This Star Wars article contains spoilers for The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 2
“There’s nothing magic about the Mines of Mandalore.”
Turns out those words, uttered by Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze in the final scene of last week’s episode of The Mandalorian, were a wonderful bit of foreshadowing for the quietly profound “The Mines of Mandalore.” The dramatic reveal that Mythosaurs are not extinct is a huge payoff in terms of lore, but it also has massive implications for both Bo-Katan and Din Djarin, philosophically.
The ideological disparity between Din Djarin and Bo-Katan Kryze has been one of the most fascinating aspects of the show since their first meeting. She scoffs at his devotion to his Tribe and “The Way,” and he remains steadfast to the beliefs that have been his life’s purpose since he was a foundling. Finding the Mythosaur in the very waters where she was baptized into the religion she’s since denounced will no doubt rattle Bo-Katan. And for Din to come in contact with the legendary creature that he and so many Mandalorians have donned on their armor is sure to have a lasting impact on his journey and the future of his people.
The setup for Din and Grogu’s trip to Mandalore is the weakest segment of the episode by far. Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto is one of the least compelling characters the show has introduced into the Star Wars universe, and while she provides some lighthearted humor to balance out Din’s stoicism, the shifty mechanic gimmick has run its course. The two characters just don’t complement each other as well as they should. It’s not the fault of Sedaris and Pascal as actors, of course—they’re both phenomenal. But the material and their onscreen chemistry just ain’t it. It’s a wonder why the show returns to Motto so often…
The one nice thing about the opening scene is that we get to hang out with R5-D4 for a while, which is always a nice way to tie the show back to the Original Trilogy. It’s always great to see old designs like R5 and the Naboo Starfighter folded into the show so seamlessly, and it’s even cooler to see new creatures, like the Alamites and the biomechanic crab that Bo-Katan slices up in style, stand up to the classic designs of franchise past.
Speaking of the crab-thing, it is yet again proof that the show’s artists and animators are some of the best in the industry. The creature’s design, with the creepy one-eyed pilot detaching from and reattaching to different segments of the grotesque mechanical frame, is one of the most inventive in the series so far. And beyond the design, the thing is executed incredibly well. It’s no doubt a largely CG creation, but it looks tactile and fully embedded in the environment, making the ensuing action that much more believable. Visually, this show is on another level, and seeing what new eye-popping creatures and picturesque locales will be featured next has become one of the major appeals of the series.
The mad scientist cyborg crab twist leads to one of the best sequences of the episode: Grogu fighting his way out of the mines with the Force and zipping back to Kalevala to find Bo-Katan with R5’s help. It’s not only another excellent showcase for the VFX team but also for Grogu’s Force powers, which have clearly grown since last we saw him, as one unsuspecting Alamite soon finds out. The Grogu puppet is remarkably expressive in scenes where it needs to convey worry and desperation, when talking to Bo-Katan, when trying to get R5 to fly the starfighter in a hurry, when it pauses to watch the creatures looking back at him in the dark caverns of the mines. Bo-Katan reassuring Grogu with a little pep talk on the way to save Din is a heartwarming moment. If there’s one slip up during these Grogu/Bo team-up scenes, it’s that they retread similar moments we’d watched just 15 minutes before with Din and Grogu. It comes off feeling a little redundant, even if the intention is to show how Bo-Katan and Din react differently to their surroundings.
The Mythosaur reveal is elegantly done though, with Din reciting the Creed before being abruptly sucked into the deep of the Living Waters. From there, it’s all pure cinema: We see Bo-Katan dive into the murky void to rescue him, the glow of her jetpack piercing the darkness. And then we see that gigantic eye, and then the wide shot of the Mandos’ tiny bodies dwarfed by the enormous, living embodiment of the legend their culture was built on. It’s a breathtaking moment and a sign that the show is building toward something monumental this season.
What’s great about the dialogue throughout the episode is that much of it is setting up the Mythosaur reveal without tipping us off. Bo-Katan’s lament of the once-thriving city and civilization that has since been pancaked by the Empire reminds us that the Mandalorians have been devastated, scattered and listless, their spirits at an all-time low. So when we see the Mythosaur, all but affirming the prophecy the Armorer recited back in The Book of Boba Fett, it means that maybe, after all of the loss and despair left in the wake of the Night of a Thousand Tears, there may be hope yet for a new age of the Mandalorians on the planet they once called home.