With its third episode (a chapter titled “The Sin”), Disney+’s The Mandalorian continues with its bold and brash style, this time under the helm of director Deborah Chow (who will also be directing the streaming service’s upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series starring Ewan McGregor). The series’ lead character has been compared both to American gunslingers like Clint Eastwood’s iconic “man with no name” and the noble and honorable Japanese samurai warriors, most notably Ogami Ittō of Lone Wolf and Cub. Previous episodes of the series have mined many standards and tropes of the Western genre, but “The Sin” gives audiences the chance to learn more about the state of Mandalorian culture after the fall of the Galactic Empire and see the disciplined Bushido-like code of those who walk the way of the Mandalore.
As a viewer of the series might expect, the titular sin of this episode is the delivery of an innocent into the hands of the untrustworthy and evil. After actor Pedro Pascal’s “Mando” completes his task, delivering the bounty and claiming his reward in the form of the precious Beskar (a.k.a. Mandalorian iron), despite his hardened attitude, the bounty hunter has found that he’s formed a bond with the Yoda youngling and cannot simply abandon the child to dark intentions of the client he temporarily (and reluctantly) served. One thing that can’t be denied is the fact that the third episode of the series cuts to the chase, quickly changing the story of The Mandalorian from one of a lone bounty hunter attempting to maintain a living in a galaxy far, far away, to the tale of a morally ambiguous individual confronted with a morally necessary and definitive decision. It’s a choice that lesser shows would have dragged out until the end of the first season, but in exciting and unexpected fashion, the show has completely reset its premise with 5 episodes still remaining, and viewers can only speculate as to what comes next.
“You’ve taken both commission and payment. Is it not the code of the guild that these events are now forgotten?”
It’s an interesting line from the client who has hired Pascal’s Mandalorian, and only the gravitas of a performer like Werner Herzog can communicate such seething anger through a polite addressing what seems to be a fairly simple breach of etiquette. But, like etiquette has often been used by the privileged and powerful, this correction by Herzog is meant to mask the uncivilized nature of the transaction taking place between the two parties. When the Mando asks what will happen to the Yoda youngling he’s delivered, Herzog’s client is not only insulted by the bounty hunter’s minor display of sympathy, he even goes on to imply that Pascal is perhaps not truly as Mandalorian inside as his exterior armor suggests.
While Pascal’s warrior delivers the child and leaves the Imperial garrison, the scene makes one thing quite clear that the show has been hinting at since the beginning of the series: Our Mando is no Boba Fett. While for those that revere Captain Solo’s infamous captor that statement may seem like an detraction, and it’s not in any way. Disney and LucasFilm clearly realized early on that Boba Fett and his Mandalorian armor have always been a massive hit with the fanbase, and The Mandalorian series has allowed them to maintain the callous and cold reputation of Boba Fett while crafting their own heroic armored warrior for fans to embrace without the weirdness of getting tangled up in Wookiee scalps. This Mando will still throw the punches, pull the trigger, and deliver the bounty in a morally questionable galaxy, but he’s got no love for the Empire and sees a clear moral difference between working for those who “wore whites” and those who did not.
Additionally, one interesting element of “The Sin” was the reveal that Pascal’s Mando lives by two codes: the code of the Bounty Hunter’s Guild and the code of those who choose to “walk the way of the Mandalore.” One code he’s willing to break, and one code he is not. It’s another interesting comparison, especially for older fans, between Pascal’s Mando and Fett. For those who’ve been watching since the release of the original Star Wars trilogy, Fett has defined, in many ways, what we think a Mandalorian is, but over the course of the prequels and animated series like The Clone Wars and Rebels, it’s been revealed that while Fett may be known for wearing Mandalorian armor, he’s not part of its people or their culture. The Mandalorian makes this even more apparent by drawing this distinct contrast; Boba Fett is a bounty hunter first and foremost, while, for Pascal’s Mando, nothing is more important than his identity as a Mandalorian.
And perhaps that’s why he asked the question, insulting the client in a way that an agent of the Empire like Fett never would have even considered.
“They wore whites.”
The Stormtroopers and Imperial forces have always been thinly veiled references to the Nazi army and other fascist military groups in our own history, but The Mandalorian seems to subtly lean into this connection. Between the atmosphere of Herzog’s hideout, the client’s uncomfortable fetishization of the Imperial glory of the past, and the suggestion of cruel experimentation intend for the child, it’s clear that the remnants of the Empire are supposed to represent a definitive and undeniable evil, even in a setting entrenched in shades of moral grey.
In this episode, we hear more about “the great purge,” and it becomes crystal clear that some great injustice was delivered against the Mandalorian people via the Empire. For anyone who’s seen Star Wars: Rebels, it’s known that, prior to the original trilogy, Mandalore was in a state of flux, but eventually united behind a female Mandalorian known as Bo-Katan Kryze (who wielded the legendary Mandalorian weapon called the Darksaber) to resist Imperial rule. Apparently, the resistance was noble, but did not end in Mandalore’s favor. Whatever retribution was delivered to the Mandalorian people, it seems to have robbed them of their planet, their Beskar, and their ability to show their faces ever again.
“When one chooses to the walk the way of the Mandalore, you are both hunter and prey. How can one be a coward if they choose this way of life?”
We’ve seen the Armorer, watched her forge Beskar, and heard discussion of foundlings before, but “The Sin” further expands the audiences knowledge of Mandalorian culture. Benefiting from the series’ breathtaking visuals and the most badass elements of Ludwig Göransson amazing score, entering the Mandalorian’s underground shelter always feels like entering an unknown corner off the Star Wars universe that has its own long and detailed history. Much like another iconic order in the Star Wars universe, the Mandalorian have clearly found themselves on hard times. Once a legendary race of feared warriors with an illustrious lineage, now they survive by gathering in the shadows, refusing to ever remove their masks, and willingly taking in orphans to fill their ranks and continue the Mandalorian way (as the Armorer points out, “The foundlings are the future.”) Each individual warrior is a single solider army, utterly defined by their unique armor, weapons, and gadgets, so much that not only does each element of their uniform communicate unspoken messages regarding their skill, battle history, and status, but these lifetime combatants will literally never remove this second skin. In fact, for many, the armor may represent more of who they are so far as to consider their own flesh the true second skin in comparison to the Beskar armor encasing it.
There’s an interesting duality in regards to the individual vs. the group when it comes to Mando’s tribe. While Mandalorians typically only go out one at time for protection, there’s a definitive focus on supporting one another with the resources acquired, especially when it comes to the young foundlings who represent the continued survival of the damaged culture. Each Mandalorian seems to build their individual suit of armor, as well as their individual worth and identity within the tribe, based solely off their own accomplishments, given that they are deemed honorable by the tribe’s code. For many viewers, it may bring to mind the brutal warrior culture of the Game of Thrones’ Dothraki or the “iron price” demanded by the Drowned God of the Greyjoys of the Iron Islands, but this speaks less to some derivative nature and more to the success of The Mandalorian’s vivid and intriguing world-building.
One thing thoroughly established in this episode is the Mandalorian creed of “This is the way.” It’s a phrase that seems to have great significance among the tribe and can be used in several ways and situations, but, ultimately, unties those who walk the way of the Mandalore. While my previous reviews have acknowledged the influence of the Western genre on the series, Star Wars has always been a combination of Western and Eastern influences, from Eastwood to Kurosawa, and the Mandalorians themselves are a blend of the ionic American gunslinger and deadly, yet honorable, Japanese ronin. For those unaware, “Bushido” was the code of conduct upheld by the Samurai, the warrior class of feudal Japan. While there are many differences between the representation of Mandalorian culture and that of the Japanese Samurai warrior, there’s also a clear connection and inspiration when it comes to the concepts of honor, nobility, and respect. (Bushido served as a system of ethics and virtues, including focuses on concepts like benevolence, courage, loyalty, self-control, and more.) The potential inspiration becomes even more clear when one realizes that Bushido comes from the combination of the Japanese words, bushi (which translates to “warrior”), and do (which translates to “path” or “way”), thus translating literally to “way of the warrior” – less than a hair away from the Mandalorian motto of “This is the way.”
While the influence of America’s cowboy culture can’t be ignored, “The Sin” makes it clear that Star Wars’ armored champions are more than just hot shots with a quick trigger finger. There is a living, breathing society represented here. One that cherishes honor, bravery, sincerity, and community as much as they relish cold, hard Beskar and the warm muzzle of a freshly fired blaster. One that values the honor of the job taken as much, if not more than, the reward acquired by completing it.
– This episode is the perfect excuse to dig into The Clone Wars and Rebels (also available on Disney+) given that their creator, Dave Filoni (executive producer on The Mandalorian), has spent those two series helping craft a complex and intriguing history for the Mandalorian culture through the prequel films and leading to just before the original trilogy. Both animated series are considered canon and will only make you further appreciated the interesting place these people find themselves in during the post-Empire era.
– If I can criticize The Mandalorian for anything, it would be that sometimes things seems a bit too much like the original trilogy films from time to time. There are small elements that can be easily overlooked and really ruin very little, but, as a hardcore Star Wars fan, I do notice them from time to time. My one gripe for this episode would be the idea that Jabba the Hutt and Herzog’s Imperials own the same “mechanical eyeball” for their front door. Same technology, sure, but would it really the same exact model? It’s a nitpick, but I’m just imagining a greater amount of options available across the galaxy.
– There seems to be quite a bit of discussion regarding the origin of the Yoda youngling. Given the mystery surrounding Yoda’s species and the Jedi Master himself, my guess is that it was cloned, possibly by Emperor Palpatine. He certainly would have an interest and potentially would have access to both Yoda’s blood (They got that midichlorian count in The Phantom Menace somehow.) and a penchant for cloning. If the youngling was cloned, this would both preserve Yoda’s individual story (no errant love children) and the mystery of his species’ origin. Additionally, that white egg thing the youngling was found in sure seems reminiscent of the aesthetics of the cloning facilities on Kamino.
– So, it seems that IG-11 was not hired by a mysterious client to kill the youngling, but was actually sent by the same client as back up. Apparently, it was Herzog was acting like Oprah when it came to this bounty. (“You get a fob and you get a fob! Everybody gets a fob!”)
– “Because I’m your only hope.” – A twist on this iconic Star Wars line from Carl Weather’s Greef Karga in this episode. Greef also finds himself alive thanks to the protective powers of the Mandalorian Beskar by the end of the episode. Maybe it’s just a fun bit, but given that it’s likely we’ll see Weathers again before the end of the season, maybe it ‘s also a hint of things to come. We’ll have to #waitandsee on that.
– It’s interesting to note that it seems every time Pascal’s Mandalorian returns to the Armorer’s forge, he reflects on the death of his parents. Predictably, one would assume this coincides with or is related to his introduction to Mandalorian culture as a foundling. Also, predictably, it is the source of his distaste for droids.
– That jetpack salute to Mando from his fellow Mandalorian known referred to simply as “Heavy Infantry” feels like a live-action moment straight out of an animated Clone Wars episode.
Final Verdict: Not only is “The Sin” another solid episode for The Mandalorian, but we’re only three episodes in, and the creative forces behind the series have re-invented the premise of the show, accomplishing what most shows would take an entire season to do. Now, all bets are off, as the Mandalorian and his tribe face off against the remains of the Empire and the Bounty Hunter’s Guild itself.
Directed by: Deborah Chow
Written by: Jon Favreau