Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are playing the long game with The Mandalorian and an even longer one with the story of Mandalore. A location frequently visited and revisited in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, Mandalore–and its fascinating history, culture and politics–has always been integral to the larger goings on of the galaxy and taken a pretty bad beating along the way. Over the course of the first two seasons of The Mandalorian and the first season of The Book of Boba Fett, it’s been clear that Favreau and Filoni are building towards Mandalore’s return to glory but in Chapter 18 of The Mandalorian, The Mines of Mandalore, that return to glory begins in earnest.
As has often been said, The Mandalorian is a slow burn; however, in retrospect, it has provided Star Wars fans, both subtly and overtly, with an incredible amount of information about Mandalorian culture. “This is the Way” doesn’t carry the same meaning it did 2.5 seasons ago (that’s counting The Book of Boba Fett as the .5) because the Way has become so well-defined to the audience through the experiences of Mando, Grogu, et al. Favreau and Filoni made a decision to let the intricacies of The Way of the Mandalore be discovered over time rather than force-fed to the audience. That decision has led to a clear understanding of the differences in culture between the Children of the Watch and the rest of Mandalorian society. No greater example of that rift exists than the relationship between Din Djarin and Bo-Katan Kryze and this Chapter exploits that rift expertly.
Din Djarin’s visit to pouty Bo-Katan illustrates a key difference between The Children of the Watch and every other Mandalorian: faith. Against all odds, Din Djarin’s intentions to return to Mandalore and bathe in the Living Waters is an expression of the depth of his beliefs in The Way of the Mandalore; Bo-Katan’s dismissal of his quest–and her general malaise–is an expression of the lack of hers. While there’s been some controversy among fans around whether or not Din Djarin should be the one to reunite the great Houses of Mandalore and lead them to their renaissance, The Mines of Mandalore provides adequate evidence to suggest he may just be the guy. Though the depth of their zealotry seems to border on irrational, The Children of the Watch have kept the faith and Din Djarin’s experience in this Chapter rewards them for doing so.
Chapter 5 of The Book of Boba Fett, Return of the Mandalorian, laid much of the groundwork for The Mines of Mandalore and the insane payoff within its final moments. Din Djarin’s road to redemption, as explained to him by The Armorer and Paz Vizsla, is presented as an unwalkable one. Now an apostate, his only path to being forgiven lies in the ruins of Mandalore which is believed to be uninhabitable. Moreover, the belief of the Children of the Watch is that Mandalore’s destruction is tied to a legend that points to Bo-Katan’s “undeserving” nature as the leader of the people; however, those same legends and songs, kept alive by the Children of the Watch’s adherence to The Way, prophesize a return to glory for Mandalore that will be heralded in by the rise of the Mythosaur, the heretofore unseen beasts of legend.
2.5 seasons of The Mandalorian have partially conditioned the audience to see things much in the way they are seen by Bo-Katan. Though the Children of the Watch, exemplified by Din Djarin, continue to hold their faith as the galaxy closes in around them, how can their return to glory ever occur when it is tied to the rise of an extinct beast of myth? And Chapter 18 provides the spine-tingling answer to that question in all its glory. It’s a payoff that only works because Favreau and Filoni have let the audience slowly build their own opinions about The Way of the Mandalore and the nature of Din Djarin’s quest to redeem himself. Those who kept the faith, like Din Djarin, now see the fruits of their faith and that the future for Mandalore is bright and also probably involves Din Djarin wielding the Darksaber while riding on the back of a Mythosaur sometime very soon. It’s a story 13 years in the telling and nearly 50 years in the making and it is just getting good.