Good and evil were never binary concepts in Star Wars, but what spin-off TV shows have allowed so far is the space to really accommodate that nuance. Andor did an excellent job of introducing characters who wavered on the moral line. Now the latest episode of The Mandalorian season 3 is another thoughtful example as Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) right-hand man, becomes the focus of a compelling exploration of just how different the New Republic really is from the Empire.
The bulk of The Convert focuses on a seemingly reformed Dr. Pershing, who participates in the New Republic’s “Reintegration Program” for ex-Imperial officers. First we see him again in Coruscant delivering an impassioned speech about his research into cloning and genetic modification and how grateful he is for the opportunity to reform after joining the Empire.
What comes after, however, leads to the moral dilemma of the episode. When approached by people flattering him, one person tells him that they try not to get involved in everyday politics. It’s a glimpse into a similar world to that of Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) years earlier in Andor under a different rule – high society doesn’t really care who’s in charge as long as it doesn’t affect their finances.
The theme continues as we delve into the everyday of Dr. Immerse yourself in Pershing’s new life as he tries to adjust to a society that undervalues his work and doesn’t trust him. He is working on archiving Imperial data to be destroyed despite its potential use; He is constantly questioned by a droid about feelings of resentment and is told that his field is of no use in the New Republic. It’s no wonder feelings of dissatisfaction boil over just as fellow convert Elia offers Kane (Katy M. O’Brian) a temptation.
Gideon’s ship’s former communications officer gives him a chance to continue his investigation and lures him into breaking the rules. First, she sends him forbidden items, tricking him into touching a model of Umate Mountain, and before he even knows it, they’re on a train to the shipyard to steal Imperial technology. There’s a lot of enjoyment in these sequences, set in the glittering lights of Coruscant and having a Blade Runner feel to it, with the vibrant futuristic score and thrilling chase scenes. It’s a reminder of the scope of the Star Wars universe and the endless possibilities for storytelling within it.
All is not as it seems and when Dr. When Persh gets their hands on the technology he needs, the authorities close in and arrest him. It quickly becomes apparent that Elijah has been testing his loyalty all along. What follows is a truly terrifying sequence in which he is strapped into a Mind Flayer, an experimental machine that will help numb his memories of the past – oh but don’t worry, “this isn’t the Empire”. The moral gray deepens as Elijah turns up the tension, causing the doctor to cramp on the table. It’s a brutal sequence and a fascinating introduction to this new villain’s abilities.
It’s a fitting moment to remind us that the show is called The Mandalorian, which you may have forgotten given that Pedro Pascal’s hero hardly appears in The Convert. This isn’t really a new concept for the universe, as The Book of Boba Fett didn’t really have its titular character on occasion either, but you really feel Mando’s and Grogu’s absence in the episode, especially since it feels like we’ve done it just got them back.
But what we get is great. The momentum developed from the exciting adventure of Mando, Grogu and Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) in Mandalore continues in the first part of this episode. A newly redeemed Mando is questioned by Bo-Katan about what he saw in the Living Waters, while she tactfully keeps to herself the fact that a giant mythosaur resides there. It’s not very hard to see the cogs turning in her head, how she can use this to her advantage, something that only solidifies when the Armorer declares her part of the Mandalorian creed at the end of the episode and her eyes open to the Mythosaurs scurry skulls.
There’s also some great action in Mando’s portion of the narrative as they are chased by TIE fighters on their return to Bo-Katan’s house. And while Grogu’s involvement in the story was pretty minimal this time, we were treated to an adorable moment in which he seemingly tried to say “this is the way.” It’s all too short, however, and as the two escape the clutches of the Imperial ships, we only catch up briefly at the end as they return to the Mandalorian fortress for redemption.
A lot of interesting narrative threads are pulled in The Convert, especially when it comes to morality commentary and evokes a real sense of foreshadowing of what is to come. We haven’t seen Moff Gideon this season, but it doesn’t feel like he’s far away, nor does it feel like this will be the last we’ll hear from the sadistic Elia. Then there is the question of what Bo-Katan is planning behind her helmet and how the mythosaur will play it.
The act of juggling involves difficulties. At worst, it feels like it’s trying to cover too much, resulting in an inflated running time with too little clarity as to its relevance to Mando and Grogu’s story. That doesn’t stop that from being at its best though, it allows for an interesting and nuanced perspective on the wide world our heroes operate in, and that’s enticing enough to keep us hooked.
For more information, check out The Mandalorian’s Star Wars timeline and our full The Mandalorian Season 3 release schedule. We also launched all the new Star Wars movies and TV shows.