The Mandalorian Isn’t Vacuous You Feckin’ Gobshite
I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was six, so when someone on Twitter said the first season of The Mandalorian was vacuous, I took that personally. The Mandalorian isn’t vacuous. It’s a study of one man’s personal growth from a freelance bounty hunter just scraping by to what we see at the end of the second season.
I’m doing a rewatch where I will document the things I’m seeing and what I think they mean. I’ll be addressing one fundamental question: Who is The Mandalorian?
We’ll Start with a Brief Recap
We open looking at a tracking fob pointing Mando to some sort of bar or tavern. When he enters, Mando is accosted by a couple of local thugs. He dispatches them in short order and faces a mythral that I will forever think of as fish guy.
Fish guy tries to bribe our hero, but he’s having none of it. Mando takes him back to his ship, refusing a ride in a new droid-operated speeder for a janky-ass human-driven one.
There’s an enormous monster that tries to eat them, Mando has a bunch of weapons, and fish guy will not make it home for Life Day.
When Mando turns in the bounties—four of them—he refuses to take Imperial Credits even though they spend just fine. He ends up taking half payment in Calamari Flan. He wants to take all the bounties Greef Karga has, but none of them pay enough to cover gas money.
There’s one bounty from a guy with deep pockets who doesn’t want to go through guild protocols and Mando jumps all over it. Turns out the guy is former empire and has some former Stormtroopers around that Mando is not remotely afraid of. The client gives Mando an ingot of beskar, and promises a bunch more to bring the bounty back alive, with a lesser payment for proof of termination.
Mando goes to a secret underground lair for Mandalorians and turns both the payment for the bounty and the beskar over to someone called The Armorer. She says it’s a generous and will sponsor many foundlings. Mando says he was a foundling. She asks if he had his signet revealed, but he hasn’t.
When she makes a pauldron for him, we see something that looks like PTSD flashbacks of a droid attack on a village that doesn’t look like it’s on Mandalore.
He lands on a planet, gets attacked by some giant cow-things called blurrgs, and rescued by a guy named Kuill, though we don’t learn his name until later episode. Kuill tries to teach Mando how to ride a blurrg because that’s the only way to get to the encampment with the bounty. Mando sucks at learning how to ride a blurrg, only succeeding after Kuill reminds him that his ancestors rode the great Mythosaur.
Mando is scoping out the encampment when he sees a bounty hunter droid. They team up, kill everyone in the encampment, and the droid seems way too willing to self destruct.
They find the bounty. It’s a little baby Yoda, and they wonder how it can be fifty years old. The droid wants to bring it in dead because his commission explicitly stated that. Mando shoots the droid, and that’s the end of the episode.
So what did we learn about the Mandalorian?
To no one’s surprise, he’s a badass, but we learn at least a couple of other things in that opening scene. That he refuses a bribe shows he has a code he won’t break. He may be following guild rules because it’s in his best interest, or he may be honoring a contract because that’s the right thing to do. We don’t know yet, but it’s clear there are rules he won’t break.
He doesn’t like droids. We’re not entirely sure why, but the flashback scene of battle droids is suggestive.
He really doesn’t like the Empire. He’s clearly not overly flush with cash, but he’s willing to take half payment to avoid Imperial credits. He’s not afraid of them, at least not the stormtroopers, and he’s willing to work with former officials, but there’s definitely a dislike there. We’re not sure why yet.
Being a Mandalorian and a Foundling is important to him even if we’re not entirely sure what a Foundling is yet. He didn’t just make a moderate donation to the Foundlings, but a generous one.
But it’s when he is learning to ride the blurrg that we really learn how much being a Mandalorian means to him. He’s willing to give up and ride a speeder or speeder bike, but when Kuill shames him with his ancestors, he buckles down and gets the job done.
That’s the baseline. He’s a badass bounty hunter with some sort of code who hates droids and the empire, but loves being a Mandalorian.
But There Are Questions
Why does he hate droids? Why does he hate the empire? We get clues in the flashback scene, and with the beskar being taken in the Great Purge. It certainly looks like the empire could have sent droids in to destroy our hero’s village.
What the heck is a Mandalorian Foundling? It could be a generic foundling, someone found as a child. It could be specific to Mandalore and something that happened after the Great Purge. We don’t know.
The most important question, though, is this: Why did he shoot the droid at the end? It certainly could have been that Baby Yoda was just too cute to kill. Maybe he wanted the full bounty, not the lesser amount for bringing him in dead.
Bonus Question: Who sent the bounty droid? It can’t have been Mando’s client, because he specifically wanted the bounty alive, while the droid’s client specifically wanted him dead.