by Hunter Johnson
[Editor’s Note: The following contains minor spoilers for “The Mandalorian” Season 2, Episode 3]
The third episode of this new season finally begins to fulfill showrunner Jon Favreau’s promise of an interconnected collection of episodes tied together by the story of a lone gunner and his unlikely sidekick. Along the way, “The Heiress” opens up the series to the vast world of “Star Wars,” addressing storylines explored in other TV shows in ways this series has never done.
Din Djarin completes his sidequest of searching for others of his kind when he meets the heiress of Mandalore, Bo-Katan Kryze. Bo-Katan was initially introduced almost nine years ago in the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and its follow-up “Star Wars: Rebels,” where she was voiced by Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Galactica”). In “The Heiress,” the character makes her live-action debut, with Sackhoff returning to fill the role.
Bo-Katan is a wonderful addition to the world of “The Mandalorian.” Her presence introduces multiple plot threads to the show, such as her ongoing battle to retake the throne of Mandalore as well as an explanation of why the members of Djarin’s Mandalorian sect never remove their masks while other Mandalorians do.
Sackhoff’s portrayal lines up perfectly with her beloved animated counterpart, blending a sense of military strength with a passionate hunger for justice. This character has had a long journey to get to this point, and the results are worth the wait.
As far as the actual episode goes, this may be the most beautifully shot episode of the entire series. Bryce Dallas Howard returns as director after heading up episode four of the first season, “Sanctuary,” where Djarin helped a local village fend off a pack of heavily armed bandits.
Howard aims to impress this time around, which is especially noteworthy considering “Sanctuary” was one of the more disappointing episodes of season one. Right from the opening scene of Djarin attempting to land his broken-down ship on the moon of Trask, this episode consists of scene after scene of thrilling cinematic action sequences.
Whether it be the impressively staged hand-to-hand combat sequences from second unit director Sam Hargrave (“Deadpool 2,” “Avengers: Endgame”) or the strikingly beautiful cinematography from Matthew Jensen (“Wonder Woman,” “Ray Donovan”), this stands out as one of the most technically proficient episodes of the series yet. Moving forward, the rest of the directors will hopefully match the production quality that Howard has struck here.
Beyond the action, another creative player who once again demonstrates his brilliance is composer Ludwig Göransson. After creating theme after theme for this show, Goransson has come up with not one but two brand new musical motifs just for this episode. Bo-Katan and her Mandalorian squad come with their own unique techno-synthesizer motif, and Djarin’s journey across the moon of Trask gets its own strings-focused melody that emphasizes the stream-like fluidness of the water moon.
This aquatic side of “Star Wars” is something rarely explored in the films. We’ve seen the underwater city of Otoh Gunga in “The Phantom Menace” and the water planet Kamino in “Attack of the Clones,” and we’ve seen aquatic creatures of all sorts in the background of various films in the saga, but never before has a live action “Star Wars” property explored a water planet to this degree.
The water moon of Trask allows “The Mandalorian” to branch out beyond its roots as a space western to the realm of swashbuckling adventure. Trask is a moon of sailors and pirates, and, because this is “The Mandalorian,” it presents another opportunity for Favreau to shine a light on the background characters of “Star Wars.”
This episode is littered with Mon Calamari (the species of the famed Admiral Ackbar) and Quarren (creatures all over the background of the Skywalker Saga), the latter of which Djarin accompanies on a sailing expedition. And of course, we also get the return of Frog Lady, who is part of a yet-to-be-identified aquatic species and is finally reunited with her husband as this episode begins.
This focus on the watery side of “Star Wars” is an example of something that makes “The Mandalorian” so successful: each episode is able to act as its own mini-movie, focusing on a new location and characters and packed with its own uniquely brilliant set-pieces.
Episode three manages to do just that, standing on its own while remaining fully connected to the bigger universe of “Star Wars.” The story of Djarin’s search for the Jedi makes for a compelling series-long watch, but the only reason that the larger narrative works so well is that each individual episode tells its own unique story.
The one-off story of Djarin visiting a new water moon is a fantastic concept. It allows for this episode to stand on its own, just as the second episode of the first season was the “Jawa” episode and the first episode of this season was the “Tusken Raiders” episode. It’s a perfect mix of serialized storytelling with a grander narrative at play. Hopefully, future episodes will be able to perform that juggling act as well as this one does.
Hunter Johnson is a senior Theatre Performance Major and an A&E writer for Cedars. He spends his time gobbling up all the Star Wars that Disney pumps out, followed by daydreaming about his future dog Jojo, all while giving endless attention to his beautiful fiance.