Title: "The Mandalore Plot"
Director: Kyle Dunlevy
Writer: Melinda Hsu
Story: The episode opens on Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) as he arrives on the planet Mandalore to meet with its ruler, Duchess Satine (Anna Graves), who sits at the head of the Council of Neutral Systems. While it is her wish to stand apart from the Clone Wars, a splinter group of terrorists known as the Death Watch make that impossible due to an apparent link with the Separatists. Obi-Wan and Satine, who have some sort of shared history, head to the nearby moon of Concordia in their investigation of a bombing on Mandalore. There they discover that the Death Watch is much larger than believed, nearly losing their lives in the process.
Ner Vod?: Fans of previous characterizations of the Mandalorian people in the Expanded Universe, brace yourselves: continuity is thrown to the wind. If you walk into this episode expecting to see the rough, brutish race of warrior-nomads, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Even the Mandalorian armor, made so famous by Fetts Boba and Jango, is shown as standard-issue kit rather than each one being a unique reflection of its wearer. To be fair, we get only the briefest of glimpses of Mandalorian culture in this episode; the society that fans of the EU have come to know and love may exist elsewhere on the world. But these are not the Clone Wars-era Mandalorians described in so many high-profile "Star Wars" book releases.
Obi-Wan's History: Maybe I'm just a forgetful fan, but I can't recall any mention of Obi-Wan having a history with someone named Satine. This is surely a relationship we'll learn more about as the next two episodes unfold, but there's clearly a past connection -- possibly romantic? -- between the two. It would make for an interesting twist, given the firm stance Jedi take on avoiding attachment.
Mando Saber Jockey: The episode's Big Bad, Concordia governor Pre Viszla (Jon Favreau-- yes, that Jon Favreau), may not be a Force-user, but he's a badass Mando warrior with his fair share of trophies. One of those is a slick lightsaber with a katana-like grip and a -- gasp! -- black blade. It's not the first occurrence of a black-bladed lightsaber in the "Star Wars" universe (see also: "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed"), but it's undeniably cool. Especially when Viszla uses it to hold his own against master swordsman Obi-Wan.
Get Over It: Fans of the EU -- myself included -- are no doubt balking a little bit at the departures "The Mandalore Plot" makes from the established EU continuity. One of the most enjoyable things about taking in the continuing tales of George Lucas's universe is the parity between film and book and comic and video game. There's a definite break here, and an unfortunate one considering what a treasured piece of "Star Wars" lore the Mandalorians represent. That said, "The Mandalore Plot" is an entertaining piece of fiction with enough of an attachment to what's already been established to bring a smile to this fan's face. I'll be curious to see how the Death Watch develop over the next two episodes and how the Mandalorian culture is portrayed from here.