“Chapter 23” of The Mandalorian opened with Elia Kane giving Moff Gideon valuable information about the New Republic. But the episode’s official name, “The Spies,” didn’t refer to just one secret agent. In the words of Yoda, “There is another.” So who else was the episode’s pluralistic title referring to? The likely answer is far more crushing than the Shadow Council, whose members aren’t exactly hiding their true loyalties. It’s someone unthinkable, a leader every Mandalorian trusts to protect both them and their culture. It’s a zealot who was instrumental in bringing all of her people together. And it’s someone who just so happened to conveniently leave Mandalore right before Moff Gideon sprung his trap, the Armorer.
“Thank you for gathering the Mandalorians into one place.” Moff Gideon and the Shadow Council’s desperation to wipe out all Mandalorians once and for all required getting all of those surviving warriors together. That was the only way Gideon could complete his Great Purge of Mandalore. By striking them all at once he could forever eliminate a dangerous foe of the Empire, one that loomed as a potential ally of the New Republic.
How exactly did all those Mandalorians end up together on Mandalore? It started with the Armorer, who broke her own sacred creed when she instructed Bo-Katan to take off her helmet. The Armorer, leader of the covert, keeper of Mandalore’s myths and history, and strict devotee of her peoples’ ancient ways, suddenly decided it was important enough for Bo-Katan not to follow “the Way” in the name of unity. Because Bo-Katan “walks in both worlds,” the Armorer said Lady Kryze was uniquely qualified to bring all clan together.
She was right, too. Bo-Katan did something the Armorer never could have done. It’s something no other Mandalorian could have done. The only person who could do the one thing Moff Gideon needed and desired was someone who would never willingly help him. Bo-Katan could only do that unwittingly.
On its own the outcome of this unification seems like nothing more than bad luck. Eschewing your own personal hardline religious beliefs to reconcile with your own people is a good thing. So is uniting homeless Mandalorians “scattered like stars” in the galaxy. Someone needed to put their ego aside and take a bold first step to do the seemingly impossible. That’s what the Armorer did. It was commendable at the time, and that shouldn’t change because the incompetent New Republic has an Imperial spy working for it.
Only, that wasn’t all the Armorer did to arouse suspicion. When Bo-Katan asked for volunteers to secure Mandalore’s surface, the Armorer joined. We have never seen her do that previously. The Armorer simply does not go on missions unless the entire covert does, like when it fought pirates on Nevarro. When a small elite band of Mandalorians go out, like when they saved the Foundling from the big space wyvern, the Armorer stays behind.
That always made sense, too. The Armorer is not only a leader, she is the living memory of Mandalore’s past. If something were to happen to her on a lesser mission, Mandalorians would lose more than just a warrior and a skilled crafts women. They’d lose a connection to their history and culture. Was that risk finally worth it to join an elite group on the first mission to reclaim Mandalore? No one could argue against that, and no Mandalorian did, even if the Armorer volunteering did seem to briefly surprise Bo-Katan.
But the Armorer lost the benefit of the doubt when she left the mission behind right before Gideon showed up. That timing is too convenient for a zealot who stopped following her own sacred tenets to bring Mandalorians to that exact spot. That’s too convenient for a leader taking part on the type of mission she usually sits out. Anyone could have brought those injured survivors back to the fleet in orbit over Mandalore. But it was the Armorer who did so.
Episode director Rick Famuyiwa, along with episode co-writers Dave Filoni and Jon Favrea, wanted us to notice the Armorer’s return flight, too. There was nothing notable about her trip with those injured Mandalorians. She simply flew out of the atmosphere and radioed ahead, a flight we saw multiple times. What we never saw was what happened to the fleet or the Armorer. There was a feeling of dread to that sequence, but it didn’t have a payoff. So why bother focusing on it at all? Why spend all that time showing us something so routine in an already longer-than-usual episode?
For the same reason the show lingered on Din Djarin putting the Darksaber back on his waist after Bo-Katan saved him: because the Armorer’s departure was important. And it felt ominous because it was. That otherwise short, inconsequential flight was the Armorer fleeing before Gideon’s attack. She was in on the whole thing.
The Armorer, for reasons we can only speculate on for now, is working with the Imperial officer, one whose own beskar helmet sports the same type of horns as hers. She’s working with the man who destroyed Mandalore and killed millions. She gave up all her people, both the Watch covert she leads and the clans she helped them unite with. The Armorer led them right to a slaughter she knew awaited them because she made it possible.
Each piece of evidence against the Armorer might be circumstantial on its own, but taken together they are sadly all too convincing. As Ian Fleming wrote, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” Now that the enemy Mandalorians know has taken action, we know the last person they ever would have suspected is working against them, too.
Maybe the Armorer is doing this because she hates the culture that excommunicated her own clan. Maybe Gideon promised her the right to help rule and influence a new Mandalore he’s planning under him. Or maybe its jealousy, greed, or a million other things. But whatever her reason she has for betraying her own kind, there is good news for those who want to see her punished for what she’s done. The Armorer is likely to learn a terrible lesson another Mandalorian leader, one who truly cares about her people, already knows. Bo-Katan already told the Armorer no Mandalorian can ever trust Moff Gideon.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.