Mando is back, which means we finally get what we’ve all come to expect from a season premiere of The Mandalorian: a giant monster lunging out from the depths of a planet and causing chaos. That’s the thing we’ve all been waiting months to see, right?
There’s something important to be learned about Din Djarin’s character from these not-so-infrequent monster battles. He’s no witcher, but his evolving relationship to these creatures is revealing. Let’s recap.
In the season one premiere, aptly titled “The Mandalorian,” a Ravinak breaks through the ice on the planet Pagodon, gobbling up both the unlucky speeder pilot and his speeder just after they’ve dropped Mando off at his ship. The monster nearly takes Mando and his bounty down, too—those enormous tusks digging into the Razor Crest—but the veteran bounty hunter shakes the creature off with a shock from his Amban sniper rifle, and they get underway.
In the season two premiere, “The Marhsall,” Din Djarin finds himself on Tatooine in the company of the titular Marhsall—Cobb Vanth—the townsfolk of Mos Pelgo and a clan of Tusken Raiders. They’re going head-to-head with an honest-to-goodness Krayt dragon that’s been wreaking havoc on the local communities. This time, they’re actually looking for the monster; they bait it out. Rather than bursting through ice, this time around our requisite featured creature bursts through sand. Din quite nearly sacrifices himself—not to mention an explosive-laden Bantha—to bring the dragon down.
Which brings us to season three and “The Apostate.” This time around, Mando isn’t present for the monster’s grand entrance. Instead, it’s the Armorer and her followers who get the front-row seats. She’s just nearly completed the initiation rite to welcome a new member into the Mandalorian cult, the Children of the Watch. And then…bursting out of the water…
MONSTER ALLIGATOR TURTLE DINOSAUR WATER CREATURE ATTACK!
The Mandalorians are surprisingly ill-equipped to deal with this thing. They’re getting knocked around left and right. Even the Armorer finds herself knee deep in the surf.
But hang on. What’s that? A customized N-1 Starfighter? The silver one? Cue the music.
Pew pew pew and there are alligator dino guts everywhere.
So, what’s the lesson here? The galaxy is a dangerous place to be sure. Bounty hunting is a complicated profession. There are monsters everywhere, and no one’s got the time to catch them all.
But it’s more than that. Each season, we’ve seen Mando engage these creatures for markedly different reasons—and I think that’s the key.
In season one, Mando is in it for himself. He’s got to get that bounty back to Greef Karga so he can collect. If blue-faced Mythrol is eaten by a Ravinak, Din’s not going to get his money. What kind of bounty hunter would he be if he let his quarry get all dinged up by Ravinak tusks? There are no tears shed for our fallen speeder pilot; there is solely cold-blooded focus on accomplishing the task at hand.
But Mando grows, right? That’s the whole point of season one. He goes from this guy who’s in it just for himself to a guy who might actually be concerned about the plight of others—the proverbial speeder pilots of life.
And so, in season two, it makes sense that the stakes of the krayt dragon battle are necessarily communal. Sure, it’s all part of Mando’s quest to return Grogu to his people: He fights the dragon to get the armor to get a lead on a Mandalorian who might bring him to a Jedi. But Din chose a particularly perilous path to get to that end, essentially brokering a peace deal between two warring parties by way of uniting them against a common, monstrous foe. Here, he doesn’t escape as soon as it’s convenient; he goes into the literal belly of the beast in order to bring peace out to a small corner of the galaxy.
That’s the point of season two, right? How is Mando dealing with his responsibly toward others: other Mandalorians, members of the New Republic, the Jedi, fellow bounty hunters and, of course, Grogu? What is he willing to sacrifice of himself for someone else?
Now, we see Din returning to the very Mandalorians who rejected him, the ones who said he could no longer hang out with them because he’d taken off his helmet. And what does he do? He saves them. There’s no money in it; he really owes them nothing. According to them, he’s not even part of the team anymore.
But that doesn’t seem to matter to Din. He saves them anyway. His loyalties and responsibilities go beyond a small sect now. Will that be the theme of this season—Din finding a new identity not by rejecting his Mandalorian roots but by transcending, maybe even redeeming, them?
All I know is that I hope we don’t have to wait until the premiere of season four to see a Mythosaur.