The Mandalorian presents new clues about the galaxy post-Endor, the Clone Wars, the Empire, the demise of Mandalore, and something called the Darksaber.
A smokey haze fills the room. No one notices the two thugs threatening to cut out the glands of a Mythrol. No one cares. Everyone knows minding your own business is the best way to stay alive. Something this Mythrol won’t be enjoying for much longer. As the tip of the thugs vibroblade touches the Mythrol’s neck, a lone figure donning Mandalorian armor enters the cantina. Everyone, including the thugs, turn their head towards the unknown figure. As he approaches the bar, the thugs flank him, leaving their prey behind. The bartender offers the thugs a drink to replace the one that spilled and to ease tensions. The libation never makes it to its intended hand. Within moments the Mandalorian dispatches one thug, while the other, a Quarren, attempts to run outside but is caught by the Mandalorian. They exchange a salvo of blaster fire before the Mandalorian shoots the door panel. The door, a blade-like iris closes onto the Quarren, cutting him in half. This is The Mandalorian. Beginning with Chapter One: The Mandalorian, let’s explore what’s new to the Star Wars galaxy and the questions they offer.
State of the Galaxy
It is a time of revolution. It’s been five years since the fall of the Galactic Empire. The fledgling New Republic holds on to peace as unity frays with inexperience. Decades spent trying to win a war only to be unsure of what to do if they won. The remnants of the Empire consists of warlords and Moffs, each desperately holding onto whatever power they can with their own contingent of stormtroopers. This is the background in which The Mandalorian is set. Starting with the moment the Mandalorian appears holding a tracking fob, a plethora of new locations, terminology, and characters, plus further backstory on the Mandalorian culture and the Clone Wars are brought into the Star Wars galaxy.
Times have changed in the half-decade since the Empire’s collapse. The New Republic is so bogged down in galactic politics, reporting a crime is considered a joke. As crazy as it sounds, the galaxy no longer has the security of the Empire to rely on. And what is left of the Empire is fragmented and disorganized. On Nevarro, an Imperial warlord known only as The Client keeps his own faction of loyal stormtroopers. Covered in dirt and scuff marks, stormtroopers in the post-Empire era don’t maintain their armor as they did during Palpatine’s reign.
Pirates and outlaws of all sorts seize opportunities to take what they want from innocent citizens. On Sorgan. Klatooinian raiders refurbish abandoned Imperial tech and use it to raid and pillage local farmers. The New Republic is cracking down on organized, more established underworld criminals like Fennic Shand and her employers who are on lockdown. Civilians, however, are forced to defend themselves against thugs and local gangs.
The change in government has had rippling effects in all parts of the galaxy. Imperial credits, for example, still have some worth even though the Empire is no longer in control. A 5,000 credit bounty isn’t enough to cover fuel costs. A sign that the economy is unstable and corporations are driving up prices most likely due to the increase in demand and covering a low fuel supply galaxy-wide. It’s a common theme in recent Star Wars stories.
What of ex-rebel shock trooper Cara Dune? Let’s face it, she has seen some things and experienced things that most people couldn’t stomach, such as the destructive potential of E-webs. Hailing from Alderaan, Carasynthia Dune said she saw “most of her action mopping up after Endor. Mostly ex-imperials warlords, from drop ships fast and quiet. When the Imps were gone, the politics started. We were peacekeepers, protecting delegates, suppressing riots.” The changing of the times saw her mission directives switch from heavy combat to security, and it was not an easy adjustment for Cara Dune, so she opted for early retirement.
Downfall of Mandalore
According to Moff Gideon, in the early days of the Empire, Mandalore felt the wrath of Palpatine’s new order during a battle known as The Great Purge. Gunships fitted with E-web Repeating Blasters laid waste to Mandalorian recruits during The Night of a Thousand Tears. At some point during the campaign, the Darksaber fell into the hands of Moff Gideon, who was an ISB (Imperial Security Bureau) Agent at the time. The Darksaber is an ancient black-bladed lightsaber that clan Vizsla kept for several generations. During the Clone Wars, Pre Vizsla lost the Darksaber in a duel with Maul. Later, rebel Sabine Wren earned the weapon by defeating Gar Saxon. Sabine then passed it onto former Death Watch member Bo-Katan, sister to the erstwhile Duchess of Mandalore, Satine Kryze.
Paz Viszla explains that “These (beskar ingots) were cast in an Imperial smelter. These are the spoils of the Great Purge.” In the aftermath of Mandalore’s defeat, the Empire gained control of the Mandalorian foundries and took the famed beskar as the spoils of victory, imprinting the Imperial insignia on each ingot. Beskar is such an integral part of the Mandalorian tradition, the Imperial insignia is nothing but a desecration and an insult upon said tradition. The Client understands this when he says, “Beskar belongs back into the hands of a Mandalorian. It’s good to restore the natural order of things after a period of such disarray.” For nearly two decades, the Mandalorian people were forced to scatter; live underground to ensure survival and to sustain their traditions. As Paz Vizsla once said, “The reason why we have to live hidden like sand rats.” For a proud people who once rode the great mythosaurs, for the Mandalorians to hide in the sewers (and only come out one at a time) must be humbling and humiliating.
Din was approximately seven or eight years old when his village was attacked by Separatists battle droids about a year before the end of the Clone Wars. This places Din’s birth approximately four years after the Separatist blockade of Naboo. Din’s peers include future rebels Hera Syndulla, Enfys Nest, and Cassian Andor. Din’s parents perished in the attack, but the local Mandalorians adopted him as a foundling and raised Din as one of their own. Records of his family name, kept in the vaults of Mandalore, are the only link to his past.
Very much like a rite of passage, when he was of age, Din was sworn into the creed and given a suit of Mandalorian armor to wear. If this is true, this means he received his armor only two years after joining the clan. Kids grow fast! The armorer stays busy forging new armor every couple of years for new foundlings. According to Din, he hasn’t removed his helmet in front of anyone since the age of ten. Nothing in The Clone Wars animated series suggested that this was a typical Mandalorian practice. Helmetless Mandalorians are seen all over the place, including in front of non-Mandalorians. Taking the helmet off in front of others could not have been a tradition during this time. Therefore it must’ve pre-dated the Clone Wars and reinstated just two into the Empire’s reign, or it’s something that began after The Great Purge possibly to strengthen their resolve in the wake of battle. This still doesn’t explain why this tradition isn’t present in the five leading up to the Galactic Civil War. It may be isolated practiced by a few local tribes.
What about the term “foundling”? This isn’t a term previously associated with Mandalorians, at least not during the Clone Wars. Foundlings are orphaned children taken in by a clan. They are brought up in the traditions of the tribe, given armor to wear, and are taught to follow the Mandalorian creed without stray. This attention to care breeds loyalty for generations. And if the Mandalorians that rescued Din Djarin were Death Watch (the Death Watch signet is seen on one those that saved Din after his parent’s death), this is an anomaly. Death Watch is not known for their charity work, but for their militaristic, violent traditions. Din does remark that weapons are his religion, so that parallel does line up. Death Watch’s real-world equivalent is Hell’s Angels—loyal to their own, deadly to outsiders, full of tradition and rites of passage.
At some point during his young adult years, Din began working temporarily for a man named Ran. Ran was a crime boss who hired Din and others, including Xian, Din’s Twi’lek girlfriend, to carry out shady jobs of illegal nature. By the time Din meets with the Client on Nevarro, he’s in his late-thirties and one of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy.
And what about the purple elephant? That thing that no one saw coming and has become the face of Star Wars. Baby Yoda. Of course, it’s not Yoda (does that need to be explained?) Starting from the beginning. Wow! From reactions of those who’ve seen the child, it appears no one knows what the species is, and at times the child is treated as though it’s a pet. The adults refer to the child as “it” on several occasions. The baby is 50 years old, which places its birth at almost precisely the same time as Anakin Skywalker. This species ages very slowly, so don’t be fooled by its infantile appearance. The lack of familiarity with the child’s species is remarkable. Is it possible that the species is so rare that no one knows what it is?
Only two other examples of the child’s species are known, and both have been on the Jedi Council; Yoda and Yaddle. Which makes having two existing at the same time on the Jedi High Council is even more remarkable. And just like his (and it’s confirmed the baby is a boy) predecessors, the child can use the Force, at least to some extent. Using the Force takes a lot out of the little guy who needs a nap soon after using his abilities. So does that mean every member of their species is super strong in the Force? They’re batting a thousand so far.
The child’s ability to heal injuries is a new technique that’s been making the rounds in Star Wars. Rey used it in The Rise of Skywalker (which occurs 26 years after The Mandalorian). Could there be a connection? Perhaps there is something in the ancient Jedi text about Force healing. As Rey describes, it’s the transfer of life from one body to another. Logic says that if the child is still an infant after fifty years, he’ll only be in his terrible two’s when Rey begins her training.
Why the Client wants the baby remains a mystery. The only logical answer is he must know about the child’s abilities and has intentions to use the child as leverage to regain power or influence. And if the badge on Dr. Pershing’s arm is what it looks like (a symbol of the Kamino cloning facility), he wants the child cloned. With the Jedi extinct (knowledge of Luke isn’t widespread), anyone who is capable of using the Force is like black gold, Texas T. Dr. Pershing, however, doesn’t want to harm the child; he only wishes to learn more about its species.
With each episode, The Mandalorian has revealed new information about the Force, the history of the Mandalorian tribe, the ruthlessness of the Empire, and the beginnings of a New Republic. Season two will surely answer some of the questions, but undoubtedly present more to consider. That is what Star Wars does.
Once upon a time in a town no one’s heard of, there lived a boy who enjoyed Star Wars from the quiet of his bedroom. A time came when a new comlink allowed the boy to hear that there are others like him. Overjoyed, the boy wanted nothing more than to join in the conversation. So he did. The rest is HIStory. Besides Star Wars I also enjoy Marvel and Game of Thrones (I dabble in all sorts of geeky fun). You can find me on the couch watching one of several streaming services, reading or writing. Let’s go, Bruins!