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The ending of The Mandalorian chapter 12 explained

The Mandalorian's sophomore season is already halfway over, but the adventure is just beginning. Spoilers for chapter 12 of The Mandalorian, "The Siege," ahead!

After leaving Trask and the Nite Owls, Mando (Pedro Pascal) and The Child head back to see some old friends on Nevarro who may be able to help repair Mando's Razor Crest — despite some adorable efforts from The Child, who's not exactly skilled at hotwiring. There, they reunite with Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Greef Carga (Carl Weathers, who also directed the episode), who happen to need Mando's help on a special mission.

Alongside Mythrol (Horatio Sanz), one of Mando's earliest on-screen bounties from the very first episode of the series, the trio heads to a seemingly abandoned Imperial base on Nevarro, partly to prevent the Empire from seizing any leftover weapons found there and partly to decimate any spare Stormtroopers still wandering around. However, when they arrive, they discover something odd: the base is actually some sort of lab, complete with a recording of Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), who performed tests on the Child for the Client (Werner Herzog), reporting on those experiments for Imperial bigwig Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).

After returning to central Nevarro to pick up The Child, Mando ends up saving his three buddies as they're chased off the exploding base, but complications definitely lie ahead for Mando and The Child. Here's the ending of The Mandalorian chapter 12, "The Siege," explained.

What's the importance of the Imperial lab?

One of the episode's biggest twists is the real purpose of the base itself; after Mando, Cara, and Greef discover what seems to be a clone housed in a jar, the situation only gets stranger from there. When the gang comes across two Imperial guards, the men try to destroy data hidden within the base's computers before they're gunned down. And despite their efforts, Mythrol still manages to recover Dr. Pershing's missive to Moff Gideon about The Child. That's when the group is met with some pretty rough news: though they thought Moff Gideon was dead, this transmission is only three days old, meaning the supervillain is still alive and well.

As we wonder what importance the lab and its apparent clones will hold in future episodes, one thing seems certain: Midi-chlorians, which first made their appearance in the 1999 prequel Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. As explained by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jin, Midi-chlorians are tiny life forms within a person's system that represent the link to the Force. Of course, thanks to the negative critical legacy of The Phantom Menace, plenty of fans these days have trouble getting excited about midi-chlorians in the first place.

So how do midi-chlorians factor into The Mandalorian? In Dr. Pershing's transmission, he notes that The Child has a high "M-count," which certainly seems to directly reference midi-chlorians without naming them. We already know the Child is skilled in the ways of the Force — which he uses to adorably steal cookies in this very episode — and clearly, his midi-chlorian count will come into play before too long.

What is Moff Gideon up to?

After Cara, Greef, and Mythrol discover that Moff Gideon is still alive and kicking, viewers meet up with the Imperial boss as well, after one of his underlings informs him that the crew who repaired Mando's ship secretly placed a tracking device on the Razor Crest. As soon as Moff Gideon hears that "the asset," or The Child, is always with Mando, he seems content, and turns towards a huge army of dark-hued Stormtroopers ready to be deployed.

So what is Moff Gideon's plan — beyond presumably searching for and attacking Mando's ship — and what is this new army? Based on the brief glimpse of the factory lineup of his new soldiers, Moff Gideon appears to have a battalion of Dark Troopers, which fans of the Star Wars games and comics might recognize in one form or another, or possibly Death Troopers, who showed up at the end of the first season of The Mandalorian. One important thing to keep in mind is that the Disney+ audio description of the episode explicitly says, "Rows of similar compartments sprawl throughout the bay with an engineer in white coveralls tending to immobilized Dark Troopers contained within."

One take on Dark Troopers appeared in games like Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars, Dark Forces (among others). They resemble stormtroopers, but they're actually advanced combat droids cloaked in intense armor. Meanwhile, another version of Dark Troopers appeared in the Dark Empire series of comics, and are Force sensitive bad guys. The latter description fits in well with whatever Force-related hijinks the Empire was conducting in the lab on Nevarro. 

Whatever these troopers that are dark turn out to be, they're probably bad news. Mando had better gear up for a fight.

New episodes of The Mandalorian air every Friday on Disney+ at midnight PST, and the first four episodes are available to stream now.

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