The Mandalorian has delivered another stellar episode, further exhibiting the power television can deliver in roughly 30 minutes. The majority of discourse surrounding Chapter 3, simply subtitled The Sin, will rightfully revolve around its director. With this episode, Deborah Chow (Mr. Robot, Jessica Jones) became the first woman to ever direct live-action Star Wars content. It should also be recognized that she is the first director of Asian descent to do so. Audiences worldwide have been calling out Lucasfilm for their scarcity of diverse leading creatives behind the camera for a handful of years now. The Sin is the first promising wave of an overdue change of tide.
The episode kicks off by showing fans what they were most afraid of: the exchange of bounty and payment. The asset, or Baby Yoda as many now say, has unsurprisingly won the hearts of the masses. The child’s popularity is too saturated in pop culture for it to still be considered a spoiler. Star Wars fans can understand why Lucasfilm would keep the Baby Yoda concept under wraps for so long. Although, one can still wonder how many more people would have subscribed to Disney Plus before launch had the cute little thing been included in promotion?
The Mandalorian’s atypical bond with the child is the fuel behind The Sin. The lead is faced with the most daring decision thus far: thrive off rewards in a harsh galaxy or risk it all for a peculiar child? The conflict is enough to drive an action-packed half-hour of fresh enough material. The show has already relied heavily on visual storytelling with minimal dialogue, perhaps more to some’s liking. Pedro Pascal though continues to impress with how much he can invoke with body language. Chow handles this style and series flow seamlessly while excelling at incorporating her own robust voice. Those who were thinking of dropping The Mandalorian will be forced to think again.
In all honesty, the plot of the episode is not very unpredictable. One can get a gist of what they are in for early on. However, Chow’s direction hits every emotional and character-driven beat hence making the predictability almost irrelevant. The Sin is very much not about the destination but how to get there. Chow flexes her directorial skills showcasing unforgettable gut punches, stylish action, and some never before seen moments in Star Wars. Some of the material in the show dances the fine line of organic inclusion and forced fan service. This episode’s third act could have easily fallen in the latter, but instead, Chow finds a balance between familiarity and originality.
Despite the level of predictability, showrunner Jon Favreau still deserves due credit. The episode continues to introduce new interesting ideas to the canon. Favreau continues to make the nameless lead interesting by highlighting his imperfections. The legacy of being a Mandalorian carries immense weight in-universe and to general audiences. It is very satisfying to see one fail and struggle with being tested to high standards by default. Growth cannot come without learning from failure. The Sin also features very satisfying bookends that are surely going to be referenced by fans for time to come.
It could not be more obvious that Favreau is playing a long game of mystery here. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it could get potentially tiresome for viewers. This episode featured callbacks to threads seen in the premiere. More light was shed on the lead thus revealing some promises for the future. Favreau is hyping up some big reveals down the line and for all the teasing they have to be narratively sound. Here is to hoping that Chapter 4 gets much-needed time for reflection after all The Sin‘s chaos.
Cinematographer Greg Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty) returns from the first episode and is coming back along with Chow again for Chapter 7. His work on the premiere was outstanding and it shines under different circumstances here. The way he and Chow frame subjects combines intimacy with intensity; it is unlike anything one can see on television/streaming. The superb tracking shots of action in the third act should be noted, but sequences that put the world in Baby Yoda’s perspective also quickly come to mind.
The Sin is a great example of ace pacing in episodic storytelling. Working with less does not matter if one hits every note that is going to keep viewers from turning away. Chow understands this and it cannot be more exciting to see what she does next not only in Chapter 7 but also in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off series. Chow is slated to direct all episodes of that show with plans to start shooting in summer 2020. Diverse voices ensuring a riveting future for Star Wars; this is the way.
Read our review of ‘Chapter 2’ and watch new episodes of The Mandalorian every Friday on Disney Plus!
Follow writer Andrew J. Salazar on Twitter: @AndrewJ626