Now we’re really flying. The 3rd chapter of Star Wars The Mandalorian takes the series to a new level and we really get to see where the first season is going. Directed by Deborah Chow, The Sin, represents another groundbreaking moment in Star Wars storytelling, as Chow is both the first woman and first director of Asian descent to direct a Star Wars story. Last week’s episode gave us our first ever Star Wars story directed by a person of color in Rick Famuyiwa, and it’s so important that we are getting these diverse voices contributing to our favorite galaxy far far away. If you haven’t already listened to Vanity Fair’s excellent Still Watching podcast with Joanna Robinson and Star Wars reporting ace Anthony Breznican, I couldn’t recommend it strongly enough. In their latest episode, Breznican speaks with Chow and they have a great conversation about what it means for her to be the first woman to direct a Star Wars story. Chow tells Breznican:

“I want it to be about the work. I want to be a good director, not a good female director, not a good Asian director. But by the same token, obviously, my career path and the representation… it is important. It is meaningful. I want to see more women directors and I want to see more directors of color.”

Chow has done such an incredible job with this opportunity (she also directs another episode later this season), that Lucasfilm made the shrewd move of bringing her back for the full season of its upcoming Disney+ series on Obi-wan Kenobi. Fans have been clamoring for years for more diverse creators to be given the keys to tell Star Wars stories, and The Mandalorian has truly embraced that approach to resounding success.

Now onto my review of Chapter 3: The Sin. Full spoilers below!

Briefcap

To this point, The Mandalorian has been pretty straight forward story-telling. That’s not a bad thing. For this episode, which clocks in at 37 minutes long (and that’s including the gorgeous end credits with concept art for the show), the plot is fairly basic. Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), tells the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) to go directly to “The Client” (Werner Herzog) and deliver the bounty. So the Mandalorian lands on yet another arid planet and takes Baby Yoda to The Client’s location. The perspective of the camera is interesting early on, as we see multiple shots from just behind Baby Yoda, giving the audience the same view as the youthful heartthrob. Our emotional strings are blatantly yanked around throughout this episode. They know what they’re trying to do and they’re not interested in hiding it.

The Mandalorian art by Darren Tibbles

The Mandalorian gets to the Client’s compound, receives an ice-cream bucket load of Beskar bars for his trouble, and Baby Yoda lets out a sad whine as he’s carted away. Nearly everyone had to expect that our hero (?) wouldn’t let this happen and the shooting would start right away. However, the Beskar is too vital to his Mandalorian community and he makes the trade and heads “home.” There, he offers his payment to The Armorer (Emily Swallow), who notes that this much Beskar will allow her to make brand new armor for him and still have extra left over for “the Foundlings”. The Mandalorian then has a confrontation with Happy Hogan a heavy artillery Mando, which gives us some insight into the current state of the Mandalorians as a group, and also some hints on Pascal’s character. It’s heavily implied that our titular hero (?) is an outsider and possibly has been adopted into the Mandalorian community.

After getting suited and booted with shiny new armor, the Mandalorian goes back to Karga, already looking for his next job. The man is clearly throwing himself into his work as he seemingly has nothing else in his life. In the first 3 episodes, the Mandalorian’s loneliness has been clearly established. He wanted Kuiil to join him, but he was rejected. He’s resented by his own people, even though he’s bringing in much needed resources. His life was saved by Baby Yoda, whom he refers to as “the enemy.” It’s no wonder he trudges around looking depressed.

With his next mission in hand, he heads back to his ship, only to be reminded of the sacrificial cub that he handed over to the remnants of the Empire. Overcome by his conscience or loneliness or both, The Mandalorian decides to head back and save Baby Yoda. He breaks into The Client’s facility, kills a bunch of Stormtroopers, spares the clone doctor, snatches his little green friend and walks back to his ship. As he walks straight down Main Street towards his ship, every single bounty hunter in the area is alerted to his sin and they surround him. In her interview with Breznican, Deborah Chow mentioned that she was inspired by Hong Kong action films like Hard Boiled, and Kurosawa films like Yojimbo for this episode, and her inspirations shine in this final action sequence. After a game effort by the Mandalorian, he’s saved by the cavalry, led by Happy Mando, who tells him to run with the baby while they cover him. The episode has a happy (no pun intended) ending as Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian are reunited and safe on the Razor Crest, and we get a final shot of Happy Mando flying by with a salute.

The Mandalorian art by Darren Tan

The Good

Creative Diversity – Just as Chow would have wanted, this episode was excellent on its own merits. But in many ways it’s also excellent because of Chow’s diverse background and perspective. As Chow mentioned to Breznican, her exposure to Hong Kong action films comes from her father. Of course, movies like Hard Boiled are popular across the globe, but the connection is clearly personal for Chow. Her unique perspective gave us one of the best shoot-outs in Star Wars saga history and as always, with more diversity, everyone wins!

The Bad

Mandalorian Mystery – We’re three episodes in now and I can’t say we really have any idea about the motivations of our titular hero (?). We know he cares about his Mandalorian family and works hard at his craft to provide Beskar for them. But beyond that, it’s not really clear what he’s about or what drives him. That’s a tough line to toe when the show is clearly centered around him and the first three episodes gave us fairly limited supporting characters. We’re all losing our hearts for Baby Yoda but are we rooting for the Mandalorian beyond our desire that he keep Baby Yoda safe?

The Pocky

Fan Theories – One critical element that the creative team has succeeded in thus far is planting enough seeds and teases to inspire various fan theories about what’s really going on in this show. I think the Lone Wolf and Cub connection that I mentioned last week is obvious and we’re about to see that journey in earnest now that the Mandalorian is on the run with Baby Yoda in tow. But beyond the fact that Baby Yoda is stupid cute, what makes him so special? We know that he can use the Force but it seems the Empire knows that as well. Dr. Pershing seems to have a certain amount of respect for it and he’s wearing a clone patch on his shoulder. Does that mean Pershing is a clone or that he specializes in cloning? Or both?? In this episode we see the Mandalorian eavesdropping on a conversation between The Client and Pershing where the Client is pushing Pershing to “extract” the material and move on. It sure seems like they want to clone Baby Yoda. For an Empire that just lost its head, the value of having a bunch of Force wielding babies is obvious. Except, it didn’t really seem like the majority of the Empire knew about Palpatine and Vader’s Force abilities or that the galaxy at large knew much about the Force at all. So if that’s true…just how high up in the Empire was The Client or his benefactor? These mysteries, which we know Dave Filoni is great at seeding, are definitely a key driver for each episode.

The Mandalorian art by Andrew Kwan

Rating – 4.5/5

Overall this was an exceptional episode. It wasn’t a perfect episode (the Mandalorian’s plan was really to casually stroll down the street with Baby Yoda in hand?) but the small warts were easy to overlook in favor of all the geektastic glory we were given and it’s certainly the best episode of the series yet.