Wednesday, March 8, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Mandalorian' - Mandalore Provides Hope and Terror to Din and Bo-Katan in 'Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore'

Disney+'s The Mandalorian - Episode 3.02 "Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore"

The Mandalorian and Grogu explore the ruins of a destroyed planet.

"Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore" was written by Jon Favreau and directed by Rachel Morrison

Din is on a mission. He seeks redemption through bathing in the living waters beneath the mines of Mandalore. No one has any reason to believe the planet is hospitable and such redemption is even possible. However, Din remains steadfast in his devotion to the creed. His resolve hasn't been broken. He's even teaching Grogu the ways of the Mandalorian. Grogu made the choice to return to Din. Now, he is receiving the training. He's learning how to navigate the universe. Grogu still maintains a connection to the Force. His parental figures now simply aren't Jedi. They are Mandalorian. That's a keen distinction. In fact, lives are being changed because of Din's devotion to the cause. The premiere set all of these expectations up. It was done with the understanding that Din had to complete several missions before he could even make it to Mandalore to see if this was possible. And now, he has already completed the task. Sure, that may make some wonder why the premiere was so focused on several details that didn't ultimately matter. Din went to Nevarro to potentially restore IG-11 believing it was the only droid who could aid him on this mission. He then goes to Tatooine in search of the rare part to make that happen. Instead, he's gifted R5-D4 by Peli. It's a rather simple task a droid must do for Din. He just needs to know if the atmosphere on Mandalore is sustainable. Even then, his armor can pressurize to protect him when he must save R5 from Alamites. All of this essentially reveals the premiere to be nothing more than a travel adventure where Din simply got to touch base with several of the recurring characters in this universe. That can be appreciated to a certain extent. It simply set up expectations in a weird way. It was ultimately most crucial when he visited Bo-Katan. That revealed how defeated she was in her own cause. She remains skilled as a Mandalorian. However, she has failed to unite her people in her mission to restore Mandalore to its former glory. She remembers what this planet was like before its destruction by the hands of the Empire. She has no reason to believe in hope. She views Din as childish for believing in the stories driven by his faith. She has participated in all of these ceremonies herself. However, she always saw them as symbolic. That's how she views the Darksaber after all. That weapon provides a leader to her people because of the influence of its story. It's all a manipulation to motivate people to join a cause. Din is a true believer. That easily labels him as a radical. That fraction split off from the ruling class which inadvertently resulted in Mandalore's destruction. These wars are being fought when no one understands the true history of the conflict. Bo-Katan has survived it all. She has grown disillusioned. Din's faith is respectable though. It's notable because he doesn't waiver despite the hardships he faces on the planet.

Din, Bo-Katan and Grogu are equally given moments to shine during their time on Mandalore. That is a significant change from the past where Din was required to be the epic hero capable of accomplishing so much. He wields the Darksaber. However, he doesn't know how to use it effectively. It helps in his fight with the Alamites. And yet, he's more accustomed to the weapons he's spent years training on. The Darksaber possesses more power. It's a symbol Din could use to accumulate more for himself amongst his people. That's not where his focus is. As such, it does nothing more than weigh him down. That's in sharp contrast to Bo-Katan. She desperately wants this weapon knowing how much it could aide her. Even that may not be enough anymore. In fact, she is done with Din. She doesn't want to encourage his talk of adventure and prosperity. She would rather continue her life in isolation. That's not a choice though. When Din is captured by a cybernetic creature, Grogu isn't strong enough in the Force to rescue him. It's still celebratory when Grogu has his own moment of victory over an Alamite. He is no longer the helpless child who needs constant protection. He has become enlightened to his past and the skills that reside within him. He doesn't speak but his points are always effectively communicated. Din and Bo-Katan have different perspectives of what it means to be Mandalorian. And yet, both of them serve as parents to Grogu. That's seen here as well. Bo-Katan needs Grogu to guide her to where Din is in danger. She saves his life not only once but twice. He is forever in her debt. That balance between them always teeters. They each have what the other needs. They can't let their guards down and become someone they aren't. They are on the path of learning from each other. That transcends all differences. It's difficult. And yet, Bo-Katan still jumps into action when Din is in danger. She doesn't believe like he does. She shows him the way to the living water. That's meaningful. She doesn't see how it could possibly change anything. In fact, she could make the argument that it was even more reckless and dangerous. Din didn't complete the creed as intended. It still showcases this bond that is growing. They refuse to let any more of their kind die. They aren't any closer to restoring Mandalore to its former glory. Instead, they remain on their personal paths for redemption. However, that clarity is necessary if they have any hope of inspiring the next generation. Bo-Katan notes how she knew many Jedi. She remarks how the Jedi and the Mandalorian once worked strongly together. That seems like nothing more than a distant memory. And yet, history may be repeating itself for the better now that Din and Bo-Katan as the Mandalorian and Grogu as the Jedi are working together once more.