Merry Boonta Eve to all my fellow Mandalorian watchers! The Mandalorian episode 2 has arrived like the N-1 Starfighter on Tatooine, and along with it come some unforeseen story developments. “Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore” focuses on what many expected to be an overarching plot line this season. However, there are interesting details sprinkled in along the way to clue us towards where we may be heading. Episode two delivers another thrilling ride with elevated stakes, a common theme so far this season.
*Spoilers ahead for Season 3, episode two of The Mandalorian*
We're all thinking the same thing: After months of theorizing that the central focus of this season would be Din getting to Mandalore to absolve for his sins, here he is in episode two, taking a dip in the living waters. This proves that the trailers are nothing more than a huge misdirection, because the line “I'm going to Mandalore, so that I may be forgiven for my transgressions” is front and center in almost every spot.
The most obvious question leaving this episode is: “where do we go from here?” Although Din doesn't come out on the other side of this shiny and absolved, it's unlikely that the redemption arc will be the focus for much longer. Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) is a central figure in this episode. She rescues Din in what seems unlikely to be strictly an act of good faith.
The burden of the Darksaber
In a fight with Alamites on their way down to the mines, we finally see Din ignite the Darksaber. It's apparent very early in this brawl that Din hasn't improved much. He still cannot wield the sword smoothly, he swings it as if it weighs just as much as he does. Since winning it from Moff Gideon, he still struggles with the weight of the weapon.
The Armorer (Emily Swallow) tells him during a crucial exchange in The Book of Boba Fett that, “It will win if you fight against it. You cannot control it with your strength.” She calls out his distraction as the reason for his lack of fluidity with the blade. We assumed at the time that this was because of his separation from Grogu. However, considering the two are now reunited, and the struggle remains, clearly something else is weighing on his mind.
Grogu saves the day in The Mandalorian episode 2
When a terrifying spider-looking droid captures Din, it's up to Grogu to leave and return with help. Through two episodes, it seems apparent they want us to notice Grogu's growing skill set. In previous seasons, he's not as much of a sidekick as he is a 50-year-old child that needs babysitting. Until now, he's been completely dependent on his protectors, but episode two showcases a changing of the guard. Two years ago, the thought of Grogu leaving Din alone, flying to another planet, finding someone to help, and bringing them back to the right spot? Inconceivable.
In a recent interview with Variety, creator/writer Jon Favreau clarified that Grogu spends two years training with Luke Skywalker. While it makes sense that Din and Grogu spent a significant amount of time apart, a more realistic timeline seemed like a few months, at most. Jon Favreau could've let this news slip anytime. It's unlikely to be pure coincidence that it comes out right as Grogu is starting to shine. He does an excellent job getting to Bo-Katan and bringing her back to save Din. The perfect little Jedi, he is becoming.
Is The Mandalorian episode 2 playing mind games?
When Bo-Katan returns to Mandalore, it's clear she's working her way through a spectrum of emotion. When she removes her helmet and looks upon what was once the civic center, the sadness radiates off of her. Even sweet Grogu looks concerned for her feelings. The two share a soft moment on their way down to rescue Din. Katee Sackhoff's performance as Bo-Katan in this episode is mesmerizing, showcasing aggression towards their adversaries, but also tenderness towards Grogu in his time of doubt.
When Bo-Katan faces down the spider-droid, it's clear her current weapon kit is no match. It's not until she uses the famous Mandalorian arm grapple and grabs the Darksaber that everything takes a turn. Bo-Katan wields the sword with astonishing ease. She is fierce and relentless in her takedowns of the smaller version of the droid, and then the larger exoskeleton.
The camera lingers on Din several times throughout the fight. We know that he's still struggling to use the blade, and now watches helplessly as Bo-Katan wields it like its second nature to her. She was once in possession of the blade and used it to rule over her once-great home planet. However, she lost it to Moff Gideon when the Empire attacked during the Seige of Mandalore.
Be careful who you trust
After Bo-Katan saves Din, we're left wondering if she's going to return the sword to him. The show is aware of our suspicion, and plays off of it with a melodramatic score and camera shots that just manage to avoid a reveal. About a minute after he wakes, and they've exchanged words, we see she's put the sword in his pile of weapons that lay beside him. The biggest question coming out of this episode: Why save him in the first place?
On the surface, it seems strange that she'd risk her life to save Din and escort him to the living waters out of the kindness of her heart. After all, when she thinks she's poised to face him again, her response is, “let's end this once and for all.” But Bo-Katan is a complicated character, and she won't make her intentions known until the right moment. If she were to let Din die, and reclaim the sword off of his body, it would not be hers by right. And if we know nothing else, we know she respects the history that haunts the Darksaber.
There's interesting context to having characters like Din and Bo-Katan operate alongside one another. Din is mostly black and white, he has no desire to hide his intentions from anyone; he is straightforward. Bo-Katan operates on a different wavelength, much more ambiguous, and this is sure to cause conflict between the two of them going forward.
This is the way
The Mandalorian is firing on all cylinders. We're a quarter of the way through, and we've already knocked out what many expected to be a major plot point this season. The first two episodes contain basically all the trailer footage. The performances so far are top-notch, with more talented actors like Katy O'Brian set to enter the fold at some point later in the season. Where we go from here is a mystery, but is sure to be an absolute roller coaster.
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