Warning: Spoilers for Chapter 4 of the Mandalorian
The Mandalorian culture has been one that has been expanded on during each era of Star Wars, be it Legends, The Clone Wars, or the modern Disney era. There was a war between the Jedi and the Mandalorians, but not much else is known other than that the Jedi were victorious. Jump forward to The Clone Wars and Satine is striving to turn a warrior culture into one of pacifism. That fails, and Mandalore falls to Maul. It is unknown at this point how Maul falls, but Solo and Rebels promise that he does. Mandalore is apparently in flux, supporting the Empire for survival and later for ego until Sabine Wren presents the Darksaber to Bo Katan.
Jump forward to after the Galactic Civil War and the Mandalorians are hard to find, due to the Great Purge. Nothing is known about this purge at this point, but it clearly almost wiped out the Mandalorians and their cultures. Surviving has become the focus. “This is the Way.”
While also a cool phrase to throw around on Twitter, “This is the Way” is a way of life for the Mandalorians. It is about keeping one of the most legendary cultures in the galaxy alive. It is not simply a direction they go, but it is a “Way” that Mandalore can be reborn.
Star Wars being one story calls the consumer to look for parallels and connections. It’s poetry. It rhymes. The story of Mandalore is, in fact, the story of the Jedi, another legendary culture basically wiped out that has had to rebuild.
The Foundlings are the Future
At the end of Revenge of the Sith, both Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi know that they will not be the ones to restore the Jedi Order. They have a role, no doubt, but they are not the future. The children, in particular Luke and Leia, are the ones that will bring the Empire down and the Jedi back.
“The foundlings are the future,” is a phrase we hear repeated again and again across this show, a clear message that it is important. The Mandalorian himself is a foundling, giving him motivation to fight for those that come after him. These foundlings follow in the steps of the Mandalorians, despite it not being their bloodline. Just as Luke is an orphan taken into the culture of the Jedi, called to bear their burden, such is the way of the foundlings.
Not Taking Off Their Helmet
After Chapter 3, social media was aghast that Mandalorians don’t take their helmets off. How do they sleep? How do they eat? How bad does their breath stink? Chapter 4 didn’t answer those questions (thankfully!), but it nonetheless expanded on this lore. Mandalorians of the post-war era don’t take their helmets off in public. If they do, they may not take the mantel up again.
In Chapter 4, our Mandalorian has the chance, and is even encouraged, to take his helmet off. At one point he actually does, although no one sees his face. All the while, he takes his helmet off facing in the direction of a window in order to eat a plate of bread. There is a lot to unpack there, such as the bread being representative of “breaking bread,” a religious phrase taken up by culture at large to mean a coming together of people to share a life giving experience. Beyond that, and more importantly for our purposes, is the fact that he takes the helmet off in the direction of the window. The light shines on him, and while he is unseen he does make himself vulnerable. He is literally and metaphorically opening up.
These signs point toward him taking the helmet off at some point, and more importantly a point of vulnerability.
Looking back to Luke and the Jedi, one can substitute the lightsaber for the armor. In The Last Jedi, Luke has taken off the armor, given up the lightsaber, and does not see himself as worthy of taking it up again. Through the course of the film, thanks to the players around him, and to protect and provide hope for the future generation, Luke not only reignites a lightsaber, he reignites the lightsaber. But in a new way, for a new purpose.
Knowing season two is coming, the Mandalorian will put the armor back on. From a marketing, merchandise, and story perspective, it makes the most sense. Yet, like Luke, he cannot put the armor back on as the same man who wore it before. In all likelihood, he will take off his armor to protect the future (*cough cough* The Child *cough cough*). Be it in season one or two, when the Mandalorian puts the armor back on, it will be to reshape the future of Mandalore, The Child, and possibly even the galaxy itself.