Star Wars loves a title with more than one meaning. Return of the Jedi applied to both Luke reviving the Order and the redemption of Anakin Skywalker. The Force Awakens was about Rey discovering her powers and Kylo Ren fully embracing the dark side. And The Last Jedi could be interpreted as meaning Luke and Rey. The same way The Rise of Skywalker was simultaneously about Rey and Ben Solo. Yet, despite knowing the franchise’s penchant for a moniker with multiple layers, it took until The Mandalorian‘s eleventh episode for the show’s name to suggest at a double reading. After encountering more of his kind, it’s possible Din Djarin is not just the Mandalorian of the show.
He could be thee Mandalorian, the one who will finally unite his people and return their home to glory.
“The Heiress” did more than just introduce Bo-Katan Kryze to the live-action side of the galaxy far, far away. It also opened up the series to the tortured history of Mandalore. Bo’s own story in the franchise is one of fighting for her people, no matter the method or personal cost. Through her we know the sad history of her home.
Bo was a member of the terrorist sect Death Watch. The group wanted the planet to return to its warrior traditions after a new leader embraced pacifism. Bo-Katan then turned on the sect when Darth Maul became both leader and shadow ruler of Mandalore. The Empire then soon took over and ravaged the planet. Bo did return to her home world years later to serve as leader of her people, during a time when she wielded the Darksaber. However, we now know that was only a fleeting moment during a never-ending tide of upheaval on Mandalore. “Once the Empire knew they couldn’t control it, they made sure no one else could either.” Chaos is why Mandalorians are now spread out across the galaxy, “hidden like sand rats.”
But Mandalore’s problems are all a result of fighting among its own people. Death Watch fought against the planet’s new peaceful ways under the rule of Duchess Satine Kryze, Bo-Katan’s sister. And that dramatically different way of life only came about after an extended civil war on Mandalore. Self-fighting splintered the planet in the first place, and its people never fully reconciled. That left it vulnerable to power-hungry outsiders like Darth Maul and Palpatine. They played Mandalorians against one another, then used Mandalore to further their own interests at the expense of the planet’s people.
Mandalore’s brief unification under Bo-Katan didn’t save the people or its planet. Moff Gideon acquired the Darksaber and Imperial forces left Mandalore in ruins. Things are so bad at this point in the Star Wars timeline that Din Djarin considers the planet “cursed.” Mandalorians now operate in small, secret groups around the galaxy, unknown even to one another.
We also saw that Mandalorians are still divided in meaningful ways even when they come together. Remnants of Death Watch rescued Din. The break-off group is simply known as Children of the Watch. These “religious zealots” as Bo called them embrace their civilization’s ancient ways. Death Watch members removed their helmets like most Mandalorians. The Children of Watch does not. It appears that, after the group lost its way, it responded by gripping even tighter to its culture’s oldest traditions. “This is the way” Din Djarin was taught, so much so he couldn’t believe a true Mandalore-born warrior like Bo-Katan could really be one of his own kind.
Growing up in a sect is also why he knows nothing of the Jedi, despite Mandalore’s long history with the Order and other Force users. Din Djarin, a man so completely dedicated to living to the highest ideals of Mandalorian tradition, doesn’t know much about the civilization’s recent past. It’s like an American soldier today not knowing about the Civil War, the World Wars, or the Vietnam War.
He might not be ignorant for much longer though. Events in his life are conspiring to bring him closer to Mandalore’s past, present, and future.
Even before Bo-Katan showed up The Mandalorian was on track to crossover with Star Wars‘ animated shows. In his search for The Child’s “kind,” Din Djarin could be the one who finds the missing Jedi Ezra Bridger from Star Wars Rebels. That quest will soon bring him to Ezra’s friend and ally, the former Jedi Ahsoka Tano. She too has a deep history with Mandalore, Bo-Katan, and the planet’s constant battles. She is also a close friend of Rebels‘ own Mandalorian hero, Sabine Wren. Sabine cared so much about her home world she once left her friends and the Rebel Alliance to protect it. Like Bo, there’s nothing Sabine won’t do to help Mandalore once again.
Din’s quest to bring Baby Yoda to the Jedi is bringing together multiple, important characters from the animated shows. Each with an intimate connection to a broken Mandalore. It’s a fitting place for the live-action series to end up since Mandalore—and all its problems—was a major part of both The Clone Wars and Rebels.
Bo-Katan and Din Djarin don’t follow the exact same Mandalorian traditions. But each lives their life dedicated to greater Mandalorian way of life. It’s a creed that binds all true Mandalorians together. It’s why the Children of the Watch covert came to Din’s rescue in season one. Just like Bo-Katan and her group came to Din’s twice. Mandalorians are like a loving, dysfunctional family. They don’t always get along, but they show up for each other when it matters most. And, like the Empire knows, Mandalorians are at their strongest when they are united. Now the galaxy is bringing together Mandalorian warriors at Mandalore’s greatest hour of need.
We’ve been thinking of The Mandalorian as a show about a lone bounty hunter making his way in the galaxy. And so far it has been. But the show’s title might have been hiding a second meaning this whole time. Din Djarin might be on a journey to finally unite his people for the first time in a long time. And if he does that he will be thee Mandalorian.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike, and also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.