This week, Mando crash lands on the planet of Trask with the Child and “frog lady” in tow. She quickly reunites with her husband, and the two go on their way after he has given Mando the information he was after. Following his advice, Mando goes into a bar. However, it’s a trap, and the barkeeper’s brother tries to kill Mando and the baby to take the beskar. None other than Lady Bo-Katan Kryze shows up, entourage in tow. They rescue Mando not once but twice. He takes the baby to frog lady and her husband for safekeeping. Despite Mando’s concerns stemming from their differing sects of the creed, the Mandalorians embark on a mission together, taking control of an enemy ship. We find out Bo-Katan is searching for the Darksaber and already suspects that Moff Gideon has it. In thanks for his help, Bo-Katan tells Mando to find Ahsoka Tano, supposedly a Jedi who can help the baby. He reclaims his quasi-repaired ship and sets off.
Even more so than either of the previous episodes, “The Heiress” dives headfirst into tie-ins with other Star Wars properties. The fanservice-heavy episode wastes no time in introducing Bo-Katan and her followers to the live-action medium and thrusting them right back into action. Katee Sackhoff reprises her The Clone Wars/Rebels character, the rightful ruler of Mandalore Bo-Katan. She seamlessly takes her character from animation to live-action, and it helps that Bo-Katan looks a lot like Sackhoff. Her armor, and that of her followers, looks great too. I can only hope that Ahsoka looks half this good when they bring her in. I do have a slight nitpick here, though: Bo-Katan’s wig. Don’t get me wrong, they have the color and style just right. However, it looks like just that – a wig. It looks extremely artificial and like it’s being held onto her head by her headband, which is probably the case, but it’s distracting. Like I said, though, that’s really nitpicking, and overall I’m thrilled with this presentation of the character. I only wish they were also using Ahsoka’s original voice actor, Ashley Eckstein, to portray her in The Mandalorian. I dread both the character’s re-casting and how she’ll look in live-action, particularly as she is my second favorite female Star Wars character. Sometimes it’s closer to a tie.
“The Heiress,” both the episode and its titular character (Bo-Katan, heiress to the Mandalorian throne), also address a question that’s been plaguing long-time fans of Star Wars since The Mandalorian began: what’s with the helmet thing? In both The Clone Wars and Rebels, as well as the prequel trilogy, Mandalorians have been shown without their helmets, and nothing was made of it. A lot of information is communicated in the short conversation between Bo-Katan and Din Djarin. He doesn’t believe they’re real Mandalorians because they unmask in front of him. This means he either didn’t know some Mandalorians did this or doesn’t recognize those who do as Mandalorian. She describes his people as “children of the watch,” making them essentially sound like religious zealots. The use of the word “watch” also matches up with the insignia of the Mandalorians who saved him as a child in the season one flashbacks: Deathwatch. In The Clone Wars, Deathwatch was a terrorist group led by Pre Vizsla (voiced by Jon Favreau), who also wielded the Darksaber at that time. They wanted to bring the people of Mandalore back to their primitive, martial heritage by any means possible and tried several times (ultimately succeeding thanks to Darth Maul) to assassinate Duchess Satine Kryze, Bo-Katan’s sister. This also kind of clears up another question I had about Din’s sect of Mandalorians, the fact that it’s a creed, not a race or species. Again, in the past, that wasn’t true. In fact, I’ve never heard that outside of this show. Differentiating these different splinter factions goes a long way towards making this galaxy feel real and lived in, something that was sorely lacking in the sequel trilogy. It also makes sense that the Mandalorian people, who were already bitterly divided in the time of the Clone Wars, would eventually break off and split up completely. I was always aware of Mandalorians as being people originating from the planet of Mandalore and donning the famous armor and nothing more. But apparently, Deathwatch actually did some good in taking in orphaned younglings and teaching them The Way. This is actually a really interesting, three-dimensional way to look at people who were previously portrayed as militaristic malcontents and nothing more. I genuinely look forward to more worldbuilding with the Mandalorians, assuming there is more to come, and I think there is.
All this being said, I thought “The Heiress” was overall very standard, and I found some parts dull while others felt rushed. The scene where Bo-Katan rescues Mando and the baby from the Mon Calamari was good. The Child getting “eaten” was quite unexpected. However, what follows is all too brief. Bo-Katan and her attendants remove their helmets, and Mando immediately decides they’re not “real” followers of his creed and leaves. I understand the desire to show how extreme he feels about the helmets, but the sequence is awkwardly, distractingly short. I feel like they could have at least talked a little before they all revealed their true selves, to Mando’s shock. It’s also interesting that, unlike with Cobb Vanth, he didn’t immediately demand that they relinquish the traditional garb. Maybe he learned something from that interaction, although he still didn’t consider Vanth to be a kindred spirit or even suggest he join the Mandalorians at the end.
The acting in this episode was good, but not exceptional, and the music was good but not as good as the last two weeks. Actually, I think “The Heiress,” while perfectly serviceable and exciting for fans of the animated shows, is very average compared to the last two episodes, which were both excellent. I think part of it is the reduced runtime, which really cut into the interactions with the “real” Mandalorians. I will say the reunion between frog lady and her husband was sweet, and I’m a little surprised how touching it was, given how little time we’ve spent with her and her eggs. I’m both nervous and cautiously excited about Ahsoka’s live-action debut, although more scared than anything. I hope they prove me wrong and don’t ruin one of my favorites. I hope Bo-Katan simply calls her a Jedi because she doesn’t really understand that title and why Ahsoka left the Order. I’m afraid they’ll say she re-joined or something stupid like that, which would kind of be taking a crap on her character arc in Clone Wars and Rebels. I would be willing to accept the former, especially after the exchange between the two women in the new season of The Clone Wars. Ahsoka said something about how she wasn’t a Jedi “right now”. After all, why should Bo-Katan worry about the distinction therein while she has a civil war going on?