Warning: This post contains spoilers for Wednesday's episode of The Mandalorian, "The Pirate."
The first few episodes of The Mandalorian season 3 have been surprisingly light on villains. Sure, there was that creepy cyborg who kidnapped Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) in the second episode, and Elia Kane (Katy O'Brian) has been wreaking plenty of havoc on Coruscant. But, apart from the occasional monster or Imperial officer, Din and Grogu haven't faced off against too many baddies this season — until now.
"The Pirate," the fifth episode of season 3, reintroduces Giancarlo Esposito's Moff Gideon, the sadistic Imperial officer obsessed with capturing Grogu. When we last saw Gideon at the end of season 2, the New Republic had taken him into custody with plans to bring him to trial for his crimes. This episode reveals that he never actually made it to the courtroom: His transport ship was attacked en route, and now Gideon has disappeared. (You'd think that the New Republic would have noticed that their valuable war criminal had gone missing, but whatever! I guess they're busy.)
It remains to be seen whether Gideon's removal was a kidnapping or a rescue mission — but New Republic ranger Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) discovers an intriguing clue. There, lodged in the ship's walls, he finds a piece of beskar — suggesting that Gideon was nabbed by Mandalorians.
Lucasfilm Ltd. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) in 'The Mandalorian'
It's an intriguing cliffhanger that raises major questions for the remainder of the season: Who really hijacked that ship and nabbed Gideon? There are two main options: The most likely scenario is that Gideon's Imperial cronies rescued him. Clearly, he still has his sympathizers: Elia Kane obviously remains loyal to her former Imperial overlords, and there's a good chance that she's working behind the scenes to rescue her former boss.
As for the beskar? The Empire has been known to steal and horde beskar in the past. (Remember, that's how Din got his shiny armor upgrade way back in the first season.) There's also a chance that Gideon's Imperial rescuers might be framing Mandalorians: Gideon clearly has no love for the people of Mandalore, given his past clashes with Din and his obsession with the Darksaber. Sending the New Republic on a Mandalorian goose chase would be the perfect way for Gideon to pit his two enemies against each other — allowing him to continue his sinister work in the shadows.
Of course, the other option is that Gideon really was taken by Mandalorians. Most of the Mandalorians we've met so far tend to be good guys — or at least neutral, remaining uninterested in the fight between the New Republic and the remaining Empire. But Mandalore was a vast place, made up of many fractured cells and societies. Moff Gideon played a key role in the destruction of Mandalore, and some Mandalorians might be eager to carry out their own brutal form of vengeance.
Complicating matters even further, there's a chance that Gideon could be working with Mandalorians. After the destruction of their homeworld, some Mandalorians chose to align themselves with the Empire — resulting in elite warrior squads like the Imperial Super Commandos. These highly skilled warriors were first introduced in the animated series Star Wars Rebels, and it's possible that they could be working with Gideon.
Regardless of who the final culprit turns out to be, Gideon's disappearance spells bad news for Mandalorians like Din Djarin and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) — especially as Bo-Katan sets out to unite the scattered civilization under a common cause.
It also presents new problems for baby Grogu. Onstage at last year's Star Wars Celebration, Esposito told the crowd that Gideon has only one goal going forward: "I will squash that little green bastard."
For more on The Mandalorian and all things Star Wars, listen to EW's Dagobah Dispatch podcast — featuring a full breakdown of every Mandalorian episode and interviews with cast members Pedro Pascal, Katee Sackhoff, and more.