The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 6 Goes Through The Looking Glass

Spoilers follow for "Star Wars: The Mandalorian" Chapter 22 – Guns For Hire. 

The latest "Mandalorian" episode begins with a Quarren freighter built on Mon Calamari traveling through space when it's beset by an Imperial ship. They offer to pay a bribe to the "Imperial Warlords," but find that it's not the Empire. It's the Mandalorians, led by Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides), coming to take a passenger from their ship prisoner. A "Romeo and Juliet" story is taking place there, and the Quarren captain has fallen for the Mon Calamari prince. The Mandalorians have been hired to take him back, and then they return to the opulent planet of Plazir-15.

Gears shift to Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal, et al). With Bo-Katan tasked by the Armorer with uniting all of the disparate groups of Mandalorians, she and Din Djarin set out from Nevarro to begin their new quest. The first place they head is Plazir-15 to collect Axe Woves and Bo-Katan's former fleet.

Unfortunately, before they're given access to Woves and his Mandalorian Privateers, they're summoned by the planetary leadership, the Duchess (Lizzo) and Captain Bombardier (Jack Black). They have a problem and before they allow Bo-Katan and Din Djarin access to the other Mandalorians, they would like them to investigate droid malfunctions running rampant across the city. In return, they would recognize Mandalore as a sovereign system when they took it back. Begrudgingly, they investigate the droid malfunctions through the city, tracking it back to Commissioner Helgait (Christopher Lloyd). He was a former Separatist and thought Count Dooku was right.

With that mystery solved like a classic TV police procedural, they take to the fields on the outskirts of the city where the Mandalorians are drinking and playing some form of football. Bo-Katan challenges Axe Woves for control of the sect, but he says she should be challenging Din Djarin for the Darksaber instead. Instead, Din Djarin gives her the Darksaber, explaining that he was defeated in battle by a creature and lost the Darksaber. Bo-Katan rescued him and defeated the creature who defeated him, so by rights, the Darksaber is hers.

She takes it, gladly, and ignites the blade with a smile.

The cameos

Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, this episode of "The Mandalorian" might have the most cameos packed into it that we've seen so far, and that's not a bad thing at all. Each of them had an interesting and fitting place in the world of "Star Wars." The first cameos we see: Jack Black and Lizzo as the elected royals of Plazir-15. The funniest part of this is the idea that Jack Black was once an Imperial. Think about him a decade before, clean-shaven in an Imperial universe, and it's pretty damn funny. And then there's the fact that he'd have a name like "Captain Bombardier" and have it pronounced in a ridiculous French accent, which is even funnier.

Christopher Lloyd, of "Back to the Future" and "Star Trek" fame, has long been rumored to have been a part of this season but his role was shrouded in mystery. We finally learn that he's playing Commissioner Helgait here, a survivor of the Clone Wars and a believer in Count Dooku's cause.

Matthew Wood — the voice of General Grievous — comes back as the voice of the B1-Battle Droids, which is always a delight. Especially when he's trying so hard to be polite.

The last cameo comes in the form of the Ugnaught Safir. In the suit is Misty Rosas, who was the body of Kuiil in the first season of "The Mandalorian." The voice was provided by Dale Dickey, who was in movies like "Winter's Bone" and "Iron Man 3."

Disney's Alice in Wonderland

As the focus here was placed on the planet of Plazir, it almost feels like a Disney version of Wonderland. The geodesic domes of the planet, robust public transportation system, and droid labor allowing the population to work on art and fulfillment rather than a torturous work-a-day existence feel very much like what Walt Disney was planning with EPCOT, his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It certainly feels like a way of life through the looking glass of our current capitalist hellscape — indeed, it doesn't feel coincidental that Christopher Lloyd's character, who wants to plunge them back into that existence is named Helgait.

There are more touchstones to Wonderland, too. The opening scene feels almost like the Mad Tea Party with Jack Black at the head, and the mission feels mildly nonsensical. And, at the end, Grogu helps the Duchess play a game that is visually reminiscent of the game of croquet favored by the Queen of Hearts, even going so far as to use a colored bug as a ball instead of a colored hedgehog. When the day is saved by Din Djarin and Bo-Katan, they offer them a key to Plazir. Curiously, they offer the youngling Grogu a knighthood, inducting him into the Ancient Order of Independent Regencies.

It all feels a little upside down, but delightful nonetheless. Bryce Dallas Howard, who directed this episode, brought her A-game.

The Separatists Shall Rise Again

One of the most interesting aspects of this episode was the ties to the Clone Wars. The nanobots hidden in the droid lubricant were manufactured by the Techno Union, who were quick to join up with the Confederacy of Independent Systems in "Attack of the Clones." Commissioner Helgait is definitely the sort working to bring the ideals of his failed Civil War back to the forefront, even if it means robbing his fellow Plazirians of their utopia. It feels like a very relevant commentary on current events. There are political factions that would rather work people to death than let them enjoy a minute to create art or meaningful things for the soul. Helgait wanted to remake society in the image of his own Separatist, capitalist image, and it wasn't even close.

It's interesting, too, that the politics of the prequels, 25 or 30 years over, are still shaping so much of the galaxy and it's refreshing to see that long-arcing view. I mean, let's be honest, the losers of the American Civil War lost almost 160 years ago and we're still dealing with that in the United States.

Details to watch out for

This episode is jam-packed with details and literary ties to watch out for.

The opening sequence offers us a very "Star Trek"-like vibe on the bridge of the Quarren ship, before giving us a Romeo and Juliet story between the Mon Calamari Prince and the Quarren Captain. It's curious, too, that the bridge reminded me of "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" specifically, which also starred Christopher Lloyd as the villain.

There are a lot of classic "Star Wars" aliens present in this episode. At the Mad Tea Party alone you could spot a Snivvian, an Ithorian, a pair of Rodians, an Ishi Tib, some Sullustan, Bith, and representatives of the same species as the Frog Lady from the last season of "The Mandalorian." It's been a while since we've seen this many aliens all packed together. But as we visit the droid bar "The Resistor" we see another assembly of droids from all over the "Star Wars" canon. There are RX-series droids like the pilots from the original iteration of "Star Tours," and there are Battle Droids from the prequels. My favorite might have been the return of a CZ-series droid. These weird-looking droids with smiles carved into their faces were first seen in "A New Hope" and had small cameos in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" as well. Other droids include a heavy loader droid like B-U4D from "The Force Awakens" and other astromech droids.

According to Helgait, the droids were salvaged from the planet Karthon, which you might remember from the last season of "The Mandalorian." That was the planet where Bill Burr's character Mayfeld was serving time before getting broken loose by Din Djarin.

As for the droid bar itself, the lubricant they drink, Nepenthé, has quite a literary history. Homer described a drug called nepenthe in "The Odyssey" and it was said to numb grief and sorrow, which makes this droid bar all the more depressing if they need their grief and sorrow numbed in order to go on for another day. The entire droid storyline was fascinating and delved into droid rights in a way "Star Wars" often skirts around or ignores completely, essentially casting Bo-Katan and Din Djarin as Blade Runners in this episode, hunting down rogues droid elements.

Advancing the plot

This episode is another departure from what some people might think "Star Wars" is, but I think that just makes it more like "Star Wars." The best iterations of "Star Wars" showed us something new and took us to new places to see new things. The cameos weren't distracting to me, though I could see where they might rub some the wrong way. I remember when it was announced that N'Sync had been able to play Jedi during the arena battle in "Attack of the Clones" there was an uproar, but how can you begrudge anyone of the chance to be in "Star Wars"? Besides, all of the cameos here were delightful and sinister in equal measure.

More than anything, though, this episode solved two of the major narrative questions of the show. How would Bo-Katan get her cadre of Mandalorians back in the fold and how would she get the Darksaber back? I imagine this will lead to further complications, but I think Din Djarin made the right call. He was defeated and she defeated the creature who did it. It's a lot easier than challenging them to combat. I'm finally starting to believe that Bo-Katan doesn't have something nefarious up her sleeves, but is actually on the level in trying to unite Mandalore with as little bloodshed as possible.

But, as soon as I'm lulled into that sense of security, maybe that's when I'll get hit with a reversal next week. With the Darksaber back in Bo-Katan's hands, her sighting of the mythosaur, and the unification of the Mandalorians, I think we're heading toward a major confrontation. The question remains though: who will that confrontation be against? With only two episodes left this season, we'll see soon enough. I hope...

"Star Wars: The Mandalorian" is streaming only on Disney+. New episodes come every Wednesday.