The Mandalorian: The Moral Dilemma

 The penultimate episode of season two of The Mandalorian just gave us the big turning point for Mando. Before we go any further, I'll plant a big SPOILER WARNING here -if you haven't seen episode 15, go no further.

Episode 15: The Believer gave us that bit of character growth I had been craving (see my post Run, Shoot, Repeat: Mando Keeps on Kicking). We see the extent of Din Djarin's resolve and the depth of his feelings for Grogu, as he breaks with his Mandalorian creed in order to get the information he needs to track down Moff Gideon. 

It was a huge step for Mando, and shows what he will do to get Grogu back. I don't think he's ready to step away from his creed yet, but he certainly has placed his connection to the child above all else, and that tells us a lot about him as a person. I don't think the man we see in episode 15 is the same man we met in episode 1, and that's a good thing.

Of course, it was telegraphed by the speech by Mayfeld, played by Bill Burr, as he and Mando drove the stolen Imperial cargo truck towards the base. First Mayfeld questions Mando's beliefs, asking whether the rule is that he can't show his face, or he can't take his helmet off? Mayfeld goes on to compare the Imperials and the New Republic, saying they are essentially the same, occupying planets and taking what they need from the helpless inhabitants. Mayfeld's attitude is that he's a survivor; he does what he has to just to get through the day. He claims he and Mando are alike in this, but Mando is not having any of it. But this all comes to a head once they reach the base and encounter Mayfeld's former commanding officer in the mess hall.

Star Wars as a whole hasn't given us a lot of heavy dramatic moments. So the scene in the mess hall was unexpected, to say the least. Although Star Wars ostensibly deals with a galactic conflict and all that would entail, the reality of death and suffering is typically hidden behind a glaze of bright laser beams and lightsabers, and high melodrama. We're not supposed to focus on the cost of war, because, well, at its heart, Star Wars was made for kids. It may be hard for some of us to accept now that we are at the age where we have to worry about our cholesterol, but it's a fact. There's been a subtle shift in some of the SW material of recent years to try to give the more mature audience a little something more to dig their teeth into. Rogue One certainly gave us a much darker image of the struggle between the Rebellion and the Empire. This scene in episode 15 of The Mandalorian is something of a continuation of that, in that Mayfeld, a survivor of the Empire's bloody campaigns, questions the need for so many soldiers and civilians to die to further the Empire's plans. When his former commander, Valin Hess, goes on about how they all died for the glory of the Empire, and that people think they want freedom, but what they really want is order, it's too much for Mayfeld, and he snaps and shoots Hess. 

The scene is tense and deals with the high cost of ideological differences made manifest. All the way back in The Empire Strikes Back, we had Vader holding his hand out to Luke, saying they could join forces, and bring order to the galaxy. There's a belief that people cannot be allowed to make their own decisions; they must be controlled. The Rebellion, by its very nature, represents freedom and the right to choose. But once the New Republic is in power, will it begin sliding down the path of authoritarianism?

The ways belief systems influence decisions, and impact lives, are at the core of what is otherwise another action-packed episode. But this was a Star Wars entry that might leave you thinking about it a lot longer than most.

 Switching gears:

Where do we go from here? It may be sheer folly, but let's have some predictions for this week's final episode of season 2.

High likelihood: Bo-Katan and her Mandalorians will return, to go after Moff Gideon. Maybe because Mando contacts them, or maybe they just show up serendipitously. After all, Bo-Katan was looking for Gideon.

High Likelihood: Mando will have a showdown with Moff Gideon. I think this is a gimme, but I think it will end either inconclusively, or Mando will lose. But we should get some sweet dark saber vs. beskar spear action!

Medium likelihood: Somebody dies. Lots of people are betting on Boba Fett, mostly with the odd rationale that if he kicks off, then Mando can have the Slave-1. That feels too obvious to me. would be a great hero arc for him. It could be Fennec Shand, but that doesn't seem especially powerful. Cara Dune seems destined for the Rangers of the New Republic series. But Gina Carano has had some social media issues, so maybe they'd have her die a hero in Mando instead. I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine.

Medium likelihood: Mando and Grogu will not be reunited. My guess is this season is Mando's Empire Strikes Back, and we end in a cliffhanger, with Mando and the kid still separated.

Medium likelihood: A Jedi shows up. Grogu probably contacted at least one Force-user, and we will get at least a hint of who it was, whether we see someone in silhouette, hear their voice, or some other vague suggestion. I'm still hoping it's Luke Skywalker. But what if it's a bad guy? That leads to...

Low likelihood: Grogu turns to the dark side. There have been hints that the little green guy could go dark. He's done some force-choking, he tossed around those stormtroopers pretty badly in episode 13, and Asohka commented on his fear. What if by the time Mando gets to him, he's given in to the dark side?  Will season 3 be about redeeming him? I hope not, but you never know.

OK! Can't wait til Friday!


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