The last time we saw the Mandalorian, he was saying a tearful goodbye to his young ward, Grogu, as he sent the little old-man-baby off to learn the ways of the Jedi with cartoon Luke Skywalker. Oh wait, no, that was the last time we saw The Mandalorian in italics. The last time we saw Din Djarin, the Mandalorian from The Mandalorian, he was taking over a spin-off show to tell important plot points for his own series: The short version is that Grogu decided to give up on Jedi school so he could learn the this-is-the-ways of Mandalore from his adoptive space-dad. Also, Din Djarin got a new spaceship, which strikes me as one of the weirder things they relegated to The Book Of Boba Fett.
But here we are, back with the Mandalorian on The Mandalorian, and he has a new quest that the Armorer helpfully lays out in case you missed the other show: In order to redeem himself for removing his helmet in front of various people last season, he must…hold on for some real sci-fi nonsense…bathe himself in the living waters beneath the mines of Mandalore, the home planet of the Mandalorians. The problem is that Mandalore was obliterated by the Empire (not literally, thankfully), but it’s apparently so inhospitable that everyone says it’s cursed and the Mandalorians—especially those in Din Djarin’s “cult,” the Children Of The Watch—refuse to return.
With the Armorer’s implied blessing for his new quest, Din Djarin goes about assembling a crack team of badasses who can help him survive on Mandalore. First stop? Nevarro, home of High Magistrate Greef Karga, who has gentrified the formerly wretched hive of scum and villainy and turned it into a paradise where vendors can hand each other different things and where wild Salacious B. Crumb’s can cackle at passersby in peace. (Wookiepedia tells me it’s called a Kowakian monkey-lizard.)
After refusing Karga’s offer to settle down and live off the land (Grogu, meanwhile, can’t stop spinning himself around in a chair, and he later uses the Force to steal some of Karga’s space-Skittles), Din and Karga go deal with some pirates who are hassling a droid at one of Nevarro’s many good schools. See, the school used to be a bar, and since Karga rebuilt the town using money he got from being a criminal, the pirates—working for a guy named Pirate King Gorian Shand—explain that they think they deserve to be served some drinks at this school.
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Karga and Din execute the pirates, leaving one alive so he can go tell their boss that Nevarro is a good place and that bad people aren’t welcome (the only surprising thing about the fact that this doesn’t work is that it only takes 10 minutes or so before everyone realizes just how much it didn’t work). Din explains that he wants Karga to let him rebuild Taika Waititi’s IG-11 (last seen self-destructing to save the good guys in season one), because it’s the only droid he’ll trust to accompany him to Mandalore. But after they get him working, he reverts to his old programming and tries to kill Grogu.
Karga suggests taking IG-11 to a group of Babu Friks (Wookiepedia says they’re called Anzellans) who are experts in fixing droids, but they say it can’t be done without replacing IG-11’s memory circuit. Now, I am one of the few people in the world who was completely unimpressed by the charms of Babu Frik in The Rise Of Skywalker (that movie has done so much unforgivably stupid shit by the time he shows up), but seeing Mando hunched over in that tiny room while Grogu tries to play with the little guys was so delightful. Maybe it’s the Muppet-esque fun of watching two puppets interact with each other? Babu Frik is still overrated, though.
Anyway, Din Djarin immediately takes on the sidequest of getting a new memory circuit for IG-11, because god forbid he gets to the proverbial fireworks factory with any kind of urgency. But he gets ambushed by pirates when he tries to fly away from Nevarro. (Remember the pirates? I said they’d come back!) The space battle is pretty slick, showing Din Djarin’s new ship in action, and the way he keep popping out of nowhere to smoke these jerks is cool, but it’s all a trick to lead him right to the main ship of Pirate King Gorian Shard, who turns out to be a Swamp Thing. (Wookiepedia doesn’t say what that’s called, so let’s go with “Swamp Thing.”) He threatens Din Djarin; Din Djarin escapes; and that’s the last we’ll see of Captain Swamp Thing! (Just kidding, he’ll probably be back next week.)
With repairing IG-11 requiring more work than he expected, Din Djarin decides to reunite with another member of his merry band on the way and visits Bo-Katan. His former ally is now hanging out in a castle, and she has a bad attitude. It turns out that, since Din Djarin owns the Darksaber now and is the rightful ruler of all Mandalorians (or he would be, if not for the helmet thing), nobody is especially interested in supporting Team Bo-Katan anymore and all of her friends are now either dead or running around as mercenaries. She tells him that the living waters beneath the mines still exist, he just has to look under a “civic center” (which can’t possibly be as boring as it sounds), and then she says goodbye to him in a mean way and the episode…just kind of stops.
So the Mandalorian has a couple of things to do now before he can visit Mandalore’s famous civic center. None of this was extremely thrilling, and there’s no one exciting thing that sets up the rest of the season as a must-see Star Wars adventure, but The Mandalorian has always been fairly good at surprises. We’ll have to see if that’s still the case.
- Hello, I’m Sam Barsanti! I’ll be carrying you around in my little bag as we explore the galaxy/this season of The Mandalorian together.
- Something I was curious about going into this episode was whether or not we’d see some reason why Din Djarin’s story had to take up so much time in Boba Fett rather than saving it for the real show, and I don’t think there’s a satisfactory answer. I guess that if visiting Luke and getting the new ship had happened in this premiere, it would’ve left all of the somewhat uneventful setups to happen in episode two, so maybe now the rest of the season will be more propulsive?
- The opening sequence, in which the Armorer presents a kid with his first Mandalorian helmet, was cute as a fake out (they make you think it’s kid Din Djarin!), but seeing dozens of Mandalorians get completely trashed by a giant alligator turtle, when they’re supposed to be the best warriors in the history of the galaxy, was silly.
- Curious about those space whales Grogu saw while in hyperspace? They’re apparently called Purrgil (yes, I looked it up). I’m guessing they either connect to Din Djarin’s later comment about teaching Grogu to navigate the galaxy, or they’re just some fan service thing so the big Star Wars Rebels fans can point out a thing they know.
- Speaking of Grogu, if, at any point in these recaps, I mistakenly refer to him as “Rogu” (a different alien baby who was introduced in 2019, a year before Baby Yoda’s name was given as Grogu), I refuse to fix it. That’s my promise to you!
- When the droid smashes IG-11 with a bust of Karga, Din quips, “Now that’s using your head.” I’m in favor of him making Geralt Of Rivia-style dad jokes, but that still elicited an extremely sarcastic “har har har” from me.
- Din asks Karga about some of their old friends, including Cara Dune. Unfortunately for them, she died on the way back to her home planet like Poochie and will never be seen again. Oh well.