And now for something completely different.
First, let’s cover the stuff that’s the same.
After leaving the mines on Mandalore (no follow-up to the Mythosaur or whatever was in the water), Din and Bo-Katan return to Bo’s palace, which is currently being attacked by Imperial fighters and bombers, who destroy the palace. After an exciting, rip-roaring chase and dogfight through the skies of Kalevala, Din and Bo escape to the world where the Children of the Watch are holed up. Din announces he has bathed in the waters of the mines on Mandalore. The Armorer confirms this, and announces he has been redeemed. Furthermore, because Bo-Katan has also bathed in the waters, she is also welcomed into the tribe (presumably making her the titular "convert"), provided she does not remove her helmet from this point forward.
"The Mines of Mandalore" is a solid and focused course correction after last week’s scattered and tepid season premiere. The title says it all: We are getting on with things, arriving at Mandalore, and entering those mines. If this were a serialized Star Trek episode under the current leadership, the advancement to this stage of the plot probably wouldn’t happen until the season’s fifth or sixth episode.
Ironic, then, that "The Mines of Mandalore" almost at times plays like a classic Star Trek episode, with the planet-side exploration and the scanning of atmospheric properties on what is a Strange New World. There’s first a brief detour back to Tatooine so Mando can acquire a cowardly droid from his pal Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) to help scout what’s rumored to be a poisoned world, but the bulk of the episode is on Mandalore, as we see what the destruction at the hands of the Empire has wrought. The depiction is appropriately cold, barren, and harsh. Later, as we get underground, we see what was once a thriving city is now entombed beneath ash and rock. (Why does everyone think this planet is toxic when that’s so easily disproved here by one person?)
Just about every episode of The Mandalorian, even as the show got slightly more serialized in the second season, has benefited from a streamlined sense of episodic purpose. Stories were lean, straightforward, and had great momentum. With "The Apostate," the series’ third-season premiere, we have an outing that is surprisingly scattered, lackadaisical, and inconclusive. As we step into the mythology of Mandalore and whatever that may hold for Din Djarin, we’re going to need to have a sense of purpose far clearer than what we get here.
The episode opens with the coastal ceremony of a foundling as he becomes a Mandalorian among the Children of the Watch — which is violently interrupted when a massive gator creature emerges from the sea and begins eating people. It’s a set piece that might be more exciting if I weren’t constantly asking myself why these warriors with jet packs don’t immediately fly out of the danger zone and attack with tactics befitting intelligent soldiers with flight technology, or just retreat. Din Djarin comes in to save the day (hoping to be forgiven for removing his helmet, I guess?), but is later informed by the female Armorer that there is but one (impossible) way to redemption: bathing in the waters of the mines on Mandalore, which were supposedly all destroyed. That’s gratitude for you. So Mando embarks on a mission to actually go there and see the mines for himself.
As promised — at this point, too long ago — here are reviews for the rest of The Mandalorian‘s first season.
I’ve unfortunately found very little time to write due to a slew of home improvement projects that have kept me extremely busy for the past three months. So hopefully these reviews, although they may not seem like a lot to account for the past two months without any update here, will be something to tide you over until I can get back to something on a more consistent basis. Fortunately, it looks like there’s still some time before any shows that I cover here return.
For now, you can revisit Mando getting perpetually double-crossed, whether it’s on Tatooine, on a prison ship, or back on Nevarro. This guy just can’t trust anyone, can he? I wonder why he still bothers.
I swear I did not plan to post these reviews on May the Fourth day; it just happened to work out that way. Happy coincidences.
In my effort to get caught up on The Mandalorian before new content buries me (whatever it is and whenever it arrives; many TV show schedules are still very uncertain with all the COVID-19 shooting delays), I’ve posted reviews for the first four episodes of the first season. These follow the shorter format established in my reviews of much of the second season. The last four reviews of season 1 will be posted at a later date.
Overall, I’m more bullish on season 2 of The Mandalorian (with its forward movement of storylines and tie-ins with the larger Star Wars universe and its bringing together of characters) than on season 1, which was good and entertaining, but with a much looser (and sometimes repetitive) overall narrative structure.
Anyway, here they are. More to come.