Chapter 3 of “The Mandalorian” is now on DisneyPlus, and it’s the one that changes everything. The Madalorian (aka “Mando”) commits a ‘sin’ that alters the course of his life…
Mando (Pedro Pascal) has finally acquired his ward-won prize; a 50-year old ‘child’ of the same species as former Jedi Master Yoda, referred to as “Baby Yoda” in many corners of the interwebs. In Chapter 2, the force-sensitive toddler saved Mando’s life during a struggle with a deadly ‘mudhorn’ by levitating the beast, allowing Mando to kill it.
Chapter 3 opens with Mando safely back aboard his ship, the Razor Crest, returning to the Guild planet to collect his reward. As Baby Yoda plays with the knob on one of Mando’s ship controls, he tells the infant, “It’s not a toy.” Despite Mando’s terseness, we see a bond building between he and the baby. That we feel such emotion from Mando is quite an acting challenge, and Pedro Pascal continues to amaze with his ability to project a full character using only vocals and body language.
Landing at the Guild planet, Mando takes the baby’s hover-pod through the ramshackle town, carefully looking out for any rival bounty hunter who might seek to snatch the toddler from his custody in order to collect the reward.
Mando arrives to collect from The Client (Werner Herzog) and Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi). Pershing carefully scans the toddler, and confirms that it is in good health. The Client and Dr. Pershing are pleased, though their plans for the child seem somewhat less-than-nurturing.
The Client (once again) pays the bounty in a huge sum of stolen Mandalorian beskar, that rare precious metal used to make Mandalorian body armor. The beskar was stolen (and stamped) by Imperial forces when the Empire raided the planet Mandalore. Per the Bounty Hunter Guild code, Mando accepts the Client’s payment without question, despite his strong misgivings about the fate of Baby Yoda.
Hidden within the city is the hidden foundry of the “Armorer” (Emily Swallow), where a group of surviving Mandalorians accuse Mando of collaboration with the Imperial remnants by his acceptance of tainted beskar. Mando and the Armorer see the money as reclaiming a birthright what was wrongfully taken from their people. A fellow Mandalorian taunts and challenges Mando to combat. Their altercation is quickly stalemated, as the Armorer (whom we first met in Chapter One) begins melting down the beskar, creating new (and more conspicuous) body armor for Mando. She also provides Mando with a small cache of valuable ‘whistling birds’ (more on that later).
Guild boss Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) is now a wealthy man, proudly and loudly proclaiming Mando as his ‘new partner’ in front of the other Guild bounty hunters. Wanting no accolades for turning over a child for blood money, Mando just wants another assignment quickly. Greef obliges, giving him a bounty for a Mon Calamari bail jumper. When Mando asks Greef how many other bounty hunters were assigned fobs to find Baby Yoda, Greef answers without hesitation, “All of them!” Greef has no qualms about accepting the Mandalorian beskar either, showing off a few bars of his own commission tucked away in his front jacket pocket. When Mando tells hims of his concerns about the Empire operating within the city, Greef dismisses the rumors, reiterating that the Empire is gone… but that if Mando has worries, he should file a complaint to the New Republic. Mando retorts, “That’s a joke.”
With that single line of dialogue, Mando confirms the bureaucratic state of politics following the Galactic Civil War of the Star Wars Original Trilogy; this political logjam seems to have created a power vacuum within the Star Wars universe, and fragments of the Empire (mainly ex-stormtrooper mercenaries and warlords) are seeking to fill it. This vacuum sows the seeds for the First Order’s eventual rise to power in the 30-odd years between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.”
With his shiny new armor, Mando heads back to the Razor Crest. Within its cockpit, he begins the power-up sequence for launch. Glancing at the control knob that Baby Yoda was playing with earlier, he is stricken by an attack of conscience. Mando has made up his mind, and he aborts the launch sequence.
Using infrared scanning equipment within his helmet’s visor, Mando spies on The Client and Dr. Pershing, confirming that both are present within their compound. He is also able to overhear their conversations regarding the baby. Mando is going to commit ‘the sin’ by violating the Guild code, snatching Baby Yoda back from the Client (from whom he’s already accepted payment). Mando does a ‘ding dong ditch’ by ripping a door sentry droid out from its socket in order to draw the mercenary stormtroopers out into the open. It works.
Mando then blows the door into the compound. A firefight begins. Mando takes the individual troopers down one at a time with relative ease, as the stormtroopers are no match for the Mandalorian’s skill set…
… that is, until he is surrounded. He carefully sets his blaster down onto the floor, along with the baby (wrapped in swaddling). Mando rises, hands up, but not before setting off his “whistling birds”… tiny rocket darts that independently fire off in the direction of the surrounding stormtroopers, killing them all. Other members of Greef’s Guild are immediately notified of Mando’s assault, and Greef then leads a party of hunters to bring him in. A massive firefight ensues, with Mando taking out a few of his former rivals turned enemies. But the numbers against Mando soon become overwhelming, and Greef tells Mando he’ll take the baby and accept his surrender.
Mando and Baby Yoda have no choice, and the lone Mandalorian prepares to surrender, until a squadron of the previously hidden Mandalorians suddenly appear, flying over the scene with both weapons and rocket-packs firing! With their aerial advantage, the Mandalorians take out the surrounding mercenaries, giving Mando and Baby Yoda a chance to escape, but at the cost of their own anonymity and safety.
Mando thanks his brethren, telling them that they will now have to find a new hiding place. They accept that fact (“it is the way”), urging Mando to take off with the baby. Mando and the infant run up the ramp into the Razor Crest, where a hidden Greef Karga jumps out from behind him with his blaster fixed on the outlaw Mandalorian. Greef tells his former ‘partner’ that Mando “broke the code” by snatching the prize for himself after he accepted payment. With Greef’s blaster on him, Mando is unable to escape… but he has one final trick up his armored sleeve; he activates his ship’s carbon freezing unit (which we saw him use on a fugitive in Chapter One). The unit creates a cloud of steam which obscures Greef’s line of sight. Mando uses that momentary advantage and shoots Greef, who falls off of the Razor Crest’s boarding ramp as it takes off. On the ground, we see a ‘dead’ Greef awaken, pulling a charred bar of beskar out from his jacket; the beskar protected him from the deadly force of Mando’s blaster bolt. This ain’t over…
As the Razor Crest gains altitude, Mando glances out his cockpit window to see a fellow Mandalorian flying with his rocket-pack. The self-propelled Mandalorian salutes Mando (in a nod to either “Superman: The Movie” or “The Rocketeer”, take your pick). Mando gets the last (best) line, “I’ve got to get one of those.”
The short-lived, ahead-of-its-time “space-western” TV series “Firefly” (2002) and its sequel film “Serenity” (2005) were sort of a dry run for DisneyPlus’ “The Mandalorian.” “Firefly” creator Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “The Avengers”) once described his “Firefly” show as a weekly Han Solo TV series. Now that lineage comes full circle, as Star Wars itself appears to be following a plot line similar to the TV series it inspired. Just as Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) once risked his outlaw crew’s very existence by shielding powerful psychic fugitive River Tam (Summer Glau) from the authorities, Mando has done the same; risking his life and livelihood (and fellow Mandalorians) to save the powerfully force-sensitive Baby Yoda from the hands of The Client and Dr. Pershing (as well as the remnants of the Empire).
“Firefly” certainly didn’t create the age-old story of outlaws protecting an important innocent, but the space-western TV series format it tried to pioneer has certainly been revived by “The Mandalorian.” Star Wars itself was originally inspired by both American westerns and the films of Japanese filmmaking legend Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa’s own canon (“Seven Samurai” “Yojimbo”) similarly inspired many American westerns (“The Magnificent Seven,” Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” trilogy). As Darth Vader might say, “The circle is now complete.”
Committing to “The Sin.”
Written by series’ creator Jon Favreau and smartly directed by Deborah Chow, “The Sin” marks a turning point in this young streaming series, evolving its mysterious lead character from an amoral bounty hunter into a morally righteous outlaw himself. Yes, Mando’s “sin” is against the code of the Bounty Hunters Guild, but it’s still the right thing to do; a fact that his fellow surviving Mandalorians recognize, risking their safety by compromising their sanctuary on the Guild planet. Mando no longer exists outside of the right and wrong equation; he’s thrown in his lot with the baby that saved his own life, and there’s no turning back now.
I honestly can’t wait to see where the story goes next…