The Mandalorian: “The Spies” teases the Heirs to the Empire


It’s finally all coming together in the latest episode of The Mandalorian, “The Spies.” After some fun but disjointed episodes early in the season, all of the plotlines have led to this moment: the return of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and his machinations to rule Mandalore and keep the Empire alive.

The episode also sets up key plot points for future post-Endor projects like Ahsoka and Skeleton Crew, and even has connections to the events of The Force Awakens.

The Shadow Council shows up on The Mandalorian

The episode opens on Coruscant with Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian) sneaking around alleyways and meeting a hovering Imperial probe droid. In a projected holo, Moff Gideon expresses his anger at her for allowing the Mandalorians to come to Nevarro’s aid during Gorian Shard’s pirate attack. Surprise, surprise: Moff Gideon orchestrated that one.

After telling her to get back to work zapping the brains out of more former Imperials, Moff Gideon appears in a meeting before the Imperial Shadow Council, a group of former Imperial officers working clandestinely to restore the Empire; I guess the showrunners do read some of the Star Wars books.

The Shadow Council first appeared in Chuck Wendig’s novel Aftermath: Life Debt; it is led by Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax and Grand Admiral Thrawn. In The Mandalorian, two figures stand out: Admiral Pellaeon (Xander Berkeley) and Commandant Brendol Hux (Brian Gleeson).

Admiral Pellaeon was first mentioned in Rebels; he was one of the Imperials under Thrawn’s leadership. In Legends, he was Thrawn’s right-hand man and had a prominent role in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy of books from the 1990s.

Commandant Hux should be a familiar name; his son Armitage Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) featured prominently in the sequel trilogy as a leader of the First Order.

The sequence with the Shadow Council is a key moment for the future of Star Wars as a franchise. With the name-drop of Thrawn — who Pellaeon insists will return any moment like a blue-skinned, red-eyed Jesus — The Mandalorian previews events to come in Ahsoka. Also notice the mention of “Project Necromancer,” which seems to foreshadow how Emperor Palpatine returned “somehow” in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

But Moff Gideon isn’t waiting around for the supposed Messiah Thrawn to return. Like a true Imperial, he’s hell-bent on his own selfish cause: destroying the Mandalorians once and for all and becoming the next leader of Mandalore.

The Mandalorians vs. Death Troopers

Speaking of the Mandalorians, Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal/Brendan Wayne/Lateef Crowder) confirmed earlier in the season that the planet Mandalore was not poisoned or cursed. Two distinct Mandalorian factions — Nite Owls and the Covert — finally come together in this episode for a greater cause: to retake the planet.

They don’t exactly put aside their differences or start making friendship bracelets, but it’s a big step forward. There’s a petty battle of egos between Paz Viszla (Tati Fletcher) and Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides) that ends with a fight. Later in the episode, the two are forced to work together to protect each other and the rest of the team during a brutal firefight with Moff Gideon’s super-commando troopers.

These super-commandos give the Mandalorians a run for their money, but even they flee as the Mandos descend further into the remains of their Great Forge. It’s there they uncover Moff Gideon’s secret Imperial lair of Death Troopers and TIE Defenders, and Moff Gideon himself suited up in shiny black Beskar armor complete with a spiked helmet that looks like a cross between Darth Vader and a Mandalorian.

The recon unit led by Bo-Katan — including the Mandalorians they discovered surviving on the planet — is caught in a trap set by Moff Gideon. Din is captured by the Death Troopers and hauled away for questioning. Luckily, Grogu — who’s now using the refurbished IG-11 droid body as a mech suit — is kept safe behind the blast doors.

Moff Gideon then taunts Bo-Katan about her attempt to retake Mandalore and demands the return of the Darksaber. Bo-Katan says “nah” and carves a hole in the back blast door to provide an escape for her team. But someone has to stay behind and fend off the troopers — Paz.

Paz sacrificing to the Praetorian Guards is noble, and he doesn’t go down without a brutal fight. The season has been setting up his demise for a while; we saw his for his son, saw him push past differences with Din, and resolve the age-old conflict with the Nite Owls. His death isn’t surprising, but it would have hit just a little bit harder had it not been telegraphed so clearly.

The other Mandalorians sans Din are able to escape, and the episode cuts to black when Paz falls.


Those who watched “The Spies” early at Star Wars Celebration lauded the episode as the best of the season and one of the best of the series overall. It’s easy to see why, as it feels like the stories, characters and villains are finally coming together to move the plot forward into a grand finale.

It’s just too bad that it took this long to get here.

Episode grade: A

Next. The Mandalorian delivers a weird, pulpy Star Wars version of Law & Order. dark

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