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The Space Pirates In The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1 Explained

Contains spoilers for "The Mandalorian" Season 3, Episode 1 — "Chapter 17"

The premiere of "The Mandalorian" Season 3 kicks off the next chapter of Din Djarin's (Pedro Pascal) story with a bang: as he and Grogu land on the planet of Concordia to seek audience with the Armorer (Emily Swallow) and battle a colossal alien monster along the way. Branded an apostate by the heretical Mandalorian cult "Children of the Watch," Djarin pleads with the Armorer for forgiveness – and learns that he must bathe in the "living waters" below Mandalore to erase his past transgressions.

From there, Djarin and Grogu set off to visit some old friends as they prepare for the desolate wasteland that was once Mandalore. The duo set off for the Outer Rim planet of Nevarro to speak with Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), the leader of the Bounty Hunter's Guild and new High Magistrate of Navarro — discovering that Karga has transformed the planet from a criminal hotspot into a booming hub of trade and industry.

Unfortunately, Djarin's visit is cut short by the untimely arrival of pirates on Karga's doorstep: who don't seem too thrilled about the new direction that Nevarro is taking. Karga defeats the pirate leader, Vane (Marti Matulis), in a duel and tells him to alert Captain Gorian Shard about Nevarro's latest developments. But who exactly are these pirates? And who is Gorian Shard?

The Weequay pirates and Hondo Ohnaka

Fans of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" will know that space pirates played a significant role during the Clone Wars, specifically the Weequay pirates led by fan-favorite scoundrel Hondo Ohnaka (Jim Cummings) — who bore the title of "Pirate King" on Florrum and often found himself at odds with Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor). Despite his criminal background, Ohnaka would eventually become something of an antihero, forming a tenuous alliance with the Galactic Republic and later helping the fugitive Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) during "Star Wars: Rebels."

Although several of the pirates accompanying Vane appear to be Weequay (and may have very well served under Ohnaka at some point), it's worth mentioning that Ohnaka's rule as "Pirate King" came to an end when the Confederacy shattered his base on Florrum; which is highly significant now that Gorian Shard seems to have claimed that title for himself.

On top of that, the canon reference book "The Secrets of The Bounty Hunters" shows us that Ohnaka had since opened his own (semi-legitimate) shipping company called "Ohnaka's Transport Solutions" — which was still in operation during the events of "Book of Boba Fett," since the book shows Ohnaka mourning the loss of fellow outlaw Cad Bane (Corey Burton). Indeed, if these pirates are actually the same ones who once served under Ohnaka, it seems like they've found a new master: the mysterious Captain Gorian Shard.

A new Pirate King

Vane later returns in the episode when he and his cronies track down Din Djarin and battle him through an asteroid field – eventually forcing him into the path of the "Pirate King" Gorian Shard and his immense cruiser. We get our first look at Shard when he radios Djarin's ship and tells the bounty hunter to come quietly. The "Pirate King" appears to be an entirely new species of alien in the "Star Wars" universe: a hulking humanoid whose mossy beard and reptilian face make him look like an intergalactic counterpart to Swamp Thing.

The fact that Gorian Shard seems to have taken over from the legendary Hondo Ohnaka as "Pirate King" is extremely telling of his status among the pirates, though even more interesting is that his crew seems to be made up of a swarm of different alien species: not just Weequay. In fact, the way Djarin and the pirates speak about Shard implies that he's become a significant power in the galactic underworld –- perhaps even surpassing the strength of Ohnaka. It's also abundantly clear that Shard and his pirates now have their sights set on Djarin.

Though it remains to be seen how the mysterious character managed to claim the title of "Pirate King" and how his story might intertwine with that of Hondo Ohnaka, the return of these space pirates ought to have plenty of "Clone Wars" fans buzzing –- and perhaps wondering if Ohnaka himself might make a surprise appearance during Season 3 of "The Mandalorian."