When people talk about filler episodes for “The Mandalorian,” they mean something like this week’s “Chapter 11: The Heiress.” The emotions are particularly hollow here and the action scenes are fairly rote, with both elements being overshadowed by the bits of story that will be remembered far more during later episodes. But it finally shows us more Mandalorians, especially one played by Katee Sackhoff, who appears in live-action form as her butt-kicking Bo-Katan character from the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”
After the disastrous detour in “Chapter 10: The Passenger” which nearly had our hero Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), Baby Yoda, and their special guest Frog Lady turned into ice spider food, the three arrive to their final destination, the black market port of Trask (the Razor Crest remains in gravely need of repair, and that’s before Djarin accidentally crashes tips the ship into the water). In a weak reunion moment that’s meant to be more effective than it is, Frog Lady reunites with her husband, carrying the eggs that Baby Yoda had been controversially snacking on in the previous episode. Perhaps in karma, this series features three moments in which different creatures appear ready to eat Baby Yoda, and we can only hope that it inspired a moment of self-awareness within the dangerously hungry character known by Din as The Child.
True to the deal made in “The Passenger,” Frog Man then directs Mando to an inn, where he meets a squid-headed guy (known as a Quarren) who can steer him to other Mandalorians, who can help Din return The Child to its kind. But it’ll require sailing a few hours away from the port. Before you can even say, “Hey, that sounds a bit suspicious,” the Quarren feed Baby Yoda and his floating capsule to a giant sea monster, and try to kill Mandalorian for his sweet, expensive beskar armor.
And then suddenly, with incredible timing—three Mandalorians swoop in, ready to fight some Quarrens, armed with some slick martial arts moves and overheated music cues. Lead by Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan, they swiftly rescue Mando but then blow his mind by taking off their helmets. As someone who has only removed his helmet once (in “Chapter 8”) it’s practically offensive. With the same tone of accusation and mistrust as when he saw The Marshal wearing Boba Fett’s gear in “Chapter 9,” Djarin asks them, “Where did you get that armor?” Bo-Katan then answers with her background story, as someone born on Mandalore who is the last of her lineage, and now wears the armor that has been through her family for three generations.
For a long while, Mando has been trying to find those of his kind, hoping to make some kind of connection, and yet here they are, they speak and look like him, but it makes him uncomfortable. On top of that, they tell him that he comes from a cult-like group of Mandalorians known as The Watch, an explanation for his strict ways of never taking off the armor. This detail only makes him more distanced, looking at their uncovered faces from behind his helmet. “There’s only one way, the way of the Mandalore,” he defensively mutters before he abruptly flies away. It’s a rushed dramatic beat that should be gutting, but instead makes you wish the series was better at expressing itself emotionally.
But that’s not the end of the Mandalorian and Quarren action. Soon after Din gets back to port, he’s accosted by angry Quarren, with one of them accusing Mando of killing their brother. The Mandalorians swoop in again, shooting a bunch of bad guys, with Bo-Katan getting to say the eye-rolling line, “He didn’t kill your brother … I did.” It’s this type of in-your-face cheesiness in “The Heiress” that at least guarantees we’ll be seeing much more of Bo-Katan. The character is a fan favorite from “The Clone Wars,” and from the start she’s presented in this episode by director Bryce Dallas Howard as bonafide crowd-pleaser for the “Mandalorian” audience.
The Mandalorians offer Din information about where to find others like The Child if he can help them, which leads to another side-mission. This one involves some pirate action against an Imperial freighter, which we learn has weapons the Mandalorians want to steal to help those back on Mandalore. The attempt to rob this ship of its precious cargo leads to a dull climax, as shoot-outs between the Mandalores and troopers restrict the action to walking in a straight-line, the camera simply jumping back-and-forth as if a shootout was simply a call-and-response act. When one of the other Mandalorians jokes earlier that their enemies “couldn’t hit the side of a bantha,” it’s not a rah-rah moment but obvious that the Mandalores are going to blow through them, and sure enough they do. Later on, when Mando uses his special armor to place himself in front of such erratic laser-fire and toss some grenades, it’s not all that exciting, in part because you know he could just toss those grenades farther away down the hall. Such an act of possible self-sacrifice should come off as heroic, but it’s underwhelming, and a bit silly.
With a few teasing details, the episode provides a wider sense of what remnants of the Empire are still flourishing, and that includes a hologram appearance from Giancarlo Esposito’s Darth Vader-like Moff Gideon, who we haven’t seen since he brandished the darksaber at the end of episode eight. “Long live the empire” is delivered as a chilling sign-off after Gideon gives order for sacrifice, and it emphasizes the creepy loyalty in place for something that might be, for the moment, out of Mando’s mind. Along with how the X-Wing pilot cops in “Chapter 10: The Passenger” let Mando off the hook, we’re getting a larger sense of just how trying these times currently are.
Though it’s a clunky introduction of Bo-Katan to “The Mandalorian,” “The Heiress” does plant some compelling details about her part in this show, and the action that might be awaiting us on Mandalore if/when we get there. And it gives a little more background to Mando too, illuminating that his origins are even more complicated than we thought. The solemn Mandalorian slogan “This is the way” has different meanings in the minds of Bo-Katan and Din, and this episode might lead to Din gaining a larger perspective on what it means to be a Mandalorian. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was how “The Mandalorian” starts letting us see Pascal’s face a tiny bit more often.