Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 3 of The MandalorianThe Star Wars franchise has a long history of exploring politics, but so far, The Mandalorian has had other things to focus on. As it is set in a new era, the Disney+ show has plenty of opportunity to expand the world. The story takes place shortly after the fall of the Empire to the Rebellion. And, in the years since, the galaxy has needed to rebuild and adjust to a new world. The government that has arisen is called the New Republic, based on the ideals of the Galactic Republic, which the Empire replaced.
The Mandalorian Season 3, Episode 3, “The Convert,” lends focus to the new governing body by following Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi). Though not a main character, Pershing has appeared throughout the series. He was introduced in the first season as the scientist working for Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) when Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) delivered Grogu. Though Pershing was not the driving force behind Grogu’s capture, he led the testing for Gideon. His studies focused on cloning and editing genetic material. However, Season 3 of The Mandalorian picks up with the former Imperial scientist on Coruscant. Pershing has joined the New Republic’s Amnesty Program with others who once worked for the Empire. The New Republic aims to reform these individuals, offering them a second chance after their time with the Empire. This isn’t the same way the Empire treated their enemies, and those in the program know that — the New Republic cannot use the same tactics as their old adversary. The Empire wouldn’t have hesitated to kill anyone who once worked against them. But after the long years of overthrowing the Empire, the galaxy needs to find healing and peace, which cannot be achieved by wiping out the opposition. So the New Republic started the Amnesty Program, yet Episode 3 shows the system to be flawed. With only a few years since taking control, the New Republic has a long way to go before shaking the ghosts of the Empire.
Pershing’s Experience in the Amnesty Program
Episode 3 picks up just as Pershing is moving into the Amnesty Program. There, Pershing meets his new neighbors, and they ask him what he misses from before. Pershing emphatically denies the Empire before they insist they were talking about the simple things, like the food and such. Pershing tries to move on from his old life, learning to trust the New Republic, but his situation is strange. He believes his research could do some good in the hands of a responsible entity, as initially, it was intended to create organs for transplants before the Empire corrupted it. However, cloning research is prohibited by the New Republic. In his Amnesty housing, he reunites with a former member of Gideon’s crew, Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian). Though they never interacted much before, their shared past brings them together. Kane sympathizes with Pershing’s desire to do more and offers to help. She convinces him that giving up his research because of the New Republic’s orders is the same as blindly obeying the Empire. Insisting all Pershing needs is some equipment, Kane offers to help him smuggle it. Pershing is hesitant, but as he learns that the New Republic is destroying anything from the Empire, he fears for his work. Eventually, Kane and Pershing’s own righteous intentions convince Pershing to pursue his research. But when they leave their boundaries to obtain the equipment Pershing would need, Kane betrays him. She has been working as an Amnesty officer, entrapping Pershing into defying his orders. Pershing is captured and put into a device similar to the Empire’s mind flayer, a torture device. The surrounding doctors claim that it isn’t the same and will only “soothe” certain memories. But Kane tampers with it, forcing him to forget more.
Regulations on People in the Amnesty Program
The New Republic’s Amnesty Program is not as benevolent an idea as it is presented. Besides limiting what people can study, Pershing faces more issues. Amnesty candidates have strict rules about where they are allowed to go in the city. This limitation is understandable, as their reformation is still incomplete, but it is just one of several ways that they are treated like prisoners. They aren’t called by their names either, just assigned numbers, which dehumanizes them. Even Pershing, a highly qualified scientist, is given a menial job sifting through remnants of Imperial supplies. Pershing must sit through repetitive check-ins, which measure his frustration with the New Republic. Pershing is afraid to admit that he is unsatisfied with where he is despite his poor treatment. He is meant to be given amnesty, but instead, Pershing is treated as a prisoner. And once Kane tricks him into defying orders, the doctors mess with his mind against his will, completing the mistreatment with brutality. The New Republic may be allowing these former Imperials to live, but they are not as different from the Empire as it may seem.
‘The Mandalorian’ Shows the New Republic Is Already Failing
While the concept of the Amnesty Program feels as if the New Republic is offering a chance at redemption, in truth, it isn’t a forgiving organization. The New Republic is clearly trying to do things differently than the Empire, which is a step in the right direction, but they are not distinguishing themselves enough. They are not actively blaming underlings for the actions of the old regime, but they aren’t treating them with kindness either. Unsure of their loyalties, it makes sense to keep them contained, but, excluding manipulation, there is no reason to refer to them by numbers rather than names. On the surface, the New Republic seems to understand that people were forced to work for the Empire and wants to allow them to change, but the idea has been corrupted. Healing from a generation of war isn’t an easy task for a budding government, but they are falling into the Empire’s brutality. The deception of Pershing was cruel, and erasing his memory to start over is barbaric. The limitations placed on those in the program and the mistrust they face sets them up for failure. The New Republic may have the best intentions for those seeking amnesty, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are being mistreated. These people don’t have a perfect past, but the Empire didn’t give them a choice. Now the New Republic offers them “amnesty,” but their actions align more with reprogramming. It’s only been a brief time since the New Republic took over the galaxy, but they are already failing people. And, unfortunately, they are too much like the Empire itself for comfort.
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+ with new episodes releasing every Wednesday.