Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Mandalorian Expands Horizons and Begins the Animated Star Wars Reunion

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After last week’s episode went on a fun, creepy detour without much progress towards delivering Baby Yoda to the Jedi, The Mandalorian returned to business in a big way in “The Heiress.” Mando arrives on Trask, ship busted up and eventually ending up in the ocean. He finds a lead towards more Mandalorians. By the end, he has a destination and a name. What happens in-between not only impacted Mando’s world view considerably, it brought the series into the larger Star Wars canon in an exciting way.

Even if the full impact might be lost on some of us.

the mandalorian bo-katan

I will be upfront here; I have not watched all of the Clone Wars TV show, and none of the sequel shows. I know of Bo-Katan, but her importance and character are mostly mysteries to me. I plan on rectifying this, but I am likely to walk into every episode of season 2 of The Mandalorian unaware of the larger context of what I am seeing. I will not know the full circumstances of why a character is in this place, why they have this relationship with someone, etc.

Did this effect my enjoyment of this episode? Not in the slightest. She was awesome, and I want to know more. I want to see her and her crew again. I think that speaks highly of the introduction The Mandalorian managed with these characters for people who do not know them.

The intent, anyway, was clear; Bo-Katan and her fellow Mandalorians just introduced Mando into a wider galaxy he was largely unaware of, he is now part of a larger conflict he can no longer escape, and he is now going to play a crucial role in this conflict, whether he wants to or not. I cannot wait to see how it plays out.

Mando has always come across so capable and knowledgeable that it is easy to forget that he is kind of baby. He has spent his entire life in his cozy slice of the galaxy, knowing little outside of the Mandalorian code taught to him. His limited worldview is constrained to the bounty hunter world on the edge of the universe. He stays loyal to the Way, and that’s that. He kills and captures for money to help keep his Tribe alive.

I mean, here he is, having grown up in a time where Jedi not only existed, but took down the Empire, and yet he is clueless about them.

Having Bo-Katan not only introduce Mando to an entirely different type of Mandalorian, but tell him that his Tribe’s Way is that of a separatist group divorced from Mandalore itself, is an understatedly groundbreaking moment. Basically, everything he knew has just been called into question.

(I will make no judgments myself, because it is nowhere near my place, but I am curious as to the reaction towards painting Mando’s Tribe as extremists who can never take off their helmets and reveal their face to outsiders. Is this good? Bad? I would love to hear what people think!)

While Mando was obviously already on the Empire’s radar for his previous activities, you have to imagine that him being linked to Bo-Katan and her own attacks on the Empire will only raise his profile as well. Through three episodes, Mando has already faced high-risk confrontations with both the New Republic and the Empire. It is yet another sign that Mando is entering a much more complicated galaxy than he is used to.

I imagine we will see Mando grapple with this dilemma for quite a few episodes, if not the rest of season 2. These new, undiscovered boundaries will influence every decision he makes. He will probably seek to grasp even harder to what he knows and make some dumb decisions in the process. Mando is basically a young adult leaving home to discover the world.

Baby Yoda has always been a magnet pulling Mando into the larger galaxy, and season 2 is increasing this pull with every episode. You cannot get involved in Force Destiny stuff and avoid the larger conflicts at its core.

First stop; Ahsoka Tano. Mando has a name and a planet, and we know Ahsoka will be in this season. She will unfortunately be played by an accused transphobe in Rosario Dawson, making it two now alongside Gina Carano that The Mandalorian has cast, but here’s hoping they do right by here anyway. I cannot wait to see what Ahsoka is up to, and how she factors into Mando’s quest. Or rather, how Mando will factor into her quest.

I am glad to say I at least had the pleasure of knowing Ahsoka Tano going into this season, and I am so excited to see her in live-action.

Between Ahsoka’s upcoming introduction and Bo-Katan’s quest to take the Darksaber back from Moff Gideon, there is a much larger story happening here. I doubt The Mandalorian will ever fully abandon its monster/bounty of the week structure, but we may be seeing a shift into a more focused narrative soon. One that will see Mando discover who he really is and what he really wants of the world.

So, let the theories run wild, right? Will Mando help take back Mandalore? Will he become THE Mandalore? Will his disagreements with Bo-Katan lead them into conflict eventually? Will Mando end up finding his Tribe and end up in conflict with them?

the mandalorian moff gideon

I have a feeling we are going to look back on this episode as one of the most pivotal of the entire show.

It helps that the episode was a really, really good watch. The monster-of-the-week was as impressive as ever and I loved the assault on the Empire’s ship. We’re so used to seeing Mando pull through fights by the skin of his teeth and his superior armor and weapons that it was a badass, refreshing moment to see a squad of Mandalorians go to work and decimate fascists. The Mandalorian has hit a consistently strong quality through three episodes, and I’m finding myself enjoying it more than I did in the first season.

And if nothing else, Frog Lady was reunited with Frog Husband. Give them the world, they deserve it.

This episode was a big deal. The show, the audience, and Mando all had their horizons expanded into something new and exciting. This is a big galaxy to explore and I am curious to see how Mando explores it.

Images Courtesy of Disney

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