgot to mention this in my first post, but that was one of the main things that led me to believe a ten-year-old had written the episode.

Maybe the bigger question should be how the Coruscant story is fitting in any of the Mandalorian main story? At the moment, it doesn't. It's just a filler.
What concerns me the most is if Disney has somehow decided to turn The Mandalorian into the project that would redeem the abysmal failures of the Sequel Trilogy. To be more precise, if the show's main plot slowly starts orbiting Palpatine's resurrection, making excuses for it, then I doubt my unconditional love of all things Mandalorian will be strong enough for me to continue watching.

I'm okay with Papatine's return being a subplot, sure. It always was in some way, since the very first episode. But don't make it the main plot. The show was sold on the premise that it would explore backwater worlds, far from the agitation of Coruscant, the Imperial Remnant, the New Republic. But more and more, those elements have started percolating to the fore.

The main problem right now is that The Mandalorian feels rudderless. The previous seasons, no matter how meandering they were, always had a clear, established through-line, that was always connected to Grogu's fate. The main protagonist wanted to A/ deliver Grogu to the Empire, then B/ save him from them, then C/ bring him to the Jedi. Those were clear stated objectives and we understood why they were important to Din Djarin (A/ money and beskar, B/ doing the right thing, C/ securing a good future for Grogu).

In that third season, Grogu's fate takes the backseat. I guess Djarin's next objective is to turn him into a Mandalorian, but that's going to take so long (decades?) that it can't possibly give the show any impetus or sense of urgency. It's way too long-term. And for all we know, Djarin might be dead of old age long before Grogu is even ready to wear a helmet.

So in the meantime our little green friend is just there, hanging around, part of the furniture. Sure, Mando now has (had) another, more personal objective in mind: Redeeming himself in the mines of Mandalore. Why?! The show has failed at providing a single compelling reason for him to want to be redeemed so much. Does he want to live with his fellow Children of the Watch or is he going to go back to a lone existence as a galaxy-wandering bounty hunter? If it's the latter then why is it so important for him to be redeemed by a bunch of fanatics he has no real ties to beyond his armor? If it's the former, what does he plan to achieve amongst them? We don't have a clue.

And now that this objective has been fulfilled, it's not like anything has changed or moved forward. Mando's just back to square one, albeit with a useless Grogu in tow. We no longer know what he wants, what his next objective is, what his long-term plan is.

If the first two seasons were taking too long to get somewhere, at least they were always going somewhere. But this third season, so far, feels like it's sputtering from short-term objective to the next short-term objective with no clear delineated goal in sight.
 
the episode is heavily located in the Coruscant, with also heavy feeling of imperialism still going in the galactic capital, as if nothing has changed
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
"Don't worry, as much as this device might resemble something imperial, it's a friendlier, soothing New Republic version that will ease your anxiety -- unless a 'friend' cranks up the setting to 'mindflayer'."
Din had no recollection from encounter the Mythosaurus, but Bo-Katan was clearly affected by her sighting.
I wondered if Din had said that he saw the beast, Bo might have killed him for "knowing too much." :)
winding Bo so much that she wasn't going to give them the bombing run without a punishment
Those dirty mudscuffers!
Music and Coruscant scenes were putting me to sleep.
A planet so heavily populated and developed that only its highest mountain peak remains as a surface memorial? Wow!
How does it support life? Underground farming? Imports?
 
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It's high time the show gave us some info about the Children of the Watch and just what their purpose is as a faction. Their leader (?) The Armorer, although she looks cool, is absolutely vapid. Here comes Bo-Katan Kryze, who I would have assumed was a rival, and yet just because she hasn't taken her helmet off in the last two hours she's invited to join her little private club.

There's too much emphasis on the helmet rule. You never took it off? You're family. You take it off? That's it, you're a Mandalorian no more. And now that it's established that the Living Waters are available, anyone can just take off their helmet on Monday and be redeemed on Tuesday, only to take it off again Wednesday and be redeemed Thursday, etc.

What do they want? Why wasn't the news that Mandalore was safe to walk greeted with fervor or joy? You'd think that their long-term plan would have been to repopulate their homeworld, right? Nope. Apparently they're happy as pigs in mud in that cave, with Mr. Giant Croc just outside their door. Do they live there? Where are the living quarters? It looks like it's just a forge and a dozen smelly people wearing armor 24/7.

Anyway, this could go on for hours. This show needs to give us something to chew on beyond tedious subplots.
 
So in the meantime our little green friend is just there, hanging around, part of the furniture. Sure, Mando now has (had) another, more personal objective in mind: Redeeming himself in the mines of Mandalore. Why?!
They did, but it wasn't voiced and it's all centred around Bo coming to creed, becoming part of the Children and then taking back the homeworld. It is a redemption arc for all of them and maybe at the end, the Armourer changes as well, because she is already seeing Din doing things that old Mand'lor did back in the day.

I will put 20 on the table that they will call it New Mandalore, because it fits the SW theme. And I'll pet another 10 that Din will become their next king, because the Armourer wants it. To me, if that happens, it's fine and I want to see it.
A planet so heavily populated and developed that only its highest mountain peak remains as a surface memorial? Wow!
How does it support life? Underground farming? Imports?

As I understand it's lots and lots of machines, same way you saw it in the Foundation, that showed a similar kind of "city planet" being covered in metal. However, in the Coruscant, deeper you go, stranger things you'll find, and in the shadows lurks the danger.

To put it in other words, Jedi religion goes way back into time before the Old Republic. And in the cinematic lore, they showed us bits and pieces of races that were truly marvellous. The SW capitol in Coruscant is built upon those remains. Layers upon layers upon others. God only knows how many there are, we only know 1313 of them and at that level there is no law.

All at above is what keeps the city planet going. Plus a lot of intergalactic imports from all over the place. To many races. And their bacteria, viruses, and so on. How they are not all sick is what I'd like to know?
 
Pure wishful thinking here, but I'd like something a little more unexpected for Din Djarin. It's too obvious that he's being hyped up as the next Mand'alor.

I kind of want the show to end like one of those tragic westerns or samurai films, on a wide shot of Din - with possibly Grogu at his side - limping alone towards an empty horizon of uncertainty and anonymity, having either lost or turned his back on everything.

Not that I think it will happen. Bu that would look cool to me.
 
Who in their right mind thought that centering the lion's share of an episode on 2 peripheral characters most people had forgotten about was a good idea? Massively dull, and not enlightening in any way as to what life is like in the New Republic (Andor showed how it was done).
I reckon they ran the episode past a test audience who told them to bookend the segment with Mando segments, hence the opening battle and the closing redemption scene (which were admittedly nice).

What annoys me more than any of this is the lazy writing and the audience-leading. Why did they feel it was necessary for Mando to count down the number of tie fighters left ("two down, three to go" / "that's only two left now", etc). Do they not think audiences can count, or that we really need to know? Less tell, more show. And the whole 'jumping off a speeding train and miraculously landing on a giant air bed, or whatever it was'. Again, entirely idiotic, and wholly improbably. Make it plausible; like a giant water tank / reservoir, or something, a warning that it will hurt like but they'll make it, and then some discomfort / out-of-breathness when they surface. But no, they just jump off a train travelling 100-miles-an-hour and land on a giant mattress with no lateral speed whatsoever. It's like they can't be bothered to make it a trek or an ordeal, or invest time in putting the characters under strain, so they just click a magic button and have them magically get where they want to go.

I'm struggling to believe that these are the same writers as the first two seasons. 6/10 for Mando segment; 4/10 for Coruscant segment.
 
Oh Disney, why you have to do this?


I also watched another piece that I won't share because it's spoilerific. Thing is, and I suspected this, Dr Pershing's story is going to continue and become part of the Imperial side. It is not a big reach to draw conclusions on the Dr Pershing's story leading to development of Palpatine's er, Darth Sidious' resurrection, which itself is the weakest part in the First Order trilogy.

I suspect it's all of ex-CEO's handwork to try to justify the flop of the final trilogy. We still don't know what went on with the Book of Boba Fett, but if it was because of her involvement in the production, maybe there is going to be another season to fix things.
 
I'm not saying this isn't true because I don't have a clue, but I'd take it with a grain of salt anyway.

Some websites love using unfounded rumors to ignite flame wars within the SW community, which is known for being extremely volatile. And some people love trying to find extraneous reasons to their dislike of modern Star Wars.

Kathleen Kennedy has had the difficult and less than enviable task to succeed 'the Maker' at the head of LFL. She was always going to fall short in comparison. And she can't be the point of origin of everything that is wrong with Star Wars today.

And without taking any of the merit away from Favreau, who created The Mandalorian, he is far from the biggest asset on the show's writing team. The show could work without him.
 
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I thought this was quite good. The Mando parts were a bit by-the-numbers, but Pershing's story was new and interesting. It actually reminded me of 1984, with one character doing the job of both Julia and O'Brien. The Mandalorian Brotherhood of Helmets (or whatever it's called) isn't very interesting to me, but I feel the same about the Jedi, so perhaps it's just my preferences rather than anything to do with quality (or that warrior brotherhoods rarely seem convincing). I do hope the writers don't try to use The Mandalorian to tie up a load of other Star Wars plotlines: I can see why they might do it, but I don't really like this "bleeding-in" of one show's storyline into another's.
 
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Din Djarin should at least have wondered what had happened to him.
Unless he is lying, it is weird that a) he just accepts it b) he doesn't ask Bo what happened or how she managed to rescue him.
the Armorer had been the only one to "see" (out of blind fanatism or thanks to particularly attuned senses) that it was indeed the water from the mines of Mandalore.
Didn't it briefly turn a milky-white colour? But equally, how does she know what to expect?

I first wondered why the Mandalore and Children of the Watch scenes weren't simply added to the end of last week, but I now realise it would have the lowest score ever if it were only the Coruscant scenes.

If I wanted to see your regular Rebel Alliance vs The Empire show, I'd have managed to watch Andor past its second episode.
I have to agree with you there, though I was glad that the plot was finally and actually going somewhere... just anywhere at all.
If the first two seasons were taking too long to get somewhere, at least they were always going somewhere.
Exactly! But as others have said it was neither exciting or made much sense.
The show was sold on the premise that it would explore backwater worlds, far from the agitation of Coruscant, the Imperial Remnant, the New Republic. But more and more, those elements have started percolating to the fore.
In that third season, Grogu's fate takes the backseat.
And that too! People watched Seasons 1 & 2 because of Grogu. I don't need to see their expensive market research to know that, I can read it myself on social media. In these episodes Grogu could be replaced with a second Droid and there'd be no difference.

For some reason, Dr Pershing became the main protagonist of the show, just like Mando had hijacked The Book of Boba Fett before him.
Who in their right mind thought that centering the lion's share of an episode on 2 peripheral characters most people had forgotten about was a good idea?
Dr Pershing's story is going to continue and become part of the Imperial side. It is not a big reach to draw conclusions on the Dr Pershing's story leading to development of Palpatine's er, Darth Sidious' resurrection, which itself is the weakest part in the First Order trilogy.
It does appear that this might be the likely reason for the focus on Dr Pershing. The story has to go somewhere. It cannot simply focus on exploring backwater worlds, but seeing this rise of the First Order, that doesn't enthuse me at all. In any, case as already pointed out, if this is the kinder and gentler side of the New Republic, please bring back the Empire!

A planet so heavily populated and developed that only its highest mountain peak remains as a surface memorial? Wow!
How does it support life? Underground farming? Imports?
I would guess, lots of imports taken from less developed planets during the Empire. During the New Republic? We'll as you said -
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

a nonsensical subplot of entrapment and espionage
it looks like Elia Kane was simply after the portable lab, which she all but single-handedly retrieved? If anything the doctor was more of a liability to her -
And why was the power on inside the ship?
That's a good question, and good observations, but it all could have been an elaborate engineered by the New Republic itself, rather than by Elia Kane, in order to test the Doctor. After all, it was more than coincidence that she was part of the group that asked him to drink with them, and had just happed to be on Mott Gideon's ship.

My problem with this idea is the relish she showed in turning up the power dial to full on the mindflayer. She seems to have an ulterior motive the goes way beyond just doing her New Republic duty. We will no doubt never find out why if previous experience is anything to go by.
I kind of hated the end scene in the lab as it reminded me of a tabtetop game called Paranoia and ClockWorkOrange at the same time.
The TV series are certainly not made for children
the worst was that these guys just tie up the good doctor to the machine and then everybody leaves while allowing someone to remain in the control room with all the knobs and buttons within hand's reach.
"Don't worry, as much as this device might resemble something imperial, it's a friendlier, soothing New Republic version that will ease your anxiety -- unless a 'friend' cranks up the setting to 'mindflayer'."
We can agree that the final scene was the most poorly written, and left more questions than answers.
 
Re: The Armorer identifying the Mandalorian Mines water: Didn't it briefly turn a milky-white colour? But equally, how does she know what to expect?
Yes, the Mandalorian water seems to interact with her equipment in the way you described. And in season 1 we saw her empty another vial in her forge before creating Din Djarin's pauldron and the water she used interacted in the same way, which seems to suggest the Armorer has a stash of Mandalorian water at her disposal...

But what I meant was that I wish this weren't the case and the water hadn't done anything special - that we could see.

The Children of the Watch are often portrayed as a sect or cult, and it's safe enough to say the Armorer is their spiritual leader. And I wish the showrunners had tried to play with that element, and cast some doubt as to the truth of her words or her honesty. If she had emptied the vial of water with no visible reaction and had simply stated "He speaks the truth", we (Mandos and audience) would all be left to wonder how on Earth (or Tatooine?) she was able to confirm this. Does she have superhuman abilities allowing her to identify the waters from Mandalore? Does she know the water's properties so well she can confirm its nature just by looking at it? Is her fanatism so potent that she actually "sees" things that no one else can? Or is she just making it all up and taking a chance on Djarin's sincerity?

Is she a sorceress? A genius craftswoman? A blind fanatic? A crook? This would have made for a more interesting subtext.

It all could have been an elaborate plan engineered by the New Republic itself, rather than by Elia Kane, in order to test the Doctor. After all, it was more than coincidence that she was part of the group that asked him to drink with them, and had just happed to be on Mott Gideon's ship.

I don't think the New Republic has anything to do with it, Elia Kane is simply a mole planted by Gideon to approach Pershing. That's why this elaborate plot is far too convoluted for my tastes. She pretended to be a reformed Imperial just so join the program, get in touch with Pershing and manipulate him. The way I see it there are three possibilities:

- She needed the doctor to identify the necessary lab equipment so that she and Gideon could pursue his research. But in that case it seemed it would have been easier for her to just enter the Star Destroyer alone or with a band of mercenaries, steal everything and elope. Pershing was a liability more than an asset on that mission, and relying on his unwilling help required a lot of time and resources (creating her cover, approaching him, manipulating him...) unnecessarily, since Kane already knew where to find that equipment in the first place. And let's not forget that when the Coruscanti police arrests Pershing, she's allowed to walk away with the portable lab, which is far too convenient. No matter who she was working for, New Republic or Gideon, there was no reason for the police to let her walk away with the evidence.

- She doesn't need the doctor but Gideon wanted him out of the picture so he wouldn't betray the nature of his research at the time he served under him. But in that case again, the plot is far too convoluted and elaborate. Just hire an assassin to put a bolt in him, have him fall off a balcony... Why go through all the trouble to entrap him, accuse him of relapse in the hopes he'll be put on that mindflayer and she'll have the opportunity to wipe his mind?

- She needed the doctor to identify the lab equipment AND she also needs to make him work for the Empire again because no one else can pursue his research. In which case the fact she wipes his mind at the end might somewhat make sense (she's hoping she can brainwash him into forgetting he ever defected to the New Republic and think he's still working for Gideon), but it's also extremely risky (there's no telling what the machine will erase from his brain, what if it erases his precious scientific knowledge?). It doesn't seem likely.

No matter what, I think that side story was far too complicated and unnecessary. Everything that transpired on Coruscant could simply have happened off screen and be explained in a later episode, like when the Mandos or whoever else finds out that Gideon has been able to continue Pershing's research, with a simple line of dialogue.
 
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If she had emptied the vial of water with no visible reaction and had simply stated "He speaks the truth", we (Mandos and audience) would all be left to wonder if she really had seen something or if she was just making stuff up on the spot. Does she have superhuman abilities allowing her to identify the waters from Mandalore? Does she know the water's properties so well she can confirm its nature just by looking at it? Is her fanatism so potent that she actually "sees" things that no one else can? Or is she just making it all up and taking a chance on Djarin's sincerity?

This would have been far more interesting, I think.
Yes, I agree that would have been much better.

She needed the doctor to identify the necessary lab equipment so that she and Gideon could pursue his research.
She doesn't need the doctor [to carry out the research] but Gideon wanted him out of the picture so he wouldn't betray the nature of his research at the time he served under him.
What I know about Mott Gideon or the New Republic could be written in a single paragraph, but Dr. Pershing certainly thinks that he is very important to the research, and that his research on Cloning and Genetic Engineering is so cutting edge that no one else could carry it on without him.

But then, I have no idea what a Mind Flayer actually does. Maybe it just makes you a passive and pliable "robotic slave" without destroying any of your memory, intelligence or learned skills i.e. a 'Brainwash' rather than a 'Mindwipe'. After all, Mr. "I've used the machine myself" thinks it's perfectly safe. So, maybe after the use of the Mind Flayer he will carry on the research, but now without asking any questions and be open to any suggestions he is given.

This whole idea is very unoriginal, a little James Bond, and too 'Comic Book' for me. This kind of "Mind Control" is a very outdated concept too. Not just featured in A ClockWork Orange but in a whole pile of books from that era like This Perfect Day, and even earlier in We and Brave New World. It goes back to the 1940's and the first LSD trip, now known as "Bicycle Day".

Not only that, but this idea of making scientists obey with drugs and flashing lights and electronic noise, is the entire plot of The Ipcress File. It's also in many of the TV shows of that period like The Avengers. The flashing lights machine is even in the original series of Star Trek.

In general, the idea was usually using psychosomatic drugs, rather than flashing coloured lights and electroconvulsive therapy, or transcranial magnetic stimulation (or all together) and this whole idea that drugs can cure everything wrong with the mind (or change the mind without serious other side-effects) holds much less weight today than it did the the 1960's.

Anyway, as you say, if Dr. Pershing has a highly inflated view of himself, then it's a great deal of trouble to go to where a good blaster would have surficed.

Kane already knew where to find that equipment in the first place
Another good point. They went into a lab that didn't appear to be specialised (I'm assuming the scrapped ship was picked at random) and he took items that were already out on the benches. There was no looking in cupboards, opening locked doors or safes. This appeared to be everyday equipment. If it wasn't, and this was a specialised Cloning and Genetic Engineering Lab, then, as you say, Kane already knew where to find the equipment without Pershing along. It doesn't make any sense at all.
 

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