by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 11
Following two somewhat contained episodes, The Mandalorian propels forward with a more story focused, exhilarating installment. Chapter 11: The Heiress follows Din Djarin, The Child, and the frog lady as they arrive on the moon Trask to find more Mandalorians. And while The Mandalorian succeeds in finding others of his kind, he must face off against a villainous creature, a gang of Quarren, and remnants of the Empire.
Chapter 11 kicks off where its predecessor left off as the damaged Razor Crest attempts to make a safe landing on Trask. The entire opening sequence was the sort of tense, edge-of-the-seat material Star Wars excels at. The Razor Crest’s choppy landing, plummeting to the surface of Trask, was reminiscent of the Invisible Hand crash landing on Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith and a similar sequence in the series finale of The Clone Wars. Upon (somehow) safely landing on Trask, the viewer is welcomed into yet another incredible Star Wars location The Mandalorian has introduced us to. While Tatooine in Chapter 9 and Maldo Kreis in Chapter 10 are beautifully designed, their aesthetic is somewhat familiar, making a more novel location like Trask really stand out. The beautiful production design of the Trask port and inn, in addition to the ship Djarin and The Child sail on, made Chapter 11 one of the most visually appealing installments of the series yet.
Aboard this ship is where the crux of Chapter 11’s plot begins to unfold. We’ve come to expect that things often do not go as planned on Din Djarin’s journeys and this perilous cruise was no exception, with the Quarrens attempting to kill The Child and capture Djarin for his valuable Beskar armor. The Quarrens’ duplicitous plan is thwarted, however, upon the epic arrival of none other than Bo-Katan Kryze and her Mandalorian comrades. While Katee Sackhoff’s appearance in The Mandalorian had been leaked in trade reports earlier this year, it was still jaw dropping to see this iconic character, who first appeared in The Clone Wars, make her live action debut in such stunning fashion. From the moment she arrives, Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan steals the show, delivering line after line in the composed, calculated manner we’ve come to expect from the last remaining member of Clan Kryze. This scene also saw the Star Wars debut of WWE wrestler Sasha Banks, credited as Mercedes Varnado, as Koska Reeves. While many (including ourselves) suspected that Varnado may be playing Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels, Chapter 11 revealed that this theory was unfounded. Nonetheless, with her limited dialogue, Varnado was still a notable presence in the episode, delivering some great hand-to-hand combat throughout.
The arrival of Bo-Katan and the other Mandalorians also introduces audiences to quite a few important plot details. For instance, we’re finally given an explanation as to why Djarin always wears his helmet, while other Mandalorians do not. We’re also given an update on the status of Mandalore, in addition to Bo-Katan’s mission to reclaim the darksaber and, subsequently, her homeworld from the remnants of the Empire. While these reveals are amazing to see and are surely triggering an array of thoughts among theorizing Star Wars fans, their inclusion did highlight a particular issue with Chapter 11. As a series so far, The Mandalorian has never overstayed its welcome, not dragging out runtimes to meet a predetermined length, but, rather, concluding when an episode’s narrative naturally concludes. Chapter 11, however, was the first time The Mandalorian felt a little rushed. After the first two episodes of the season advanced the overarching plot very little, Chapter 11 soared forward in regards to its narrative content, which was somewhat jarring. Not to mention, all of the new character reveals, plot points, world building, and adventure-of-the-week were packed into an extremely tight 35 minute episode. Long story short, the reveals in Chapter 11 were brilliant in their unpredictability and ability to set the stage for what’s to come later this season, but the episode struggles with some pacing issues and would have benefitted from an extended runtime.
Besides some unfortunate pacing choices, Chapter 11 carries forward in exceptional fashion. The entire action sequence of the Mandalorians raiding the Imperial Gozanti-class cruiser was thrilling. The blaster and hand-to-hand combat was excellently choreographed and Ludwig Göransson’s epic score took the sequence to another level. Titus Welliver’s appearance as an Imperial captain was an unexpected treat, as was the return of Giancarlo Esposito’s menacing Moff Gideon. Although the Moff has been seen very little in the series so far, his villainous presence looms large and we can’t wait to see what’s to come of him in future episodes.
It’s hard to review Chapter 11: The Heiress without commenting on the mention of Ahsoka Tano in the episode’s final moments. Ahsoka’s appearance in The Mandalorian has been widely reported since March of this year, but hearing a live-action Bo-Katan say her old Jedi friend’s name still gave us goosebumps. Ahsoka has become one of the best characters in Star Wars canon, as emphasized by her amazing arc in the final season of The Clone Wars earlier this year. This tease of Ahsoka’s imminent run-in with Djarin and The Child is exactly the sort of thing The Mandaloran does so well.
Overall, Chapter 11: The Heiress was, once again, an enthralling installment of the acclaimed series. The episode unfortunately struggles with some pacing issues, but overcomes these with incredible plot reveals, action sequences, locations, and more. With Ahsoka’s live-action debut incoming, we can’t wait for what the rest of this season has in store.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+