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The Mandalorian

Guns for Hire (The Mandalorian - S03E06) - Live Action Series

Series: The Mandalorian

Title: Chapter 22 - Guns for Hire

Season: Three

Episode: 6

Original Air Date: April 5th, 2023

Runtime: 42 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"I thought Mandalorians were honorable! We are, kid. All it takes is a few credits!" SPOILERS.

Space Romeo and Space Juliet wuv each other sooooooo much

The latest The Mandalorian chapter, Guns for Hire, certainly was a very odd episode. I suppose it was conceived as some kind of comedy by Jon Favreau, but certain high profile guest stars and their acting were really bad or didn't fit into Star Wars and the plot of the episode was once again something taken right out of a video game and, quite frankly, failed to make proper sense here and there. What on earth is happening with The Mandalorian season 3?

Jon Favreau evidently loves the classic 1970s SciFi movie Logan's Run

Now I am not against comedic episodes or episodes that emphasize fun over action or drama, but the hammy acting by guest star Jack Black and the outright atrocious acting by Lizzo (I had to look her up, since I didn't know her, but I suspected she must be someone famous in the US for getting cast here despite having zero acting talent) really make all of their scenes difficult to watch. Anyway, the episode begins already a bit odd when we encounter a ship crewed by Quarren who happen upon an Imperial ship who they believe is still crewed by an Imperial crew, so they want to trade. But it turns out the Imperial ship is crewed by Axe Woves, Koska Reeves and a bunch of Mandalorians, who work as privateers. And they were tasked with retrieving a runaway Mon Calamari. He eloped with his Quarren girlfriend... yes, this is Romeo and Juliet in space. And in these early minutes you can already tell that Guns for Hire is apparently meant to be a comedy when Space Romeo and Space Juliet declare their undying love for each other, before Space Romeo is taken away.

The domed city Plazir literally looks like the city from Logan's Run, including the hyperloop shuttles

We then cut to Bo-Katan and Din Djarin who are approaching a lush planet with a domed city, which is called Plazir, which is pronounced just like the French word "plaisir", which means "pleasure" in English of course. It turns out that reprogrammed Imperial droids do all the menial work in this city. But Bo-Katan and Din don't know about that yet, they arrived to talk to the Mandalorians stationed on this planet as protection, among them of course their new leader Axe Woves who broke away from Bo-Katan and took the entire fleet with him when she failed to retrieve the darksaber. But Bo and Din aren't allowed to fly to the Mandalorian camp, their ship gets remote controlled by flight control (just like that? shouldn't there be safety measures that prevent remote hijacking?) and after getting greeted by two former Imperial droids Bo and Din get into a hyperloop and they are promptly transported to the palace where they are to meet the local rulers.

Get ready for some bad acting

Here we meet high profile guest stars 1 and 2, Jack Black and Lizzo. Jack Black is Lizzo's husband and he is a former Imperial who took part in the New Republic rehabilitation programme. But when he arrived on Plazir Lizzo fell in love with him and now they are married. Plazir also used to be a monarchy with Lizzo being royalty of course, but they have recently become a true democracy and with the help of Jack Black they repurposed all the many Imperial droids left over from the war. They now perform all the menial tasks, whereas the citizens of Plazir can now do as they please (ha ha), they no longer need to work. But there is trouble brewing in paradise, some of the droids have been malfunctioning, becoming erratic or even violent, which is threatening the way of life. And before Bo can meet her former friends they must perform this side quest for Jack Black and Lizzo... find out why the droids are malfunctioning. Bo and Din of course accept the quest (or else we would get a game over screen). The entire Alice In Wonderland space tea party is so obviously over the top that it's surely meant to be played and written for laughs. Unfortunately Jack Black dials it up to 11 and Lizzo simply cannot act if her life depended on it and also, quite frankly, there is zero chemistry between the two actors and it's difficult to believe they are an actual couple, even Space Romeo and Space Juliet who belong to different species and are people wearing rubber masks had more of a spark between them and were more believable, even if this too was already meant to be comedy.

Meet high profile guest star number 3: Doc Brown aka Christopher Lloyd

Bo and Din then head to the security office where they meet Christopher Lloyd who plays the head of security. Now George Lucas had a rule, he avoided hiring too many well known actors and instead used either complete unknowns or lesser known actors that kids may not know from countless other roles. This episode is violating that rule several times. You can't help but thinking... "hey, it's Jack Black!" and in this scene "hey, it's Doc Brown, only with less hair!", it takes you out of the illusion that this is "real" Star Wars and not just some tv show. I am very much not a fan of the casting choices here for that very reason. Anyway, Doc Brown shows them some security footage of malfunctioning droids and it is here Din learns that Plazir is entirely dependent on droids, yes, there is an emergency failsafe shutdown button, literally a red button, but Doc Brown informs Din that the entire society would collapse, because no one knows how to work anymore. Anyway, Doc Brown advances the side quest by pointing Din and Bo to the Ugnaughts working on the droids in the lower levels, they have a list of malfunctioning droids, the first clue.

The Ugnaughts update the quest status

Bo fails to get the Ugnaughts to talk, but Din, who spent a lot of time with Kuiil in season 1, knows how to properly address them and eventually Bo and Din get a list of the malfunctioning droids and the locations where they malfunctioned, so after receiving yet another side quest update they head to some loading port where an old battle droid oversees super battle droids loading crates.

The super battle droid had drinks at a bar, literally

At the loading dock Din comes up with the genius plan of aggravating the super battle droids. He reasons that if their reprogramming has been actually successful they would never hurt a human. But after kicking a few super battle droids one of them does of course snap and it goes on a rampage. Bo and Din pursue the droid and eventually manage to take it down. Bo then finds something called a "spark pad" on the droid, which is apparently some kind of business card or so for some droid bar. Don't ask. Now droids have always been something that Star Wars fails to properly examine. Are they just household appliances like toasters or washing machines that merely know how to talk? Or are they sentient and therefore beings that deserve basic rights instead of being treated as slaves? Well, the droids on Plazir have droid bars, they also exist in other places, this is not the first droid bar we see.

The droid cantina. And yes, all chatter and music stop as soon as Bo and Din enter the joint

The droids all drink some special liquid called "Nepenthé" in these joints, as we learn here. The droid bartender needs some convincing before he is willing to cooperate, but he eventually advances the side quest to the next stage by revealing that all the affected droids who malfunctioned had a drink from the same batch of Nepenthé. This liquid doesn't only serve as a lubricant, no it also updates the programming, i.e. Nepenthé is used to issue new commands to droids. Now why ANYONE would use a liquid droids need to drink at a bar for this instead of wireless signals is something only Jon Favreau can answer. But with this info it's time for Bo and Din to head to the droid morgue to see if something is wrong with the Nepenthé the super battle droid had for a drink. And I wish I was making this up.

The movie Wall-E also served as inspiration here.

In the droid morgue Bo and Din get a sample of the Nepenthé and as the droid mortician (or whatever her job is) is about to examine it the repurposed torture droid begins to attack. But Din makes short work of it and slices it in half with Chekhov's darksaber, you know, that rule about that if you show or introduce a gun it needs to be important later... so don't forget that detail. I then rewatched the next scene several times to try and make sense of it. This is how I understand things: the Nepenthé includes nano droids. Those apparently deliver the programming instructions? On those nano droids they find microscopic writing, some kind of chain code or so. This writing reveals that the battle droid was originally made by the Techno union and that this model was then imported by the security office, which is strictly forbidden by Plazir law. There are no official records for this droid, the Plazir database has nothing on it. Now the question is why some microscopic writing on nano droids would have the information that the Plazir security office acquired the droids. Well, maybe this is how transactions are recorded for droids, let's not dwell on it. But why would Nepenthé be used for that and not some identifying part on the actual droid? It really doesn't make any sense at all to me. Whatever, that final tidbit finally updates the side quest, because it implicates that the head of security, none other than Doc Brown, is behind it all.

It turns out Doc Brown is a separatist and great fan of Count Dooku

And Doc Brown is indeed found to be the person behind it all. He threatens to hit the red button which would completely devastate Plazir society, because it is also revealed it's not a failsafe at all, but instead would restore the original battle droid programming, causing bloodshed and disaster, but Bo simply takes him out with a stun dart. He is then taken to Lizzo and Jack Black. We learn that Doc Brown feels that everything has gone downhill ever since Jack Black arrived and that things were much better with Count Dooku calling the shots. Lizzo is disappointed because Doc Brown worked for her family for ages. Doc Brown is taken away. Lizzo knights Grogu, because Grogu needs a reason to be in this episode (he helped Lizzo win a game of space croquet by secretly using the Force) . And then Bo and Din end their side quest so they can advance to the main quest, meeting the Mandalorians, they are finally given permission to go to their camp outside town. It is against the law for armed troops to be inside the lovely domed city, hence why they have a camp outside the city gates.

120 pound women always win against equally skilled men in Hollywood

As expected Axe Woves is less than pleased to see Bo-Katan and Din Djarin. He is the big shot now and has no intention of letting Bo take that away from him. But of course she challenges him to a duel, and whoever wins is the true big shot. To the surprise of no one Bo manages to best Axe Woves and he concedes defeat.

Bo-Katan finally has the darksaber. Off to Mandalore we go in the next episodes!

But there is still the open question of the darksaber. We were conveniently reminded of it previously in the episode, Jon Favreau has read his Chekhov apparently! Din Djarin's Mandalorianhood is also questioned by Axe Woves, because he is not Mandalorian by birth, but Bo reminds them that Din took the creed and is a proper Mandalorian. And then Din once more offers the darksaber to Bo when Axe Woves mentions the saber. Of course Bo refuses once more, since the saber has to be won in combat. But we all remember the second episode where Din was bested by some Alien-Grievous creature and lost his darksaber, only for Bo to find it and use it to defeat the creature that bested Din. And by this logic, Din reasons, Bo now rightfully owns the darksaber, because she defeated the thing that defeated him. And luckily for everyone involved Bo accepts this reasoning and is finally reunited with her darksaber! We can now move on to the final quest chain of the season, retaking Mandalore!

As you can tell by the tone of my review I am not sure what to make of it. I love comedy, I am not opposed to having a good bit of fun and being silly is not always a bad idea. Being silly can be very fun indeed. I love things like Monty Python and the Holy Grail or their movie Life of Brian. The X-Files used to have a few "silly" episodes every once in a while that were a lot of fun too. But I don't know, for various reasons it simply doesn't work here for me. Reason one: the high profile guest stars who feel completely wrong for Star Wars. Reason two: the over the top hammy acting by Jack Black and the atrocious acting by Lizzo who had no right to be in this based on acting talent or skill. Reason three: the silly plot. Because all the other movies or shows I mentioned always had good writing which made the silliness even more hilarious. Who does not remember the conversation about women's rights in Life of Brian? In contrast everything in Guns for Hire is just plain stupid. That being said the episode looked rather pretty, even if the entire domed city was taken from Logan's Run, sadly, without someone like Jenny Agutter gracing the screen, instead the casting department opted for, let's call it "unconventional beauty", to put it as nicely as possible and not to hurt anyone's feelings. But at least the episode finally advanced the plot to the next stage, it gave Bo her fleet back and she also has the darksaber now. Next side quest will be to tame and ride the mythosaur probably with Moff Gideon being the boss fight of season 3.

And yes, I feel The Mandalorian season 3 is literally written like a video game, something that haunts much of modern entertainment, but it's pretty apparent here, which is in stark contrast to something like Andor (hello Majora's Madness, I hope you enjoy me mentioning Andor!), which has a proper plot and not just video game side quests and main quests, with quest givers demanding favors before they reveal that one piece of information you need to advance to the next quest stage.

All of that doesn't mean you can't have fun with this episode. But your enjoyment may depend on your tolerance for over the top and/or bad acting. And whether or not you find Quarren/Mon Calamari Space Romeo & Space Juliet fun or just silly and whether or not you find anything about the over the top Alice In Wonderland space tea party and game of croquet at the palace fun. On the plus side Din and Bo make a really good team and even though I doubt the series will go there I feel that the two of them would also make for a great couple. Din is apparently a good influence on Bo (the Armorer too) and with him Bo may actually succeed in getting Mandalore back for good, without messing things up or resorting to terrorism again. And Bo may also be a good influence on Din who is in desperate need of some non-cult Mandalorian friends!

One word about Grogu... why is he even there? Grogu had a mini quest of his own in episode 2, but ever since then he literally made no difference, he is just along for the ride, just as Din is, since season 3 is very much Bo-Katan's story, and not Din's. And this is my major criticism about season 3: it's no longer about the titular main character and Grogu and their evolving relationship, it's about Bo-Katan getting everything she needs to retake Mandalore. It almost seems as if Jon Favreau could not come up with a good plot for Din, or maybe Pedro Pascal's absence greatly limited what Favreau could do with the character. Din can never remove his helmet anymore, because they would need Pedro Pascal for that, but he preferred playing Joel on Last of Us instead. Now Lucasfilm and Favreau were kind enough to accommodate him, but I feel it was a very bad idea to let Pedro Pascal do his thing. They should replace him and use an actor who is actually on set. So far all the acting we see in season 3 was done by Brendan Wayne, the grandson of John Wayne. I wonder why they don't just use him properly. Pedro gets top billing for a role he does not perform, he merely adds his voice in ADR.

What else, this was another Bryce Dallas Howard episode, and it's the first one I didn't like all that much. If it was her directing choices that made Jack Black ham his way through his dialogue and that failed to get Lizzo to perform at least somewhat decently, I would be disappointed. Let's hope it's another learning experience for her because I wish Lucasfilm will give her all the experience she needs so she can direct a Star Wars movie one day, contrary to the people who are given this job on a silver platter without any real merits.

I would also like to talk about the moral of the story here. It is odd. If this was Star Trek then Captain Kirk would have convinced the rulers and citizens that their society is in decline, that by having robots perform most if not all of the tasks they are regressing, and the episode would have ended with Kirk hitting the failsafe that deactivates all droids, whether the local people like it or not. And the Doc Brown character would have been one of the good guys since he wanted to put an end to all the droid pampering. And if this was Wall-E the morbidly obese pampered humans would have realized that they can't go on like that. I can't say I agree with the overall message here.

So, I really don't know what to say. I want to like The Mandalorian season 3, I want to like this episode. I like comedy, I like silly... but I failed to find anything funny here, everything was just ridiculous, beginning with overly silly Space Romeo & Space Juliet and entirely collapsing when Jack Black and Lizzo appeared. Christopher Lloyd was fine, his acting was, but his mere presence took me out of the episode. Star Wars should NEVER hire high profile guest stars. Yes, there have been famous and even Oscar winning actors in Star Wars before, but George Lucas saw to it that especially kids will not really know them. so even if Samuel L Jackson was not an unknown actor, kids certainly didn't watch Pulp Fiction or things like The Bridge on the River Kwai which starred Alec Guinness. Hiring high-profile actors you associate with certain roles or stereotypes is just a bad fit for Star Wars. And hiring mutiple Grammy award winning hip hop musicians (I needed to look that up since I had never seen or heard of Lizzo before, it's not my genre of choice) who can't act at all is just stupid, if you ask me. This has no place in Star Wars at all.

So depending on your mood and tolerance for silliness Guns for Hire was either a loving hommage to Logan's Run (spiced up with some Wall-E and Alice In Wonderland) and a fine piece of comedy... or an outrageously stupid and horribly acted travesty that at least advanced the plot so we can get ready for the boss fight in the final episode in two weeks from now. Either way season 3 of The Mandalorian is oddly structured with odd episodes and I am not sure Jon Favreau is heading in the right direction. I wish I had nicer things to say about it all, since I greatly enjoyed previous seasons and even the Din Djarin episodes shoehorned into The Book of Boba Fett. But either Jon Favreau lost his mojo or studio interference and Pascal's wish not to be Din Djarin this season left him with no real choices other than to make it Bo-Katan's story. But that does not explain the odd structure, weird segues about Doc Pershing and some atrocious acting in this episode. Or the video game plot structure. Or things like Ragnar the Unlucky surviving in the crop of some Space Kaiju for more than a full day.

I really liked just one thing here: that Din decided to gift the darksaber to Bo and found a silly excuse so she can finally accept the saber. Because it once and for all removes the potentially stupid decision to have Bo and Din duel. And it should also remove ANY doubts about Bo becoming rightful ruler of Mandalore again. Anyone who thought Din is fated to be the next Mandalore will hopefully realize by now that his path is very different and that Bo-Katan is a much better fit for that task.

Added: April 5, 2023
Category: The Mandalorian
Reviewer: Thomas
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