Chapter 11: The Heiress is quite possibly the most interesting episode of The Mandalorian so far, but also the most frustrating. It’s an instalment boasting big reveals and teases for the future of the series, but at the end the main character quite literally flies away from the story that Jon Favreau and team have been setting up over the prior thirty minutes. The Heiress is also the most fan service-filled episode of The Mandalorian up until now, and while I’m sure the Star Wars mega-fans will be overjoyed by this particular chapter, I can’t help but feel disappointed that this previously standalone series feels the need to cater to fans over telling its own unique story. On the other hand, when so much of the episode feels like set-up for future stories, it’s difficult to assess whether these elements will pay-off in a much more satisfying way later on.
After last week’s adventure, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), the Child and the Frog Lady (Misty Rosas) arrive on Trask, where Mando believes the other Mandalorians are hiding out. After reuniting Frog Lady with her partner, Mando and the Child set out across the high seas to find the Mandalorians, only to be double-crossed and almost killed, before being saved by Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) and Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides) – all Mandalorian characters introduced in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series.
The characters aren’t introduced particularly well for those who haven’t seen The Clone Wars (or in my case, haven’t seen it in the past decade), which does make me concerned that Favreau, Dave Filoni and everyone behind the scenes is expecting their audience to recognise them – or marathon over 100 episodes of The Clone Wars as homework for next week.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Bo-Katan’s inclusion is what it reveals about Din Djarin. While he’s horrified by the fact that they don’t adhere to the stricter rules of Mandalorian culture, Bo-Katan argues that Din is a child of the Watch, religious zealots intent on re-establishing the traditional Way of the Mandalore. It’s interesting to see the main character’s beliefs challenged by these new characters, but like most of the story beats, seems almost forgotten about when Mando flies off at the end. Perhaps this will start something of a character arc for Din Djarin – forging a new path beyond the traditional ways he was brought up with – but the episode doesn’t seem interested in exploring this. It is revealed by Bo-Katan that Din needs to seek out former Jedi, Ashoka Tano (the lead character of The Clone Wars), and thus the Razor Crest flies off to find her – presumably in the next episode. Here’s hoping that Ashoka is actually introduced properly to those unfamiliar with either The Clone Wars or Rebels.
There’s also a bit where Baby Yoda admires a little frog creature, which is adorable, and not at all relevant to the plot, but it did make me smile.
Bryce Dallas Howard returns to the director’s chair with Chapter 11: The Heiress (after directing Chapter 4: Sanctuary last season), and she gets a lot more to work with this time round. The world of Trask feels surprisingly tangible; I like the idea of a fishing planet run by Mon Calamari and Quarren, with alien boats setting out across the seas to find sea creatures, and a thick mist seeping in from all corners. The action sequence on the Imperial vessel is very well staged, and it’s great to see Titus Welliver cameo as an Imperial Officer. There’s also an interesting hint that Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) Darksaber might be Bo-Katan’s, which could lead to some interesting narrative developments later on.
All in all, I’m sure that The Heiress is a terrific episode for Star Wars fans, but for a more “casual” audience, it’s a fun adventure that sets up a lot of ideas it doesn’t seem too interested in exploring. As such, it’s difficult to truly assess the episode as a standalone piece. If all of these elements pay-off at a later date, and Bo-Katan’s inclusion doesn’t just feel like fan service, then The Heiress will go down as another great chapter in the series. If these elements don’t pay off in subsequent episodes though, this chapter might feel like an oddity in the Star Wars canon, similar to Darth Maul’s cameo in Solo: A Star Wars Story (seriously, what was that about?). It’s an episode that I could potentially end up enjoying a lot more once I’ve seen the full story play out, but on a first viewing, it didn’t do much for me. Even if does end with a gigantic “I’ll explain later”, The Mandalorian still offers some tremendous blockbuster fun – and The Heiress certainly satisfied on that level.