The Shackles That Separate. The Ties That Bind

Please note: The following article contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 2 premiere.

Human beings are a frustrating mix of cooperative, social problem solvers, and tribal, self-interested hardliners. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the United States and on this Election Day, where Americans are clearly divided about the future of the country, it would help if we could heed the morals presented to us in pop culture and art.

As in the real world, divisions run deep in the Star Wars Galaxy. But as contentious as those divisions are, they are occasionally put aside to face a greater threat, because without cooperation and trust, those threats would wreak destruction on all, irrespective of division. The latest episode of The Mandalorian delves into this heavily in the Season 2 premiere.

For generations, settlers and Tusken Raiders were mortal enemies on Tatooine. To contextualize the conflict we must go way back to the earliest years of settlement. A settler named Alkhara appropriated the B’omarr monastery that would one day Jabba the Hutt would claim as his palace. While he was stationed there, Alkhara hired a local tribe of Tuskens to murder the local law enforcement garrison. To conceal his crime, Alkhara had the Tuskens slaughtered, thus instilling a deep and lasting resentment in the Tusken people for all settlers (source: Star Wars: Complete Locations).

This blood feud is still alive and well by the time Din Djaron returns to Tatooine more than 9 years after the Battle of Yavin.

In Mos Pelgo, a remote and forgotten mining settlement, Din found settlers plagued by Tatooine’s most fearsome threat. As the town’s warning klaxons wailed, the ground literally turned to mush as a massive titan moved beneath the village. It was ferocious Krayt Dragon, a leviathan of the dessert that lived nearby and fed on the settler’s Bantha stock. The settlement was under threat of annihilation if something couldn’t be done about the dragon and the only ones who could help were the Tuskens. The Raiders had a longstanding tribal knowledge of the Krayt species, having revered it as a supernatural menace to Tatooine and to their very existence. They had sudied it, developed ways to extend its hibernation cycles, and revered it, but their attempts to subdue it were growing increasingly limited. Only together could the two tribes bring down the mighty beast.

The message of the episode couldn’t be more apparent: people with deep and divisive points of view, can work through their differences and achieve more together than apart. The dragon’s place in the story—whether intentional or not—serves as analogy to any great threat or problem facing our world today. Climate change, the global pandemic, or a shift from fossil fuels to Green technology are all problems with real, immediate consequences if we do not address them. Imagine if the Settlers and the Tuskens retreated into their past grievances and allowed their differences to destroy the alliance. They would have failed and the Krayt dragon would have most certainly destroyed them both. It almost happened. But Star Wars is about hope and the message of teamwork is on full display in this episode.

Even if the symbolism of the dragon isn’t intended to be analogous to any of the real world events we currently face, it almost certainly is a deliberate echo of the Rebel Alliance forming from a collection of diverse, and sometimes rival worlds in order to fight back against the oppression of the Empire. This episode took a familiar planet and familiar races and gave us a cultural exploration of those races against the backdrop of a shared goal.

We really can achieve great things when we put aside differences, and conquer seemingly insurmountable problems. But for that to work, we must first believe we can. Belief drives hope. Hope inspires change. Change moves us forward.

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