Prior to the release of the first season, The Mandalorian was expected to be the edgy, gritty show that a faction of Star Wars fans have been calling for since the vanishing act that was the video game 1313, which would explore the underbelly of the capital ecumenopolis Coruscant.
Instead, they got a story about family. This is Star Wars, after all. That is not to say that Star Wars lacks pain. Tragedy. Chapter 14 of The Mandalorian lived up to its name. Reminiscent of Chapter 7, Grogu is now in the hands of the Imperials and all bets are off. As Sherlock Holmes would put it, “The game is afoot.” Like Mr. Holmes, one must look beyond the surface layer of action and drama to find the true meaning, foreshadowing, and symbolism.
LIKE A ROCK
This episode got a bit rocky (yep, I went there) to say the least. After being instructed to do so by Ahsoka Tano, Din Djarin and Grogu make it to the planet of Tython. In the Star Wars Legends timeline, Tython was the original home of the Je’daii, the precursor to the Jedi Order audiences are familiar with. That idea has been maintained in the episode, with the Seeing Stone being the centerpiece of the faith.
Faith is an important element to consider with regards to the Jedi, as George Lucas very clearly displayed that the failure of the Jedi came thanks to a focus on the worldly rather than the Force. Rocks are symbols of strength, stability, and faith. In Christianity, God and Jesus are both referred to as rocks, as is the apostle Peter. In fact, Peter means “rock” and thus when Jesus told Peter, “On this rock I will build my church.” he is bestowing upon him a form of holiness. Jesus is choosing the man upon which an entire culture will be established. Being that one of the major questions of this season regards what it means to be a Mandalorian, such symbolism is not accidental. Grogu and Din are going to, somehow, be the rock upon which a new Mandalorian religion will be constructed.
WELCOME TO STAR WARS STONEHENGE
Stonehenge is one of the great mysteries of our galaxy. Scholars now agree that it was a burial site of some form, but the how and why of it have baffled people for generations. Stonehenge is a testament to the core fortitude of humanity, as the Tython temple is a testament to the core goodness of the Jedi Order.
While the science behind Stonehenge is compelling, the myths surrounding it are equally fascinating. One such myth says, “there was a battle during the fifth century in which many British nobles were killed fighting against the Saxons. The nobles were buried on Salisbury Plain (the modern-day location of Stonehenge). The king, Aureoles Ambrosias, wanted to build a memorial to honor the fallen nobles.“ Insert Jedi for noble and you have a compelling background for what this version of Stonehenge could mean.
Another, however, is a darker tale. “The story tells that an elderly Irish woman originally owned the stones used to build Stonehenge. The Devil wanted the stones, so he disguised himself as a man and worked out a deal with the woman. In return for the stones, he agreed to pay her as many gold coins as she could count before he finished moving them. The woman thought it would take him a long time to move the stones and therefore she would be able to keep a great deal of the gold, so she agreed. The Devil then used his powers to instantly move the stones to England, cheating the woman of any gold. After he had moved the stones to England, the Devil claimed that nobody could guess the number of stones in the monument. A strong and wise friar, however, guessed correctly. The Devil threw a stone at him in a fit of anger, and it hit the friar on the heel, denting the stone. The stone depicted in the legend is known as the Heel Stone. It sits near Stonehenge.”
This season has been full of allusions of the darkness inside Grogu. He eats the eggs of Frog Lady. He struggles with the blue and red, light and dark side, wires. Ahsoka even reiterates the words Yoda said to Anakin as she looks into Grogu’s heart. “I sense much fear in you.” The potential that this location will set him down the dark path could be the deepest tragedy of all.
John Favreau and Dave Filoni have clearly shown, be it visually or in the story itself, that they are getting back to the roots of what Star Wars has always been about: family. That may never have been truer than in this episode, where the relationships of fathers and sons, combined with the struggles of identity and belonging, are at the forefront.
As the episode starts, Din says, “We’re going to find that place you belong and they’re going to take good care of you.” While he’s saying it to Grogu, there is a sense that he’s really trying to convince himself. He’s struggling to accept the identity of Grogu. Multiple times he calls him “kid”, which could be brushed off as a nickname save for Ahsoka correcting Din in the last episode. It’s as if Djarin wants to keep Grogu at arm’s length so neither of them get hurt.
That separation, however, will hurt them both. As Grogu meditates and the blue Forcefield surrounds him, their bond is quite literally separated. Din cannot get through to Grogu when Grogu is beholden to the identity of a Jedi. Attachments are forbidden.
Nonetheless,Din Djarin is Grogu’s father, and Grogu his son. They are a clan of two. Clan Mudhorn. Each reflects the other, in the same way Boba Fett mirrors his father, and clone template, Jango Fett. Boba could tell Din the pain that comes with the bond being broken.
Faverau doesn’t even try to be subtle in his presentation of this. Boba quotes Jango Fett’s most famous line, “I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.” To add the proverbial cherry, Boba also quotes the most important line Luke Skywalker has in the original trilogy, “Like my father before me.” Instead of a Jedi, though, Fett is saying he is a Mandalorian like his father, who was a foundling like Din Djarin.
Din’s perception of what a Mandalorian is has broadened across this season. It started with him demanding the armor from a non-Mando, Cobb Vanth. When Bo-Katan removes her helmet, he immediately jets off without considering the possibility of her being a different kind of Mandalorian. She shows him, however, that she is. Boba Fett, now officially a Mandalorian, benefited from the lesson Bo-Katan taught Din. Unlike with Cobb Vanth, Djarin doesn’t immediately demand Fett take the armor off. Instead, he actually gives his blessing. If he can redefine what a Mandalorian can be, he’ll be able to redefine what a family can be.
That might be Grogu’s only hope….