A dozen episodes of The Mandalorian have hit our eyeballs as Chapter 12 brings us back to where it all began. Nevarro is much different, however, as are the cast of Din Djarin, Cara Dune (ahem.. Marshall Cara Dune), Greef Karga, and The Child.
As an audience, we also have a better understanding of this version of Star Wars, which continually provides a plethora of visual, metaphorical, and symbolic storytelling. The most recent episode continues that trend, supporting ideas that have come before while building new ones along the way. The chief among them being….
RED, BLUE, AND DUALITY TRUE
“Powerful light. Powerful dark.” Binaries. Duality. Dyad. The ideology goes by many names, but at its core it comes down to the tension between things, such as the light and dark sides of the Force, that should be in opposition. However, they also must exist, as they are what defines existence.
This duality is all over Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian. It is Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian. In the first scene, The Child is rewiring part of the Razor Crest, which will later in the episode be restored to its former glory, a rebirth for a ship shaped like a uterus and thus symbolic of birth, life, and restoration. The Child struggles to put the red and blue wires in the correct place, or in fact in their opposing places. “You’re going to plug that blue wire where the red wire goes in the board,” Din tells his ward. “Put the blue one where the red one was.” Things are changing and evolving for Clan Mudhorn.
But don’t let the wires touch. As The Child learns, this can be quite dangerous. Past episodes have involved ideas of duality, such as past vs. present, and even opposing ideas of what it means to be a Mandalorian. History predicts the future, and history is chock-full of Mandalorians destroying each other. But, unless the wires are put in the right place, the ship cannot fly.
Throughout the episode the colors red and blue make themselves known. It is almost as if The Mandalorian’s perception of reality is changing and he has a choice to make ….
While Din isn’t choosing between The Matrix and reality, the show is clearly portraying his evolution from one version of himself to another. Chapter 11 presented the idea of The Children of the Watch as a cult, and the entire season has shown Din different versions of Mandalorians, be it Cobb Vanth living The Way without the Creed or Bo-Katan representing more modernized Mandalorians. In this episode we get part of that evolution, as Din lifts part of his helmet (to the shock of Baby Yoda) to drink water, representative of life. Eventually, he will have to make a choice once and for all and this moment likely foreshadows how he is only part of the way down the path that will lead to the removal of his helmet and new identity.
The red warns of danger ahead. It’s no coincidence that Darth Maul’s face is red, nor is it that Sith lightsaber blades are red. This color will make you bleed, as a Sith does his kyber crystal. The Mandalorian doesn’t have lightsabers (yet?) to warn us, but it has lava. Anger, frustration, pain. Lava is either that which is about to explode or that which has exploded to destroy everything in its path. This frustration is multilayered for our intrepid hero, as he simultaneously struggles with his identity and the re-established threat of Moff Gideon, who is still on the hunt for “The Asset.”
Blue, in contrast, speaks of trust, stability, peace, and relaxation. It makes sense that this color would make its presence known, with Navarro being Din Djarin’s comfort zone and the home of his old friends. Greef Karga and Cara Dune both have Din’s trust and loyalty, even though neither of the relationships started that way. John Favreau reminds the audience of that by bringing back the Mythrol The Mandalorian hunted in the first episode of the series. Oh, and did we mention how the Mythrol’s loyalties are spilt too, just like Din’s? As Jyn Erso would say, “Trust goes both ways.”
With the ability to utilize the volume (the digital dome screen on which the show is filmed), actually building a physical set for the shows has to be completely and totally thought out. This is true for every show or movie, but especially so when only a few sets are actually being built. They stand out in the creative process, and thus should attract the attention of the audience.
One such set piece that can all too easily be taken for granted is the pillars at the entrance of the city on Nevarro. As a structural, in-universe piece of architecture it is completely useless. It connects to nothing, but symbolizes so much.
First is the duality idea bringing itself around once more, with the two pillars being connected showing the need for unity between two sides. Such structures have permeated history, present in religions for centuries. For the sake of simplicity, and it being possibly the most relevant to this story, the Christian tradition should be the focus as it regards these pillars. In Christianity, two pillars were set at the entrance of Solomon’s temple. This temple became the centerpiece of Jewish life, constructed to bring the people from slaves to nomads to permanent residents. It was home, not just for the people but for their God. In a way, Nevarro is The Mandalorian’s temple. It was here that he had his first rebirth, where he began his new life as a father, hero, and protagonist of Mandalorian culture. It is here he returns when he needs help.
The pillars of Solomon’s temple were paying homage to the divine leadership that brought them from enslavement to their permanent home, one side representing stability, while the other represented establishment. The divine was present. The divine in Star Wars? That’s right, the Force. As the Force brought together Rey, Finn, and Poe, its brought together Greef Carga , Cara Dune, Din Djarin in the temple of Nevarro.
Speaking of Cara Dune, there is a duality to consider in her presentation. But first, Cobb Vanth. While the savior of Mos Pelgo wasn’t in this particular episode, having Cara Dune being called “Marshal” as Vanth was in Chapter 9 is setting up a dichotomy between the two. While Din Djarin tries to figure out who he really is, it is possible that these two, who show loyalty, bravery, and good core at the heart of a gruff exterior, could be the two pillars upon which Din builds his new religion.
Expectation vs. Reality
One final duality exists throughout the episode, that of expectation vs. reality. Din is finding the balance between what he expects a Mandalorian to be and what a Mandalorian really is.
The battle between expectation and reality is front and center in the portion of the show from which it derives its name, “The Seige”. With each progression through the Imperial facility, Din and Friends learn more and more about what has really been happening on Nevarro. At the center of all of this is The Child, who is wanted because of the “M count” in his blood. (That’s right, midi-chlorians baby!) This redefines Din’s journey with The Child, especially when taking into consideration the bodies (possibly Snoke bodies if the music is any indication) that will need his blood and the revelation, at least for The Mandalorian, that Moff Gideon is alive.
Gideon makes an appearance to close the episode. As the camera pans out to show rows of what appears to be Dark Troopers, the expectation of the audience is changed, too.
The reality is that this fight is bigger than Din Djarin could have possibly imagined.
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