Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore did something that absolutely surprised me. No, it wasn’t just the big reveal at the end or all the cool callbacks to the Clone Wars (which were all great by the way). It did something that seems to be fundamentally changing the format of The Mandalorian going forward. What was this great thing you might ask?
Din finished his side quest to get a droid to go with him to Mandalore in one episode! Okay, okay, I know this sounds silly, but I do think this is a big deal, and here’s why.
When it came to seasons one and two of The Mandalorian, the format of those seasons were an episodic, adventure of the week format. Plot-wise, this wasn’t the most exciting thing for a lot of fans. A lot of those episodes often got the dreaded “filler” title thrown onto them. There was a reason for this kind of storytelling, though, which was very purposeful.
It helped set the stage for this time period. We’re in a post Original Trilogy era but not quite into the Sequel Trilogy yet. It’s a transitional time for the galaxy as the regular people are still getting used to the New Republic and their ways. Greef Karga and Din Djarin both scoff about the new government trying to have jurisdiction in the Outer Rim in the very first episode of the series. There is still an Imperial remnant as it transitions into the First Order peppered into all of this too. We see with characters like Carson Teva how and why the New Republic will eventually fail. The episodic format of the first two seasons with all of its side quests lets us explore both new and familiar locations to get an idea of what is happening in the galaxy.
There has also been a large cast of colorful characters to explore as well. Many regulars like Greef, Peli Motto, Mig Mayfeld, and more were introduced in these adventures to be later built upon when needed as recurring characters. Big players like Bo-Katan Kryze, the Armorer, Boba Fett, and Fennec Shand were introduced in this way and ended up being incredibly important to the overarching story. Thematically, every one of these people plays some sort of role in Din and Grogu’s story.
Who are the most important part of all of this. The episodic nature of the first two seasons allowed us to get to know Din and Grogu as people. We watched their relationship grow over that time which is important. If Din walked in with the Darksaber episode one of the series with no explanation, all of us fans would be like, “Whoa, wait. Who is this guy? Why does he have that!?” We also needed to know the background of why he is this specific type of Mandalorian and why his creed is important to him as a character. Episodic shows are great at character building because of the fact that they are usually character driven. Yes, these episodes did slowly set the stage for the bigger narrative. But what it did far more importantly is let us get to know Din as a person and see why he is worthy of being the protagonist.
Now in the third season, we don’t need all the side quests anymore. “The Mines of Mandalore” wrapped up the entire search for IG-11’s part in the first few minutes because it’s a story that’s not really needed anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the IG-11 thread will come back around at some point. It is a shift in the storytelling though. We immediately get to Mandalore in episode two. The show is diving right into the big narrative with no more hesitation. We don’t need side quests anymore, because the audience knows who Din and Grogu are now. They’ve been built up and it’s time to hit the thruster and fly right into the big stuff.
It’s great to see this shift. While I’m sure there will be a side quest here and there for the rest of the series, I think “The Mines of Mandalore” has introduced a new format. We’re seeing the shift from an episodic kind of storytelling into a serial one. It’s a very welcomed change to the show and I’m ready to see the story take off this season.