Review: “The Heiress”
Bryce Dallas Howard has done it again. After last week’s disappointing episode, we learned today that “The Passenger” was in effect little more than buildup for “The Heiress”, which so thoroughly pays its dues for the silliness of the previous week that I’ve already forgotten those insufferable egg jokes. “The Heiress” is action-packed, brilliantly paced, and taut, without a second of redundancy, meandering, or excess beyond what it needs to accomplish. As with the ship-hijacking that plays out for most of its second half, the rule is simple: get in and out with ruthless efficiency. On to recap.
After the by now badly-mauled Razor Crest shambles its way to Trask, Mando reunites Frog Lady with Frog Gentleman and then bribes a local Mon Calamari fisherman and his crew to take him to the Mandalorian covert in the area. This goes horribly wrong. Mando is betrayed and the child nearly killed before the arrival of a Mandalorian hit-squad lead by Bo-Katan Kryze jetpacks on the scene and wipes the squid out. Kryze, who is a famous character from other Star Wars stuff I am only dimly aware of or interested in, is the last of her clan and hellbent on recovering the Dark Saber from Moff Gideon as a stepping stone to reconquering the Mandalorian homeworld, proclaiming herself Mandalore, and restablishing the Mandalorians’ empire. She also, to Mando’s disbelief, reveals her face, telling Mando that the religion he follows is not the Mandalorian Creed proper but that of the Watch, a fundamentalist sect who broke off from mainstream Mandalorian society long ago. This is, uh, a big deal, because it throws everything we’ve been told so far in this show about Mandalorians on its head, and sets up the potential for some complicated intra-communal politics as more Mandalorians come into the picture.
Katee Sachoff is great in this role, commanding literally every frame of the episode she occupies through sheer force of personality. She’s also utterly murderous in a knife-fight which, fortunately, we get to see a lot of. Bo-Katan and her squad plan to hijack and rob a transport in service of her campaign against the neo-imperial occupiers of Mandalore (the name refers both to the Mandalorian homeworld and its ruler), and they enlist Din Djarin in their mission in return for information on the whereabouts of the Jedi. Djarin leaves The Child with Frog Family, cases the transport, and then the fun begins. Swooping down on the transport via jetpack in mid ascent, the squad cuts and shoots its way through hall after hall of stormtroopers in a beautifully claustrophobic ten minutes or so of violence.
Howard has directed excellent action sequences for the show before (basically all of S1E4), but in season one it was Deborah Chow and Rick Famuyiwa who perfected the close-range murder dances of “The Sin” (S1E3) and “The Prisoner” (S1E6). Given a smaller canvas on which to kill people, Howard, well, has her characters kill a lot of people in brutally efficient fashion, with all manner of blasters, sling blades, grenades, airlocks, and other assorted panoply of viciousness. Mando, while important, is not really critical to the mayhem until the endstage of breaching the transport bridge. This is Bo-Katan’s episode and Djarin is largely along for the ride of her and her squad John Wick-ing the shit out of everything in their path to recover the Dark Saber, last seen wielded by Moff Gideon in the Season 1 finale (Esposito has a hologram guest appearance in this episode). When the captain of the ship kills himself rather than divulge Gideon’s location, Bo-Katan plots her next move and tells Djarin he must seek Jedi Ahsoka Tano (another fan favorite character) on the forest world of Corvus to fulfill his quest.
The plot has thickened considerably. Only time will tell how this would-be empress’s ambitions will play out, and what role Djarin will occupy in her vendetta against Moff Gideon. Meanwhile, things are definitely about to go in a fucking Force-y direction, and the Mandalorians are apparently as susceptible to religious bickering as real-wordl humans. This is the Way.