Bo-Katan Proves an Unexpected Ally
Mar 8, 2023
If the premiere of The Mandalorian’s third season set the stage for where Din Djarin’s (Pedro Pascal/Brendan Wayne/Lateef Crowder) journey is headed this season, then the second episode makes it clear that his fervent search for redemption in the waters of Mandalore won’t actually be his main prerogative this season. Especially not when it is achieved within the span of two episodes. Instead, “The Mines of Mandalore” showcases the perils and pitfalls of this fool-hardy mission, all the while underscoring the fact that Din’s allies may not be as steadfast as they seem.
When The Mandalorian has invited new voices into its storytelling realm, it has yielded fresh, inventive, and thoroughly charged episodes, and “Chapter 18” is no different. With Rachel Morrison in the director’s chair, bringing to life Jon Favreau’s script, it’s easy to forget the truncated styling of the series which restricts the episode length because the episode is so engaging—and a little terrifying.
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Best known for her work as a cinematographer on films like Mudbound, Morrison brings a keen eye for crafting a scene that is not only visually engaging but intellectually compelling. Her structure is complex, making full use of the depth and scale that The Volume can deliver, while never losing sight of how integral layers are in fleshing out the scope of any given moment on screen. With “The Mines of Mandalore,” there are a lot of components at play—from the dark, dank caverns that Din descends into in search of redemption to the dangers lurking beneath the depths of those allegedly redemptive waters.
Image via Disney+
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Now that the fifty-year-old baby has spent a little time at Luke Skywalker’s summer camp, grown a little, and sprouted a couple of teeth, he seems like much more of a team player within Din’s clan of two. Din, to his credit, also seems far more open to their connection this season. Where he previously existed on head tilts, well-timed grunts, and one-line zingers, this time around he’s teaching Grogu about the history of Mandalorians, navigation, and all the little things that a father might teach his son. Now that they have both chosen each other—despite the odds that were stacked against them—they’re both ready to commit, and it adds new layers to The Mandalorian. We are, at long last, getting to see who Din can be when his primary focus isn’t keeping an emotional barrier between them. Still, there is a long way to go for Din as a character. Who is he when he doesn’t have a lofty quest with a list of side-quests to cross off? His motivations are very linear and task-based.
The episode opens on Tatooine, with Din paying Peli Moto (Amy Sedaris) a quick visit to see if she is able to help him repair IG-11. Despite her best attempts, Peli isn’t able to conjure up the piece necessary, and instead, she sells him a skittish R5 unit, that is in no condition to help him with spelunking. On the journey to Mandalore, Din and Grogu share a sweet moment mid-flight, where Din explains the planetary system around Mandalore to Grogu, and explains that Mandalorians learn map systems so they’re never lost—a line that conjures up a tender note from the soundtrack that pulls at the heartstrings. It’s nice to see Din opening up and sharing what he knows with Grogu, even when it is clearly imparting information that the pint-sized child will need to use later in the episode.
In a surprising turn of events, Din heads straight to Mandalore, braving questionable climate conditions and fully throwing caution to the wind by ignoring all the reports that the planet is inhospitable. Upon arrival, he parks the N-1 starfighter and sends the terrified droid to take a few planetary readings, which goes about as well as can be expected. When the droid doesn’t return in a timely fashion, Grogu’s worrying forces Din to go after the R5, where he is jumped by the species that have taken up residence in the caves after the fall of Mandalore. Din is able to swiftly dispatch them, save R5, and get back to the starfighter in a matter of minutes.
Despite all the reports about Mandalore’s demise, the planet is actually still hospitable, which gives Din the encouragement that he needs to continue on with his mission. Without any further hesitation, Din and Grogu venture down into the ruins of the city and make the descent upon the caverns down below. But the danger is far from over—especially not when Din falls prey to a trap that has clearly been laid to ensnare unwitting Mandalorians. The next stage of the episode feels torn straight out of the pages of a horror movie script. This terrifying half-droid, half-flesh creature carts Din off to his evil lair, traps him in what appears to be a slightly less-spikey iron maiden, and hooks him up to questionable wires. Despite Grogu’s valiant attempts to rescue Din on his own, Din manages to tell him to get to Bo-Katan for help, which is only possible thanks to Din’s cartography lessons and R5’s piloting.
Image via Disney+
After the first episode of the season, Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) is less than thrilled to see the N-1 starfighter return, going so far as to say that she wants to get rid of Din once and for all, but all of that changes when she realizes there’s an unaccompanied Grogu behind the wheel. She jumps into action swiftly, escorting Grogu back to Mandalore to mount a rescue mission. Like Din, Bo-Katan delivers small educational lessons to Grogu as they venture back to where Din was captured, with Bo-Katan discussing the city’s crumbling appearance, her family’s connection to Mandalore, and the fact that she once knew plenty of Jedi. Even with his limited vocabulary, Grogu is able to lead them back to where Din was attacked, and with Bo-Katan on high alert, she is able to stave off attacks from Alamites before they happen.
In one of the grossest moments in recent Star Wars history, Bo-Katan arrives to rescue Din as his blood is seemingly being pumped out of his body. She jumps into action, facing off against his captor with the assistance of the darksaber—which must feel like a bittersweet moment for Bo, who feels like the weapon belongs to her. If she truly wanted to dispatch Din, she is presented with a prime opportunity to rid the world of him and take back the darksaber, but she doesn’t. She may think his superstitions are foolish, but she is still bound by her own. She has taken the darksaber before, without winning it in battle, and she is unlikely to try that again. Especially not while standing in the ruins of her homeworld.
Weakened from whatever the creature did to Din, he wakes up a little while later to Bo-Katan preparing pog soup and reminiscing about her brief rule on Mandalore. Despite his near-death experience, Din is still bound and determined to venture to the living waters of Mandalore, and Bo-Katan offers to escort him to them, with only a little belittling about his belief in childish stories. Bo-Katan shares her own stories with Din, discussing her life on Mandalore, her father, and her own experience with the creed.
Image via Disney+
When they arrive at the living waters, Bo-Katan gives Din “the full tour” by reading off the historical marker carved into the wall, and, with very little pomp or circumstance—and a lot of intensity—Din heads straight into the waters. But before he can finish reciting his creed or find redemption, Din plummets into the murky depths of the waters, prompting Bo-Katan to rescue him once again. As Bo-Katan hauls Din back to the surface, the light from her helmet catches on a creature lurking below in the waters, which is the note that the episode ends quite abruptly on, leaving audiences to wonder what comes next. Whatever it is—or isn’t—the creature will likely spell trouble for the pair of Mandalorians.
At this stage in the season, it is unclear how intentional the themes and allusions being presented are. With so much said by the creative team ahead of the premiere, which indicated that they don’t have a clear end-point in sight, it’s difficult to deduce if the themes bleeding through are actually designed as moments of foreshadowing or if they were happy accidents that audiences will take away from the story at play. One, in particular, seems almost too much of a coincidence to simply brush off.
In The Book of Boba Fett, Din Djarin decided to embark on this pilgrimage to the redemptive waters of Mandalore, despite being exposed to a number of fellow Mandalorians who did not ascribe to the same ultra-strict creed. This notion was reintroduced in the premiere, with The Armorer (Emily Swallow) yet again making it clear that this quest to find atonement is both impossible but a necessity if he has any dreams of rejoining their clan. But “The Apostate” also opened on this same clan inducting another younger member into the hardcore tin can clan, with disastrous results. The covert was attacked in the water by the monstrous Dinosaur Turtle (yes, this is apparently the legit species name), leading to several Mandalorians being killed or otherwise maimed. Similarly, in today’s episode, the culmination of Din’s pursuit leads to near-death and plummeting into dangerous waters. Clearly, Mandos should steer clear of water, no matter how magical the legends claim they are.
Image via Disney+
As The Mandalorian leans further into the uncomfortable comparison that now exists between the Death Watch’s redemptive waters and baptism-based real-life religions, hopefully, it doesn’t lose sight of the undercurrent. When you have a character that is deeply rooted in a restrictive organization, that has been proven to act against their best interests, one of the best stories to tell is one that allows that character to look inward, deconstruct, and forge a new path forward. “Chapter 18” leaves the future decidedly unknown, but it is clear that Din will have to face what it means to wield the darksaber while Bo-Katan so desperately wants that honor too.
Overall, “The Mines of Mandalore” builds on the bones of the premiere, while delivering a tense and visually compelling story. While it could’ve benefited from spacing the plot out across two episodes—which would’ve increased the stakes of Din becoming the damsel in distress with Grogu trying to figure out how to rescue him—the episode does prove that The Mandalorian can reclaim the magic of its inception, even while in its junior year. The hook at the end is sure to get audiences speculating about “Chapter 19” and what lies beneath the surface. It is, undoubtedly, the mythical Mythosaur that is so inherently linked to Mandalorian lore, which pushes the plot in a new direction that may just fully pit Bo-Katan and Din against each other.
The first two episodes of The Mandalorian Season 3 are streaming now on Disney+.
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