Giancarlo Esposito says his The Mandalorian villain Moff Gideon is “redeemable.” Esposito became one of TV history’s great bad guys with his performance as the steely Gus Fring on AMC’s Breaking Bad. Later he joined the Empire as the villainous Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian season 1.
After his auspicious and somewhat mysterious debut on The Mandalorian season 1, Gideon became a major player throughout season 2. Indeed it was Gideon who proved a main driver of season 2’s plot as his mission to kidnap Baby Yoda using his menacing dark troopers proved successful, forcing Din Djarin and friends to launch a desperate rescue mission. The Mandalorian season 2’s finale then saw Moff Gideon and his Darksaber squaring off against Djarin and company, with Gideon ultimately coming out the loser – thanks to an assist by surprise-arrival Luke Skywalker. As The Mandalorian season 3 looms, Gideon finds himself in the custody of The New Republic, no doubt plotting his own escape with designs on getting back the Darksaber from Djarin.
But important as Esposito’s villain has been to the action on The Mandalorian thus far, the character’s backstory has remained surprisingly vague, as the show’s writers have preferred to keep him mysterious. Addressing Moff Gideon’s lack of seeming motivation during an exclusive talk with Screen Rant, Esposito gave his insights on whether he believes the character has anything good in him or is truly evil all the way down.
I do think he’s redeemable. I think he’s good. If you have a hero, the hero is not going to be strong unless you have a very strong antihero. The antihero is a fallen hero. … Therefore, I take some good with me inside, even when I’m playing Moff Gideon because it’s important for me to give a full, well-rounded picture of a man whose dreams went south and he’s trying to recapture them. So, there is light in Moff, somewhere.
Of course the one bit of backstory with Moff Gideon that has been somewhat addressed is his involvement in the Great Purge, the Empire’s destruction of Mandalore, which sent Bo-Katan Kryze and the other Mandalorians scattering across the galaxy. Clearly his becoming involved in planetary genocide rates pretty high on the evil scale, and doesn’t point to there being much that is redeemable in Moff Gideon’s nature. But at least for acting purposes, Esposito still clings to the idea that Moff Gideon must have started out with good intentions and just lost his way at some point.
The idea of a redeemable villain is of course nothing new in Star Wars after Darth Vader’s ultimate return to the light at the very end of Return of the Jedi. But does this in fact mean that all villains need to have the potential for redemption? Sometimes what a story needs is a truly evil bad guy for the heroes to defeat, and Moff Gideon served that role well in The Mandalorian season 2. For Moff Gideon to now be redeemed in The Mandalorian season 3 might give him a more satisfying arc, but would that redemption truly serve the story, or does Moff Gideon work better as a pure antagonist? And given how thoroughly Moff Gideon was defeated in The Mandalorian season 2, would it actually make more sense to just write him out and introduce a new villain for Din Djarin and company to battle? Esposito seems to anticipate the possibility of his character getting a turn back to the good, but it’s up to Jon Favreau and his writers to decide if such a redemption twist truly serves The Mandalorian on a story level.