This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3, “Chapter 11: The Heiress.”
Up until this point, The Mandalorian has been a show more focused on dealing with immediate conflicts than laying the seeds for future storylines and plots. A hefty amount of episodes last season were entirely one-off affairs that we’re only now discovering had long-term effects. Granted, they paid off in ways that were at best occasionally satisfying and at worst meaningless, but “The Heiress” spends most of its runtime planting the seeds for where future seasons of the show can, and hopefully will, eventually go.
Like I predicted last week, the effects of helping the frog lady were fairly negligible. This episode, Mando (Pedro Pascal) brought her to Trask, and her husband connected him to someone who could find other Mandalorians. It was exactly as advertised last episode with no real surprises and no real value to be gained. But while Trask gave off some nice nautical vibes, mostly due to Mando landing in a port city and nearly being fed to a giant sea monster thanks to some treasonous Quarren, we get the first big confirmed crossover (as the identity of Temuera Morrison’s character is not yet confirmed) of the season between The Mandalorian and another entry in the franchise, the appearance of Bo-Katan from The Clone Wars animated series, played in live action by the original voice actress, Katee Sackhoff.
Hardcore Star Wars fans who followed her exploits in that series must have been gleefully surprised to see the character once more, let alone in her first live-action appearance. But I’m sure a majority of Mandalorian fans had their first exposure to the character here. That comes with the potential for alienating newcomers in exchange for fan service for the hardcore audience. Luckily, the show handled her introduction expertly and in a way that can hook newcomers into wanting to learn more about her.
Let’s not kid ourselves here — Star Wars lore can be hard to follow if you just have a casual interest in the franchise. Most people familiar with the series solely watch the films and nothing else. Average fans may not even be aware that there are multiple animated series dedicated to the franchise, despite Clone Wars’ utterly dominant viewership numbers on Disney+. This is perfectly fine.
Instead of assuming everyone knows who she is, Favreau — who wrote “The Heiress” — had Bo-Katan introduce herself to Mando in a way that explains to both Mando and the new audience who she is. It works in a way that will satisfy longtime fans and intrigue newcomers alike, and if you want to research her origins further afterward, you have that option.
We also learn new information and further develop the culture of the Mandalorians. There’s a clear divide between Bo-Katan and her sect of Mandalorians and our Mando’s own creed, most notably with Bo-Katan removing her helmet. Mando is aghast, saying a true Mandalorian would never remove their helmet. While so far we’ve been made to believe that there was only one “way” according to Mando, Bo-Katan argues otherwise, stating that Mando is a Child of the Watch, or a radical group of religious zealot Mandalorians. Mando comes from a group of extremists, which isn’t too hard to believe given their actions since the premiere. It’s fascinating hearing everything that Mando has learned about Mandalorian culture may not be true, and it would be nice to see Mando come to grips with the idea that “the Way” he’s learned may not be entirely right — or even completely wrong.
As for the actual plot of the episode, it does unfortunately feel like there’s too much content shoved into a brief half-hour time period. We see Mando land on Trask, fall prey to the Quarren, meet up with the other Mandalorians, team up with them in order to steal an Empire ship with weapons, and learn about the location of the Jedi he seeks — revealed to be Ahsoka Tano. Some parts are developed more substantially than others, like the motivations of Bo-Katan’s faction of Mandalorians in their quest to retake their homeworld of Mandalore, but the revelation that Mando is seeking Ahsoka Tano feels almost like an afterthought.
The heist at the end of “The Heiress” is fairly solid, if only because it’s mostly played for laughs. The setup and payoff here feels more effective than in last episode, with a special focus on showing us just how inept the Empire has become. Everyone just acknowledges and accepts that stormtroopers can’t aim for their life, and one Empire officer tasked with holding off the Mandalorians celebrates trapping them in the cargo control room while he stands right in front of the hatch in the cargo hold. The exasperated look of the commanding officer upon realizing how stupid his officer is is a mood that I can easily relate to.
While “The Heiress” definitely wouldn’t be considered filler, as the conflict to retake Mandalore will probably reappear in future seasons of the show, its significance is understated. Bo-Katan reveals at the very end that she really only wants information on Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and his Darksaber. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but to fully understand the motivation for why she wants the Darksaber currently requires a trip to Wookieepedia, as there is no other indicator in the episode saying why the Darksaber is so important to Bo-Katan or Mandalorian culture in general. Again, I would much rather a show try to take time to explain its character motivations within the confines of the show than have me consult decades of continuity, but time will tell how things play out.
This wasn’t an episode about Mando. Mando served as a supporting character as Bo-Katan took center stage. She was “The Mandalorian” this episode. It served as a refreshing change of pace not just seeing the reappearance of a fan-favorite character, but having a different Mandalorian take the helm of the show. In exchange for immediate gratification, we may be starting to see the endgame of the series slowly take shape, despite its potentially being years away. It may be a long way off, but “The Heiress” was a simple pivot that offered up some sumptuous goods for later while we took a break from the current plot.