Mandalorians in THE MANDALORIAN, season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

After two weeks of extended runtimes, The Mandalorian gets back to its roots with a shorter and seemingly simpler story. But just as any simple adventure story can be misinterpreted as a mere Caravan of Courage, episode 4 of season 3 digs into deeper areas of backstory, culture, and even character than it might seem. Let’s explore those realms for ourselves and see if we can’t discern how a hunting party might lead to understanding and how echoes of the past continue to haunt the New Republic era.


Spoiler alert: The following reveals details from the fourth episode of The Mandalorian season 3, “Chapter 20: The Foundling.” Stop reading here if you have not watched the episode and wish to avoid spoilers.


Paz Vizsla Finds a New Outlook — Maybe

Tait Fletcher in The Mandalorian s3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

As we mentioned last week, Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher, voiced by Jon Favreau) has never seen visor-to-visor with Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal). Their first conflict was over the source of Djarin’s Beskar haul. Their second over the Darksaber itself. Based on that, we suspected that Paz may see himself as the best equipped to rule all Mandalorians despite always accepting the orders of the Armorer (Emily Swallow). But our appraisal of the Vizsla scion may have to change.

The main story in this week’s “The Foundling” concerned the rescue of Paz’s son, Ragnar (Wesley Kimmel), from a winged beastie more akin to something from the moon of Endor or even Willow. Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Djarin took point in the hunting party. Paz and a further detachment of Mandos were added to reinforce the two.

As a rescue, the hunting party does fairly well — especially considering how often plans go awry on this show. Ragnar is saved and the party comes back with some of the monster’s younglings. But the key detail to note is that, ultimately, Djarin saves Ragnar from death and Paz’s manner changes. It is a small moment in the story, but major considering just how at odds Paz and Djarin have been for most of the series.


Katee Sackhoff and Pedro Pascal in THE MANDALORIAN

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Then again, Paz was quick to help Djarin flee Nevarro when the bounty hunters attacked, so the Creed at least keeps some of his ambitions or ill-feelings in check. It is possible he will once again be the opposition before too long, but it is also possible Djarin’s selflessness in saving Ragnar will lead to a true change in Paz.

Similarly, he may also be warming up to Bo-Katan despite the tendency of their clans to clash. As the Mandos set up camp under the creature’s nest, he quickly offers her the fire as the place she can remove her helmet and eat, calling it an honor reserved for the leader of the party. He could have easily exploited her ignorance of the Watch’s traditions to take the fire for himself, but nonetheless defers to her.

At the very least, he accepts the places Bo-Katan and Djarin have in the covert at this moment. But he may also be finding these two former apostates as Mandalorians of good character. He may even find taking their orders acceptable in the future. And, really, if there’s any hope of restoring Mandalore, it will require every warrior who wears a helmet to set aside the past.


The Nite Owl and the Mythosaur

Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in a poster for The Mandalorian, Season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

This week’s episode was also the first real look we’ve had at the covert in a more day-to-day environment. It appears they spend a lot of time training with a particular focus in teaching their foundlings about combat. In those scenes, we noticed something that has been in plain sight all along, but still obscured until now: the Watch has no unified livery. Seeing the wide display of colors and customization across the various Mandos and foundlings in the covert, it’s clear the Way of the Mand’alor does not require rigid adherence to a dress code. Well, beyond the helmet rule and the shape of the Mandalorian armor, of course.

Nevertheless, this is a pretty sharp contrast from Mando groups like the Death Watch, Maul’s (Sam Witwer) super commandos during his administration on Mandalore, and even Bo-Katan’s own Nite Owls (a subset of the Death Watch), who all painted their armor blue and matched their helmets with the owl symbol. Visually, the differences in colors, crests, and accessories makes the covert more interesting to look at as they mock-fight and go on hunting raids, but it also suggests a freedom among the believers in the Way that even Bo-Katan could not see when she assumed they were just a cult whose departure from Mandalore aided in its fall.

This week’s story also appears to be about her change of heart as much as it is about Paz’s new outlook.


Emily Swallow in THE MANDALORIAN

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Our main piece evidence in her new perspective, though, is the scene with the Armorer at the end. For one: she accepts a new pauldron which is not blue — altering the character’s color scheme for the first time in her history. The Armorer even goes out of her way to say her work will not feature the “modern refinements” of the rest of Bo-Katan’s armor. Bo-Katan also requests the Mythosaur crest instead of the Nite Owl brand on her replacement piece.

All the talk of her armor leads to Bo-Katan telling the Armorer about the Mythosaur in the Living Waters. She held back that detail from Djarin when he said he saw nothing in the water. In the moment, we thought her omission might reflect a reawakening of her ambition or, perhaps, a renewed belief in the Mando religion. Offering her experience to the Armorer suggests the latter, but then the Armorer appears to dismiss it as a vision one might see when walking the Path of the Mand’alor.

Which, we suppose, should leave us asking this question: Did we really see a Mythosaur in the Waters? In Star Wars visual grammar, visions are usually hazier than what occurred in the second episode of the season. There are exceptions, of course, including Obi-Wan’s (Ewan McGregor) vision of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) on the horizon an episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi. So doubting the existence of the Mythosaur is a valid course of inquiry.

If it was just a vision for Bo-Katan, her dream may still be alive. And, ironically, the Way may be the path to her ultimate success. But if it was real, it fulfills another of the prophecies and would only fuel her emerging faith. Perhaps another expedition to Mandalore’s surface is in order.

Then again, why was the Armorer so quick to dismiss it as a vision? Has she also seen it?


Coruscant Cutaway

Jedis in THE MANDALORIAN, season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Beyond all the ponderings of Mandalorian dedication, faith, and possible future, the episode also finally offered a glimpse at Grogu’s past. Well, at least one key moment of it.

We have to be honest, we can never get enough of characters’ experiences during Order 66, the moment when the Clones turned against the Jedi at the end of the Clone Wars. Star Wars: The Bad Batch opens with it as Clone Force 99 fails to receive the order. The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars goes into harrowing detail as Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) and Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) face the pivotal moment together. Obi-Wan Kenobi features several moments of Reva (Moses Ingram) surviving the Jedi Temple raid. Then, of course, there are the depictions of how Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda (among other Jedi) faced it in the prequel films.

And for Grogu, it was clearly traumatic – how could it not be? – as several Jedi sacrifice themselves to get him away from the temple. Based on what we know from Obi-Wan Kenobi, Grogu would likely have been forced to join the Inquisitors. Although, it is possible Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) already valued the child for what he could do genetically for his own eventual clone.

No matter what the incipient Empire had planned for Grogu, lone Jedi Kelleran Beq (played by Jar-Jar Binks performer Ahmed Best) manages to save the child and get him off planet in a Naboo starship. Once again, the details lead to more questions. Why were Naboo security volunteers involved in the rescue? Sure, the planet will always have a loyalty to the Jedi after the events of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, but how would they know the Clones were attacking in bad faith? Even Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) wasn’t sure what was going on until he saw a Clonetrooper execute a youngling.


Grogu in THE MANDALORIAN

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The next question: Where are they going? Presumably, the answer will explain where Grogu spent the long years of the Empire. But then again, if he spent 25 years with a Jedi, wouldn’t Grogu be — more mature?

As many on Twitter have noted in recent weeks, Grogu is only slight younger than Yoda (Frank Oz) was when he claimed to start teaching padawans. Nevertheless, the child is very childlike. When the series began, a 50-year toddlerhood made sense for Grogu and Yoda’s species as they live for 900 years or so. But maybe the answer lies in Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) comment that Grogu was “remembering” more than he was learning while under the his tutelage. Did Beq teach Grogu more than he’s let on? Or did he spend much of that time in carbonite?


Odds And Ends

• Best previously played Kelleran Beq in the short-lived Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, a children’s game show which saw real-life younglings answering trivia about the galaxy far, far away and facing very Jedi-like physical challenges. His appearance here proves nothing is discarded in the Star Wars universe, and it gives us hope Kyle Katarn and Mara Jade will eventually appear.

The swiftness with which the Naboo forces offered aid leaves us wondering how they fared during the Imperial Era. The updated version of Return of the Jedi revealed their capital city remain largely untouched — evidence that the Emperor had some affection for his homeworld — but were the security volunteers disbanded? Considering events in The Bad Batch’s second season, this seems likely. Also, was the planet in any position to offer aid to the Alliance? How many of its people joined the Rebellion? Expanded Universe stories and more recent comic books offer some possibilities, but none of that is solid until it appears on screen.


Omid Abtahi, Stephen Kearin, and Veanne Cox in THE MANDALORIAN

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

• Grogu’s flashback — complete with another look at the Coruscant park glimpsed last week — reinforces the feeling that the capital planet was largely unaffected by the Empire or the Galactic Civil War. The special edition of ROTJ established that Palpatine erected at least one statue of himself in the capital, but the entire galactic celebration sequence is now largely at odds with subsequent expansions of Star Wars lore. But even if the Emperor’s statue loomed large over many plazas across the planet-sized city, it seems the Courscanti people barely noticed the regime changes (as in the pictured scene from last week); an observation that may be more damning of the Republics than the Empire.

Thumbnail image by Lucasfilm Ltd.

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