There’s a point about halfway through ‘Chapter 3’ when it suddenly becomes clear what the Mandalorian is. Our hero has just broken the assassin’s code and gone after the guy who hired him – and we cut to a scene in a shady saloon full of bounty hunters where everyone’s phone (“pucks”, whatever) suddenly goes off, putting a price on the Mandalorian’s own head. It might look like a classic western and feel like a samurai movie, but this is really just John Wick in space. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Three episodes in and we still don’t actually know anything about the Mandalorian. Regrouping with Bounty Guild boss Greef Karga (an annoyingly wooden Carl Weathers) the third chapter attempts to fill in some of the blanks. For starters, we now know that it’s okay to call him “Mando”. More importantly, we know that there’s something under the helmet that’s worth caring about.
Returning to the Client with Baby Yoda in tow, Mando hands him over and collects his reward. The fact that Karga says the Client might want to “eat it or hang it on his wall” thankfully doesn’t sit too well with Mando’s hazy code of ethics, and he eventually breaks back into the compound and steals back the baby – kickstarting a chain of events that are obviously going to shape the rest of the series. But, interestingly, there’s more to his decision than simple compassion.
We know, for example, that Mando has a dark past that has something to do with the Empire. When he’s having his shiny new suit made (smelted out of whatever currency he’s paid in), we get a few more flashbacks to a kid running from an Imperial droid as it wipes out a village full of humans. Was young Mando orphaned by the Empire? Or was he taking part in the attack? It’s another shade of grey to colour an already sketchy character at the centre of all this – and another nod towards classic antiheroes like Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, ever the inspiration for the look and tone of the whole show.
On the flip side, The Client is emerging as a nicely nuanced baddie too. Wearing an imperial chain around his neck, and mean enough to want to do something awful to cute little baby Yoda, he comes off something like an exiled general after the fall of the Nazi party – obviously still loyal to something (perhaps hinting at an arc for the show that will eventually tie into the films?) – but he’s tragic enough to have to run his whole operation from the back of a pub. It helps, of course, that Werner Herzog plays him so deliciously, wringing every ounce of weight from of every line and winning the show some serious pedigree.
Elsewhere, the action hits another high. Busting back in to take out The Client’s stormtroopers, and then his own ex-bounty hunter buddies, Mando finally lives up to his reputation as he kicks ass with a gun, a knive, a flame thrower and a big lance thing that turns people to dust. Kitted out in his new armor, and wielding an entire arsenal on his arms and legs (including some nifty new wrist-mounted tracer missiles), Mando leads us into Chapter Four looking pretty unstoppable. But with an entire galaxy full of bounty hunters now looking to go full John Wick on him as he goes into hiding with a baby in tow, he might need a lot more than just a nice new suit.
‘The Mandalorian’ ‘Chapter 3: The Sin’ streams on Disney+ in the UK this month