The second episode in the third season of The Mandalorian bucks the trend of the typical side-quest structure the show has and delivers an epic return to the planet Mandalore. But some of this epicness is undercut by the constant dark lighting the episode has, at times making it impossible to see what’s going on.
The episode opens with a return to Tatooine, but it turns out that it’s just a quick pitstop to pick up R5, and thankfully so. Audiences have seen enough of that dustball to last for years. And then Din heads straight to Mandalore. The several side-quests that were setup last week are forgotten, he flies and lands. On the way he points out that he grew up on Concordia, the home of the terrorist group Deathwatch, another connection Din has with the group.
The ease of Din going to Mandalore does raise some questions. If it was so easy to get to the planet, how come Bo-Katan, or anyone else for that matter, never went back at any point? Who did she want to retake it from in season two? What was the purpose of building a fleet and cache of weapons? Hopefully future episodes will answer these, as they are real head scratchers.
The planet itself is well designed, the surface is covered in crystalized rock from all of the bombs. The ruins of Sundari are eerie, and audiences can just make out familiar structures. It’s a desolate place. Din is ambushed by trolls like Alamites, and then makes his way to the sewers. While investigating the wrecks of Mandalorian armour, he is captured by a beady eyed monster, showing the excellent design skills Favreau and Filoni have.
Grogu gets a chance to show just how much he’s grown, in an impressive escape displaying what he’s learnt under Luke. He then pilots Din’s N-1, paying off the lessons Din gave him, and goes to Bo-Katan. She initially thinks it’s Din, and goes to “get rid of him” sounding like she wants to kill him. Her annoyance is palpable, but as soon as she realises he’s in danger she doesn’t hesitate to get him. This proves she does care about him and Grogu, showing that perhaps she won’t be the antagonist people theorised about.
Bo-Katan wields the Darksaber with an elegance that Din lacks, with it feeling at home in her hands. She murders the scavenger, and walks into the Living Waters while giving him a history lesson. It’s tragic, as she’s had to watch her people fragment like the rock above. She vaguely references Satine, though doesn’t outright mention her. For all the references the show has to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it feels forced that she doesn’t say her name at all.
It’s almost funny that Bo-Katan mocks the history of the Mandalorian culture and the importance of the Living Waters, a sense of smugness that shows her disillusionment with the Creed. But seeing Din going into a trance, reciting his Creed before going to bathe in the waters is a heartwarming moment. It’s shocking then when he’s pulled underwater then, and when Bo-Katan dives in after him, she sees the huge creature. A mythosaur.
This is where the episode ends, but suffice to say that is an amazing shot to end on, and lets the Living Waters live up to its name. These beasts are such a huge part of Mandalorian culture, so it’s brilliant that audiences are finally seeing one in live-action.
This episode hammers home the tragedy of Mandalorian society, though in places better lighting would have shone more answers. Seeing the planet properly in live-action is everything fans of the culture have hoped for, though the lighting and ease of which it happens somewhat undercuts the moment. But the reveal of the mythosaur really propels the show forward, teasing exciting possibilities.