Honestly, fans and critics are getting way too cynical for their own good these days. Not to disparage people from having their different opinions on things, but hot takes for the sake of hot takes are what’s making it difficult to enjoy anything these days, and it’s sort of exposing the collective over-entitlement and faux-elitism of audiences as a whole. And this soapbox moment is being brought up because of so many terrible takes I’ve been seeing over this current season of THE MANDALORIAN so far. I can see folks not being overtly excited about the table-setting nature of the first episode – even though that’s what first episodes are supposed to do. But if you want to tell me that last night’s episode of THE MANDALORIAN was not great, then in my opinion, you seriously need to re-watch it.
THE MINES OF MANDALORE progresses Din’s journey to get him back into his sect of the Mandalorian religion. And it does so at breakneck speed without sacrificing tension, character development, and good storytelling. But more than anything else, this episode changes everything for The Mandalorian culture, everything for what these characters believe, AND everything for the Star Wars universe as a whole.
Since last season, we’ve been told several “truths” about Mandalore, and in this single episode alone, all of that is concretely challenged. And that couldn’t be more exciting for the Star Wars franchise and for our characters. And the fact that all of this is done without even sacrificing a shred of character development for its primary characters is truly a chef’s kiss.
Faith has always been a theme inherent in the DNA of STAR WARS, ever since The Force was introduced to audiences in A NEW HOPE. And THE MANDALORIAN has always been a show that enhances this theme perfectly by presenting a character who, while completely loyal to his faith, has that faith challenged the more he meets individuals that showcase alternative paths to the one he’s dedicated to. We have gotten that from Din Djarin for 2.5 (I’m counting BOOK OF BOBA FETT as “0.5”) seasons. And now it’s Bo-Katan’s turn.
At the end of the previous episode, we saw Bo-Katan in a dark, cynical relationship with her people and culture. Everyone has abandoned her because of their blind faith in what she considers to be “folklore.” And even Din Djarin, who comes across as a religious fanatic from a sect that essentially abandoned the mainstream Mandalorian way years ago, essentially exists as a symbol of their abandonment after having won possession of the darksaber in the previous season. He even demonstrates in this episode how little he knows about true Mandalorian culture. It’s a full-on slap in the face for her. But she still decides to help him, and at the very end, learns truths that will begin the journey to evolve her character significantly.
I ask you – is this not STAR WARS? When we think about who Luke is or Han, that was essentially their journey through the original trilogy and even the sequel trilogy. This is now happening in both different and similar ways with Din Djarin and Bo-Katan. Even Din’s persistence to discover the truth about a home he never knew, and the retention of his faith after he was casted out from his sect for caring about someone, is a compelling aspect for his character. We get more of that here and more, including some sweet paternal character beats from him in this episode as he shows Grogu how to navigate through the stars – something that significantly comes into play later!
These are all terrific aspects regarding the storytelling and direction of this epic show, and ones that are quintessential to the franchise it represents!
That said, let’s not forget about the action. It was spectacular, with wonderful scenes of Bo-Katan and Din Djarin just taking out Morlock-esque Alamites left and right. Even some of the more creepy moments got us wanting to see more and also learning more about what has happened since The Night of A Thousand Tears. And we even got some awesome Grogu moments, as he, too, took out some characters from the convenience of his own hover param! How can you not love that?
Overall, this is why I question how any self-proclaimed STAR WARS fan cannot appreciate, or at least be entertained by, what this episode does for the characters and the mythology as a whole. From a narrative and character development standpoint, from an action standpoint, as well as on the standards of world-building and status-quo shaking – everyone who claims to be a STAR WARS fan should get excited. I definitely was! And I really am willing to bet I wasn’t the only one! After all, I have to have faith in the fans!
THE MANDALORIAN S3E2 is now streaming on Disney+