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Everyone loves the cool-headed, no-nonsense gunslinger. And, so far, that’s exactly what The Mandalorian has delivered us, in the guise of Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) – Star Wars’s clearest answer to “Man with No Name” from Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy.
He’s got his strict code of honour. He’s gruff, a little mysterious. And in a stand-off, he’ll shoot you down before you even draw breath. But in the show’s latest venture, titled “The Heiress”, Din meets a trio of fighters who end up challenging even his most sacred beliefs. It’s a small, but provocative piece of character development.
He owes his life to The Tribe, the group of Mandalorians we met on Nevarro – they took him in when he was a child, left behind with nothing and no one. All his life, he’s told himself that “This is the way”. But what happens when he sees his world from someone else’s perspective?
This isn’t episode three’s biggest talking point, not by a long shot. But its inclusion feels important. “The Heiress” finally lets us in on The Mandalorian’s larger game plan, especially when it comes to the future of the Darksaber, the mysterious weapon first revealed in the season one finale. Hardcore fans have likely already guessed what (and, more importantly, who) this was all leading to – it’s essentially a continuation of a key plot point from The Clone Wars animated series, ending in what should be a fandom-shaking reveal next week.
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“The Heiress” will inevitably divide audiences. The Mandalorian felt fresh in season one because it stayed relatively self-contained. That’s not quite true anymore. Between Cobb Vanth, Boba Fett’s likely return, and this new set of events, the series is now sprouting connections at every turn. It’s right to worry that these decisions might cheapen the show.
And yet, Jon Favreau, its creator, has made some smart moves here. Mainly, these story beats haven’t been consciously played up as major twists. Compare the still mysterious reveal at the end of “The Marshal” with the self-congratulatory way Solo reintroduced Darth Maul or The Rise of Skywalker handled Palpatine’s return. Did those moments actually serve any real purpose beyond instant recognition?
Here, there’s a tangible sense that Din is being pulled into a world that will fundamentally change him. It’s fan service that actually has a profound effect on the story.
It helps that “The Heiress” still shades in those unknown parts of the post-Empire galaxy. We’re introduced to, for example, the Star Wars equivalent of a New England fishing town, somewhere on Mon Cala – the homeworld of the Mon Calamari (Admiral Ackbar’s species) and the squid-like Quarren. Here, they’re all dressed in waders and chunky-knit jumpers, complete with hearty accents that make them all sound like Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse.
Din also, at one point, ends up on an Imperial Gozanti-class freighter, loaded with stolen weapons. Here, we see Imperial soldiers now broken and defeated – not quite the threat they once were, but dangerous in their hopelessness.
Bryce Dallas Howard, who also directed season one’s “The Sanctuary”, has been particularly adept at handling The Mandalorian’s more sentimental moments. Here, she gets to round off Frog Lady’s narrative in a simple, but sweetly affecting way.
The character even gets to teach Baby Yoda, aka the Child, that not everything in Star Wars is a delicious snack. Now that’s growth.
Watch: The Mandalorian S1 recap