A side project discussing The Mandalorian plot points too spoileriffic for my normal reviews.
It’s a really wonderful way of telling the story. It’s always been a very clear Creed for the character and the collaborative process of the whole thing, we’ve all been on the same page with this. So what I want is for them to make the best show possible, however they get that done.
-Pedro Pascal (The One Show, 15/12/2020)
While two different chapters of The Mandalorian provided emotionally resonant, superbly-acted, and progressively longer looks at Din Djarin’s face, fans hoped the show could top them. Ever since Chapter 8: “Redemption” officially declared Din and the Child/Grogu a Clan of Two, fans wondered when “Baby Yoda” could see his father’s visage. The more tribulations the clan endured, the more deserving they felt of such familial intimacy.
Alright pal, it’s time to go. Don’t be afraid.
-Din Djarin (Chapter 16: “The Rescue”)
As the cliche goes, sometimes you find what you want most at the last place you look. The Season 2 finale Chapter 16: “The Rescue” (directed by Peyton Reed, written by Jon Favreau) has Din Djarin fulfill Grogu’s unspoken request to see Din’s face, right before the Child leaves with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill’s voice and face superimposed over Max Lloyd Jones’ body) for Jedi training. Pedro Pascal and the Grogu puppet nail their performances, expressing their characters’ joy through brief smiles and gentle touches, rather than saccharine dialogue. Din’s crying when Luke and Grogu leave looks convincing on Pascal’s part, but not overblown. Composer Ludwig Göransson also enhances the emotion with a bittersweet rendition of the Mandalorian theme song. This sequence brought me even closer to crying on the second viewing, likely because watching Chapters 13-16 all in a row presented a broad demonstration of Din’s selflessness. It’d feel like a huge shame if Pedro Pascal doesn’t get any recognition from the Golden Globes or the Emmy Awards this season; not only do the judges have more footage of his face to admire, but various Mandalorian cast and crew members, and episode #9 of the Disney Gallery docuseries, can or have confirmed that he also filmed more scenes in full armor than he did during Season 1.
In addition to Grogu and Luke, other “living things” who see Din’s head in the scene include Cara Dune, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), Bo-Katan Kryze, and Koska Reeves. Even though the chapter never shows the women glimpsing at his face, the question exists of whether or not they would deserve to after the final shot. I’d begrudgingly agree that Cara deserves it, as Din’s most loyal and frequent partner across these two seasons. Considering the Nite Owls’ encouragement of Din reprioritizing his choices for a Mandalorian’s biggest responsibilities, it also makes sense that Bo-Katan and Koska – ironically the only masked Mandalorians in the shot – would see their teachings influence him. I can’t imagine Fennec Shand finding it a big deal, since she doesn’t really have a connection to Din learning to deviate from the Way. If future Disney+ Star Wars series show how Cara and the female Nite Owls handle witnessing Din’s most flagrant violation, I’d also want Mandalorian Season 3 to show how characters he’s known ever since before the series began – such as Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) and the Armorer (Emily Swallow) – would handle his newfound tendency to expose himself.
Before Din violates one of his cult’s biggest Mandalorian rules, his dedication to providing salvation and shelter to a lonesome orphan inadvertently raises him in the Mandalorian hierarchy. When Din’s beskar spear helps him disarm Moff Gideon of the Darksaber, Din reluctantly ends up in a power struggle against Bo-Katan for the throne of planet Mandalore. Presumably, this struggle will require Din to meet more Mandalorians, and tap into his potential for leadership. Despite his disinterest in becoming king, he’s previously demonstrated some necessary traits, such as the ability to unite different types of people to fulfill a common objective. By removing his helmet near some Nite Owls, while guiding Grogu to a safer future, Din demonstrates a willingness to accept and understand the importance of other Mandalorian tribes’ beliefs.
Does the sight of Din without a helmet still have impact on the third time around? I’d say so; Pedro Pascal’s charm and talent ensure that it always feels like a treat whenever his countenance graces the screen. More importantly, Din finally can’t exploit any loopholes in the Way. I trust him to have realized this; even if he can’t foresee Luke surviving two more movies, Grogu’s slow age rate helps ensure that the kid won’t die anytime soon. The show has long-resolved the mystery of how “Mando” really looks, but his unmaskings still amaze as demonstrations of his love for Grogu, and illustrations of the knowledge he’s gained while traveling the galaxy.
Din Djarin keeping his face exposed the last time we see him this season provides the vital last step in his Season 2 character growth. The bounty hunter we first saw as a cold-hearted Boba Fett look-alike has now become an individual whose compassion and selflessness can help him withstand unexpected challenges.
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