If the first two chapters of The Mandalorian had our antihero going through a video-game-style grind for glory, accepting quests, following waypoints, and seeking help from a friendly NPC, Chapter 3 is the one where he collects the loot, levels up, and shifts his alignment from Lawful Evil to Lawful Good. In “The Sin,” the Mandalorian makes the moral turn we’ve anticipated since he began to bond with Baby Yoda, flouting every line in the Bounty Hunter’s Code. As usual, he charges into a fight without thinking through the consequences, and this time he’s desperate enough to ride a speeder driven by a droid. As has become his custom, he’s bailed out by an unexpected ally, and although he escapes with his life and a new green-skinned sidekick, his troubles have barely begun.
At first, the Mando’s desire to finish his assignment and score some sweet Beskar overrides his misgivings about handing the Child over to the Client and Doctor Pershing. But when his crying infant friend disappears behind a door, a twinge of guilt makes him ask, “What are your plans for it?” Bounty hunters aren’t supposed to ask their clients questions; they’re paid to be discreet. The Client calls him on the breach of bounty-hunting etiquette, and, for the moment, the Mando chooses the Beskar in the hand over the Baby Yoda in the bush. He heads back to base, where his windfall makes him the big man at Mando HQ.
A camtono of Beskar is enough for a full suit, and the armorer heats up her forge. This should be the Mandalorian’s moment of triumph, when he comes into his own as a member of the tribe that took him in as an orphan. Instead, he suffers from more flashbacks to his childhood close encounter with a Super Battle Droid. Even though he donated some Beskar to the recovery cause, his conscience won’t let him forget that he’s a foundling who just abandoned another foundling to a terrible fate. He turns down the armorer’s offer of a Mudhorn signet, knowing that he couldn’t have killed the creature without the aid of the infant, who didn’t realize that the Mando didn’t have its interests at heart.
After the forging, the Mando struts into the cantina in his Beskar best, like Sam from Freaks and Geeks showing off his new night suit.
The armor he’s wearing is worth a fortune, but he wants more work—anything that will take him far from the Child. As he reaches for the throttle, though, he sees the missing knob that the Child was playing with, the one the Mando told him was “not a toy.” Under his steely helmet, he’s flooded with remorse (we assume). He has to go back. The Mandalorian spends the rest of the episode fighting his way into and out of his client’s quarters, rescuing the Child and, in the process, sticking it to the Empire, one of Mandalore’s former mortal enemies, which warms up his brethren enough for them to rocket to his rescue.
As he listened in on the Client before taking the baby back, the Mando heard him tell Pershing, “I don’t care. I order you to extract the necessary material and be done with it.” Pershing responds, “He has explicitly ordered us to bring it back alive.” The “necessary material” might be the baby’s DNA, although Pershing should be able to take a sample without killing the kid. That may mean the material is midichlorians, which the infant must have in high quantities. The mysterious “he” is likely Moff Gideon, the Imperial officer who’ll be played by Giancarlo Esposito, although Gideon could be a front for a Force-sensitive figure such as the future Supreme Leader Snoke or Emperor Palpatine. The Emperor has history with clones, both inside and outside of current canon.
The Client can’t seem to make up his mind about whether he wants the baby dead or alive; over Pershing’s objections, he told the Mando that either outcome was acceptable, and IG-11 intended to terminate the “asset.” Yet during the final firefight, Greef (who’s saved from the Mando’s blaster bolt by his cut of the Beskar) calls out, “Don’t hit the target,” which suggests that the latest contract calls for the Child to be captured, not killed. One way or another, the Mando is about to be one of the most wanted men in the galaxy. He’s now on the other end of the tracking fob, and unless he can confound the heretofore omniscient device (the workings of which still haven’t been explained), he’ll have a parsec’s worth of bounty hunters on his tail. And he can’t seek asylum with the New Republic, which seems to take a “very fine people on both sides” stance on the Imperial remnant (and later, the First Order). “If it bothers you, just go back to the Core and report them to the New Republic,” Carga facetiously says about working for the Client, to which the Mando replies, “That’s a joke.” Tough look for the galaxy’s new government.
In the end, the Child gets to play with its throttle toy again, and this time the Mando doesn’t protest. This week was a tough one for fans who’ve already grown attached to Baby Yoda. First they endured Carga’s casual suggestion that the Client might want to “eat it or hang it on his wall.” Next they saw its cradle in a dumpster. And then they had to see it passed out next to an Imperial interrogation droid. Baby Yoda merch is almost in stores and will surely make Disney’s holidays happy, but the cuteness of the character isn’t just a boon to the corporate bottom line. It’s also making The Mandalorian better by selling its protagonist’s faceless face turn. We would die for Baby Yoda, so why wouldn’t he?
Dr. Pershing can’t get enough of that new Baby Yoda smell. Neither can anyone else. Not even a formerly hard-hearted bounty hunter.
Fan Service of the Week
This week was the worst showing for the Stormtrooper Corps since it got owned by Ewoks.
We like to laugh at Obi-Wan for saying, “Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise,” but you can understand why he would have thought so. Obi-Wan fought alongside the elite 501st Legion in the Clone Wars, so he saw what the most talented of Jango Fett’s genetic progeny could do in battle against the Separatists. After Order 66, the 501st carried out the Jedi Purge and accompanied Anakin as he sacked the Jedi Temple, so they clearly had some skills. As the Empire rose, the surviving clone troopers became the first generation of Stormtroopers, and the 501st continued directly under Darth Vader’s command. At that point, Stormtroopers probably were pretty precise.
The Kaminoans created the clone army using accelerated aging techniques, so the veteran clones in the Stormtrooper ranks reached retirement age quickly. Less gifted recruits replaced them; maintaining order in a Galactic Empire requires cannon fodder, so the Empire couldn’t limit its talent pool to the best of the best. Whoever trained the new conscripts evidently didn’t do as good a job as Jango, so some of the soldiers may have skipped target practice. And in fairness to latter-day Stormtroopers, the ones who kept missing Han, Luke, and Leia on the Death Star weren’t actually trying to hit them; they were letting them escape so they could tail them to the Rebel base. (If only they’d asked Greef for a tracking fob.)
By the events of Episode IV, Obi-Wan was a little out of the loop—you don’t see much Stormtrooper traffic in the Jundland Wastes—so he may not have known that the Stormtroopers’ standards had fallen. Plus, the battalion on Tatooine was from the 501st, so it was what passed for elite at the time. And as we saw in Chapter 2 of The Mandalorian, it does take some skill to disable a Jawa “crawling fortress.”
Five years after Return of the Jedi, the Empire is a faint, fragmented shadow of its former self, and the First Order isn’t yet ascendant, so any Stormtroopers still standing must be the dregs of a once-formidable force. We wouldn’t have expected great marksmanship from a ragtag group that lacks the pride or discipline to keep its armor clean, and the troopers predictably delivered the point-blank blaster misses Star Wars fans have come to expect from anyone wearing white armor.
The Client’s troops behaved like video game guards from 2003: They uttered warnings straight from the henchman handbook, demonstrated a complete lack of a coordinated response, and stared at corpses, less concerned than they should have been that whoever killed their comrades might kill them too. They failed to find the Mandalorian as he hid in a narrow hallway and then they inexplicably tried to take him captive even though he’d already shot, stabbed, and fried a bunch of their buddies. That mistake gave Mando a chance to test his brand-new Beskar-whistling birds. The armorer did her work well.
In another heavy dose of deep fan service, Chapter 3 partially settles the long-standing debate about what Willrow Hood was carrying. Hood was an extra in Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back who was named by the Star Wars Customizable Card Game. The prop under his arm resembled an ice-cream maker, so the obscure background character came to be called “Ice Cream Guy.” Now we know that the ice-cream maker was actually a camtono, matching the secure case the Mando picks up from the Client.
But that mystery is still only partially solved, because we don’t know what Willrow’s camtono contained. Maybe it was Beskar; maybe it was spice. Or maybe Mr. Hood had ice cream in there all along. Until we rule it out, he can keep his nickname.
Expanded Universe Spotlight
“Have you ever removed your helmet?” the armorer asks Mando. “Has it ever been removed by others?” His answers: no, and never. Unfortunately for fans of facial expressions and Pedro Pascal, it seems that we’re not going to get to gaze upon the protagonist of this series, at least until some dramatic, emotional moment makes him break ranks with his culture the way he broke the Bounty Hunter’s Code. Even if the Mando had taken Greef up on that trip to the Twi’lek healing baths, he would have had to keep his helmet on. It is the Way.
Which is weird, for fans of Star Wars Rebels, because the Mandalorians in that series—including lead character Sabine Wren—regularly removed their helmets when they weren’t fighting. This “always on” policy wasn’t the Way until recently.
Rebels is canon, and it’s not as if the makers of The Mandalorian aren’t aware that this went on; the creator of Rebels, Dave Filoni, is one of the series’ directors and executive producers. Maybe these Mandos are a different, more radical strain, or maybe there’s a reason that the no-helmet look has fallen out of fashion. What could have caused this development during the decade that elapsed between the clip above and the beginning of The Mandalorian?
Rebels could offer a clue. In the last season of that series, Sabine led an insurrection against Imperial occupying forces on Mandalore. A civil war ensued, and the reunited freedom fighters drove the Empire off the planet and deposed Gar Saxon, a Mandalorian clan leader who had collaborated with the Imperials and governed Mandalore on Emperor Palpatine’s behalf. According to a StarWars.com article published last week, though, “the conflict was only beginning. The full power of the Empire would be unleashed against the planet in the Galactic Civil War.” Presumably, that’s the “Great Purge” that the armored denizens of the “covert” keep talking about. No wonder they’re not thrilled that one of their own is working for a war criminal who’s trying to bring back the bad old days. Or maybe some of them are just jealous of his fit, because their half-assed armor looks like this:
Whatever happened in the Purge forced the Mandalorians to “live hidden like sand rats”—not unlike their old adversaries, the Jedi, who had their own Purge problem. “Our secrecy is our survival,” the armorer says. “Our survival is our strength.” That Imperial persecution, which is still fresh in the Mandalorians’ minds, probably made them more attached to the totems of their culture, the helmet prime among them. Their refusal to remove their helmets, and their willingness to weather what must be a mean case of helmet hair, could even be a tribute to the victims of the Arc Pulse Generator, an Imperial superweapon from Rebels that disintegrated anyone within range who was wearing Beskar armor. It’s bound to be uncomfortable, but that’s probably the point.
However, while defiance, symbolism, and solidarity are all well and good, unless the Way allows for, say, taking off one’s helmet when no one else is around, this cultish practice poses practical problems. Wouldn’t wearing a helmet at all times cause some sort of rash? What does it do to your oral hygiene? Don’t Mandalorians miss making out? Are they all Vitamin D–deficient? Can they get a good night’s sleep?
Previously Unseen in Star Wars
“Finding a Mandalorian in these trying times is more difficult than finding the steel,” the Client said. He must have missed the whole hideout in the neighborhood, but that’s by design: Post-Purge, the Mandos are inclined to hide their numbers, especially from Imperial eyes. “Our strength was once in our numbers,” one bitter Beskar-wearer laments. “Now we live in the shadows and only come above ground one at a time.”
Right, yeah. You were saying?
Rebels wasn’t shy about showing Mandalorians in battle, but this showdown between the Mandos and an army of low-rent baby hunters marked a first for live-action Star Wars: multiple Mandalorians fighting side by side. Although the Fetts appropriated the tribe’s armor, they weren’t true Mandalorians; during the original trilogy, the real Mandalorians were busy being Purged. The survivors are still capable of putting on a show. As the Mando took one last look into Baby Yoda’s eyes, his brothers in Beskar got their Rocketeer on (also streaming on Disney+), mounting a surprise assault that brought balletic death from above and cleared a path through the thugs to the Razor Crest. These guys don’t get out much anymore, so we’ll let the corny closing salute slide.
Even though their ranks have dwindled, the Mandalorians’ ordeal seems to have strengthened their bond. When you mess with the Mythosaur, you get the horns. And when you mess with one Mando, you answer to many more.