As I previously reviewed, Chapter 2 left off with the Mandalorian en route to deliver Baby Yoda to the Client. The Client’s motives are shrouded in mystery, and I anticipated that this episode might answer some of my questions.
Cute moment alert! Baby Yoda removes the ball knob from one of the ship’s levers, and the Mandalorian confiscates the knob before informing the child that “it’s not a toy.” As always, our inability to see the Mandalorian’s face makes it harder to read his emotional response. His characterization depends more on plot than performance, so we cannot fully understand the impact that this moment until later.
Although the Mandalorian cares about Baby Yoda — he asks the Client what he plans to do with the child — he takes the reward of beskar steel and brings it to the hide-out for a new set of armor. At this point, the show first reveals that there are many more Mandalorians! As the armorer examines the beskar, a bulkier man (it’s always a bulkier man) grabs one of the ingots and accuses our protagonist of treasonous dealings with the Empire — whose insignia is imprinted on each piece of steel.
We learn that the Empire enacted the Great Purge (shocker), stole their beskar steel, and forced the surviving Mandalorians into hiding. They now only allow one of their own to roam the surface at a time. I find it hard to believe that the Pedro Pascal character is the only Mandalorian known to the outside world, but I guess this fact holds consistent with the interactions we’ve seen.
As someone who knows little about the Mandalorian lore, I found it interesting that they are not a species or race; rather, they seem to be followers of a code/religion called “The Way of the Mandalore.” There is a cult-like response when the armorer states “That is the Way” and every other Mandalorian echoes the phrase. It reminds me of bushido — the code of honor that samurai followed during Japan’s Edo period — and I do not doubt that such historical codes of honor partly inspired the Mandalorian ideology.
There’s a well-executed montage that cuts between shots of his armor being forged and shots of his home being destroyed in what one can only assume to be the Great Purge. His dislike for droids makes more sense now: we can see that it was a droid that killed his parents. I liked how his darkest memories are cross-cut with the forging of his physical armor, as it seems to imply a vulnerability underneath his metallic exterior. I look forward to when he finally takes off the mask, as it would likely represent an emotional rite of passage.
As he is about to take off for another mission, he has a moment of reckoning: he notices the ball knob that was displaced by Baby Yoda, and after a moment’s hesitation, powers down the ship. On top of caring for the child, he has just been reprimanded for helping out the remnants of the Empire. It only makes sense for him to now thwart the Client and save the child.
For the rest of the episode, he guns down Stormtroopers and fellow bounty hunters alike, and when the situation is most dire, redemption appears in the form of other Mandalorians coming to help. Armed with jetpacks (love the Jango/Boba Fett iconography), they take out his assailants. While the previous two episodes painted him as a lone warrior, his decision to break the guild code and thwart the Client has gained him the trust of his people. Their resurfacing will likely send waves throughout the galaxy, and I look forward to how the powers that be will deal with their resurgence.
Chapter 3 proved to be an engaging episode that simultaneously raised the stakes and developed the protagonist. It lacked some of the more visual and audial richness of Chapter 2, but I felt the plot carried more purpose and propelled the narrative forward. Let’s see how it plays out in Chapter 4.