THE MANDALORIAN “The Sin”: The Cultural Conflict More Interesting Than Being Baby Yoda’s Adoptive Daddy
Even after this bitty bounty “The Asset” — the baby phenomenon dubbed “Baby Yoda” all over social media — used his mysterious power (ahem, The Force, but that’s not stated aloud) to save our helmeted Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), the amoral latter still has his heart set on handing the green cutie pie over the Empire in return for precious metals, the beskar, that could build him a new suit of Mando armor.
Though predictable the outcome finds some compelling angst that drives his decision to go back for the crowning aw-ness that is Baby Yoda and I dare not say more about the chaotic standoff that results from his redemptive rescue.
Perhaps more fascinating than the Mando’s burgeoning dad-connection to Baby Yoda is his conflict with his culture. Throughout the first two episodes, the Mandalorian seems to be holding onto his traditions but “The Sin” really center stages his attempt to regain lost integrity — “My armor lost its integrity. I need to start over.”
Here, we learn that he is both pariah and part of his own Mandalorian culture. He faces resentment from his Mandalorian tribe for working with the very Empire that wiped out the Mandalorian people and bringing ingots with the Empire insignia into sacred Mandalorian space. The Armorer (Emily Swallow) grounds the heated Mandos through stern mediation, reminding them that sometimes you have to negotiate your heritage in order to survive. She passes no judgment on one of her Mando boys bringing home beskar through unscrupulous means.
While the previous “Chapter 2: The Child” directed by Rick Famuyiwa was a Spaghetti Space Western at its best by taking its time even in its tightness with impeccable discipline, episode three does seem to fall back on my pet peeve with Chapter 1: It doesn’t run long enough and the editing doesn’t feel as incisive. My gripe that some scenes deserve to be drawn out for us to breathe in the world and the Mando’s silent contemplations. The sheen of his new armor forged from the dust is a noteworthy moment that deserved more pause before the scene makes an unremarkable cut to a village.
When you consider the Mandalorian sacredness of never removing their helmets, I do feel it was a huge mistake in episode one, and now this episode, to reveal the Mandalorian’s face in the flashback scenes. And if they felt like keeping in the flashbacks, it would have benefited from staging the scenes by concealing the boy’s face. Otherwise, those flashbacks feel they spill too much of its cryptic Mando even though we have yet to see Pascal’s face.
Regardless, by the end of the episode, the Mando regains his honor. This episode cements his rebirth of heritage and honor. Baby Yoda is a mere supporting player in this story, becoming his Foundling and saving the Founding within this man.
Of note, The Mandalorian marks a milestone of being a piece of Star Wars screen media directed by a woman, Deborah Chow (also off to be showrunner for the Kenobi spin-off starring Ewan McGregor).