Get ready to spend an entire hour with not Mandalorians! Which is good for the show, really, but I’ve got so many questions.
Din wakes from his time in the living waters and Bo-Katan asks him if he saw anything while he was down there, any living creature. Din doesn’t seem to remember the mythosaur, so she doesn’t bring it up. Din grabs a sample of the living waters before they go, and they take Bo-Katan’s ship back to Kalevala, but they’re beset by TIE interceptors as they arrive—Bo assumes it’s another Imperial warlord she’s angered. She air drops Din to his ship and they fight the group off, but TIE bombers destroy her home and an entire fleet of ships suddenly shows up. It can’t be the result of a warlord, but they’ve got no time to figure out what’s happening as Din gives Bo-Katan hyperspace coordinates to a place where they’ll be safe.
Meanwhile, we check in on Doctor Pershing (Omid Abtahi), who is giving a speech on Coruscant about how grateful he is to have made it into the New Republic’s Amnesty Program, and how deeply he regrets the ways that his work was twisted for the Empire’s use. The listeners all congratulate him after the speech, making quips about how they can barely keep he regimes straight, and how lucky Pershing is to have found a government that appreciates him. Pershing heads back to Amnesty housing, where he meets a group of former officers who invite him to have a drink—everyone is designated by their role and a letter-number assignation. One person in particular startles Pershing, communications officer Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian) who used to work on Moff Gideon’s ship. The group ask Pershing what innocuous thing he misses from the old days, and he admits that he misses the yellow travel biscuits. Later that night there’s a knock at his door—someone’s left him a box of the biscuits.
At his job at the Amnesty Program, Pershing does archiving for the New Republic. He’s expected to give testimony to a droid frequently over the state of his mental health, and whether or not he’s feeling anger and resentment toward coworkers or the New Republic at large. He begins to spend more time with Elia, and they both talk about how similar and yet different Coruscant seems under new management. The doctor mentions that he’s frustrated with his inability to continue his cloning research, as he believes it would be beneficial to the new government. Elia suggests that they could help him restart said research by getting him the equipment he needs, but that they’d have to go outside their designated area. When Pershing proves hesitant, she tells him to sleep on it.
Buy the Book
Back at his job, Pershing notices that he’s archiving material that has been set for destruction—the New Republic doesn’t want to use any equipment that once belonged to the Empire. He insists that he could salvage appropriate resources for their use, but his supervisor advises against it, stating that they’re behind in their work and that he’s not even sure someone from the Amnesty Program could submit the proper forms to make that request as it’s never been done before. Later, he asks his probation droid whether he could be allowed to continue his research, and is informed that his areas of science are prohibited by the Coruscant Accords. Pershing tells Elia that he wants to go get the equipment she mentioned. They put on civilian clothes that don’t mark them as members of the Amnesty Program and jump onto public transit without paying. Eventually droids come through to check tickets, so they hop cars and eventually jump off the train as it reaches the decommissioning yards.
The duo board a Star Destroyer easily because nothing is guarded in the yards, and they begin searching for the equipment, When they come upon a lab, Pershing tells Elia that being in an environment like this was something he always dreamed of, ever since he was a boy watching his mother work as a doctor. When he joined the Empire he thought he’d made it, having access to resources like this. Elia thinks it’s impressive that Pershing always knew what he wanted to be—she didn’t have a life like that. They hear sounds on the ship and have to make a break for it, but they’re caught anyway… and Elia turns Pershing in. The doctor is brought back to the integration center and subjected to mind flare therapies that will “ease” his upset, though he begs them not to do it and asks why Elia set him up. Elia asks to stay while Pershing receives this therapy because “he’s a friend” and when the room is empty, she cranks the mind flare machine to torturous levels.
Bo-Katan and Din arrive at the home of the Watch, and he gives his living waters sample to the Armorer to prove that he has been redeemed. She accepts this redemption and announces that it extends to Bo-Katan as well because she accompanied him into the waters and has not removed her helmet since; she is free to live among them for the time being.
Interesting how we get a co-writer on an episode and suddenly there’s a ton of plot. And by interesting, I mean don’t really mean interesting.
But also… what the ever-loving sithspawn (to borrow a term from the Legends canon) is going on here.
I’ve had this problem before with The Mandalorian, in how it seems determined to portray the New Republic as no better than the Empire in any way, shape, or function. (And I should be clear that I’m not expecting the New Republic to be a pristine body, but there’s a chasm between noting the myriad ways governments fail their people, and suggesting that basically all forms of government are inherently evil.) This episode doubles down on that conceit by way of the Amnesty Program, and it’s frankly baffling from a logistical standpoint. The purpose of reintegrating and deprogramming scientists who worked within fascist regimes in the real world has always been with an eye toward tapping them as resources—Operation Paperclip is the oft-cited example in the U.S., and we’ve struggled culturally with the ethical implications and fallout ever since.
But here we have a program that effectively brainwashes former Imperial officers into an equally overwrought loyalty to the New Republic, erases their identities via codenames, and prevents them from being effective in their usefulness to the new government by assigning them meaningless grunt work? This is approaching Clockwork Orange levels of indoctrination, and we get no sense of the oversight being applied here, or what exactly the New Republic hopes to accomplish beyond a sense of smug moral superiority at deigning to give former Imperial troops a second chance.
Who created this program? What are its goals? Because while it makes sense to require former Imperials to do rehabilitative work if they expect to be part of the larger galactic community again, that’s not what we’re observing here. Moreover, if you knew that getting a spot in the Amnesty Program would result in complete stripping of most personal freedoms, why would anyone join up? (Do they not have a choice? Because if that’s the case, we’re down a much deeper well here, and they need to make that clear.)
Apparently members of the program don’t have their own money either? Otherwise I can’t quite understand jumping the turnstiles, unless credits are attached to your ID somehow. Maybe Elia just thought it would be fun….
Also, we’re supposed to believe that all of the resources leftover from the Empire are simply getting scrapped, rather than being reappropriated into something the New Republic can use. Which is wildly wasteful just to start, but also should be impossible from a purely functional perspective—the galaxy’s infrastructure doesn’t just bounce back from decades of constant warring, and the Rebel Alliance was particularly good at using the scraps that other people left behind when building their own fleet. If the point is that Imperial technology is too difficult to dismantle (which I could buy), at the very least we should see them stripping the ships for base materials that can be broken down and reconfigured. Conversely, if it’s a quality issue, that should get talked about too.
All of these issues detract from the mystery here, being what Elia’s purpose is in selling out Pershing and then full-on torturing (mind-wiping?) him. Presumably it has something to do with Gideon, but there’s also her own carefully omitted past to consider, so who knows where we’re headed.
Having said all that, I do appreciate the fact that one of the tensest pieces within the episode centered entirely around public transit fare evasion? That is not a joke, by the by: I wish that more action sequences in pop entertainment centered around mundane things that people do every day. Plus getting to see a Coruscant air train, more of that. More robot jugglers. And glow popsicles. (Although I’m sure those are next in the line for development at Disney theme parks, which takes a little of the joy out of it, really.)
As for what this has to do with Din, the kid, and Bo-Katan’s trouble, that’s a problem for next week. It’s possible this was a fledgling First Order situation that they were dealing with on Kalevala, but I’m kind of hoping there’s another angle at work here—making everything a set up for the sequel trilogy would be a shame. Also, if Bo-Katan ends up feeling renewed in the presence of her former cult colleagues, I’ll be disappointed. I get that she needs support, but these are not the folks to renew your community with. Not until they make some major structural changes. (Nevermind the fact that it’s highly hand-of-the-writer circumspect that she hadn’t removed her helmet since the incident in the mines because she typically has that thing off all the time.)
Bits and Beskar
- I do appreciate the reference to Imperial warlords that Bo-Katan might have pissed off because in the Legends canon that was 90% of the trouble the New Republic had to contend with. Just Imperial warlords. Warlords everywhere.
- I also appreciate that the title of the episode could apply to more than one person within said episode.
- Big fan of the mountain peak (that you obviously cannot touch) as the only visible piece of land on the Coruscant.
- Elia Kane did appear in previous episodes (often found giving Gideon communications intel aboard his ship), so I’m curious how much this was planned out versus the impetus to make sure they used the great actor they had playing a bit part. O’Brian was most recently seen in the latest Ant-Man and the Wasp installment of the MCU, but has also popped up on Black Lightning, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Walking Dead, among other projects.
- It’s a little weird to suggest that they’re dismantling the Rebel Alliance fleet when 1) we know that plenty of pilots are still using their ships in the New Republic Starfighter Corps, and 2) a sizable portion of the fleet was actually gifted to various Rebel pilots as a form of severance following the Battle of Endor. (Poe Dameron’s mom got to keep her A-Wing, for example.)
Next week! This is the way. Or maybe not the way, but certainly a way…