After Bo-Katan observed a genuine ancient being in the Living Waters, it was clear something had awoken in her. Whether years of fighting alongside and against fellow Mandalorians had taken their toll on her. Yet diving back into the ancient customs of her people, even observing a mythological beast, does wonders. While she remains jealous of Din in some ways, she also sees a potential future for her people.
This story bookends “Chapter 19: The Convert,” but the middle drives us deeper into the threats that await the Mandalorians after their journey of self-discovery. Directed by the Oscar-nominated director Lee Isaac Chung, “Chapter 19: The Convert” forces us to observe a dichotomy of those who buy into their new life and those who reject it. Having a Star Wars series that takes on moral quandaries makes for exciting television.
The Recap – Chapter 19: The Convert’
Din (Pedro Pascal) wakes up after Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) rescued him from the Living Waters. She confirms she witnessed him in the waters, and he collects a sample to prove his story. She asks Din if he saw anything when he fell into the water, but he does not remember anything. Bo looks back at the water as they leave.
When Din and Bo fly back, they are attacked by Tie-Inceptors. Bo outmaneuvers most, and Dinn leaps out of the ship. He lands near the N-1 and boards just before an interceptor reaches him. He brings the N-1 back online, blowing up one interceptor on his way to help Bo and Grogu.
Din catches up and knocks out two of the ships rolling Bo. She takes out the last one. When they turn back, Bo-Katan’s home is being attacked by Tie-Bombers. She pursues, but hundreds of fighters arrive to take them out. Din sends Bo coordinates, and they escape.
On Coruscant, Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtani) arrives for a speech. He apologizes for his role as a member of the Empire. Pershing believes in a second chance and wants to continue his research. He believes that his work, which combines the best DNA of its donors, will make better clones in the future. Afterward, he meets people in the city and receives high praise for his work. Elia Kane (Katy M. O’Brian) watches from the audience.
Pershing arrives at Amnesty housing and heads back to his room. When he’s walking through the courtyard, he’s stopped by a group of soldiers. He recognizes Elia from Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) ship. There’s hesitation on his end, and rumors spread about Gideon’s survival. They talk about the things they used to enjoy when working for The Empire. She offers to show Pershing around Coruscant, and they drink together.
Back in his room, Pershing hears a ring at the front door. Outside, the biscuits he misses sit in a black box. The next day, Pershing works in his archiving job and explores the city. He’s surprised by how many people live in Coruscant. Elia admits she trained in Coruscant when she was working for the Empire. Pershing feels like his research for the Empire could have been helpful to the Galaxy today. She encourages him to continue his work on the down low. After all, they no longer work for the Empire. Following orders was why they got in their mess the first time.
Pershing attends a check-in with a droid. He also asks the droid if he can continue his research. However, the droid confirms that cloning research is strictly prohibited. Pershing wanders the streets until he sees Elia sitting outside. She assures him that they will get to a mobile lab that can allow his research to continue. However, it will not be without risk, as they’ll be returned to the reeducation camps. Perishing says he will not pursue his research and will try to go back to work.
Back at work, Pershing attempts to do his job. However, the Imperial work he’s destroying could help people. He’s told this work cannot be saved. His boss tells him to keep destroying the materials. Pershing asks his counselor robot if the goal of helping the Republic supersedes all other directives. The droid replies yes.
Pershing goes to Elia and tells her that he needs to go to the mobile lab. She agrees to go with him, and they sneak out at night. They travel through Coruscant and go to a junkyard full of Imperial ships. A droid begins asking for tickets, forcing Perishing and Elia to walk further into the train. The droid follows them further down the train until they reach the end of the train. Elia tells Pershing they have to jump from the train and make it off the train before the droid catches up.
They walk into the shipyard with almost no resistance. Outside of a few droids, the area remains destroyed. They come up on an Imperial ship and keep walking down the halls. Elia apologizes to Pershing for never knowing him on the ship.
Pershing speaks about his mother’s want to become a scientist and never having the opportunity. However, before Elia can tell her story, something changes through the ship. The Republic stops them, and it becomes clear that Elia betrayed him. Pershing is placed in a mind-flayer-like machine. Elia watches from behind the glass as the device begins working on Pershing. She chooses to stay and watch the machine erase parts of his mind. When the attendant leaves, she turns up the power on the machine, effectively wiping his mind.
Din and Bo-Katan arrive to find the other Mandalorians. They are greeted by Paz, who tells him he cannot re-enter. Paz does not believe him, and Bo-Katan stands up for him, they are both insulted. Din shows proof, and Paz brings them into the cave.
They hand the vial of The Living Waters to the Armorer, who confirms the water is authentic. The Armorer welcomes both Din and Bo-Karan as redeemed. At first, Bo shows confusion. However, the Armorer asks if Bo ever removed her helmet after leaving the Living Waters. Bo-Katan did not. The Armorer confirms her redemption and the clan rejoices.
Episode Breakdown – The Mandalorian – ‘Chapter 19: The Convert’
The fact that Lee Isaac Chung took the director’s chair for this episode becomes apparent early. Beyond having a chance to flex his muscles as a filmmaker, he gets firsthand opportunities to work in an action setpiece. While Minari had very cool visual setpieces, it was no Star Wars. Chung also leaves his superpower on display as well. “Chapter 19: The Convert” might be the most intellectual episode of The Mandalorian yet. The big questions it asks become some of the most important in the series, reverberating off Star Wars history’s walls.
This week boils down to a central question: where does your belief take you? For Pershing, his belief that his scientific work can finally be used for good proves his downfall. For Bo-Katan, a life of belief brings her closer to salvation. Intentional or not, she found a way to reconnect with her people, despite being alone to start this season.
Belief drives Star Wars more than any other sci-fi series. While Dune and Enders Game both require in some capacity, the Force and everything around it requires a devotion unusual in humans. Just as in religion, this power can be used for good or ill. Pershing remains unaware of his surroundings, creating a tragic flaw that becomes increasingly apparent throughout the episode. Anyone who can create and hold power has taken it for themselves, and Elia seems poised to use Pershing’s power for herself.
Meanwhile, Bo-Katan long held the idea that she was meant to rule. Her welcome back only occurs after a series of selfless acts for her biggest rival in restoring Mandalore. While Bo realizes that she no longer wields the dark saber, Din might be on her way back to the light. Only after letting Din take the lead did she find a monster worthy of legends and a clan willing to welcome her with open arms.
Chung does not stop with the philosophical ideas in the episode. He also pulls out the most emotional talent showcase in the series yet. Abtani dominates the screen with his subtle and heartbreaking turn. He holds his emotions in his eyes, and this stoicism makes the performance even more impressive. For every moment of joy, he experiences, he gets heartbreak twice over. This might be the best performance in an episode yet, and Chung helps deliver that.
Additionally, Chung shoots Sackhoff with empathy. The character slowly moves through her emotions in her own array of subtle moments. Unlike Abtani, Sackhoff does not have the eyes to sell her story. Instead, the mere ways she stands are keys to reading the performance. Sackhoff’s vocal performance also rings true. She makes for an outstanding double bill with O’Brian, who manipulates Abtani at every turn. She may not literally wear a shield of armor, but her cold approach to emotion makes it feel like she does.
Overall, Chung’s direction is masterful, the performances are great, and the screenplay might be the best in the series. What more can we ask from an episode of The Mandalorian? Episodes like “Chapter 19: The Convert” keep this near the top of our weekly watch list.
Alan’s Rating: 10/10
What did you think of The Mandalorian – “Chapter 19: The Convert?” Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below. Stream The Mandalorian on Disney+.