The Mandalorian Season 3, Episode 2:
“The Mines of Mandalore” Review
Chapter 18 of The Mandalorian, titled “The Mines of Mandalore” is precisely the kind of episode that should have served as the season premiere. The actual season premiere felt like an unnecessary stopgap to this one, a feeling that this episode double downs on as the first five minutes make most of the plot of “The Apostate” irrelevant. Chapter 17 felt like a prologue to this season, and Chapter 18 feels like the actual start.
This episode sees Mando and Grogu head to the planet Mandalore, long since abandoned and thought to have a toxic atmosphere since the Galactic Empire purged it. Mando needs to step into the living waters of the mines of Mandalore and bring back proof in order to redeem himself for willingly removing his helmet.
Everything you could want out of Star Wars is here. There’s some levity courtesy of the return of Amy Sedaris’ mechanic Peli Motto, there are fun action sequences, great practical creature designs, and Grogu has time not just to be cute but to showcase that he can hold his own when he needs to. Every sequence builds tension, character, or both. It’s a marked improvement over “The Apostate,” which often felt like nothing meaningful was happening.
The heart of the episode is the relationship between Mando and Bo-Katan. She’s quite clearly not in a good place since she lost out on acquiring the Darksaber last season. While she still seems like an ally to Din, the writing and subtle character work suggest she has ulterior motives for helping. It’s clear she feels like she is the rightful holder and the Darksaber and therefore ruler of the Mandalorian people. Though she clearly feels scorned, she isn’t so quick to stop treating Mando like an ally. Much of this is down to Katee Sackhoff’s performance.
From the way she delivers her lines to the way, she looks back at Grogu when he gives her a less-than-trusting look. Bo is a character who is so righteous in the conviction of her beliefs, but Sackhoff plays her with enough of a soft edge to be likable. Her interactions with Din and Grogu function as a wonderful setup for what is poised to be the most important character relationship of the season.
The other thing this episode does exceptionally well is portraying the dichotomy between Mando and Bo but also how similar they are. These are both characters with a staunch belief in their ways as Mandalorians. Mando grew up believing and adhering to the old way; that’s why he’s on this expedition in the first place, while Bo is very much a new school thinker. Their discussions about this are great little set-ups for a potential conflict while functioning and intimate character beats.
Crucially, “The Mines of Mandalore” uses its action sequences not just for fun but to also showcase these two characters. There are separate sequences where each character is fighting the same foes, and it’s here we can clearly see how similarly Mando and Bo fight and how evenly skilled they are but also how they diverge in one key area. The Darksaber. Bo uses it skillfully, while Mando has trouble using it well. The action is fun, but it serves as an excellent visual way to show the different strengths of these characters that may just end up opposing each other.
That’s what this episode is really all about, showcasing these two characters who belong to the same group but with entirely different worldviews. It’s those opposing worldviews that will make for an interesting season whether or not they remain allies. The tension created by those differences will be more than enough to make investing television.
Apart from the story and character moments, the other area where this episode shines is the creature design. The planet of Mandalore has some unexpected dangers that Mando must fight off. The practical design of these creatures is fantastic. The design themselves are great, but the use of practical creatures as opposed to CGI makes the fights feel much more tangible and gives it the classic Star Wars feel.
After a premiere episode that eased us back into the world, we’re finally being thrust along on a real adventure. It may be the second episode of the season, but “The Mines of Mandalore” is where the thrust of the season really kicks off. This is an excellent 40 minutes of Star Wars featuring adventure, action, humor, practical creatures, and terrific character interaction. For season three of The Mandalorian, this is the way.