The penultimate episode of season three of The Mandalorian is aptly titled The Spies (plural), suggesting that it is not just referring to Alia Kane who is walking through a bright Blade Runner-esque sector of Coruscant in the opening scene. The Imperial remnant officer acting as a reformed Amnesty employee has engaged with a probe droid to commune with Moff Gideon himself, informing him that specific Mandalorians of Din Djarin’s and Bo-Katan’s respective tribes have joined forces to retake Mandalore. While Gideon has a nasty habit of popping up in episodes seven and eight each season, it may be helpful to place certain characters (ahem, Alia!) on ‘Spy Watch’ to determine who is being alluded to by this episode title’s double meaning.
Moff Gideon brushes past his near-perfected third generation Dark Troopers (through shield rays that remind me of The Phantom Menace) to attend a meeting of the Shadow Council, which is an Imperial remnant cabal of high-ranking officers who each have their own agenda in restoring order to the galaxy. One warlord played by Jonny Coyne is warned that his hit-and-run operations in the hyper lanes are drawing too much attention (a detail that perhaps could be explored in something like Skeleton Crew), given their agenda is to keep their operations a secret from the New Republic. Two major factions of Imperial remnants is revealed to be Brendol Hux (played by Brian Gleeson, brother of Domhnall Gleeson who played Hux’ son in the sequel trilogy) and Gilad Pellaeon played by Xander Berkeley.
The Council accuses Gideon of hoarding Dr. Pershing and his research for his own dark experiments even though it is Hux’ sector that is responsible for pursuing Project Necromancer (basically a magic user who can resurrect the dead, which is very clearly a connection to Palpatine’s long form schemes which lead to the First/Final Order). Pellaeon mocks the Moff’s request for three Praetorian Guards accompanied by a complement of TIE Interceptors and Bombers, while teasing the imminent return of a possible bigger villain than Gideon in Thrawn (Rebels only scratches the surface of this character’s importance in Star Wars). Moff Gideon sues for new leadership in the vacuum left by Palpatine and Thrawn’s disappearance, claiming he requires the resources in order to defeat the Mandalorians once and for all.
The Mandalorian privateers bring their fleet to Nevarro to join up with the Children of the Watch, before heading as one people to retake Mandalore. Greef Karga gives a gift to Din and Grogu by way of IG-11 (fixed by Babu Frik’s people) who has been re-purposed as a vehicle which Grogu can use to get around. There is much comic relief in watching as Grogu learns to operate IG-12 and take control of its two communication buttons to digitally utter their first words: ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ in that order.
When Bo-Katan rallies the Mandalorians to assemble a scout team to set up the first perimeter at the Great Forge on Mandalore, it is surprising that The Armorer decides that she will go. As much as it pains to admit this, I think it’s time we put the self-imposed leader of the Children of the Watch on Spy Watch, as she makes calculated moves in the pursuit of restoring Mandalore. When encountering surviving Mandalorians on the glass-blown fields Mandalore, The Armorer also mentions that “Death Watch exists no longer.”
Bo-Katan humbly accepts fealty from the surviving Mandalorians, who soon discover that she had actually surrendered to Moff Gideon with treacherous hopes that he would stick to his end of the bargain and spare the lives of her people (which we know did not occur thanks to The Purge). Din Djarin tells Bo-Katan that he values honour above all else in the Mandalorian culture and that he will stick by her until her song is fully written. Just when you think the two sides can’t get along as Axe Woves battles Paz Vizsla over a rules discrepancy, Robo-Grogu steps in between, mashing the ‘No’ button repeatedly until they back down (Din confirms it is not his training that inspired this play but that of Luke Skywalker’s!).
The next contestants on Spy Watch, as The Armorer heads for the privateer fleet with the wounded survivors in tow, have to be those very survivors as they lead the scout team towards the Great Forge (which just so happens to be guarded by a giant dinosaur-like creature with glass-shard spikes from the planet’s surface). Just when they think they are all safe, they are attacked by Gideon’s Dark Troopers while Axe Woves (place him on Spy Watch as he makes his way towards the privateer fleet as well) manages to escape.
After Moff Gideon threatens to finish The Purge once and for all and takes Din Djarin away, Bo-Katan uses the Darksaber to create an escape for the scout team, save for Paz Vizsla who stays back to fight off the Dark Troopers. He certainly holds his own, until those three Praetorian Guards (think of the Emperor or Snoke’s throne room, including that astonishing fight in The Last Jedi) show up to finish him off. Not only is it sad to see such an instrumental part of the team get cut down in his moment of glory, but its shows how deadly an obstacle these Praetorian guards are going to be for the rest of the crew.
Finally, we have ramped up to a finale that really puts the future of Mandalore in jeopardy, and calls upon Bo-Katan to seize her destiny and fight once again for the survival of her people. Whether ‘The Spies’ reveal to include Axe Woves, the surviving Mandalorians, or even The Armorer among their ranks, the finale is sure to shake the fabric of the Mando-verse and possibly lay seeds for a crossover event with other series in the New Republic era. When Boba Fett first teamed up with Bo-Katan, he teased “didn’t the Empire turn that planet to glass?” so it’s also a possibility we could see him and Fennec Shand show up riding into battle on a Rancor alongside a Mandalorian on a Mythosaur. Who do you think should be on Spy Watch heading into The Mandalorian Season 3 Finale?