“The Mandalorian” seems to be inching towards the complex moral setting of more grounded “Star Wars” shows like “Andor,” where “good” and “bad” are not set moral boxes, leaving ample space for murky grey areas to exist. While “Andor” deftly explored the uglier aspects of the Rebellion, the latest episode of “The Mandalorian” — directed by Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”) — allows glimpses into similar moral quandaries that plague the New Republic.
We’ve seen Imperial torture devices before, including the one in Fortress Inquisitorius, used to torture and kill numerous Jedi for various purposes. To see the New Republic scrapping all Imperial tech on paper while indulging in similar torture methods under the guise of peaceful rehabilitation treatments is a way scarier prospect than any tentacled Mind Flayer exercising control on sentient beings for nefarious ends.
Although the New Republic does not intend to kill Pershing, it does seem like they intended to wipe his mind completely to make way for easier “rehabilitation.” These manipulation tactics are uneasy to witness, especially when contrasted against the veneer of progressive freedom and prosperity that Coruscant seems to embody. When Kane steps in and increases the electrical surge of the device, she effectively kills Pershing or completely fries his mind, at best.
Losing one’s mind and sense of self is undoubtedly more of an unbearable punishment than death, and while Pershing’s arc is somewhat tragic, it is tough to argue that he did not absolutely have it coming. An Imperial scientist deft at exploiting Force-sensitive beings for purposes of war, torture, and information retrieval must have participated in several heinous Imperial-sanctioned orders, and irrespective of whether he was truly unwilling to stoop so low, he did aid their dastardly cause.
New episodes of “The Mandalorian” season 3 air every Wednesday on Disney+.