I’m convinced that The Mandalorian is not a show about what is going to happen. We all know what’s going to happen! Hardened criminal with a soft heart, finding the one thing (A BABY!) he’s willing to risk everything for — easy peasy. Sure, there’ll be some hiccups and diversions along the way, but we know these tropes. Instead, it’s a show about how it all goes down, the nuance and execution. When will the choices be made that lead our heroes to their predicted conclusion, and what are the hurdles in their path? The show isn’t less interesting just because it’s predictable. Instead, the surprise and satisfaction comes from seeing how the show meets — and rises above — our expectations.
This week’s episode is the perfect example. Titled “The Sin”, Chapter 3 is the next obvious beat in the story: The Mandalorian has to deliver his bounty to the client — which he does within the first 8 minutes, before the title credit even rolls! The entire rest of the episode is Mando processing his decision and his unexpected guilt, before finally reaching the conclusion WE ALL KNEW WAS COMING. Of course he’s not going to leave Baby Yoda there! Of course he’s going to one-man-army his way back inside the client’s enclave and rescue the munchkin! Of course he couldn’t forget about all that overwhelming cuteness so easily! NEITHER COULD THE INTERNET! It’s been over a week and we’ve still got zero chill.
Ahem. Point is, that doesn’t make it any less satisfying to see him do the thing we know he’s going to do.
The good news is, Mando safely got off the planet with the baby and a fresh suit of armor (courtesy of all that Beskar he received for turning in his bounty), but the bad news is that now the bounty is out on him instead. By breaking the code of the Bounty Hunters Guild, he’s lost his job and they have no reason not to turn on him — which they do, in droves, during the spectacular final shoot-out of the episode (shout-out to director Deborah Chow, who nailed the heavy action!). And by stealing from his client, he’s just pissed off the remains of the Empire, which may have been beaten but is certainly not without influence and resources in the underworld. The hunter has become the hunted — and worse, he’s not just watching his own back anymore. He’s gotta protect a child, too.
This episode did what it needed to do, in forcing The Mandalorian to choose the baby over the code of the Guild, thus making him a proper outlaw — and yet, it was an episode with a lot of surprises, too. It offered insight into the surviving Mandalorian society, primarily by introducing MORE Mandalorians into the story. We learn that they protect themselves through secrecy, only allowing one Mandalorian above ground at a time, and that they don’t all agree on where the line between honor and survival lies. When Mando takes his reward to the Armorer for processing, he gets berated for working with the Empire, who shattered their world. The Armorer, however, takes a different view, noting that the Empire has fallen and The Mandalorian’s work has returned precious Beskar back into their fold. “When one chooses to walk the way of the Mandalore, you are both hunter and prey. How can one be a coward if one chooses this way of life?” Though this is the episode that makes The Mandalorian an outlaw above ground, it also reinforces that in some ways he’s always been an outlaw, simply for surviving the Great Purge. His enemies may have changed, but his way of life hasn’t.
Of course, it also proves he’s not without allies when he needs them. When he’s cornered by the massed forces of the Bounty Hunters Guild, those same Mandalorians he’d argued with suddenly come soaring in to save him (ON JETPACKS!) and give him a chance to escape. In a critical moment they chose to abandon their safety — their secrecy — to defend him, and in doing so they will have to pack up their community and start over somewhere else.
Is there anything more satisfying than seeing “The Cavalry Arrives!” trope fulfilled by a bunch of Space Rocketeers, just blasting the ever-loving hell out of some goons? I think not.
Moving forward, I doubt we’re done with the client (HERZOG!), the doctor (Omid Abtahi), or Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), if only because they all survived Mando’s escape. Herzog will likely be determined to recapture his adorable little asset. As for Dr. Pershing, he seems more interested in protecting Baby Yoda than serving the Empire, so I wonder if he’ll become an ally eventually. I also wonder what exactly he was doing with the child. Mando overhears Herzog tell the doctor to “extract the necessary material and be done with it,” which…
Shit, are they talking about goddamn Midi-Chlorians? Woof. If you don’t recall, Midi-Chlorians were a quasi-retcon of The Force introduced in the Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, which essentially tried to provide a scientific explanation for why some people are more Force-sensitive than others. And that reason: their microbiome! Some people have more of these special microorganisms in their blood than other people, and that’s why they can, I don’t know, move stuff by squinting at it. Apparently George Lucas always had Midi-Chlorians in mind as an explanation of The Force, but when it was revealed in the prequels it took a lot of fans by surprise. At any rate, I don’t know if Jon Favreau is really going to add this controversial element to The Mandalorian or not, but so far it certainly seems to fit.
As for Greef Karga, I think he’s a mercenary who will do what he needs to get the job done, and right now that job is Mando. However, he admires his former top hunter, and he gave Mando every opportunity to change his mind and return Baby Yoda without bloodshed. Ultimately, I don’t think he wants to see Mando die — and that may be reinforced by the fact that Mando feels the same way. He could have killed Greef in the end, when his former boss snuck aboard his ship to stop him, but he didn’t. He shot him right where he knew Greef was keeping his own Beskar bars. So, will Greef’s admiration for Mando ever outweigh his sense of duty to his profession? We’ll have to wait and see.
Header Image Source: Disney/LucasFilm