The Mandalorian Season 3, Episode 6:
“Guns for Hire” Review
To say this season of The Mandalorian has been meandering would be an understatement. It has often felt like any semblance of a central plot was hastily thrown in at the last minute. The end of last week’s episode was a burst of plot momentum that should have continued in this episode. Instead, Chapter 22, titled “Guns for Hire,” once again puts all plot on hold for a side quest. As with most episodes this season, on its own the episode itself is fine but as part of a whole, it’s another reminder that this season of The Mandalorian is a cobbled-together mess.
Din and Bo-Katan are searching for Bo’s old Mandalorian comrades which leads them to the independent world of Plazir-15. From there the episode becomes a side quest where they have to investigate why the planet’s service droids (which are repurposed Clone Wars battle droids) have started going haywire.
The little detective story that plays out is fine. It’s uplifted immensely by the interplay between Din and Bo, Pascal and Sackhoff’s chemistry shines through again, as well as the direction by Bryce Dallas Howard. But much like last week none of what’s good here can overcome the pervasive feeling of apathy. This is the sixth episode of an eight-episode season and it can’t come up with a good answer to the question “What are we doing”.
Side quest episodes are fine when they’re properly placed within the main story progression but there is little story progression to speak of. Last week ended with the revelation that Moff Gideon never made it to trial because a group of Mandalorians helped him escape. This week not only doesn’t follow up on that in any meaningful way, but it’s also as if it never happened. This could be the sixth episode of the season or the second and nothing would change.
The only seasonal plot progression to speak of this week is saved for the final five minutes where Din and Bo find the crew of Mandalorians that Bo ran with in season two and Din just gives Bo the Darksaber to make her official leader of all of Mandalore. That’s it, he just gives it to her, and that’s the resolution to that plot thread. It feels very tacked on. As I said at the start of this review, the season as a whole feels cobbled together but this moment is the worst offender so far. What could have and should have been built up as a major story moment is instead treated as a throwaway in the final minutes of an episode that had nothing to do with anything.
“Guns For Hire” also features really weird guest turns from Jack Black, Lizzo, and Christopher Lloyd. They all do fine, Jack Black in particular looks magnificent and he’s a welcome presence in anything. He’s fun here too but he’s also Jack Black. It’s fun to see him but he’s playing Jack Black in Star Wars and every time he’s on screen all you will think to yourself is “Jack Black!”. The same goes for Lizzo and Christopher Lloyd. When Bill Burr appeared in the previous seasons he had that same aura but he had a character with enough to do that Burr was able to tuck himself away into the character. Black, Lizzo, and Lloyd don’t have that. They appear briefly and without real substance, so they are essentially themselves.
If anything has been apparent this season it’s that the creative team behind The Mandalorian learned all the wrong lessons from the things that made the show a success in the first place. “Guns for Hire” is the episode most emblematic of that. It’s a side quest with no substance and guest stars for the sake of guest stars. The Mandalorian became the success it was because the side quests were very relevant to the progression of an overarching story that was established early and that we cared about. This season has featured almost nothing but side quests filled with teases that go nowhere in the final minutes. ‘Guns for Hire” is a side quest that fails to follow up on the previous episode’s major plot revelation, offers nothing of substance, and worst of all resolves a major plot thread in the laziest way imaginable. With two episodes left in the season, it’s just unacceptable.