‘The Mandalorian’ Gets Biblical in Season 3

And what is the creature in the Mandalore lagoon?

If you just started watching season three of The Mandalorian and find yourself a little lost on the plot, that’s understandable. It’s been quite some time since season two aired way back in late 2020, when we were somewhere between the dalgona coffee and Tiger King phases of the COVID lockdown. So yeah, it’s been a while. And in the meantime, there was a sweet two-episode arc of “Mando and Son” weirdly shoehorned into the first season of The Book of Boba Fett, as well. If you snoozed on that one, not only did you miss out on one of the greatest television theme songs in television history, you’ll be at a serious disadvantage going into the official third season of The Mandalorian.

So, in the words of Inigo Montoya, “Let me explain. No…there is too much. Let me sum up.”

At this point in the Mandoverse, our scrappy bounty hunter finds himself finally reunited with his adorable green foster kid. He fulfilled his mission to return Grogu to his people (ie. the the Jedi, ie. Luke Skywalker), but the child formerly known as “Baby Yoda” decided to stay with his dad instead, which is probably a good idea or even staggeringly prescient, considering how Luke’s Jedi school turned out. So we now see Din again traveling the galaxy with Grogu at his side, in a sweet new N-1 starfighter he acquired after the tragic demise of the Razorcrest. Also, I should note, Mando just happens to possess the Darksaber, which is essentially the Mandalorian version of Excalibur, a symbol of huge cultural and political symbolism for his people.

Problem is, Mando removed his helmet to show his face to Grogu, and in doing so broke one of the most important taboos belonging to his cultish sect of ultra-orthodox Mandalorians, making him an apostate. The only way to get back in good with his people is to purify himself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. Sorry, the “living waters beneath the mines of Mandalore.” Unfortunately for Din, Mandalore was nuked to smithereens by the Empire and, according to rumor, the entire place is a toxic wasteland. So good luck with your Mando mikva, right?

And here we see where the show heads in Season three, and it’s a fascinating tonal departure from the first two seasons. Star Wars ubernerds Filoni and Favreau roped us all in with gunslinger and samurai tropes in those episodes, and it worked. The same themes inspired George Lucas to create the Star Wars universe in the first place, and so far we’ve had some fun and thrilling nods to filmmakers like Sergio Leone and Akrira Kurosawa, sometimes even in the same episode! But Dave and Jon have clearly chosen a different tack for this sail barge.

That’s right: The Mandalorian is getting biblical.

Our hero, once a gun-toting, rootin’ tootin bounty hunter, is now basically Space Moses meets Space King Arthur. Like Moshe, he’s a foundling raised by a highly religious and persecuted people. And like Arthur, our hero comes by chance upon a seemingly magical sword that will unite his people and lead them to a new, glorious future. Star Wars has always been deeply entrenched in the Campbellian hero’s journey, of which Arthur is a prime example, so it makes sense that Favreau and Filoni are delving headfirst into those waters (quite literally).

The first two episodes focus heavily on Din’s seemingly impossible mission to return to his people cleansed of sin. To this end, he enlists Bo Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), with whom we’re familiar from previous episodes. Since Bo hails from a royal family and once briefly led all Mandalorians with the Darksaber, and since they’ve done a few gigs together, Din feels she might be a good source of information on his people’s homeland. When we find her, she’s sulking, alone, on her throne. Losing that special sword – to Moff Gideon, of all people – was the breaking point for her remaining followers, who abandoned her to pout in solitude.

Episode one is almost frustratingly all about exposition and catching us up, despite an absolute banger of an opening that involves Din and Grogu saving a Mandalorian beach baptism from a sea monster attack in their slick fighter jet, which is every ounce as rad as that sounds. Also, some more biblical imagery here to set the tone, just in case you weren’t paying attention. But the second episode pays off where the first one falls short. Not only does [SPOILER ALERT!] Din manages to find that the planet is, in fact, still habitable, those mythical cleansing waters are still there and awaiting his purification.

Naturally, getting to the waters isn’t quite as easy as he expects, and the show gives us one of the best action sequences in the entire fun when a Grevious-esque android in a giant mechanical spider captures Mando and turns him into a Fury Road-style blood bag before an epic rescue at the hands of Bo Katan, wielding the Darksaber with preternatural skill and efficiency. If the episode ended there, it would still be wholly satisfying, but we get one more treat that made deep dive Star Wars dorks like this writer spit out their blue milk: a fleeting glimpse, in the depths of the murky, mystical waters, of the appropriately named mythosaur, for the first time ever in either live action or animated Star Wars. And like the rancor in The Book of Boba Fett, this is undoubtedly a “Chekoff’s gun” moment. We all know that if you see a mythosaur in Act One, a Mandalorian is going to ride it in Act Three. It’s the law.

After this biblically epic moment, the show takes a fascinating and unexpected narrative turn in the third episode, which focuses on Dr. Pershing, the captured and now “re-educated” Empirical cloning scientist we met in season one who was after Grogu’s genetic material alongside Werner Herzog. Taking place on the city planet of Coruscant, this episode has way more in common with the gritty, political tone of Andor rather than any previous installment of The Mandalorian. Minus a sweet dogfight that kicks the episode into high gear–one of the finest in the franchise, with excellent callbacks to A New Hop  this one is more about nuanced conversation concerning biomedical ethics and political philosophy than the “pew pew pew” of blasters and lightsabers. Oh, and there’s a hilarious wink and nod to this iconic moment, which helped break up some of the weighty dramatic tension.

Honestly, it’s a refreshing and welcome change, albeit one that some Mandalorian fans found both jarring and unsatisfying. Remember, this is only one episode, and knowing what motivates the creators of this show, it’s setting the stage for important things to come (like the rise of the First Order), as well as doing its best to retcon one of the cringiest and meme-able plot twists in the entirety of the Star Wars franchise.

After the prequels and the sequel trilogy, I don’t have a lot of trust or faith in J.J. Abrams or even George Lucas. But Filoni and Favreau? I’d follow them to the ends of the galaxy, down even into the monster-infested living waters of Mandalore. They know what they’re doing, people. Perhaps it’s difficult to see this early in the season, but believe you me, by the last episode we’re going to have some absolutely insane, Old Testament-level epic shenanigans, up to and possibly including the Mandalorian riding a giant prehistoric beast while wielding the Darksaber, a moment that’s been alluded to but heretofore never glimpsed in Star Wars TV or movie history. It’s going to happen, and when it does, we’re all going to freak out andpuke blue macarons all over our Baby Yoda jammies. And we’re going to love every second of it.

This is the way.

 

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Scott Gold

Scott Gold is the author of The Shameless Carnivore: A Manifesto for Meat Lovers, a selection of which was excerpted in Best Food Writing 2008. His writing has appeared in numerous publications both in print and online, including Gourmet, Edible Brooklyn, Thrillist, Eater, Tasting Table, Time Out, and OffBeat, and he has served as a feature food writer and photographer for The New Orleans Advocate, restaurant critic and dining writer for Gambit, and resident “food pornographer” for the New Orleans arts and culture website NolaVie.com. In 2016, Gold served as the "national bacon critic" for Extra Crispy. His radio essays have also been featured on Louisiana Eats! with Poppy Tooker, and as a correspondent for WWNO’s All Things New Orleans.

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