Is it me, or did Mando just go full John Marston? Episode 3 is leagues beyond Episode 2 and the pilot, filled with lore, character development, and gripping action that the series has so far lacked. The last half of the episode in particular is basically a mashup of Red Dead Redemption and Metal Gear with a nuance and pacing previous action sequences lacked.
First, the plot. Mando returns to Nevarro and exchanges The Child with Werner Herzog’s creepy but wooden Client, who in exchange pays him an armor’s worth of Beskar steel. Conflicted, Mando suspects the Client’s intentions, but backs off when the Client invokes the guild code that no questions are asked regarding bounties. Mando then takes his earnings to the Armorer to craft him his new raiment. When another Mandolorian insults his honor as a tool of the now defunct Galactic Empire, the dispute reaches knifepoint before the Armorer intercedes, dismissing their beef as illogical and pointless, for they are both true Mandolorians. Here we have the first recitation of the Mandalorian motto, “This is the way”, and get some vague exposition regarding the decimation and ethnic cleansing of the Mandolorian culture by the Empire. Mando flashes back to his childhood in a warzone, a story we still know nothing about at this point. Fast forward a bit. Greef Carga (Carl Weathers) congratulates Mando on a job well done, encouraging him to take some time off in what is tactfully implied to be the local Twi’lek bordello. If you don’t know what a Twi’lek is, it’s these girls:
Mando politely declines, ignores Carga’s suggestion that he take some “spice” to chill out while in hyperspace en route to his next contract, and heads to hs ship to get the hell out of Dodge. This is when the episode starts to stand out. Naturally, Mando’s newly awakened paternal feelings for The Child prevent him from leaving our favorite green foundling to his fate. Mando scopes out The Client’s HQ, creates a diversion, blasts his way through a wall, and then the fun begins.
Instead of a tedious run and gun exercise, we watch Mando apply a mix of brute force and stealth to pick his way through a small platoon of stormtroopers, room by room two or three at a time with hand to hand and blaster combat. Its no John Wick per se, but its taut. There’s an intimacy and efficiency to these scenes that was lacking in earlier episodes, and when Mando is eventually surrounded and forced to hi-tech his way out of an unwinnable stand off, it brings a level of authenticity, roughly describable as the need to actually plan and think strategically, that is missing from so much Gary Stu/Mary Sue action pablum, where the hero/heroine can literally just kill twenty people with zero effort as the plot requires. It is refreshing to see once again, as in the Mudhorn fight from last episode, that Mando is a professional but not a Super Saiyan.
Things begin to get over the top in a good way though when Mando, Child in tow, is quickly stalked through the streets and surrounded by Carga and his posse post-rescue. The ensuing scene has all the Wild West chaos and up close and personal gunplay of Red Dead Redemption 2, where death lurks only a stone’s throw away as bullets, or in this case, blaster bolts, spray widely in every direction. Heavily outgunned, Mando attempts, unsuccessfully, to broker a truce after gaining the upper hand for a moment, but quickly loses the advantage and is pinned down before the Mandalorian Covert of Nevarro rides (or jetpacks, more precisely) to the rescue, routing Carga and his posse. Mando shoots Carga, but the latter survives a bolt to the heart on account of a Beskar ingot stashed in his vest, an inventive twist on one of the most iconic Western tropes of all time.
In general, while the characterization and dialogue remain neither impressive nor deficient at this stage, S1E3 is a leap forward in the action department and heralds deeper world building and exploration of both the titular Mandalorian and other Mandalorians to come. The show three episodes in is not great, but its certainly solid and getting better.