The Spool / Recap
The Mandalorian ranks grow this week but tensions (and the Empire) rise
“The Spies” brings out the baddies and Grogu stretches his legs in a lore-heavy episode.
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“The Spies” brings out the baddies and Grogu stretches his legs in a lore-heavy episode.


Welcome to Chapter 23 of The Mandalorian, “The Spies.” Remember that’s plural: more than one spy is or should be present this week. While one of them is obvious, the others remain a mystery, sure to inspire elaborate theories from viewers. Last week I asked to see what the remnants of the Empire were up to. The penultimate episode of Season 3 brings us some answers at last. Spoiler alert: They aren’t up to anything good. 

Jon Favreau wrote “The Spies,” as per usual. However, an added Dave Filoni credit tells us that the Star Wars universe will be linking up even further. Cameo time, baby!  

Elia Kane (Katy M. O’Brian) walks down a Coruscant alleyway. There she has a sneaky little holo conversation with Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). She breaks him the news that the pirates couldn’t take Nevarro due to the help of the Mandalorians. Gideon dislikes hearing about the Mandalorian factions getting along, so he says he’ll deal with that while Kane continues her mission. So there’s Spy Number One, Kane. Gideon then walks to join a holo meeting of the Shadow Council already in session.  

The Mandalorian Chapter 23 (Disney+)
Yes, Katy O’Brian isn’t on the side of angels–she’s a baddie, if you will–but she does get things done. (Disney+)

The Shadow Council is, essentially, a clutch of remaining Imperial officers and warlords who have decided they needed a boss team name. The most talkative of them (do they have a special handshake?) are Gilad Pellaeon (Xander Berkeley)–there to assure everyone that his best buddy Grand Admiral Thrawn is totally on his way back–and Brendol Hux (Brian Gleeson), father of future First Order General Armitage Hux. Gideon points out that Pellaeon is always saying that Thrawn will be back any day now, but it never seems to happen. Thus, Gideon recommends that the Imperial remnants start looking for new leadership. Hux is working on something called Project Necromancer (they named these things in their cool treehouse) for this very reason.  

Gideon lies through his teeth that Dr. Pershing and his research were lost thanks to the New Republic. Then he manages to maneuver Pellaeon and Hux into sharing their amassed resources with the rest of the class. Oh, and Gideon wants three Praetorian Guards, reinforcements for his TIE interceptor force. Finally, he’d really appreciate if everyone stopped asking him if he was doing experiments with Dr. Pershing on Nevarro. 

These cameos in the Shadow Council do two things very well. First, they continue the growing references to Rebels and the upcoming Ahsoka show to build up the overarching story. Next, they inextricably link The Mandalorian and its associated universe to the sequel trilogy.  

Cameo time, baby!

Speaking of Nevarro, the Mandalorian Fleet arrives, and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) just wants all of her kids to get along. Meanwhile, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu visit Greef Karga (Carl Weathers). Karga has a surprise for them: a refurbished IG-11, now IG-12, and an operational vehicle droid that just so happens to be Grogu-sized. 

Din appreciates the gesture but thinks Grogu is too young for a mech suit. Still, Grandpa Karga wants Grogu to sit in his present and see if it fits. A delighted Grogu can also communicate via the droid, namely in persistent “Yeses” and “Nos” like all toddlers before him. Like many grandfathers before him, Karga wins out. Grogu and Din leave with IG-12.  

No one is having a very good time at the Mandalorian family feast. Nonetheless, Bo chooses this awkward venue to seek out volunteers to do a recon mission of Mandalore. It’s the usual suspects: Din, Paz Vizsla (Jon Favreau), Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides), Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado), and a collection of random other Mandalorians. Din is, naturally, bringing his toddler child. In a surprise move, the Armorer (Emily Swallow) also volunteers to come along. Hmmmm. Shouldn’t someone stay back with the Fleet to be in charge of the others? She went on the mission to free Nevarro, but that was an all-hands situation. Jot this down as suspicious behavior.  

The Mandalorian Chapter 23 (Disney+)
Like many dads before him, Pedro Pascal pretends to be fine that no one listens when he tells them to stop spoiling Grogu. (Disney+)

The recon team heads to Mandalore, followed by the Fleet. A large part of Bo’s plan is that the recon team will see if the surface is safe for settlers. But settlers of what, exactly, Bo-Katan? Mandalore needs some work. As the team starts out, Din sees something on the horizon that turns out to be a crew of Mandalorians that have survived on Mandalore ever since the Purge. They eagerly join up under Bo. 

At dinner, Bo-Katan confesses that she did surrender to the Empire. She believed that Moff Gideon was offering to spare Mandalore in exchange for the Darksaber. Unfortunately, he betrayed her. Seeing many of the survivors’ states, the Armorer tells Bo that she’ll take the injured up to the Fleet when the others head out for the Great Forge. Again, let’s write that down as suspicious.  

The next morning, Bo and company head out on the survivors’ land ship as the Armorer takes off for the Fleet. Paz and Axe cannot keep cool while playing a board game and begin squabbling. Thankfully Grogu’s there to break up the fight using IG-12 and issuing a stern “No.” Wow, that’s embarrassing for you, Paz and Axe. That said, it does lend a nice sprinkling of Grogu’s Jedi training into the Mandalorian mix. They certainly never learned to break up a fight. 

As the show’s title has shifted to encompass Bo-Katan, it’s hard not to hope that she gets the closure she craves.

Since it’s a Mandalorian outing, a giant reptile attacks and forces them to abandon ship. They head underground to the remains of the Great Forge only to encounter another ambush. This time, it’s Imperial jumptroopers with jetpacks and beskar armor. Axe manages to evade the troopers and heads out to warn the Fleet, leaving another Mandalorian we’ll note as suspicious. The Mandalorians chase the troopers to an underground (and thriving) Imperial base. Unfortunately, a closed blast door separates Din from the rest, and the troopers capture him. 

Moff Gideon makes a dramatic appearance in his own armor and jetpack. He brags about his plan to use elements of the Mandalorians, the Jedi, and clones to create an army that will restore order to the galaxy. You know, that old chestnut. He then orders his TIE fighters to destroy the Fleet.

Gideon has the blast doors raised to kill the remaining Mandalorians, but Bo uses the Darksaber to cut a way out of the back. That helps her get her people out while Paz remains behind to cover their escape. Gideon flees as Paz takes out the jumptroopers. Alas, it’s a shortlived victory as the aforementioned Praetorian Guards enter and stab him repeatedly, leaving him to die. Who’s breaking the news to Ragnar?  

The Mandalorian Chapter 23 (Disney+)
Giancarlo Esposito knows how to make an entrance. (Disney+)

As the season builds to next week’s finale, how will Bo-Katan, with her right-hand man Din captured and her people fractured yet again, manage to get the revenge on Gideon that we’re all longing for? She has to get that honor, right? As the show’s title has shifted to encompass Bo-Katan, it’s hard not to hope that she gets the closure she craves. Still, things are seldom that simple, in life or Star Wars

Who are the other titular spies? The Armorer and Axe Woves aren’t looking great, but then, there’s an air of convenience to the appearance of the survivors as well. On that note, what is First Spy Elia Kane’s mission? What is Moff Gideon building in there? Does Pellaeon have a calendar with the days since Thrawn disappeared marked on it? Will we get answers to any of this at all next week? Let’s keep our fingers crossed and our eyes open.  

The Mandalorian Chapter 23 (Disney+)
We’ve got ourselves a regular Mandalorian family reunion going on right here.(Disney+)

Bantha Droppings: 

  • Din tells Bo that he doesn’t follow her because she has the Darksaber. He follows her because she’s a good leader and a good person. I’m still not entirely sure I agree, but it’s a speech Bo needs to hear.  
  • Gideon walks past some cloning tubes to his meeting only to immediately deny he’s doing any cloning. Good thing he gets to attend these meetings remotely.  
  • Significant parts of the cloning plotline are forming in the past over on The Bad Batch, so check out that show to follow along! 
  • Yes, Brian Gleeson is Dohmnall Gleeson’s brother.  
  • Just picking and choosing the parts that you like from other cultures, Moff Gideon? That’s what we like to call cultural appropriation.  
  • This week’s Mando’a word is “aruetii,” which means “traitors.” Certainly not directing that word at anyone, in particular, this week.