Welcome to Trench Run, a column in which we’ll explore a single moment in this sprawling saga to see what it has to say about Star Wars, the story, and us. Today we’re discussing a moment in the conversation between the Armorer, Grogu, and Din Djarin in the premiere of The Mandalorian‘s third season.
The Armorer offered the most emotional moment in The Mandalorian‘s Season 3 premiere– and it happened when she didn’t say a word.
First, we need to talk about why and how this lady outclasses every single woman ever appearing in any fashion in the Star Wars universe. The matriarch of Din Djarin’s covert charged into battle against a bomb-proof ninjagatorturtle with nothing but tongs and a hammer and expected that to go well. Then, with several members of her clan still under digestion, she asked her favorite apostate to take a seat and calmly addressed what he had to say about taking a mystic bath. WHY ISN’T THIS WOMAN ON EVERY SHIRT IN EVERY DISNEY STORE IN AMERICA.
A Cute Noise Accuses
Not only that, she manages to have a conversation of sorts with Baby Yoda– another apostate, but to the Jedi. No one is talking about this, and yet it’s some of the most significant character interaction in the entire series. When The Armorer reminded Din that he was no longer Mandalorian because he had removed his helmet, Grogu immediately turned to his father.
This was news to Baby Yoda.
He made a cute noise, which most people probably didn’t get past, but that cute noise started low and ended high. Thirty years of careful examination of R2D2 audio tells me he was asking a question. There was a certain conversation The Mandalorian hadn’t yet had with his child.
It’s not clear exactly where we are in the galaxy timeline, but we probably aren’t long past the moment when little Grogu made the astonishing choice for a new outfit over a phosphorescent side arm and the ability to lift unlimited frogs from unlimited ponds.
“What the f%$^&, Dad?”
The sound lasted less than a second, but it was stuffed with ten tons of “What the f%$^&, Dad?” Grogu had chosen a life as a Mandalorian over the only one he ever knew– as a Jedi– and Din Djarin hadn’t told him that he wasn’t even a Mandalorian anymore.
And Grogu, for all his playful cookie stealing, was old enough and observant enough to understand that his rescue probably had something to do with it.
Watch this scene again. Din glanced down at Grogu as Grogu looked up at him, and I am telling you guys, underneath that helmet, he was fifty shades of I Learned It From Watching You Face. So he did what every good father with an interpersonal communication problem does and changed the subject. And now we’re in a redemption conversation.
Baby Yoda, meanwhile, probably would have gone with Din even if he didn’t have a covert or a job or even a bed to sleep in– none of which, come to think of it, he does. He bought the bearer of The Darksaber when his stock was at its lowest, and this kid ain’t letting go.
The Adorable Frog-Eating Hinge
When Din and the Armorer both take a bench to talk terms and planet devastation, Grogu sits between them. The camera shows a connection between all three characters, and the baby is the crux of it. Grogu is the hinge of this moment and the entire series. The Armorer brought them together by declaring them a Clan of Two, but the quest she gave one of the Mandalorians in her care brought about the rescue of one and the destruction of the other.
And even while Din is speaking of Jawas and non-dead travelers, Grogu is mostly turned towards Auntie Armorer. He probably knows that she partially got Din into this mess– but she can also authorize his way out.
And here, my friends, is where The Armorer really does all her talking. After Din flat-out says he will turn his face towards a high possibility of death to undergo the Mandalorian equivalent of confession and absolution, she says nothing. She thinks about it– she who had just plunged headlong into a sea choppy with a 100% chance of death by chomping.
This show is at its best, sometimes, when it is at its most quiet.
And after some long seconds of gazing at Din Djarin– and who can blame her– the matriarch turns her head to look at Grogu. She knows that this is the child “whose safety had deemed such destruction,” and she’s savvy enough to discern that the destruction had also included his father’s Mandalorian identity.
So, to give The Child a wider family, a continuation of his clan, and his own life as a Mandalorian, the Armorer sends Din and his old baby on their way to the living waters. And for the first time in three seasons, an utterance of hers curves upward. Until this moment, The Armorer had only spoken in declarative, down-note sentences– even direct questions–as befits her authority.
But now, just as Grogu has spoken to Mando with a rising pitch, so does she. She answers, “This is The Way,” (Fine, go for it!) not “This is The Way.” (Get your apostate Beskared self out of this covert.)
Four Words and Two Looks
Four words and two glances– one from a puppet, and one from a helmet– are setting an entirely new course for this series. It was practically on an Andor level.
It’s dumb to hold a baptism knee-deep in a large body of water that also contains what looks like the unholy offspring of Godzilla and the Florida University mascot.
It’s stupid to cram a band of pirates into a heavily thematic episode with the runtime of an 80’s sitcom.
And it makes zero sense for the mechanically-traumatized Din Djarin to insist upon reawakening a droid who just tried to murder him, his baby, and at least two innocent bystanders. But this episode delivered on significant moments for two characters who are the show’s most mysterious, and that, my friends, is quite the trench run.