The Mandalorian may set up the Star Wars sequel trilogy in “The Convert”

Image: The Mandalorian/Disney+
Image: The Mandalorian/Disney+ /

While it takes us on a bit of an excursion, the third episode of The Mandalorian season 3 is anything but filler. Instead, “The Convert” takes time to expand the world of the New Republic and show what life is like for both former Imperials and regular citizens.

Who is “the convert” of the title? It could refer to several people. That includes Bo-Katan Kryze, who inadvertently bathed in the Living Waters of Mandalore last episode. Or it could be a small group of former Imperials who’ve earned a spot in a New Republic amnesty program.

That program reintroduces us to cloning scientist Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and communications officer Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian). The two former employees of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) never officially met before, but now give us a look into the life of a former Imperial trying to adjust to the new, gentler regime.

Return to the opera house from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

While “The Convert” opens right where we left Bo-Katan and Din — on the stone steps of the Living Waters after a quick dip and an introduction to a living, breathing Mythosaur — the core of the episode takes place on Coruscant. We haven’t seen Coruscant under Republic rule since the days of the prequels, and its vibrant and bustling cityscape is a sight for sore eyes.

There, Dr. Pershing is giving the Star Wars equivalent of a TED Talk to an audience of wealthy Coruscanti citizens at the opera house (the same one from Revenge of the Sith). He explains his gratitude for the New Republic’s rehabilitation and amnesty programs while also emphasizing how much he really cared about his cloning research, which he vehemently claims he only wanted to use for good.

Later, Dr. Pershing returns to his new living quarters, which is a complex set aside specifically for former Imperials. Elia and several others live at the same complex, and the group commiserates over drinks about the little things they miss about the “before” times. Dr. Pershing shares that he misses the Imperial standard ration biscuits and later finds a box of them outside his door. The next day, we find Dr. Pershing in a New Republic office where workers process old Imperial files and categorize which equipment needs to be destroyed. Like the office from Andor, this one is all about menial pencil-pushing; it’s a far cry from the grand scientific work Dr. Pershing was doing.

The New Republic are the “good guys,” but through Dr. Pershing’s eyes, we see how much of this amnesty program feels just as sinister as the Empire. For one, each former Imperial is essentially stripped of personhood and given a number to be identified by. And no matter their skillset, what’s most important to the New Republic is their ability to be reconditioned in service of the “good guys.”

Is the New Republic really much better than the Empire?

It’s clear from the start that Elia has ulterior motives. As she shows Pershing around Coruscant, she goads him into admitting how much he misses his lab and his research. When he finally admits his unhappiness, Elia convinces him to sneak aboard a decommissioned Imperial Star Destroyer and “acquire” a mobile lab. Of course, Dr. Pershing is reluctant to break the rules after working hard to be granted amnesty, But Elia convinces him with a sharp line about blindly obeying orders being the reason they’re in this mess.

Unfortunately for Dr. Pershing, who does seem to want to use his knowledge for good, Elia’s friendship was a trap. In a move worthy of the Empire, Elia was purposefully trying to probe Dr. Pershing’s weaknesses. Their trip to the Star Destroyer results in Dr. Pershing’s arrest and more reconditioning via the mind flayer.

Things get worse when Elia is left alone in the procedure room and cranks up the dial on the mind flayer, hurting Dr. Pershing immensely and likely frying parts of his brain. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dr. Pershing returns to being an Imperial sympathizer after this. Another possibility is that Elia is secretly working on behalf of Moff Gideon. We may find out in a future episode.

Bo-Katan is becoming a lead character on The Mandalorian

Although we spend a good chunk of time on Coruscant, “The Convert” starts and ends with Bo-Katan and Din. After escaping a group of TIE Interceptors that come upon them after they leave Mandalore, the duo arrives at the secret location of the Mandalorian covert.

Din proves that he did actually bathe in the Living Waters of Mandalore by giving the Armorer (Emily Swallow) a sample vial of the liquid. The moment doesn’t feel as exciting as it should, but the Armorer confirms that both Din and Bo-Katan are redeemed after taking a dip. She offers them a place among their covert, who welcome the former Mandalorian princess with claps on her shoulders. Pan to Bo-Katan staring at the Mythosaur sigil on the wall, and it’s clear her mind is reeling with the possibilities of reclaiming what’s rightfully hers.

“The Convert” is a side adventure, but it’s not filler

While this episode appears to have two distinct storylines, they feel connected. The trip to Coruscant all but confirms the Imperial Remnant (seen in previous seasons) is still alive and pushing for advancing cloning tech. The cloning science subplot could lead to the under-explained “somehow” part of “Palpatine returned” in The Rise of Skywalker. There are, of course, explanations for how Palpatine got there sprinkled around the books and comics, but The Mandalorian could explain it in detail. This is the way, I guess.

It feels like Bo-Katan is becoming the co-main character of the season, which is welcome. The Mandalorian season three, episode 3, “The Convert” is now available on Disney+.

Episode grade: B+

Next. Review: Myths, monsters and mines star in The Mandalorian Episode 302. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels