The quest for Mandalore on The Mandalorian continues—and somewhat concludes—in “The Mines of Mandalore,” only the second episode of the season. Where last week left me thinking a portion of the season would be dedicated to Din’s redemption quest, instead the season seems to be more interested in something larger. Instead of reconciling Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) with his clan, things are starting to head towards reconciling all the clans with Mandalore itself.
Before that, we need to make a pit stop at Tatooine because if The Mandalorian doesn’t go to Tatooine at least once every couple of episodes we may forget it exists. At least that gives us a chance to see Peli (Amy Sedaris) snark her way all over the place yet again, this time grifting rich speeder owners coming through town. Din’s here after last week’s disastrous repair of IG-88 to get a new memory unit, but not even the ever-reliable Jawas think they can get this apparently very rare part, with Peli noting they don’t make that model anymore. Ultimately, she persuades Din to take the astromech that she has on hand, R5-D4.
This is a bit of a choice, while it’s kind of funny that the droid that crashed and changed the fate of the galaxy by doing so in A New Hope is now on another mission, it’s a weirdly inconsistent situation. Did Din send word to Carga back on Navarro to let him know he can go ahead and reassemble the colony’s monument? Why is an IG part harder to find than parts for a Civil War-era Naboo Starfighter? This trajectory ultimately doesn’t mean that much, but I feel that it will lead people to think the entire previous episode was a waste of time, even though it was a good time!
Either way, it’s off to Mandalore properly. There’s another good scene of Din doing his best dad acting and teaching Grogu more about the star map and how to navigate. These moments are the most direct teaching of “The Way” that we’ve seen impart, and it’s sweet to see in these between-travel moments. Taking the N1 into Mandalore’s atmosphere is also some of the better effects work of the series, as the admittedly cool ship flies over the ruined planet. Long-time Dave Filoni fans will no doubt think of the landscapes of Mandalore depicted in Clone Wars and Rebels and feel a bit of pain seeing some real side effects of the Empire’s actions. Din lands the N1 and sends R5 out to scope out the planet and confirm once and for all if it’s hospitable.
Hospitable is debatable since R5 is immediately attacked by a local species, forcing Din to risk it and seal his helmet off to investigate directly, putting him in a rough fight using the Darksaber he’s not quite used to wielding. This, along with R5’s data, confirms that Mandalore’s surface is indeed safe to breathe in—which is itself pretty anticlimactic—but it at least sends Din and Grogu into the depth of the planet’s ruins. This environment isn’t our normal Mandalorian episode setting, and it’s both an excellent atmosphere change and is also, dare I say it, properly lit? Both Din and Grogu even actually get headlamps and shine them at the things that the show wants us to see? Incredible that it even needs to be noted, but I noticed.
It turns out our good boys are far less alone than it seems when Din gets captured by some sort of cyborg horror thing that feels like it’s right out of those Galaxy of Fear books. Twisting the episode into a Grogu episode, the little one is let loose to first try to save his guardian alone and then sent off to get help. It’s the most active the kid has been on his own possibly since the beginning of the series, but at this point, it’s time to let him roam free a bit more. Grogu does make it to the surface on his own, even defending himself with a Force push (that doesn’t knock him out!) and with R5’s help navigates back to Bo-Katan’s castle from last week.
Yes, it’s another strange choice in comparison to the previous episode—where Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) was cold last week, she is easily persuaded to pursue Din after realizing Grogu has made it to her alone. Honestly, it’s nice to see a more well-rounded version of Bo-Katan rather than imply she is going to only exist as an antagonist.
Non-cartoon watchers won’t know the full story of what she’s been through, but I’m glad that Sackhoff has been given more room to play with her character’s personality beyond what was seen in Clone Wars. While following Din’s trail via Grogu, she shows him genuine softness and concern which I find suits the more mature member of House Kryze. The two liberate Din after a brawl with the Galaxy of Fear guest star, a fight that gives us a bit of a preview of what someone trained with the Darksaber can actually do in live action.
From here, we get Bo-Katan agreeing to help guide Din the rest of the way after a stubborn showdown and she gets some time to be talkative with him as well. There’s no mention of her sister yet, which is strange but I’ll chalk it up to her not wanting to admit her own past with a dangerous Mandalorian sect. It may just be Pedro Pascal’s natural charisma, but this less exciting section is just as good as the previous action sequences. We’ve yet to see live-action Bo-Katan just talk about her past and this is the first time someone not of Din’s own devout sect speaks to him about their home planet. It’s a nice touch that isn’t flirty or suggestive, just two Mandalorians respecting each other.
The gang actually does make it to the waters, allowing Din the chance to seek his redemption and he surely bathes as he’s pulled in (or falls, it’s actually not clear), sending Bo-Katan diving in after him. She finds him at the bottom of the water, but as she’s retrieving him witnesses a literal myth come to life. Living at the bottom of the mines is a mythosaur, a creature that has massive significance to the Mandalorians.
Existing first in the pre-Disney Legends canon and eventually migrating to the current one, the Mythosaur is a potent creature that was said to have been tamed by ancient Mandalorians in their cultures and is actually the origin of the unique skull emblem they are associated with. Basically, it was an explanation for the alien skull that was on Original Trilogy Boba Fett’s armor, but it’s hovered over the universe since. Notably, the show not only set this reveal up in this episode and in the recap, but even as far back as Episode 1, the Mythosaur was referenced directly.
Needless to say, this is a huge deal. Being able to potentially recreate the Mandalore founding—on a planet that actually does still have breathable air—opens up possibilities that hadn’t existed for not only Bo-Katan but also for all the various Mandalorian clans. It’s not clear if Din will be able to understand the impact of things, but it’s starting to become likely that the plan for this season of The Mandalorian will be more about trying to restore Mandalore itself and even reunify the clans. That won’t be an easy task so we can hope for some ripe conflict. Additionally, if you’ve been a Dave Filoni follower for any amount of time, you’ll know the moment the mystical animals start showing up is when stuff starts to go hard.
That’s where we leave off for the week, but I’d like to call out something that I overlooked last week. If you saw the names Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder in the co-star credits in both episodes that’s very intentional—Lucasfilm has finally deemed fit to credit the stunt actors who fill the shoes of the titular Mandalorian when Pascal can’t as co-stars for all episodes going forward. They had been credited previously, in the smaller and less dynamic credits, but given that they portray the title character alongside Pascal, this is fitting and welcome. That said, please respect the work of everyone that goes into these complicated shows and let those credits roll if you don’t mind.
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‘The Mandalorian’ 3x02 - 7/10