The Mandalorian Goes Home and Everything Changes

The Mandalorian Goes Home and Everything Changes

On The Mandalorian, the goal is clear. In order to be redeemed, the main character must travel to the mines of Mandalore and bathe in the living waters. Only then can he rejoin his people and be forgiven for taking off his helmet. It seemed like a goal that would take some time to reach, but nope: episode two of The Mandalorian season three got right to the point and, in the end, changed everything.

The Mandalorian Goes Home and Everything Changes

Well, not everything; At least not at the start. As Chapter 18 (season three, episode two), titled “The Mines of Mandalore,” began, our heroes are on the mission established in the previous episode: find a new memory circuit for IG-11. And, as established back in the Mandalorian’s The Book of Boba Fett episodes, no one in the galaxy is better at finding parts than Jawas.

So of course Mando’s first stop would be his old pal (and known Jawa lover) Peli Motto on Tatooine. It’s Anakin Skywalker’s favourite holiday, Boonta Eve, and Peli and her Jawa friends are spending it stealing speeders, stripping them, and then selling the parts back to locals. When she sees Mando arrive in the N1 Starfighter she helped him customise, though, she puts all that aside and welcomes her friend who, this time, is accompanied by a jumping Grogu.

Peli is curious why he’s back and drops a few Book of Boba Fett references before Mando tells her he needs that replacement IG memory circuit. Peli thinks it’ll be a tall task and even the not-tall Jawas agree. They don’t think they’ll be able to find such a part. Resourceful as ever though, Peli has a solution. Instead of the nimble, ruthless IG droid Mando wanted, she suggests he take the busted astromech droid she now owns: R5-D4. It’s a droid that’s so old and beat up it was a wreck even before Luke Skywalker knew what the Force or Jedi were. (That’s because, yes, this is the exact droid Uncle Owen almost bought before it crapped out and he got R2-D2 in A New Hope, a moment that literally changed the entire trajectory of the galaxy when you think about it.)

Peli, we love you, but this was very bad. (Image: Lucasfilm)
Peli, we love you, but this was very bad. (Image: Lucasfilm)

Mando is rightfully sceptical. Why would he want this crappy droid that can barely move? Somehow though Peli not only convinces him, she builds a droid port on his ship, and he sets off with R5 in tow. OK so, what the actual fuck, right? Did we not just spend an entire episode of this show with Mando trying to resurrect a very specific, very capable droid — even ignoring suggestions by his friend Greef Karga about getting a newer, better droid — only for him to take an old, beat up droid instead in basically the next scene? Was the entire plot of the previous episode completely ignored just so a classic legacy character can join the mix? Is this a microcosm of everything wrong with The Mandalorian and we haven’t even hit the title of this episode yet? Well, kind of, but thankfully, things only get better — much better in fact — from here.

Now with his old, crappy “built for adventure” astromech droid on board, Mando and Grogu fly through the fireworks of Boonta Eve and head toward Mandalore. When they arrive, Mando explains the surrounding areas. He grew up on Concordia, one of the planets near their location, and recently they visited Kalevala to check in with Bo-Katan. But at the centre of it is the home planet of Mandalore, where he’s never been and isn’t sure is safe. They dive down to try and find out.

The planet’s upper atmosphere seems very violent, but once they break through, everything is serene. The magnetic fields from the Empire’s fusion bombs have made intergalactic communication impossible but at least there’s a chance they can land and complete the mission. They land and R5 is sent to check the air sample hoping to find out if it’s as toxic as everyone thinks. He’s reluctant and scared but goes off anyway and, out of nowhere, disappears from the scope. Mando has to go out to check on him but… wait a minute. Didn’t Mando say he needed a droid, first IG-11 then R5, to check if the planet was poisonous or not? But now we learn he can just seal his helmet and it’s not a worry? It certainly seems like we’ve wasted more time on a pointless task — but again, we forge ahead.

Up ahead, Mando finds out why R5 disappeared. He’s attacked by a bunch of huge creatures that look a little like hairless versions of Sweetums the Muppet, and will later be identified as Alamites. It’s a tough battle and the Darksaber is still very heavy for him, but eventually, he wins. Mando fixes R5 and realises that Mandalore is not cursed. The air is not poison. It’s breathable and Bo-Katan was right when she said as much. This means Mando can let Grogu out of the N1 and together, they head toward the Civic Centre, a huge piece of the Mandalorian city of Sundari. Once there, they venture down, Mando using his jet pack and Grogu using his hover pram.

They go as low as possible and begin to follow water down along where they think the living waters will be. Little dragon creatures watch their every move as Mando stumbles upon an old Mandalorian helmet. He picks it up and BOOM. He’s snapped up in a human-size trap by what looks like a mech from Ghost in the Shell. (Side note: how long was this thing waiting to spring this trap? Did it know Mando was coming down? Has it been waiting decades? All of this is unclear.)

Grogu hides and follows as the Mando-capture mech goes deeper into the mines. When it stops, we realise the mech is being piloted by some kind of one-eyed creature that feels a little like Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The creature then breaks off the huge mech into a smaller, even more agile body, which is like the creepy spawn of a spider and General Grievous. After taking all of Mando’s weapons away, the spider creature steps aside and Grogu steps in. He tries to use the Force to rescue Mando, but he only creates a racket. Mando tells him to go get Bo-Katan.

It’s a tough trip back to the surface for Grogu, including the need to dispatch one of the Alamites using nothing but a Force push, but eventually, he gets to the ship and, using the knowledge Mando taught him on the way in, sets a course for Bo-Katan on Kalevala, thanks probably in part to the astromech droid which is finally serving a bit of a larger purpose.

The N1 makes its way towards Bo-Katan’s castle and she seems none too happy about it. “Let’s get rid of him once and for all,” she says in a moment that could either mean “I’m going to kill him right now and get my Darksaber back” or “I thought I told him to leave me alone, I’m brooding!” Honestly, it’s unclear, but we think it’s more the latter because though she goes outside with purpose, she stops in her tracks when she sees it’s not Mando in the ship, it’s Grogu.

Grogu hops over to Bo-Katan’s ship, the Gauntlet, and heads back toward Mandalore. Once there, she instantly starts to get nostalgic about what it used to look like. Her family used to rule it all, and now it’s a tomb. Grogu guides her down into the mines and while he’s scared, he sucks it up and carries on. Bo-Katan tells him a bit about her past dealing with Jedi and how good with the Force Grogu must be. It’s an interesting conversation that’s interrupted when she senses an Alamite trap and attacks first, killing several in the process. Bo-Katan notes that these creatures used to live in the wastelands and if they survived, she wonders what else survived too.

Finally, after what seems like a pretty short period of time, Bo-Katan and Grogu make it back to Spider Grievous. He’s draining Mando’s blood for some reason so Bo-Katan runs in, guns a-blazing. It’s not working super well though until she sees something on the ground: the Darksaber. As we’ve seen before, Bo-Katan is lethal with the Darksaber and once she has it in her hands, it’s fairly clear that she was basically born to wield it. She destroys the creature, heads over to Mando, and even when the creature detaches and comes back with the giant mech, one long slice on the bottom with the Darksaber takes care of it. The rescue is complete and Mando later says he’s in Bo-Katan’s debt.

As Mando rests, Bo-Katan cooks them some pog soup and is ready to leave but he still wants to complete his mission — especially now that he knows what she said is true: Mandalore is not cursed. She’s not so sure, though, because this ruin does not resemble the place she once ruled. But she respects his choices and says she’ll take him to the living waters if that’s what he really wants.

The pair discuss the old days of Mandalore. The bustling city. Her father’s sacrifice in its defence and the Empire’s desire to punish them. They then enter the mines themselves, which have been around far longer than the cities above. Eventually they reach the living waters and, almost as a joke, Bo-Katan reads out the plaque that’s there to commemorate this pseudo-tourist attraction:

These mines date back to the age of the first Mandalore. According to ancient folklore, the mines were once a mythosaur lair. Mandalore the Great is said to have tamed the mythical beast. It is from these legends that the skull signet was adopted and became the symbol of our planet.

Obviously, she does believe in any of this even though she’s Mandalorian royalty. So she watches curiously, almost humorously, as Mando takes off his weapons and begins the process of regaining his honour. He heads into the water, reciting his creed along the way when, out of nowhere, he’s sucked under. Bo-Katan doesn’t hesitate. She dives in after him and finds him all the way at the bottom of the water. She begins to carry him up when she sees… is that a tusk? Is that an eye? She gasps as she sees a mammoth creature whose head is shaped like the symbol of the Mandalore. Yes. Bo-Katan just saw a real-life mythosaur.

We’ll have more on the mythosaur soon but now is a good time for a quick flashback to The Book of Boba Fett. That’s where the Armorer said “The songs of eons past foretold of the mythosaur rising up to herald a new age of Mandalore.” Were these myths? Or was she describing the third season of The Mandalorian? Will the mythosaur once again rise up, and with it bring a new age of Mandalore? If so, where do Mando and Bo-Katan fit in? Hopefully, we’ll find out.

“The Mines of Mandalore” started off very shaky — I’m still not over the IG/R5 thing — but his capture, her rescue, and the reveal of the mythosaur represented such exciting, focused storytelling, it gave us grand hope for what’s to come.

The Mandalorian season three is now streaming on Disney+.

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