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Don’t Make Me Care For Former Empire Employees, ‘The Mandalorian’!

Dr. Pershing talking to Elia on 'The Mandalorian'

Chapter 19 of The Mandalorian, titled “The Convert,” brought us an unlikely story in the midst of all the action. The last episode left fans wondering what was going to happen with Bo-Katan (Katee Sackoff) after having seen the Mythosaur in the living waters of Mandalore. She was questioning her entire life in that moment and all that she believed and despite her still having on her helmet, we could feel her questioning.

And while we may have thought that the next episode would be more of the same and we would have explored Bo and her connection to the ways of the Mandalorian with Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal). But instead, we got to dive into a different story in the middle of the episode and it was a surprisingly nice departure for the series from what we’ve come to know.

So let’s talk about what happened in “The Convert.”

Spoilers for season 3 of The Mandalorian lie ahead.

(Lucasfilm)

Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi) started the show as Grogu’s antagonist. He wanted to experiment on our sweet boy and was doing so in the name of “science” for Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). We know that he worked with Moff Gideon past that but now into season 3, he seems to be on the path to redemption himself. While characters like Din want to be redeemed in the eyes of their clan, characters like Pershing are trying to move on from their wrongdoings while working with the Empire.

And it brought him into a new way of life working with the New Republic.

Being a better person

Pershing is trying which is what makes me so torn on him as a character. Penn was willing to do whatever the Empire wanted of him in the name of “science” and he didn’t seem to care if he hurt Grogu. And now seeing him just being a pawn of the New Republic system because he thinks that’s the way to fix his past mistakes is oddly upsetting.

One of the problems with the Empire was that all of its “employees” just blindly did whatever they were told. And the New Republic is being built by those who fought against the systems in place. So for people like Pershing just doing what they want no questions asked while seemingly being so sad about it just oddly is upsetting to watch.

We see his little glimmer of hope when he sees a familiar face from Gideon’s ship (Katy O’Brian) and she encourages him to explore his experiments again but for the betterment of the New Republic. What’s upsetting though is that I care about him. His redemption is honestly something I didn’t think about and then this episode threw us right into it. But all while he is changing and trying to be a better person, there are those who are not.

Some things never change

O’Brian’s character is named Elia and she introduced herself to Pershing for the first time and it seems like the two are actually trying to grow as friends that is until she turns him in to the New Republic for trying to find a mobile lab when it was her idea. The entire episode is Elia telling Pershing what he should do now and, for the most part, manipulating him into breaking the rules with her only for her to turn on him.

Elia and her betrayal of Pershing is something that you would expect from a former employee of the Empire. So all the work the episode does to make me care about Pershing quickly makes me remember that for the most part these former employees of the Empire aren’t fully ready to give up all their ideals and motives.

Still, the show did make me care and feel for Dr. Pershing and I’m going to fully blame Omid Abtahi’s brilliant performance.

(Featured image: Lucasfilm)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.