A new episode of The Mandalorian arrived this morning, bringing tons of action, heaps of lore, and plenty to think about.
Following on from a season premiere that served to get everyone caught up on things they may (or may not) have missed since we last saw Din Djarin, today’s new episode of The Mandalorian moves things forward at a breakneck pace. There’s quite a bit discuss, so let’s go ahead and get to it!
Again, this will be filled with all manner of spoilers, so if you haven’t watched Chapter 18 yet, come back later. In the meantime, catch up with my previous Mandalorian Season 3 recaps: Chapter 17.
Have Droid Will Travel
Titled The Mines of Mandalore, and directed by Rachel Morrison, today’s episode sees us return to a pair of familiar places. Having been rebuffed by Bo-Katan in his attempts to elicit help on his redemption quest to the living waters of Mandalore, Din Djarin heads off to another familiar ally on Tatooine. No, not Boba Fett, but Peli Motto!
Her recurring role in the shows have been a continued source of delight for me (still waiting on an action figure Hasbro), and she provides a fun connective thread throughout everything. Honestly, it’s hard for me to think of Tatooine these days without thinking of the spunky mechanic.
But I digress…Din only around in hopes that Peli, or the Jawas, might have an IG memory core so he can take it back to the Anzellans. Unfortunately, there’s no luck to be had there, but Peli manages to convince Din to take the cowardly R5 unit instead to help out! I’m not entirely sure that makes sense, considering Greef offered a new droid to help Mando as well, but was turned down. Oh well, perhaps because he’s familiar with Peli and her droids he’s more willing to find a substitute. Or maybe he’s just tired of waiting.
Either way, with R5 in tow, Din and Grogu set off to the homeworld of Mandalore. Once again, I love seeing Din and Grogu interacting aboard the ship. They’re touching moments, showing how Din has fully embraced taking Grogu on as HIS child. Even minor bits of dialog like, “our homeworld” really hammers home the adoptive nature. Even later on when Bo-Katan specifically refers to Din as Grogu’s dad.
It’s not unexpected, obviously. After two seasons of Din trying to find Grogu’s home/family, however, it’s heartwarming to see them truly together as family. No more, will they/won’t they stick together; it’s done.
Mandalore has, obvioulsy, changed much since we last saw it in The Clone Wars. As has been mentioned a few times, and even shown in flashbacks during Book of Boba Fett, the planet has been, well, “glassed.” There’s not much left, and the bombs used melted the surface to glass. And yet, despite coming through a massive storm, the surface appears relatively calm.
Below the surface is a WHOLE different matter, as Din encounters Alamites, a species of creature native to the planet. Despite the minor hiccup, however, good news is in store as it turns out the planet still features breathable air. The revelation is important for a number of reasons, not just for the immediate needs of the Din. While it means Din and Grogu can explore the planet without fear of radiation, or dying on toxic fumes, it also opens the door for people returning to the planet and making it home once more.
First, we gotta bathe in “The Living Waters,” but getting through the mines is far from easy. It’s clear the Alamites are not the only creatures who’ve managed to survive the planet’s destruction. There are green-eyed dragon-esque creatures who remain (mostly) hidden in the pipes, but promise danger with snarls revealing sharp teeth.
Oh! And there’s apparently a giant mechanical crab thing being piloted by an eyeball/cyborg thingy.
Yeah, this thing is all kinds of freaky. It’s not given a name, and I’m struggling to think of something familiar in the rest of Star Wars lore to reference…but coming up short. It’s like a even more deranged version of General Greivous. You can see it has SOME organic parts, albeit not much, while the rest of its body is a terrifying looking droid. Seriously, we’re talking some nightmare stuff here, especially later on when we see it trying to HARVEST DIN’S BLOOD.
Something I really enjoyed in today’s episode, is seeing how Grogu is far from helpless these days. He’s quite capable on his own, able to escape from under the mines (despite being beset by all manner of nasty creatures), and even has the wherewithal to travel to Kalevala to get Bo-Katan’s help! It’s great to see that his time spent with both Luke and Din has brought him out of his ‘shell’ and making him more confident/able to do things on his own. While he’s still young and learning, he’s no longer the helpless foundling we first met.
What follows is a whole sequence of events that I think are pretty damn fantastic and filled with things I loved. Mostly, I’m very glad to see Bo-Katan get such a major role here, and given the chance to shine as a character. Yes, she gets plenty of badass moments of action in the episode; serving as an important reminder that she’s been whipping ass for a LONG time as a Mandalorian. Beyond that, however, I like the bit of insight we got into her character and mindset.
As many have mentioned (even myself), it would be easy to see Bo-Katan become more of an antagonist to Din. Maybe even fighting against him and his clan in an effort to reclaim the Darksaber and her throne. It’s a path we could see her take, and who knows, maybe that’s something still in the pipeline…but The Mines of Mandalore show us something different.
Bo-Katan is beaten and despondent. Despite years (decades really) of trying to bring her people back together, she’s failed time and time again. She’s done and ready to simply accept the cards she’s been dealt. And yet, despite wanting to be left alone, and turning Din away already, she doesn’t hesitate to help out when Grogu shows up on her castle steps.
From the moment she agrees to help, and works alongside Grogu through the mines to find Din, we’re constantly shown the strength of her character. This isn’t someone who wants to rule simply to be in charge. She genuinely cares about the Mandalorian people, their plight, and the future they could have. Flying off to rescue Din without a second thought is evidence enough of that, but more so how we see her utilize the Darksaber to fight the cyborg monster, and then make sure it goes right back to Din.
She’s seen what the infighting between Mandalorian clans has done to their people. How it lead to the Empire being able to come in and all but wipe them out. It’s something she has no interest in perpetuating, and thus, there’s no reason to “backstab” Din and reclaim the Darksaber. Even while we see how she views the Mandalorian Creed differently from Din, she’s no less honorable in how she follows it.
It feels like an important distinction for her character. Seeing all of this come to light via stellar action sequences, and quieter moments between her and Grogu, or her and Din (once he’s rescued), made for some highly engaging television. Not only does it drive the plot forward, it allowed for plenty of lore and character moments to shine through; which is helpful for those who haven’t watched the Star Wars animated series.
I have just a quick note on the Darksaber from this episode I wanted to mention. For one, it’s always neat to see it in action. Secondly, I was really struck by how clear the difference between Din and Bo’s handling of the saber was.
Din is still struggling with the weapon, which is heavy and unweildly for him. Bo-Katan, however, is swinging it around with ease and surety. While we know Bo had more time with the weapon, and training with it, it feels like there’s more to Din’s continued issues using it.
As we learned in both Star Wars Rebels, and a bit during The Book of Boba Fett, the Darksaber isn’t a typical lightsaber. “Energy constantly flows through the crystal. You’re not fighting with a simple blade as much as you are directing a current of power,” Kanan Jarrus once explained to Sabine when he was teaching her how to use it. “Your thoughts, your actions, they become energy. They flow through the crystal as well, and become a part of the blade.”
Basically, if you’re not centered within yourself, or clear in your purpose, the blade works against you. Din continuing to struggle feels indicative that he’s still harboring doubts. Even as he talks about being nothing without the Creed, and on this journey to redeem himself, it seems like something is still holding him back. Before, we could have brushed it off as him being incomplete without Grogu at his side, but now that’s not the case. What baggage/inner turmoil is he still dealing with?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what’s coming next. As I mentioned in last week’s recap, I really thought Din’s quest to the Mines of Mandalore would comprise the majority of this season. I didn’t think we’d get there by the second episode!
That’s not to say we’re done here, but Din has already bathed in the Living Waters and is free to return to the Armorer and the Children of the Watch. Obviously, the Mythosaur we see at the end will have some big implications. After all, in Chapter 5 of The Book of Boba Fett, the Armorer tells Din, “The songs of eons past foretold of the mythosaur rising up to herald a new age of Mandalore.” Sounds like we’re seeing prophecy unfolding…
I suspect we’ll see Din return to the planet from the first episode, prove his redemption and be welcomed back to the clan. I’m guessing not everyone *cough* Paz Vizsla *cough* will be thrilled with this and Din may find some conflict to deal with there. Even so, after being absolved and still wielding the Darksaber, Din Djarin could, by all accounts, make a claim as Manda’lor and go on a journey to unite all the other Mandalorians.
I have a feeling he’ll have to deal with Gorian Shard’s pirates once again, however. Perhaps he’ll bring his Mandalorian friends to help deal with them this time. Oh, and we can’t forget something is still going on with the Empire. Trailers clearly showed TIE Interceptors battling it out and other various Imperial action going on, so at some point they’ll enter the story as a problem.
For the moment, The Mandalorian feels like a blank page where anything can happen…Which is pretty neat!
As always, there’s tons of Easter Eggs and lore connections to dive into for Star Wars fans. Here’s what stood out to me.
Boonta’s Eve – Din arrives on Tatooine just as they’re celebrating the Boonta’s Eve. The name should ring bells for just about any Star Wars fan, as the Boonta’s Eve Classic is the podrace Anakin Skywalker won in The Phantom Menace! The day itself is a holiday for the planet meant to honor, Boonta the Hutt (or Boonta Hestilic Shad’ruu) who, in ancient times, was a Hutt who managed to ascend to godhood. Boonta’s Eve commemorates the ascension and is generally a day of revelry, and fireworks apparently!
Grogu Flip/Lurmen – It was really neat to see Grogu do some flipping around (like he re-learned with Luke) in today’s episode. The Easter egg part comes from Peli’s mention of Grogu leaing like “a Lurmen” a simian-like species seen in a few episodes The Clone Wars.
Boba Fett – Though we don’t see the iconic Bounty Hunter turned crime lord, Boba Fett gets a mention from Peli Motto!
Concordia – Mandalore’s moon makes a brief live-action appearance! Din points it out to Grogu as the place he grew up. The planet originally appeared in The Clone Wars and served as the main base for the Death Watch faction.
Bo and the Jedi – While exploring the Mines to save Din, Bo-Katan mentions to Grogu how she once knew many Jedi and worked alongside them (she personally allied with Ahoska, Obi-Wan, and Anakin). It’s a neat reference for fans who grew up with the character in The Clone Wars.
Mandalorian Shield – Bo-Katan uses the shield (which originated in The Clone Wars) during her fight with the Alamites. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it in live-action, thanks to The Book of Boba Fett, but it’s cool to see again nonetheless.
Duke Adonai Kryze – Bo-Katan mentions her father during the episode, and how he watched on while she bathe in the waters and took the creed. We’ve never seen the man before, as he died during the Clan Wars (which Bo also references) which led to Bo-Katan’s sister, Satine taking on the mantle of Duchess. Cool to see how these things continue to connect with one another.
Mythosaur – Holy shit we’re seeing an actual MYTHOSAUR. The massive creature is important to Mandalorian culture/history and were believed to have been extinct even before the time of the war between Mandalorians and Jedi. Who knows how long this beast has been down there waiting, or perhaps they never died out and were only hiding deep beneath the surface. Either way, after decades of seeing the Mythosaur skull being tied to Mandalorian lore, it’s cool to finally SEE ONE.
All in all, I enjoyed The Mines of Mandalore. I loved how it set up some interesting new story avenues while giving us some better character beats for Bo-Katan and Grogu. Rachel Morrison knocked this episode out of the park with solid action, great set design, and a fast-paced approach that still allowed for important information to come across.
Anyone else ready for next week?