Wednesday, March 1, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Mandalorian' - Din Seeks Redemption in the Eyes of His Sect of Mandalorians in 'Chapter 17: The Apostate'

Disney+'s The Mandalorian - Episode 3.01 "Chapter 17: The Apostate"

The Mandalorian begins an important journey.

"Chapter 17: The Apostate" was written by Jon Favreau and directed by Rick Famuyiwa

The Mandalorian completed his mission. Grogu was delivered to where he belonged. And yet, Din is still seen caring for the child. It doesn't make any sense for any viewer who didn't watch The Book of Boba Fett last year. That series took a detour to highlight the lives Din and Grogu were living after Luke Skywalker arrived to provide Jedi training. It resulted in Din accepting Grogu as his child. That was already a key factor of this story. That made it so emotional when Din removed his helmet to show why it was important for Grogu to leave. The two continued to care about one another. Din wanted to protect Grogu in this dangerous world. He created armor for him so that he too could defend himself like a Mandalorian. That's the path he is seemingly on. Din understands that Grogu is young. He needs to be taught how to behave. Din is more than willing to take on that responsibility now. When Grogu is scared, he's more than comfortable snuggling up besides his father. That's what makes their bond so sweet. Of course, Din eventually has to throw Grogu to Greef in order to save them. That's funny in a way too. It's all in service to the new mission Din is on. He seeks redemption for removing his helmet. He is an apostate amongst his community. He knows there are plenty of Mandalorians who remove their helmets. He has grown up in a religious sect that reveres everything that was once sacred on Mandalore. Their planet was destroyed. Din refuses to give up hope. He seeks to be welcomed once more. That can only happen if the planet isn't poisoned like everyone has long feared. That was the most sinister action the Empire took against their people. It was pure destruction. Plenty have fought back for years. And yet, the Mandalorians are too divided to ever present a united front in this conflict. Din is the one who wields the symbol that can potentially unify them. That doesn't matter to him. Sure, he reaches out to Bo-Katan to say he is now willing to join her quest to restore Mandalore to its former glory. However, she is already defeated. She couldn't unite her people behind her cause. She lacked the darksaber. That's what mattered to her. Din wields it. He's distracted by superstitions. He doesn't see things clearly like she does. It's too late to make a difference. The divisions are too severe. Din doesn't particularly care about his planet. It's all about seeking out the waters that can cleanse him. He seeks that miracle to be welcomed by the Armorer once more. The season tricks the audience into believing its opening scene is of Din receiving his helmet for the first time. Instead, it pivots to reveal Din coming in to save the day despite being alienated from this community. He provides a clue to possible salvation for all of them. It's simply a matter of whether they will take it.

Of course, the narrative is also setting up many paths Din must explore in order to get to that fateful moment. He makes a deal with the Armorer. He believes he can provide proof that the waters below Mandalore still exists. In order to excavate that resource, he must employ a droid. IG-11's epic sacrifice in the first season finale allowed Din to place his trust in droids. He never cared for them previously. He was open to working with them afterwards. For this mission though, he needs IG-11 specifically. Sure, it's pretty miraculous that parts have been collected despite his self-destruct moment of heroism. That somewhat undercuts the power of that emotional sacrifice. Din hopes this trust can easily be restored. The hard work has seemingly already been done considering Greef has built a memorial for the droid. Nevarro no longer resembles the outlaw planet it was when Din and Greef first started working together. Greef has built up this community as a significant trading and mining outpost. He has to deal with pirates and the duplicitous deals they strike. However, he is more than capable of handling them even without a sheriff. Din can't fulfill that role. He's focused on other things. A life is offered to him. It would allow him to thrive. That doesn't matter. Right now, it's all about seeking redemption and finding a place to belong with his people. He offered that to Grogu. Now, he looks within and strives to achieve that for himself. He was saved by the Mandalorians as a child. He hopes to give that back to the people who cared for him. It's all very meaningful. The show continues to present exciting action sequences. That's true with the massive battle against the creature who disrupts the Mandalorian ceremony. It's also true later on when Din goes up against six pirate ships. But again, it's all about collecting little pieces of story that will more than likely matter later on. To restore IG-11, Din needs to retrieve a new memory board. They are apparently rare. Din is confident in his abilities. Part of being a Mandalorian is knowing how to navigate the galaxy. That's one of the lessons he passes on to Grogu. He sees that as extremely valuable. He must know who to trust and how to fight back when the situation requires it. Din has accumulated these allies believing he can continue to go to them for support. It's all strictly business. It's not personal whatsoever. Din only crosses that barrier when it comes to Grogu. That relationship matters above all else. It's important. This season strikes out to be a story of redemption. It's what Din needs to accomplish. That personal motivation allows him to actually have a reason to care about the outcome of Mandalore. He's not a leader. He's accepted being a father. That's rewarding enough. However, the story of the galaxy and Din's role within it are much more vast than that. The scope of the show has always looked at that bigger picture. It's moving towards that ideal with more vigor even though plenty have reason to doubt that Din will succeed in this mission.