Review by C.J. Bunce
With two episodes left in its third season, the Disney+ series The Mandalorian delivered a powerhouse episode this week that may be the best episode of Star Wars television yet. Helmed by director Bryce Dallas Howard, who has established herself as the best of bunch, “Guns for Hire” packs in more bang for the buck than any episode of Star Wars television so far–a complete beginning-to-end tale that doesn’t merely provide a piece of the ongoing serial. Star Wars fans get to see the series’ dynamic duo on a noir-style mystery co-starring Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan, the best actor in the Star Wars universe playing one of Star Wars’ most exciting legacy characters. The franchise revisits action we haven’t seen since Attack of the Clones, as droids go berserk on a planet critical to Mandalore’s future. The series gets three major guest stars. And a significant benchmark is reached for the future of all Mandalorians, as Din Djarin becomes a Western gun for hire, and Grogu earns his highest achievement yet–for being himself.
The Armorer has set Bo-Katan on a path to bring all of the stray Mandalorians back to retake and rebuild Mandalore to its former glory. The Armorer is becoming a key leader in the future of these people, and will no doubt play a big role when Lucasfilm turns its eye toward a big theatrical movie featuring the Mandalorians, announced this week at the London Star Wars Celebration.
The greatest event in this week’s episode has been foreshadowed for quite a while now: Bo-Katan reclaiming the Darksaber, so she can fulfill her own place in the history of her people.
To get there, Din Djarin, Grogu, and Bo-Katan follow a circuitous route so that Bo-Katan can reunite with her former squad. The squad is currently protecting a planet as mercenaries, but the trio cannot get to them until they first meet with the royals who rule the place, at least in theory. Comedy actor Jack Black and singer Lizzo bring powerful, fun performances as the leaders, who reveal that some refurbished battle droids are wreaking havoc. They make a deal with Bo-Katan and Din: stop these droid attacks and we will grant you an audience with your Mandalorian friends.
Solving the mystery provides the best scenes, and best dialogue, we’ve yet seen in The Mandalorian series. Along the way viewers see droids from the prequels and action sequences reminiscent of Obi-Wan Kenobi chasing Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones. Jon Favreau’s story and Bryce Dallas Howard’s vision ignite some incredible nostalgic moments.
Meanwhile Bo-Katan’s former squad is out fulfilling their mercenary duties, where we encounter some of Star Wars’ best TV alien makeup yet. Din Djarin gets to be that Clint Eastwood archetype, that Lone Wolf and Cub character we usually only get glimpses of, as he refuses to play by Bo-Katan’s rules.
And fans are introduced to Christopher Lloyd as basically the head of the IT department, the man in charge of the droids, forced to help Bo-Katan and Din solve their riddle. It’s great fun to see Lloyd jump over from Star Trek, Back to the Future, and so many other sci-fi roles.
Jack Black and Lizzo, as the very George Lucas name of Captain Bombardier and his wife the Duchess, are fantastic, exactly the jolt of energy the series needed, and sure to ignite some great cosplay and action figures in the near future. And Grogu fans will not be disappointed–sorry, that’s Sir Grogu to you. Celebrity and familiar actor guest roles will hopefully become the norm for Star Wars series and movies. Favreau & Co. have used them to great effect.
The Mandalorian couldn’t be better this season, and there are still two episodes left. Catch it now. The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+.