We know Bo-Katan is now ready to take back leadership of the Mandalorians. While we’re still skeptical about the Armorer, there are plenty more from Mandalore to recruit back. After Din took the Dark Saber, Bo lost her handle on those in exile. With him by her side, more may look favorably upon her candidacy. Keep in mind she also saw the Mysthosaur. That alone was quite the sign and should convert some. Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and written by Favreau & Filoni, The Mandalorian – “Chapter 22: Guns for Hire” takes us further into the Outer Rim.
The Recap – The Mandalorian’ – “Chapter 22: Guns for Hire”
A ship flies through the galaxy when suddenly they find themselves pursued by an Imperial vessel. The Quarren freighter reaches out to discuss terms so they can pay for protection. However, the Imperial ship is not captained by the remnants of the Empire. Those in charge identify as Mandalorian and were hired to capture Captain Shuggoth. Despite their pleas, the Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides) demands the return of a Calamarian Prince on the Shuggoth’s ship. While the Prince begs to leave him with his love, the Mandalorians bring him back aboard.
Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Din (Pedro Pascal) fly to meet Woves at his new base. Woves took control of a fleet Bo assembled over years after she went into exile. The fleet should help them take back Mandalore, but they will take convincing. Bo believes her former teams were hired as protection for the planet they’re occupying. As they approach Plazier-15, a communication reaches them. The jungle tells them to follow the escort and land in their assigned location.
Bo and Din disembark and are met by Imperial droids. They are instructed to board a hyperloop. It quickly takes them to a hall where dozens of guests are eating. The host calls them to the front of the room and asks them to enjoy the party.
The hosts, The Duchess (Lizzo) and Captain Bombardier (Jack Black), run the planet. Bombardier once worked for the Empire, but after he was amnestied and worked on Plazier-15, he chose to help the planet. The Duchess’ family goes back generations on the planet, and they fell in love. They want to hold Grogu, and while Din says no, Grogu literally leaps into The Duchess’ lap. Din tries to move the conversation along, turning it back to the Mandalorian warships. The Duchess admits they pay for the protection because Captain Bombarier’s past makes it illegal for them to have an army.
When Din asks to speak with the Mandalorians, The Duchess, and Bombardier agree under one condition. They walk Bo-Katan and Din over to the balcony overseeing the city. They explain the droid population on the planet went haywire. In exchange for taking care of the droids, Plazier-15 will help petition the New Republic to recognize Mandalore. Bo and Din agree.
Before they head down, Commissioner Helgait (Christopher Lloyd) briefs Bo and Din. The droid reprogramming was a success until, suddenly, they started malfunctioning. When Bo suggests they turn off the droids, Helgait explains the citizens voted against turning off the droids. The droids do so much work the citizens do not want to be disrupted. Bo and Din are sent downstairs to the Ugnaught, who have a list of the failing droids.
Down the escalator, the Ugnaughts soder and work on broken droids. They ignore the Mandalorians until Din mentions his friendship with Kuiil (Nick Nolte). The Ugnaughts explain that the droids are not broken. However, Din explains that they are not questioning their skillset but want to investigate the issue. The Ugnaughts hand over a list, and Bo-Katan and Din head out.
They step out of the hyperloop and see battle droids carrying crates. They speak to the droid supervisor, who assures them no one is broken. However, when Din starts pushing droids around, a B-2 Super Battledroid fights back and runs away. Din and Bo chase it through the streets, eventually taking it down. They step around the body and find an address to follow a new lead.
Bo-Katan and Din walk through the streets of Plazier-15 and into “The Resistor,” a droid bar. Inside there are dozens of droids. Bo and Din walk up to the bartender to begin their questioning. Din takes a more aggressive approach, but the bartender steps in. They want to help because the working droids are scared for their future. If they malfunction, they will all be replaced or scraped.
They step into the back, where the bartender explains what they’re served. They do not drink “Nepenthe,” which provides patches from the mainframe. It appears that all the malfunctioning droids received the same batch of Nepenthe. Din and Bo go to the “Droid Morgue,” where they pull out the body of the Super Battle Droid. A droid helps extract the Nepenthe, and the clinician goes to analyze it. However, the extraction droid malfunctions, causing Din to break out the Dark Saber and cut it down.
They analyze the Nepenthe and realize there are nano-droids in the substance. There’s a chain code written into the nano-droids, which traces back to Commissioner Helgait. Din and Bo return to the control room and confront him. However, when they do, he threatens to deprogram all the droids and unleash them on the citizens. Helgait begins ranting that he will never give up to the Mandalorians, the Empire, or the “corrupt” Republic. They realize he was a separatist, which is how he obtained the Nano-Droids. As he rants, Bo quickly shoots him in the neck with a Taser.
Upstairs, The Duchess and Bombardier play a game throwing a ball through a series of hoops. When The Duchess throws, Grogu uses the Force to cheat and get the ball through every hoop. Din and Bo bring Helgait to the leaders, who are shocked by his actions. Helgait continues to rant against Bombardier. The Duchess exiles Helgait to a moon. She goes on to grant Bo and Din the Key to Plazier and an audience with the Mandalorians. She also knights Grogu.
Bo and Din return to a hyperloop and travel to the Mandalorians outside the city. When they approach Axe and the other Mandalorians, it gets very tense. Axe pushes back on Bo-Katan’s wish to take back her fleet. When he does, she challenges him to battle. They duel, and Bo comes out on top.
Axe refuses to acknowledge Bo as a true leader when Din holds the Darksaber. He calls Din’s entire Mandalorian claim into question. Din steps in, saying he does not possess the Darksaber, but Bo does. He explains that he lost the blade on Mandalore, and Bo-Katan rescued him and used the Darksaber to kill the creature that captured him. This means Bo, not Din, is the rightful ruler of the blade. Axe agrees, and Din returns the blade to Bo-Katan. She ignites it.
Episode Breakdown – The Mandalorian’ – “Chapter 22: Guns for Hire”
While the episode certainly features fun characters, this one falls flat. A few elements stood out. There are three huge celebrity roles running most of the episode. The surprise of Black and Lizzo certainly brings a different energy to the show. They play the high comedy of the elite class and are frankly excellent at it. We also cannot help but fawn over Grogu loving their love story. Meanwhile, painting Lloyd as an extremist made for some compelling sequences. It was pretty fun to watch him go.
The droid and city subplot makes for interesting morality questions in-universe. Not only does it get to the morality and lifespan of droids, but it shows genuine cooperation. The Mandalorian has not been able to discuss droid rights, but “Guns for Hire” makes a compelling case. We are not surprised it popped up here because Filoni made this an exciting aspect of his original animated series.
While Howard directs the action extremely well, the exposition on Plazier-15 struggles to feel important. It gets worse when Lizzo and Jack Black are not on the screen. They commit to their story, but anything not showcasing them was not compelling. To its credit, “Guns For Hire” plays into the story of the week feeling that setup season 1 so well. This is when The Mandalorian has been at its best, but do not fret, there is plenty of lore to unwrap.
Most importantly, we can see why Bo-Katan should lead the Mandalorian people. This does not mean that Din would be undeserving, but moments in “Guns for Hire” show his bold approach. This certainly works, but Bo-Katan builds relationships. She lets herself be vulnerable in front of others so they are willing to forge alliances. If Mandalore is to be repopulated by her people, we need to know why she rose to power.
For fans of The Clone Wars, Bo shed the entitlement that cost her the Darksaber in the first place. Now, she’s earned it on merit because of who she’s become. There’s a poetic nature to her regaining the Darksaber in the way she did. This was not a power play but a play of compassion and survival. She only picked up the weapon to save a friend and returned it soon after, believing herself unworthy. This is a moment worth celebrating, which makes it all the more frustrating that we realized this was a monologue at the end of a completely different story.