“The Convert” picks up where “The Mines of Mandalore” left off, with Din waking up while Bo-Katan contemplates what she’s seen. On the way back to Kalevala, they’re attacked by Imperial Remnants, and Bo’s castle is bombed into oblivion. Meanwhile, Dr. Pershing has found a comfortable life on Coruscant through the New Republic’s amnesty program for former Imperials. However, he isn’t allowed to continue his cloning research, so he takes matters into his own hands. He’s entrapped by one of his former co-workers. Elsewhere, Din takes Bo-Katan to his covert so he can be redeemed, and she can seek shelter. She, too, is accepted into the covert.
The title “The Convert” interests me because it could refer to Bo-Katan or Dr. Pershing. There’s a cool contrast between the two situations here; Bo realizes that the covert is right about some things, while Dr. Pershing is forcibly converted to see the New Republic’s way of thinking. The season started out contrasting different types of Mandalorians, which is a running theme in the show. Bo-Katan’s people abandoned her while the covert banded together in the wake of Mandalore’s destruction. Now, we’re seeing how the Mandalorian way compared to the Empire and even the New Republic – who, it seems, may not be much better than what they oppose.
With Dr. Pershing’s subplot, the first thing I noticed is how totalitarian the New Republic is. The uniforms Dr. Pershing and the other amnesty candidates wear are even reminiscent of Imperial suits. At first, I thought this might not be intentional, but that would be pretty bad writing and design. When they talked about “integration camps” and eventually hooked the doctor up to something he calls a “mind flayer,” I was impressed. This is pretty cool and realistic, admitting that opposing a previous corrupt government doesn’t automatically make its replacement squeaky clean and above reproach morally. I really look forward to seeing what happens with Dr. Pershing, the amnesty program in general, and his colleague who betrayed him.
Speaking of Elia Kane (whose name, I admit, I had to Google), I don’t get her! I assume we’ll learn more about her going forward, but I don’t understand why she did this. She cozied up to Dr. Pershing and presented him with the idea of stealing these supplies from the shipyard. It doesn’t seem like he would have done this without her prompting; he seemed content (if not thrilled) to just go through his day as a citizen of the New Republic. Does she want to rise among the ranks by ratting people out? Does she just enjoy making people suffer? She turns up the mind flayer on him after her superior has left, and there’s no good reason to do so. She looks almost remorseful after Pershing says, “She set me up,” but then she does this! I’m lost. I can’t wait to learn more about her, and while I say that a lot, I’m on pins and needles here! The last shot of her eating the biscuits she supposedly got for him is chilling beyond words.
But I jumped ahead there. The opening with Bo-Katan and Mando feels a little short; I wanted to see/hear more of her reaction to seeing the mythosaur. It’s evident in her conversation with Din when he wakes up that she’s questioning a lot now, and that’s good. But it appears this will be a slower progression for her, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m almost ready to give up my theory of her being a villain this season, attached to it as I may be. I also feel weird about the no helmets rule being validated; I was on board with this being an extremist cult, honestly. How is it practical (or necessary) to keep your face covered at all times? As an aside, it’s so cute when Bo and Din both say, “This is the way,” and Grogu says some baby gibberish. You get the sense that he’s starting to pick up on them saying this and wants to partake.
I hate to jump back to the story on Coruscant, but there’s a lot more of it in the episode. When I first watched “The Convert,” I was perplexed by so much focus on Dr. Pershing. We haven’t seen him in a while – I want to say since season 1. And his story of “reintegration”(reeducation?) seemed less impactful than Bo’s change of heart or Din’s redemption. But now, I’m on the edge of my seat to find out what happens to the not-so-good doctor after his mind is flayed. What a dreadful name for a device/procedure! His cubicle at his job reminded me of Syril Karb in Andor. He’s a similarly useful person shoved into a menial position doing paperwork, and his actual environment looks similar, too. Again, this is despite this being the New Republic that’s supposed to fix everything.
The New Republic government seems too far-reaching and totalitarian. From the perspective shown in this episode, I’m not sure how they’re better than the Empire. They call people, including Elia and Dr. Pershing, by numbers rather than names or even titles. And the reintegration centers the former Imperials are sent to remind me of reeducation camps, i.e., concentration camps. Why is this okay? Are Favreau and Filoni setting the New Republic up as a villainous force in the show? I’m intrigued and not necessarily opposed. With that being said, I don’t see how cloning would help the New Republic, and I don’t think that’s Pershing’s real goal. He just wants his science project back regardless of the morality at play. I have a gripe here with the level of security within the Republic. This doesn’t ruin the episode for me, but an entity that’s otherwise shown to be all-powerful doesn’t protect its property enough to keep scrappers out?
Overall, “The Convert” is multifaceted and genuinely interesting on several fronts. It’s my favorite episode of season 3 thus far by miles, expanding the main story while introducing an engaging subplot. While episode 1 was mostly a recap and episode 2 was questionably shot, I don’t have many problems with “The Convert” outside of the usual plot contrivances.
"The Convert" is multifaceted and genuinely interesting on several fronts, expanding the main story while introducing an engaging subplot.