It has been hard to see most of the Star Wars stuff in the Disney era to be nothing more than homages to the original trilogy. With The Mandalorian, I feel as if fans are getting more of a remix across all Star Wars eras in a way we’ve never seen before. It’s a bit of fan service, but what has been impressive about The Mandalorian so far is that everything feels like it has an emotional purpose behind it.
After the slow burn of the second episode, this is the most explosive episode of the series thus far. Characters make big decisions and cross points of no return, and the audience is rewarded with a large-scale shoot-em-up at the end. And of course, more baby Yoda, who really needs a name at this point.
We start with a charming moment between the child and “Mando” (big thanks to Carl Weathers’ character Greef Karga for giving us the shorthand here), but you can sense the dread in Mando’s voice as he knows that he’ll have to hand over the child eventually. And it is in his meeting with Werner Herzog’s Client character where the bounty hunter code is first emphasized.
Mando makes a curious inquiry about the child’s ultimate fate, and the Client reminds that bounty hunters are expected to forget about the entire ordeal after the transaction is completed. But as we know from the previous episode, Mando does have some hints of nobility, and he specifically has a connection with this child.
Now with his winnings of beskar (Mandalorian steel), Mando returns to the armorer from the first episode, and we get a glimpse at some internal Mandalorian politics. Due to a purge from years prior, the (now mostly defunct) Empire drove the Mandalorians into hiding, and Mando using beskar claimed by the Empire is looked down upon. By forging his armor from this, it not only brings attention from other bounty hunters, but his fellow Mandalorians as well.
The armorer is able to defuse the situation between Mando and a heavy-set Mandalorian (who I would find out later is voiced by show creator Jon Favreau himself), and from her, we get the mantra “This is the way.” As the armorer forges new pieces of armor for Mando, we get further glimpses of his childhood, with his parents hiding him during a Separatist attack during the Clone Wars.
Seeing those prequel Super Battle Droids in the flashback was more exhilarating than I thought it would be; there is something a bit too clean-looking about the prequels, but seeing them in a dirty, grittier context made them feel more at home in the universe. Now with his new armor, all eyes are on Mando.
He isn’t one to have fun, opting to grab his next mission from Greef Karga and going on his way. But he remembers the tender moment between him and the child from the beginning of the episode, and something snaps within. He abandons his bounty immediately, with a newfound feeling of determination.
What results is a series of exciting action sequences, and director Deborah Chow (and by the way, I can’t believe how long it took for live-action Star Wars to have a female director) expertly shot every beat of these scenes. Mando is able to off a number of Stormtroopers with relative ease, and it all culminates in an exciting final showdown with Karga and his bounty hunters.
By the time the other Mandalorians come in for an assist, it begins to look like a child’s play session with their toys. Here’s the thing about this episode, though—there’s emotional context. It means something when Favreau’s character has a genuine exchange with Mando. Yes, Mando has broken the Bounty Hunter Code—but he remains loyal to his people, and it helps him moving forward.
I have no clue what Mando’s plans are, or if he even has any. If we already thought he had enough attention on him, he certainly has even more now. I’m wondering if the rest of this season will be John Wick in space, and how much more babysitting we’ll have to endure. Regardless, we should be comforted in knowing that everything in this show will have purpose.