Every Tuesday, Nate from @nateflixandchill_ will be revisiting The Mandalorian starting at the very beginning.
Hello there. If this is your first time clicking on The Mando Rewatch, my name is Nate, and over the past several weeks I have been revisiting The Mandalorian, starting from the very beginning. This week, I will be doing a deep dive into the key moments and thematic significance of “Chapter 11: The Heiress.” This is a spoiler-heavy recap. So, if you choose to read on, then I hope that you have not only seen this episode, but the rest of the series as well. It also helps if you have read my earlier reviews because I tend to circle back to previously established themes. With that out the way, let’s talk about Star Wars!
The first thing that comes to mind when I watch this episode is how well Bo-Katan has aged in the years since the Clone Wars – especially compared to Obi-Wan! But, I suppose living on a desert world with two suns inevitably speeds up the aging process. Regardless, fans of The Clone Wars rejoiced upon seeing the title card of this episode – “The Heiress.” Bo-Katan Kryze, finally in live-action, and played by Katee Sackhoff – the same actress who has provided the voice for the character in animation. You can be a hater and toss it aside as fan service if you want, but as I have said before, there is nothing wrong with fan service when it is done well, and this is pretty much perfect. Written by Jon Favreau, and directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, “Chapter 11: The Heiress” has become a pivotal episode in the series, and upon reflection, it is actually closely tied to Howard’s episode from season one, “Sanctuary.” In both episodes there is a woman who challenges Mando’s beliefs, and makes him question himself, as well as his status as a Mandalorian, and his quest (“The Woman as Temptress” as Joseph Campbell says in The Hero with a Thousand Faces). Therefore, despite what some critics say, the inclusion of Bo-Katan is not mere fan service. Afterall, the show is called The Mandalorian. If Din is to become the Mandalorian, it only makes sense, story-wise, for him to eventually cross paths with the former leader of Mandalore. The fact is, Bo-Katan is so much more of a Mandalorian than Din is at this time. For, as she says, “I am Bo-Katan of Clan Kryze. I was born on Mandalore and fought the purge. I am the last of my line. And you are a child of the Watch.” Throughout the episode, not only her words, but also her actions, show Din that there is another Way. He begins to see that perhaps the dogmatic teachings he has clung so desperately to, may actually be what is holding him back from becoming the Mandalorian he longs to be.
The first lesson Bo-Katan teaches Mando occurs when she removes her helmet. This is the moment that fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels have been waiting for. We have seen Mandalorians remove their helmets hundreds of times before, so we were waiting for the moment when a real Mandalorian (unlike Cobb Vanth) removed their helmet in front of Mando, and his reaction was exactly what I was expecting. “You don’t cover your face. You are not Mandalorian,” he says to freaking Bo-Katan! Even if you are not fully in on the joke, that is still hilarious. We then find out that he is “one of them.” It turns out that Mando has been raised by religious zealots who broke away from Mandalorian society in order to return to the ancient way. Hence, “This is the Way.” It only took eleven episodes, but we finally have a canonical reason for Mando never removing his helmet, and it fits perfectly with previously established lore.
Following Mando’s first encounter with Bo-Katan, there is an outstanding visual sequence of him watching the three other Mandalorians destroy the Quarren ship and fly off in front of a sunset backdrop. This is his binary sunset moment. This is Luke looking out toward the horizon watching the twin suns of Tatooine set, and longing for something more. Mando has been searching for other Mandalorians, and he finally found them, and they were not what he was expecting at all. And, he comes to realize that perhaps he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does. He is not the Mandalorian he thought he was, and certainly not the Mandalorian he longs to become. That is one of my favourite scenes of the entire series.
Mando gets another lesson when he watches the way that the three other Mandalorians fight. They fight as a team, and they all move together in perfect unison. Contrast that with how we have seen Mando fight. He is the lone gunman. Except in this instance, it doesn’t seem as cool to be the lone gunman anymore. Now he just seems to be alone. That is great visual storytelling. The best action scenes always tell a story, and the choreography in this episode highlights Mando’s fragility. Not that he is physically fragile, he is still a badass of course. But, he is definitely emotionally fragile. The way that the other Mandalorians fight together is reinforced later when Bo-Katan tells Mando, “Our enemies want to separate us. But Mandalorians are stronger together.” That line is very reminiscent of Zorii Bliss’ famous quote from The Rise of Skywalker – “That’s how they win, by making you think you’re alone.” I’m not really a big fan of that character, but I do really like that line. Both quotes tie back to an overriding theme in Star Wars – family (and/or found family). It is important to remind ourselves that George Lucas made Star Wars for twelve-year-olds, and some kids need to be reminded that they are not alone. It is an integral theme, and one that has remained throughout all the continuing history of Star Wars storytelling. It is certainly one of the main themes in The Mandalorian. This episode really shows how lost Mando feels, both physically and emotionally. He doesn’t know where he belongs, and he further questions himself as to whether or not this is the Way. Is Grogu his family, or is Grogu just his quest? For that matter, what sort of person actually put him on this quest? What sort of twisted belief system has been ingrained in him? I can’t wait until the Armourer comes back in future seasons. She’s got some splainin’ to do! She may eventually turn into a powerful villain.
In any case, this entire episode is Mando beginning to “unlearn what you have learned” as Yoda would say. The final “This is the Way” that Bo-Katan says to Mando really hits home, and we see that he is starting to come around to her perspective. This is further demonstrated when a chunk of the Razor Crest breaks away as the ship takes off into hyperspace at the end of the episode. That piece left drifting in space isn’t just a funny moment caused by the shoddy craftsmanship of the Mon Calamari with the thick comfy sweater, it is also symbolic of the fact that Mando’s emotional shell is beginning to break away…
I have spoken,