This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.
While opinions might be split on The Mandalorian season 3, at least fans can almost unanimously agree that “Guns for Hire” is the most Star Wars-y episode of television to ever grace the galaxy far, far away. It had a bit of everything: cameos from Jack Black and Lizzo, a villainous turn from Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd, a Romeo & Juliet romance between fish people, faux-politics, a climactic duel, and even a twist on the classic cantina – this time, just for droids.
However, this colorful outing from returning director Bryce Dallas Howard also does a disservice to Din Djarin. In fact, the character takes a major step backwards in “Guns for Hire,” ditching two and a half seasons worth of character development while trying to solve a mystery with Bo-Katan on Plazir-15. During the investigation, Din seems to forget everything he’s discovered about droids in his adventures with Grogu.
Although Din seemed to turn the page at the end of season 1, somehow, Din’s hatred of droids returned in “Guns for Hire.” And it doesn’t make very much sense. What the hell happened?
Why Does Din Djarin Hate Droids?
In the early days of The Mandalorian, Djarin’s dislike of machines was central to his character. But a big part Din’s journey in season 1 was about him healing from this traumatic experience and learning to trust droids a bit more.
Our Mandalorian’s hatred of machines actually goes back to the very first episode of the series. When we first met Mando on the ice planet Pagodon, he paid extra for a human landspeeder pilot because he refused to ride with a droid at the controls. It was later revealed in season 1 that Din’s disdain for droids came from the fact that his parents were killed by Separatist battle droids during the Clone Wars.
It’s no surprise, then, that on his mission to secure the “asset” that turned out to be Grogu, Din lamented having to team up with assassin droid IG-11, who is chasing the same bounty on Arvala-7. Din’s beliefs about droids were unfortunately confirmed when IG tried to kill Grogu in cold blood, pointing his blaster at a seemingly defenseless baby staring back at him from a floating basinet. If Din needed a reminder that machines were soulless killing machines no matter the target, this was it.
Din didn’t have much luck with Q9-0, either. The droid criminal also tried to kill Grogu in season 1, although Din showed up just in time to blast the double-crossing robot. He even kept Q9’s severed head around like some sort of sick trophy. It was clear from the beginning that not all droids in Mando’s life were bad eggs, such as Peli Motto’s bumbling pit droids, who just wanted to tune up the Razor Crest, but Mando just wasn’t ready to change his mind about even the most harmless machines.
Finally, when Kuiil reprogrammed IG-11 at the end of season 1 to become a nurse droid (with blasters), Din saw firsthand that even the most dangerous assassin droids could start a new life just as he had when he gave up the Bounty Hunters’ Guild to become Grogu’s dad. When it seemed like Din was about to meet his end during Moff Gideon’s assault on Nevarro, it was IG-11 who healed his wounds, both literally and figuratively. When IG sacrificed himself to save the other from the Empire, Din witnessed how a killing machine could turn over a new leaf with a bit of nurturing (and the right technician).
We watched Din’s growth and his attitude towards droids change throughout season 2. When he returned to Peli’s garage on Tatooine in season 2, he finally let the droids work on his ship, and even though he had a run-in with the Empire’s deadly Dark Troopers in season 2, he was still willing to bring IG-11 back to life for his next adventure in season 3. When that plan didn’t work out, he instead trusted R5-D4, an astromech he’d barely spent any time with, to accompany him and Grogu to Mandalore.
The Mandalorian Takes an Inexplicable Step Backward
Sadly, the latest episode of The Mandalorian undoes all that with the throwaway line of, “You had me at battle droids.” It’s clear Din Djarin’s hatred of droids is back when he’s tasked with finding out what’s behind a string of droid malfunctions on Palzir-15. In fact, he becomes so abusive towards the largely innocent and reprogrammed battle droids working to keep Plazir-15 running, gleefully kicking them and threatening them with dismemberment, that even Bo-Katan has to question whether Din is taking this new side quest too personally.
Despite all he’s been through with droids, Mando once again writes them off as objects that can’t be reasoned with or shown mercy, and the fiasco certainly suggests he hasn’t learned as much from his past robotic companions as we were led to believe. Yet, Din suddenly reverting back to his season 1 prejudices hardly makes any sense.
Even if he’s been triggered by the fact that these specific machines are the exact types of battle droids who killed his parents, the episode allows no time to really unpack that as Din and Bo-Katan jet from one part of the investigation to the next. A scene in which Din and Bo-Katan visit a droid-only bar where the bartender explains the plight of the droids working for the New Republic seems to tease a deeper dive into droid rights after the fall of the Empire, and how Din might feel about all that after everything he’s seen, but a cluttered script demands the next set piece. With the show’s star largely relegated to the background this season, the script seems to find it more convenient to just have him hate droids rather than question anything he’s doing, which, to be fair, kind of falls in line with the video game quest structure of the episode. In “Guns of Hire,” Din’s just completing objectives on a task list until he’s able to finally hand the Darksaber over to Bo-Katan.
Still, while Star Wars isn’t really known for its moments of quiet introspection, it’s hard to believe Din would so easily forget the lessons from season 1. He even namedrops Kuiil at one point in the episode! Did The Mandalorian really just decide to dismiss this part of Din’s character arc in service of a gag where he kicks droids while their robotic foreman begs him to stop?
Watching Din transform into a bully for the sake of laughs is cringeworthy at best, especially when you consider he’s also playing bad cop for a society that’s subjugating its droid workforce while citizens live in splendor in the city above. Throughout his journey, Din has learned a lot about compassion, so why doesn’t he show any here?
The Mandalorian season 3 streams Wednesdays on Disney+.