The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 5 Makes Moff Gideon's Fate Even More Mysterious

This post contains spoilers for season 3, episode 5 of "The Mandalorian," "The Pirate."

The plot thickens in the latest episode of "The Mandalorian," where we witness Din Djarin's (Pedro Pascal) Mando covertly aiding Nevarro against a pirate attack and a massive setup for Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) to finally retake Mandalore. A lot went down in the final 20 minutes of "The Pirate," including an especially charged scene between Bo and The Armorer (Emily Swallow), where the latter asks her to remove her helmet as she "walks both worlds," making her an exception to the strict no helmet rule that The Children of the Watch are so religiously devoted to.

Additionally, the episode ends with a rather shocking twist: Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) discovers that Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) never made it to trial as he was extracted from the ship that was supposed to carry out the transfer. On scanning the wrecked remains of the ship, Teva finds (dun, dun, duuun!) remnants of Beskar alloy, which directly ties this nefarious rescue to the Mandalorians.

Since the season premiere of the latest season of "The Mandalorian," Gideon's fate has been gradually set up to pave the way for his return, and the fact that Esposito will be reprising his role in season 3 is fairly common knowledge. As the focus has been exclusively shifted to the reclamation of Mandalore and the trappings of the New Republic who seem to be following in the footsteps of Imperial corruption and bureaucracy, Gideon's involvement seems vital to the events that might follow. With the seeds of the First Order already being sown, the Mandalorian involvement in Gideon's rescue warrants an investigation into potential suspects scattered all over the "Star Wars" universe. 

Suspect 1: The Mandalorian super commandos (and The Armorer)

The Mandalorian super commandos were traditionalists who served Darth Maul and his Shadow Collective during the Clone Wars. Yes, I know that this extremist group was most likely dissolved around 19 BBY, but does evil ever truly die in a galaxy filled with pockets of fascist affiliations? Canon dictates that the split in the Death Watch, between Bo-Katan's Nite Owls and Maul's supporters, directly led to the Mandalorian civil war and siege of their homeworld. Although the surviving super commandos were captured, it is likely that some of them survived and decided to wait for an opportune moment to strike.

If there's any credence to the theory that the Armorer — a character whose true identity and motivations remain shrouded in mystery — is in fact Rook Kast, the involvement of the Mandalorian super commandos makes complete sense. Kast, a member of the Death Watch and a loyal supporter of Maul, was present during the Siege of Mandalore, and she might have managed to escape and refashion herself as the leader of an extremist Mandalorian sect to evade detection. Also, paying close attention to the Armorer's helmet reveals that it sports tiny metal spikes, similar to the prominent Dathomirian horns that a traditional Mandalorian super commando helmet/combat armor featured.

As "The Pirate" officially positions Bo as the chosen one meant to reunite all Mandalorians by recruiting them into the cult and reclaiming their homeland, the Armorer's plans come off as extremely suspect. Ex-Death Watch members could already be present among Mando's covert, with the Armorer playing the long game and using Bo to enact her plans to assume control over Mandalore. If this is indeed what the show is gearing for, an inevitable Bo versus The Armorer standoff will grace our screens fairly soon.

Suspect 2: Imperial super commandos

Yet another potential suspect in the super commandos league, the Imperial super commandos made their first appearance in "Star Wars Rebels," acting as elite troops for the Empire under the leadership of Gar Saxon, who eventually died at the hands of Ursa Wren in 2 BBY. The Imperial super commandos were Mandalorian warriors loyal to the Galactic Empire, and they participated in several high-stakes missions to wipe out Mandalorian Protectors, including the massacre at Concord Dawn as a punishment for aiding the rebellion. The last we heard about this pro-Imperial Mandalorian group was when they were under the leadership of Imperial governor Tiber Saxon, who died on his Star Destroyer (RIP) after it blew up with him inside.

Although it is unclear whether this group is still fully functional, it is not farfetched to assume that they are back for vengeance under new leadership. Known to be ruthlessly loyal to the Empire through various stages of its fascist regime, the Imperial super commandos are a compelling suspect in the Moff Gideon rescue scheme, as the Imperial warlord could function as a vital asset in strengthening the remnants of the Empire. Like all Mandalorians, the Imperial super commandos sport beskar-made Mandalorian armor, although it bears aesthetic similarities to stormtrooper armor to underline their allegiance to the Galactic Empire. 

Moreover, in terms of motivation, these super commandos were known to obliterate any and all Mandalorian factions that were anti-Imperial in any capacity, which ties in rather neatly with Bo being tasked to unite all Mandalorians — an act that could be a potential threat to this particular group. Although the potential involvement of this particular group of super commandos will be exclusively tied to "Rebels," the episode also features Zeb, a beloved Lasat rebel from the animated series.

Suspect 3: Grand Admiral Thrawn (!)

Fans of the franchise have been clamoring for the live-action debut of Grand Admiral Thrawn (voiced by Lars Mikkelsen in Rebels), whose legendary villain arc was kickstarted in Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel, "Heir to the Empire." A brilliant military strategist, Thrawn's presence seems near-inevitable in the upcoming series "Ahsoka," where the titular Jedi (played by Rosario Dawson) could be hunting down her mortal enemy, as she states that she is looking for Thrawn in season 2 of "The Mandalorian."

Thrawn's possible involvement in Gideon's rescue is trickier to figure out — on the one hand, he was last seen in hyperspace along with freedom fighter Ezra Bridger, hence their fates remain unknown, and on the other, planting beskar armor to divert suspicion seems like a classic Thrawn move. The New Republic has already proven to be incompetent on many fronts, and planting false evidence to incriminate a major group is a solid divide-and-conquer strategy. While Thrawn's involvement poses greater questions than offering clear answers (for instance, where the heck is Ezra?), it could give way to a grander plan and cement his covert motivations.

What drives me to involve Thrawn in the list of suspects is the presence of the mysterious TIE fighters who attack Din and Bo and destroy the latter's home. Could Thrawn be behind this? It is also interesting to note that Timothy Zahn's "Thrawn" trilogy centers on the military strategist's attempts to overthrow the New Republic while it still stands on shaky foundations, a bitter truth that has been directly alluded to in the Elia Kane/Dr. Pershing segment in the latest season of "The Mandalorian." While Gideon still remains a great threat to the New Republic, Thrawn overseeing the revival of the Empire harkens a kind of danger like no other.

Suspect 4: Boba Fett or renegade Mando mercenary groups

Now, these suspects are unlikely but still probable, although it would make for a rather underwhelming reveal if this is indeed the case. While Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) has had a murky past in terms of his allegiance to the Empire, the bounty hunter has made a compelling pivot since his escape from the Sarlacc pit and has dutifully aided Din in his mission against Gideon in season 2. As the events of "The Book of Boba Fett" further cement Din and Boba's loyalty towards one another (Din was an asset in the war for Mos Espa), it makes little sense for Boba to have rescued Gideon at all.

However, it is possible that Boba might be keeping Gideon hostage in exchange for information about the real enemy behind the Pykes Syndicate storyline. Could Crimson Dawn be involved? Crimson Dawn is bound to have vested interests in freeing Gideon, and the syndicate might be revealed as the force behind the Pyke attack in "The Book of Boba Fett."As I do not want to weave a half-convincing theory along the lines of "Somehow, Palpatine returned," I am going to press pause on this until more details are potentially revealed.

A more convincing theory would be that of renegade Mando mercenaries holding Gideon hostage or freeing him, depending on their motivations. Bo reveals that all of her followers deserted her after she lost the Darksaber to Din, and it is possible that some might have sought out Gideon to edge closer to their motivations to reclaim Mandalore, along with their freedom. This also makes Bo's mission to recruit new converts difficult, as uniting warring sects would prove to be extremely tricky.

Misdirect! It is an Imperial frame job, obviously

While it is possible that ex-super commando groups or wayward mercenaries are behind this jail bust, it makes more sense for this reveal to be a misdirect, as forces of the Empire might have framed Mandalorians to sow the seeds of discord into an already-crumbling foundation. One needs to look no further than Elia Kane, who is a prime example of dismantling a new structure from within, as she is playing a dangerous game to strengthen Imperial stronghold amid a new, delicate regime. The New Republic has been neglectful of its duties, where a membership-based priority is being granted during times of crisis, as seen when Tev requests assistance during the attack on Nevarro, but he is bluntly denied any aid. Kane's presence during this scene is especially telling, as she subtly reacts to Teva's claim that Gideon never made it to trial, which might have been orchestrated by Imperial loyalists like Kane herself.

The pillage of Mandalore allowed Imperials like Gideon to plunder hordes of Beskar alloy, which might have been used to frame the group and paint them as threats in the New Republic's eyes. As the new regime is seen taking an authoritarian approach, they have little reason to investigate further or grant the Mandalorians the benefit of the doubt. This little scheme could have been carried out by anyone, including Thrawn or any of the pro-Imperial groups — after all, what better way to demolish a new regime than to frame The Mandalorians as a fresh, dangerous threat? The beskar could also be used to reinforce the armor of Gideon's Dark Troopers platoon, who might function as challenging militaristic forces against pro-New Republic armies or allies.

New episodes of "The Mandalorian" season 3 air every Wednesday on Disney+.