‘THE MANDALORIAN’ Chapter 11: Which is the Way?
Bryce Dallas Howard’s Season 2 episode of The Mandalorian, “The Heiress”, immediately finds itself as a contender, if not the front runner, for the best episode to date for the live-action streaming series. Not only did Howard successfully manage to introduce an animated fan favorite, Bo-Katan Kryze, into the series (and, as Joao Pinto points out here, she did so without wasting so much as a single line on needless exposition) she also strategically placed The Clone Wars character not just in the middle of the unresolved conflict between Din Djarin and Moff Gideon but also used her to generate what is also the inciting moment of another, internal conflict for the Mando.
Prominent in nearly every episode of Season One, The Way of the Mandalore is Din Djarin’s creed and the driving factor behind nearly every decision the character has made over the course of the first 11 episodes of The Mandalorian. The Way dictates that a Mandalorian must never remove his helmet in front of another living being and that he must protect all others of his kind; we can also deduce that by living The Way, Mandos develop a sense of honor and, in Djarin’s case, assist in growing his Tribe by assisting with foundlings, something that’s incredibly close to Djarin’s heart given the nature of his upbringing.
While we haven’t heard “This is The Way” quite as often in Season 2, the tenants of the belief have been worked into every episode thus far. Chapter 9 wasted no time in revealing to us that Cobb Vanth, the man in Boba Fett’s armor, was not a Mandalorian as he removed his helmet immediately upon sitting down with Djarin. Chapter 10 saw Djarin’s sense of honor challenged by the fair frog lady and now, in Chapter 11, the tenet of never removing one’s helmet was revisited and the discussion that followed will almost certainly continue to eat at Djarin over the remainder of the season.
Djarin has two major goals in Season 2: find others of his kind and return The Child to the Jedi. Chapter 11 reveals to us just how little Djarin knows about the true history of Mandalore (and the Jedi, for that matter) which actually makes it ok that many of the show’s fans may not know much about it either. In a way, fans who have never seen a single episode of The Clone Wars or read up on Wookiepedia might have had a more visceral reaction to the revelation that not only are there other Mandalorians out there but also that they are truly “others” who view Djarin’s tribe, a branch of the Death Watch, as a cult.
While it was ok for you and me not to recognize the name Bo-Katan Kryze, the fact that Djarin was unfamiliar with her is fairly indicative of the fact that Bo-Katan’s description of “the Watch” as a group of zealots was an accurate one. Without treading into potential Season 2 spoilers, Bo-Katan’s name should ring a bell to any Mandalorian because, as the episode’s title indicates, she is the true heir of Mandalore; Djarin’s ignorance of her indicates a larger ignorance of the history of the planet and its fabled warriors. Our Mando is no moron and at some point soon, he’s going to begin to question everything he’s believed his entire life and that means he will come face-to-face with his personal creed, The Way of the Mandalore.
We haven’t seen the last of Bo-Katan. She has sent Djarin on his way to meet her old ally, former Jedi Ahsoka Tano but she’s also put in motion an inevitable intersection of the series major, ongoing plotlines and most, if not all, of its key players. As Joao put it: Mando protects The Child; Gideon wants The Child; Gideon has the Darksaber; Bo-Katan wants the Darksaber; Mando and The Child are headed to Ahsoka; Gideon will follow them; Bo-Katan will follow him. So yes, they’re all on a collision course that’s going to lead to what we have to believe will be one hell of a “duel of the fates”, but what’s almost just as interesting is how Djarin will process his meeting with Bo-Katan. At the very least, it’s going to cause him to question everything he thought he knew and where that might lead him, perhaps even into conflict with others of his tribe, like Paz Vizsla, whose Clan once supported Bo-Katan’s right to rule Mandalore.
Could that conflict lead to the Death Watch coming out of the shadows, reuniting with the “other” Mandalorians out there and taking back their planet? Could it result in yet another Mandalorian civil war? We’ll see as the rest of the season plays out, but knowing how much time Dave FIloni has invested into developing the history of Mandalore through the 7 seasons of The Clone Wars and the 4 seasons of Rebels, it’s safe to say that having our hero become aware that he is part of something greater than he knew and forcing him to wonder “which is the way?” will have major consequences that may even extend beyond The Mandalorian and into the larger and ever expanding Star Wars universe.