THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS
Chapter 18 – “The Mines of Mandalore”
“All right, kid, are you ready for an adventure?” the Mandalorian says to his little green foundling. To be honest, I’m not so sure I’m ready for this adventure, Mando. Din Djarin has been talking about going to Mandalore for a while now to set matters right by reaffirming his oath. I was thinking we were going to see him do this at the very end of season three to draw the story out and allow him to thresh out some side quests and character development and build the anticipation and conflict. Does Din really want to go back to the ‘way,’ or is he terrified that if anything happens to him that Grogu will be orphaned again and not accepted as a foundling since his adoptive father was considered an apostate of the Children of the Watch?
Din and Grogu make a pit stop on Tatooine to see Peli Motto. Din isn’t able to get the part he needs to resurrect IG-11, but Peli sells him a busted R5 unit that has anxiety and is afraid of adventure. This is the same R5 unit that Uncle Owen bought that had a bad motivator in A New Hope. She modifies the N-1 Starfighter again to enable the astromech socket to accommodate R5.
Is he really going to Mandorlore? This feels sudden and abrupt. Traveling to the ‘forbidden’ planet with its rich, conflicted history marred by wars, annihilation, and utter destruction by the Empire seems too easy. Everyone has said the planet was toxic and uninhabitable. Or was it all propaganda to keep people away and assert Imperial dominance over another culture?
My top three picks for noteworthy highlights of Chapter 18:
#3 The Dangers of Mandalore
“It looks scary. I know. But it was once green and beautiful, back when the songs were written. It’s Mandalore. The homeworld of our people. Every Mandalorian can trace their roots back to this planet and the beskar mines deep within.”
Din explains to Grogu a bit of history about Mandalore as they draw closer to the planet. Din admits he’s never been to Mandalore but grew up on its moon, Concordia. Din then shows Grogu on the map where they visited Bo-Katan, explaining, “A Mandalorian needs to understand maps and know their way around; that way, you’ll never be lost.” This scene in the N-1 starfighter cockpit is adorable, a father explaining family history and heritage to his child.
Once they clear the turbulent atmosphere, we get a clear view of its surface. The Empire fusion bombs turned its surface into glass, and there are remnants of twisted, blackened ruins in the distance. One of the larger ruins is the city of Sundari. The destruction was so thorough that Mandalore’s magnet field was disrupted, and anyone on its surface is cut off from communication with the rest of the galaxy. After checking for toxicity and running an analysis, they discover the atmosphere is breathable, and as Din puts it, “Bo-Katan was right. Mandalore is not cursed.”
Din and Grogu make their way down into the ruins of Civic Center after fighting off alien native creatures, the Alamites. This is the first appearance of the Alamites. Din knows the mines are below the civic center and ventures as deep as he can go. They venture into a massive sewer system that leads into deep cavernous tunnels which hold a new lurking hostile foe. A small creature that pilots larger-sized droid bodies capture Din. Grogu flees to get help from Bo-Katan.
Legacy Effects was responsible for constructing this massive droid. Eric Alarid designed the frame. Cary Gunnar welded and built the body with Seth Hays, Ken Cornett, Mark Killingsworth. Rodrick programmed the hydraulics to move the hatch and head. They did a phenomenal job bringing a real threat to Mando to life!
Once they stepped foot on the planet, a whole atmosphere of foreboding and mystery permeated the scenes. According to the galaxy, this planet should be void of life, but they soon find they are not alone. The deep shadows and abandoned ruins add to the air of horror elements with jump scare attacks and Din being prey to a droid monster who wants to add his armor to its collection.
#2 Bo-Katan Returns Home
When the going gets tough, Grogu retreats and goes to Bo-Katan for help. Once Bo-Katan realizes Grogu is alone, she jumps into action to find out what happened to Din. Bo-Katan went from being ready to tell Din Djarin to leave her alone to immediately being ready to come to his rescue once she realized he was in trouble. Bo-Katan and Grogu head back to Mandalore.
“This was once a beautiful civilization. My family ruled it all. Now it’s a tomb.”
Bo-Katan seeing the Civic Center in ruins was a heavy moment. Everything she once knew was gone. Seeing the mighty Mandalorian civilization crumble took its toll on all who once called it home.
As Grogu leads Bo-Katan to where Din is being held, she tells him she once knew quite a few Jedi. “There was a time we actually got along quite well. Fought side by side.” She assumes Grogu must be good with the Force for being resourceful enough to retreat to come and get her help.
They make it to Din and find the small creature in the droid frame stripped Din of the Darksaber. Bo-Katan finds the Darksaber in the sand mid-fight and uses it to dismantle the droid’s boss battle form one, to then have to defeat the droid’s boss battle form two, which is much larger in size.
She is adept in the use of the Darksaber and wields it with grace and confidence. She’s had some experience with this unique weapon in the past, so it must feel like an old friend returning home. Her theme music is my favorite. It’s moody and intense, just like her.
Bo-Katan saves Din and makes a camp near the ruins of the Civic Center so they can rest up. Din is set on getting to the real mines of Mandalore so he can be redeemed. He is so close! Bo-Katan claims there is nothing magic about the living waters. “Without the Creed, what are we? What do we stand for? Our people are scattered like stars in the galaxy. The Creed is how we survived.”
“Look around. There’s nothing left. A great society is now a memory. Nothing to cling to but ashes.”
She agrees to lead him to the Living Waters. On the way, they talk about Mandalore’s fall and the ruins. “It must pain you to see it like this after witnessing its beauty,” Din commiserates. “What pains me is seeing our own kind fight against each other time and time again. It makes us weak,” she corrects.
Maybe Din and Bo-Katan will be able to unite the Mandalorians who are scattered to rebuild their civilization? Maybe Greef Karga will be a great ally in this new endeavor? He has been having great success on Nevarro. The surface of Mandalore being cut off from the rest of the galaxy would hide their numbers and their progress of rebuilding their civilization.
#1 The Mythosaur & The Reaffirmed Oath
Bo-Katan acts as a tour guide as they enter the mines. She reveals she took the Creed as a child and bathed in the waters herself. “The rituals were all just theater for our subjects. They loved watching the Mandalorian princess recite the Mandalorian tenets as her father looked on proudly. Such a heartwarming spectacle.” Bo-Katan is not a believer.
Bo-Katan recites the formal history off of a plaque when they reach the Living Waters: “These mines date back to the age of the first Mandalore. According to ancient folklore, the mines were once a Mythosaur lair. Mandalore the Great is said to have tamed the mythical beast. It is from these legends that the skull signet was adopted and became the symbol of our planet.”
Din takes a moment of contemplation and then removes some of his accessories. As he step-by-step lowers himself into the Living Waters, he starts reciting the oath. As he reaches the end of the oath, he also reaches the end of the stairs. He disappears under the surface of the water, and Bo-Katan is quick to dive in after him. It’s a long way down. She once again rescues Din.
She uses her jetpack to quickly get them back to the surface. On the way up, she catches a glimpse of a massive beast: THE MYTHOSAUR! The waters are dark, but with her headlamp, she is barely able to see its outline, tusks, eyes, and skin. The creature is massive! The legend is real! It’s alive!
Bo-Katan is taken aback by its presence. She is shaken that what she believed to be children’s stories is a reality. Din was unconscious, so he missed the rare view, but maybe Bo-Katan will now become a believer.
This chapter was a lot to process. Din Djarin finally reached Mandalore and, with help from Bo-Katan, was able to reaffirm his oath to be accepted back into the Tribe. The ruins of Mandalore emphasized how much power the Empire had to completely raze a planet, but now that the Empire is gone, will the scattered Mandalorians ever be able to rebuild?
Chapter 18 tied up a lot of loose ends but now raises many questions as to what will Din Djarin and Grogu do next. Will the Mythosaur reappear in the Living Waters? Is the mythical beast Force sensitive? Are Din Djarin and Bo-Katan going to put aside their differences to team up for a greater cause?
We’ll have to wait and see. Let me know what your favorite parts of this episode were in the comments!