Mando (Pedro Pascal) is a man of rules -- his Mandalorian helmet never comes off ("This is the way!") and his hunted bounties are relegated to his past. Until, that is, Mando's guilt over abandoning Baby Yoda to the Client (Werner Herzog) pushes his code to its breaking point in "Chapter 3" ofThe Mandalorian.
Although we could all see it coming from a mile away, Mando's turn to rebellion may be the most satisfying sequence yet in the series. It's the first time Mando must make a real choice, finally elevating the story above action figure antics. Huge credit goes to composer Ludwig Göransson's plaintive score for carrying the character's emotional turmoil in a way Pedro Pascal's obstructed visage cannot.
Drastic choices tend to have drastic consequences. It's a good thing he just leveled up his new indestructible armor and unlocked new weapon upgrades perfect for this exact situation. But even the hottest flamethrower can't melt everyone's heart. For that, it takes a whole collection of flamethrowers wielded by the complete set of Mandalorians, who cover Mando and Baby Yoda's escape. Time to break out even more action figures!
The escape comes at great sacrifice to the Mandalorian Tribe, who have been hiding out in their secret underground bunker (called a "covert"), only emerging into the outside world one at a time. Now that they've revealed themselves and picked a fight with the mildly dangerous Bounty Hunter Guild, they will have to find a new home.
We learned quite a bit about the Tribe's backstory in this episode too. It seems the Empire has systematically wiped out the Mandalorians in an event called The Great Purge. The armor -- their cultural heritage -- was fed into the smelters for the Beskar steel, re-forged into ingots bearing the insulting Imperial insignia. Although the Empire itself crumbled with the Emperor's death, warlords like the Client maintain control over remnant forces, and the surviving Mandalorians believe they must stay hidden to survive.
From one perspective, Mando bringing home the Beskar to forge new armor represents a way to reclaim a piece of Mandalorian heritage stolen by the Empire. For some of the tribe, though, the idea of doing business with imperials at all is incredibly repugnant, akin to cozying up to space Nazis.
The hierarchy of this Mandalorian tribe is still a little murky, and more than a little culty. Different pieces of armor reflect different "stations" -- Mando's new cuirass is appropriate to his station, whatever that is. At a certain point each Mandalorian can earn the right to a signet, an emblem bearing the image of a foe killed in honorable combat. And everyone in the tribe must repeat the mantra "this is the way" until it gets creepy.
It turns out that Mandalorian blood runs thicker than Bounty Hunter Guild bylaws. So, even as Mando has another quest to fulfill on Mon Cala, time will tell if the guild will even accept his bounties once word spreads of his disloyalty. So, say goodbye to all those NPC-like characters who haven't moved spots since the first episode. Now who will complete all their fetch quests in hopes of leveling up armor? Also, who will get Greef Carga's (Carl Weathers) booth at the local pub? We hear that was a coveted spot to hand out quests.
Last week we speculated about how the fob system works and how everyone was able to track down Baby Yoda. "Chapter 3" makes this no less inscrutable, as some mysterious benefactor seems to be able to remotely reactivate the fob system to turn all the various bounty hunters loose after the Child. This sets up some serious fob shenanigans that will likely drive the show in future episodes, as it shifts away from a mission-oriented structure and into a galaxy spanning chase. Will Jawas appear on every planet?
A note on that: Last week, we thought the presence of sandcrawlers and Jawas -- the species native to Tatooine -- easily confirmed the desert planet's identity. It turns out, an obscure StarWars.com databank entry lists the planet as Arvala-7. And we should have noticed that the action figure marking this appearance is officially titled "Offworld Jawa." Apparently Jawas have been chasing their dreams, lugging their enormous sandcrawlers to other desert planets, where they live the exact same lives. We sincerely apologize for missing these obvious clues. Maybe somebody at Lucasfilm could have mentioned it to whoever designed their poster, which proudly depicts Tatooine's trademark twin suns instead of Arvala-7's lonely one-sun sky.
This show has been setting a precedent over and over: Anytime think you recognize someone or something, expect to be slightly wrong because it has a different name. Is that Mandalorian Heavy voiced by Jon Favreau actually Pre Vizsla, the Mandalorian also played by Jon Favreau in The Clone Wars? No, it's a completely different character named Paz Vizla [sic] as revealed in the credits. Psych! (Also, Darth Maul killed Pre Vizsla, so he'd have to be brought back to life. Just like Maul.)
What about Boba Fett's very recognizable helmet? The red-rimmed visor, the dent, and the antenna all match perfectly. But the rest of the armor is all wrong for Boba's iconic getup. And Boba was never truly Mandalorian in the first place -- he culturally appropriated the armor. Well, in Chuck Wendig's 2015 novel Aftermath, we learn that Boba Fett's armor was up for sale on Tatooine shortly after his fall into the Sarlaac Pit. We don't know whether Boba Fett himself escaped, or somebody else retrieved the armor from his corpse, but we do know that the armor has been on the market. And our tribe of Mandalorians seem very intent on collecting the few pieces of Mandalorian gear that are floating around the Star Wars galaxy.
Confusing identities aside, the question remains: Is there a tracking chip inside of the Baby Yoda? It seems like almost a certainty considering his floating crib was tossed in the garbage and yet the other hunters were able to still track him during Mando's escape. Next to the trash bin lays the same bar that our heroes used to try and stop the Death Star's trash compactor. These must come standard with all trash receptacles in the Star Wars universe.
And speaking of trash, we see more of Planet Flashback getting trashed by Super Battle Droids and an HMP Droid Gunship from The Clone Wars. This time we learn the absolutely essential information that a young Mando was hidden by his parents in an underground shelter. It's the same kind of thing that happened to Jyn Erso in Rogue One. As George Lucas would say, "It's like poetry, they rhyme." What will we find out next? That someone found him in that shelter?
There's more to speculate about with Baby Yoda himself. After last week's episode allowed him to let loose with his force powers, here he's mostly either goofing around in the cockpit of the Razor Crest or held captive by Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and the Client. Both offer interesting insights into the world of The Mandalorian. First, regarding the Razor Crest, we learn that the ship must have been purchased at IKEA. Mando and Kuiil (Nick Nolte) rebuilt it in no time and now we learn that even without one of those l-bend things it can be dismantled by the Babiest of Yodas.
Meanwhile, a conversation between the Client and Dr. Pershing tips us off that they are both working for some mystery person who explicitly ordered Baby Yoda be brought back alive. The Client would rather "extract the necessary material and be done with it," but someone insists. Who could the Client's client be? The last time we saw some evil capitalist chasing after a green Muppet was in The Muppet Movie, but we suspect Doc Hopper isn't after Baby Yoda's frog legs here. The obvious answer suggests someone is after DNA for cloning, especially considering that Dr. Pershing is wearing a Kaminoan cloning symbol on his uniform, but could it be the third rail of Star Wars... MIDICHLORIANS?!? I mean, why else would it matter if the Baby Yoda was healthy or alive when Mando returned him to the Client? Can you not get cloneable DNA from a dead person in the Star Wars universe? Could Snoke be out there craving a green Midichlorian smoothie?
Previously on The Mandalorian...
New episodes of The Mandalorian are available Fridays on Disney+.