Warning: Spoilers for The Mandalorian Chapter 9: The Marshall
In this new series, “Meaning in Mando”, we will look at each episode of season two (and hopefully beyond) in order to explore the symbolism and meaning in each episode, with a dose of speculation with regards to their implications for the future.
After the longest and somehow shortest wait for new Star Wars content in some time, The Mandalorian is back in the house. With the first episode dropping at midnight last night, October 30, the hardest of hardcore fans were up early to watch the show before going off to work. On the eve of Halloween, Favreau and company certainly delivered many treats, and possibly a few tricks as well.
Before delving into this jam-packed episode, your’s truly must put in a disclaimer that this analysis is coming off a singular watch of the episode, thus this is in no way a comprehensive analysis. We’ll hit the big strokes, and hopefully open new doors, but I will most certainly miss a thing or two. Please share what you noticed in the comments, on Twitter, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now… on with the show…
Turning a New Leaf
Season one of “The Mandalorian” was all about the transformation of Din Dijarin, who went from hardened warrior to soft and cuddle papa bear. Season two begins by showing us that he has turned a new leaf. Case in point, he allows pit droids to work on his ship, something that never would have happened without IG-11 sacrificing himself to save Din and The Child.
Later in the episode, Din is the one encouraging the people of Mos Pelgo to turn their own new leaf in trusting the Tusken Raiders. This union reflects back to season one, where Din comes to trust Greef Karga. But there is one more person that may be turning a new leaf…..
Once more I must say, SPOILERS. You’ve been warned.
At the end of the episode, it seems that rumors, dreams, and for some people nightmares do come true. Boba Fett is back. Apparently. Allegedly. In the final moments of the episode, the artist formerly known as Boba Fett stands looking out as The Mandalorian zooms across the desert plains. Take note of his placement, though:
His head is directly between the two suns, demanding that we ask whether the suns are rising or setting for him. Will this season see him redeemed, or is he going to truly sell his soul to the devil? With the theme of turning a new leaf being prominent, all signs point to redemption. Plus, its Star Wars.
Mando’s journey in season one made him into a new person, and it seems season two is going to continue to explore that theme.
First, we have the question of “other Mandalorians” whose identities we are certain to find out. The pursuit of those other Mandalorians leads our Mandalorian to Cobb Vanth, aka The Marshall. Vanth first appeared in Aftermath, where he finds the Mandalorian armor of Boba Fett and takes it for himself. Essentially, he steals the identity, and with it the influence of a Mandalorian as a means to instill a sense of fear in those who oppose him and want to hurt the town he protects.
This is certainly a noble act, and it is not too far removed from Din Dijarin’s efforts to protect his clan of two. Vanth removing his Mandalorian armor and returning it to a true Mandalorian could be a foreshadowing of Din removing his own armor, and possibly even forgoing being a Mandalorian in favor of a higher purpose.
The Krayt Dragon
While the entire episode is ripe with symbolism, the Krayt Dragon reigns as the champion of this episode, thanks to its many faceted meanings.
Different cultures have attached different meaning to dragons, but there is really one main duality that we see. Western cultures see dragons as dangerous and evil, something that chivalric Christian traditions have instilled. Meanwhile, Easter cultures see dragons more positively as a symbol of good fortune, power, wisdom, and even hidden knowledge. Star Wars tends to layer Western and Eastern cultures on top of each other, which seems to be happening here. On the outside, the knight in shining armor is slaying the dragon almost single-handedly. Below the surface, Din Dijarin is chasing the wisdom and hidden knowledge the other Mandalorians have, the dragon is symbolizing that he is on the right path.
The Krayt Dragon also provides the audience a bit of hidden knowledge, which comes to light when Boba Fett appears at the end. The Krayt Dragon has an unpierceable armor protecting him, as do Mandalorians with their Beskar. Mando having to face down this metaphor for a dangerous and upset Mandalorian is promising that we will see the confrontation between Din and Boba and what it means to be a Mandalorian will be on the line.
Whereas at the start of the series Din Dijarin knew who he was and what it meant to be a Mandalorian, now there are questions. He’s been gifted this mission by the Armorer, and is seeking to learn more about his culture through the quest. One cannot go on a quest without confronting one’s identity. In confronting the dragon, Carl Jung would say that Din is facing his own subconscious. That subconscious has many things to confront, from what happened to his parents to being saved by the Death Watch, which has a less than reputable history.
But when push comes to shove, that subconscious is going to force Din to figure out one thing above them all: What is a Mandalorian?