Din is redeemed but the real story revolves around the fate of Empire members seeking a new start.
Hey there, strangers. I’m filling in for Megan, who is out trying to chase down Thrawn. He knows why. So you all are stuck with me for Chapter 19 of The Mandalorian chronicle, “The Convert.” This one is Din and Grogu light AND the best episode yet of season 3. Time to dive in to discover why.
First, let’s get Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), and Grogu squared away.
Bookending the episode are two segments following Din’s ritual bathing/near drowning in the Living Waters. After a brief debrief (having fun with WORDS!) in which Bo-Katan asks if Din also saw the mythosaur without actually just, you know, asking him, the group takes to the skies to return to Kalevala.
Unfortunately, on their way, a group of hostile TIE Interceptors begin to give chase. Bo-Katan quickly surmises that a warlord with whom she has had some…difficult…past encounters must’ve sent them. For a time, it does seem it is that simple.
Predictably, these Interceptors are overmatched. Bo knows (get it?!) the terrain and has them making mistakes and missing her left and right. Din, meanwhile, leaps from her craft to fall to his, surviving the impressive drop with the brief use of his jetpack and little else. These warlord henchmen never stood a chance.
Well, remember when we said it appeared Bo was right, for a time? The time ends when they witness a second set of ships utterly decimate her home. She is, of course, ready to open up on them in response, but Din calls her off. His scope reveals the bombers did not come alone. Instead, they’ve got back up in the form of a huge second fleet. As our stoic protagonist points out, it is way too many ships to be a mere warlord’s flunkies. Add in their red exhaust ports, and it seems The Mandalorian maybe show viewers the early days of The First Order.
As anyone in recovery can tell you, that kind of reminiscing can be dangerous.
Whoever is commanding that fleet, the situation forces Bo-Katan to run rather than fight. Din knows just the place, so together, they hit hyperspace. Destination: The Children of The Watch.
Following the A-plot of the episode (we’ll get to it in a sec), we find that our trio, plus that astromech named R5-D4 from last episode, has arrived. Predictably the Mandalorian stationed outside is a jerk to them. I know the Mandalorians are a religious movement into exclusivity, but they really could take a lesson from megachurches. Sure, nearly every member of those churches hates my politics more than they hate the concept of humble prayer, but if I show up, they’re all smiles and handshakes. Mandalorians are a nearly dead movement. It couldn’t hurt to invest in a Greeting Committee.
Anyway, everyone is unpleasant until the Armorer confirms that Din’s vial of fluid is, in fact, a sample of the Living Waters. Our favorite cast out Mandalorian is thus redeemed. Interestingly, so is Bo, who, for reasons unknown, hasn’t removed her helmet since taking her own dip in the Waters. As a result, both, plus the best young frog eater, are given asylum. Boom. Roll credits.
Now, let’s get to the REALLY cool stuff.
Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi), the man whose desire to get himself a…whatever Grogu is…started this whole series, is back. After betraying Grand Moff Gideon at the end of last season, Pershing earned himself a spot in the Amnesty Program, a sort of intergalactic probation curriculum/halfway house situation. When we first catch up with him, he’s giving a TED-style talk on Coruscant about his appreciation for the Program and how it has already improved his life.
Afterward, he rubs elbows with people perhaps best described as the planet’s philanthropic class. While very different in concerns from the casino planet in The Last Jedi (you may know it as the first- or second-best Star Wars film), the situation gives off similar vibes. Here is this group of moneyed people who are either totally divorced from the realities of universal conflict or benefitting from it in a queasy sort of way.
After the reception, it becomes clear that Pershing is no VIP. For one thing, he doesn’t even have a proper name anymore. Like the rest of his fellow Amnesty members, who dwell in projects-esque apartment buildings, he now goes by a letter and two numbers. In his case, L52. On his way home, he encounters a few other Amnesty-ers enjoying the Star Wars equivalent of a few brews on the front steps.
While they immediately invite him to join them, the doctor is quite awkward at first. His discomfort only grows when he recognizes Gideon’s communications officer Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian), now G68. He’s so flustered, in fact, he outs both of them as being part of Gideon’s crew. Notably, that gives the other former Empire participants the heebie-jeebies. Nonetheless, they toast one another. From there, as it is wont to do, the grape and the grain start to relax everyone.
What follows is a deeply familiar scene to me as someone who has worked as a therapist with addicts, the incarcerated, and the paroled. They start to reminisce about what they miss. Not being war criminals, of course, but the side benefits to that role. It’s akin to an alcoholic insisting they don’t miss booze while recalling warmly how much they used to love the fries at their old pub. As anyone in recovery can tell you, that kind of reminiscing can be dangerous.
Despite not having much of a relationship on Gideon’s ship, Pershing and Kane start to hang out. It begins with a gift, biscuits he misses from the Empire days. Soon, she’s teaching him the ropes of life in the Amnesty Program while, none too subtly, cultivating frustration in the doctor. See, Pershing is a man who believed (believes) in his work. Ironically, because of the earnestness of his reintegration, this makes for a difficult situation. He doesn’t just want to file. He wants to help the New Republic. But how? Well, his work on cloning and genetics (eugenics, really), naturally.
However, his assigned droid repeatedly redirects him when he brings up the idea. The New Republic has forbidden his class of research. Therefore, the machine encourages him to work the Program and do his best at his assigned job. That’s how he can help.
Unfortunately, the confluence of his belief in his research, his fervor for the Republic (he is “The Convert,” after all), and his pride make him reticent to accept his droid’s conclusions. Add in Kane insisting it would be easy to get him a mobile lab to “prove” his research’s worth. It’s no wonder things end up going down as they do.
Another rejection and a failed attempt to expand his responsibilities at work guide him to Kane’s way of thinking. Together, the two sneak out of town on Coruscant’s Metro North, bound for an impound lot. There should be the supplies the doctor needs, his new friend assures him. They’re basically unguarded. No one need get hurt. No one need be the wiser.
However, Pershing is the man he is, and that’s not a cool customer. As droids come through the cars checking tickets, all he can do is awkwardly try to imitate Kane with decidedly lesser results. The droids catch on, but before they can detain the duo, Pershing and Kane successfully leap from the train into the stockyard.
One thing all the Star Wars projects do well is depicting ships flying in combat. This episode’s opening action sequence honors that legacy.
While Pershing is anxious, he still somehow doesn’t see that this endeavor was a mistake from the jump. Not just because he’s no good at sneaking but because Kane’s been setting him up all along. As the two flee the impound lot, equipment in hand, they run directly into New Republic law enforcement. It’s immediately clear that Pershing is the target and Kane’s been collaborating with them. They take him into custody as she strolls away.
Later, the Republic subjects Pershing to a machine called the “mind flayer.” Understandably unenthusiastic about this idea, Pershing begs for mercy and another chance. Instead, the Republic official, a Mon Calamari, insists they don’t use it as the Empire did. He even went through it himself.
Sadly, Kane is on hand to ensure that the machine treats her “friend” precisely like the Empire would. When she’s left in the control room by herself, she turns the dial from “change his attitude” to “cook his brain.” While his fate remains unconfirmed, it’s clear from his grimacing that things aren’t going well.
- One thing all the Star Wars projects do well is depicting ships flying in combat. This episode’s opening action sequence honors that legacy.
- I love the triple meaning of The Convert—Bo-Katan, Kane, and Pershing—and how the episode ends without giving us a clear idea of the authenticity of either woman’s conversion. If I had to guess, Bo is skeptical but Mandalorian-curious, while Kane is working a Gideon-related agenda.
- Even droids drive like maniacs, apparently. Pershing’s taxi home pulls the quintessential sin of movie and TV driving by keeping his eyes on everything but where he’s going.
- I admit I giggled at Pershing’s story about his mom’s heart “giving out.” Maybe she got that Padme broken heart disease too?