The Mandalorian Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore Thoughts

As enjoyable as Chapter 17 of The Mandalorian was to get us back into the world of Din Djarin (aka Mando), Grogu, and crew, Chapter 18 potentially hints at the overarching story of the season.

R5 is On a Mission with Mando, and My Life Is Complete

R5-D4 joins the crew…hopefully | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Mando continues his journey of redemption with the Watch and stops by Tatooine to see Peli Motto, who offers her R5-D4. An Original Trilogy character who never left Tatooine, R5 has enjoyed rising popularity and a back story of being a part of the Rebellion. The droid is a stand-in for the intended IG-11, whose return might have been a fake-out. Highly recommend Rae Carson’s “The Red One” from A Certain Point of View: A New Hope for more R5 content.

R5 helps Mando and Grogu navigate Mandalore but runs into an Alamite, creatures that used to live in wastelands beyond the Mandalore cities. When Grogu has to get help from Bo-Katan, R5 guides them to Kalevala. The droid that Luke Skywalker almost bought, joining Mando and Luke’s former apprentice, Grogu, leans into the small universe criticism Star Wars gets. 

Hello, Rachel Morrison! And can Ryan Coogler make a Star Wars?

Rachel Morrison takes the director reigns for the first time following an impressive cinematography career | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Ryan Coogler’s talent circle brings another fresh face into Star Wars. Ludwig Göransson (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther) composed The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett themes. They manage to feel Star Wars without leaning heavily into orchestral. Now we have Rachel Morrison, Coogler’s long-time cinematographer stepping into the director’s chair. Morrison was also the cinematographer on Executive Producer Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope.

And now, she is directing her first project, “The Mines of Mandalore.” With Steph Green’s outstanding “The Tribes of Tatooine,” from The Book of Boba Fett, and now this episode, it is lovely to see Lucasfilm bringing more women directors into their talent pipeline and hope that this trend continues as the company gets back to making films.

Also, it would be great if Coogler himself stepped into a Star Wars project down the line. Coogler has proven he can tackle every challenge with The Black Panther franchise, bringing the world of Wakanda to life which has exploded into pop culture. The franchise has garnered the first Best Picture nomination for a comic-book film and the first acting nomination for the MCU (Angela Bassett in Wakanda Forever). All this while losing Chadwick Boseman and rewriting the sequel (both films have gone on to gross more than $2B at the box office). He brought the Rocky franchise back to life with Creed and got a new generation (and demographic) into a boxing film franchise. 

We will see where Taika Waititi lands with his Star Wars project, but out of all the MCU talent rumored to be involved in Star Wars, Ryan Coogler’s name should be considered a serious contender.

Less Sci-Fi, More Fantasy

It’s hard to brush off the myths of Mandalore when one of them looks you straight in the eye | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Star Wars tends to live comfortably between Science Fiction and Fantasy (some would call the franchise pure Fantasy, but I disagree). However, between the fantasy backstory of Lady Bo-Katan Kryze, a lost civilization, and a mythical beast, this leans heavily into the fantastical. 

We get the beginnings of a knight and princess alliance with Mando and Bo-Katan Kryze. The former is steadfast in his convictions and challenges Kryze on the Mandalorians’ purpose. The latter is cynical about any redemption for Mandalore, telling Mando that there was too much in-fighting amongst their factions and that they stood no chance against the Empire. 

If you have watched The Clone Wars, Bo-Katan Kryze was a part of instigating a civil war. She was a member of Death Watch when Pre Vizsla tried to kill Bo’s sister Satine. The Watch then made an unfortunate decision to align with Darth Maul to try and take back Mandalore from Satine’s pacifist rule. Maul kills both Mandalorian leaders, leading to Bo-Katan asking the Jedi for help, hence her connection with Ahsoka. 

There is room for more exploration between The Seige of Mandalore’s end and the Great Purge of Mandalore when Bo-Katan Kryze laid claim to the planet with the Darksaber. But because she did not earn the Darksaber (given to her by Sabine Wren), a curse is associated with her and the blade. 

This backstory feeds into Mando and Bo’s journey, which now also involves a Mythosaur. When Mando finally gets to bathe in the Living Waters of the mines, he falls straight to the bottom (that armor is not light). Bo rescues him and, on their way up, comes face to face with a VERY alive Mythosaur. The Mandalorians were rumored to have tamed the ancient beasts, even riding them for transport. Naturally, this will happen in The Mandalorian. That’s the what. All that is left is the who, where, and when.

Someone will use that blade and the Mythosaur to unite their people, but will it be the jaded princess or the loyal knight?

The Creepiest Thing in Star Wars is Now Whatever This Thing Is

Absolutely not | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

What can survive a planet bombardment? Alamites, alligator bats, and an eyeball with legs. 

Let’s talk about that last one. When Mando finds a Mandalorian helmet, he sets off a trap and is collected by a droid/organic hybrid creature. The creature has a variety of mech suits that it must have built to move around. And it tries to drain Mando of his fluids. None of the creature’s motivations are explained before Bo supposedly kills it. What was it? What was it going to do with Mando’s blood? This is one of the few times I do not need any of those. I’m ok with never seeing that creepy eye again. 

Whatever the rest of the season brings, it likely involved Bo-Katan Kryze and Mandalore | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

In two episodes, Mando has already bathed in the Living Waters and, by the creed, redeemed himself. So what now? Exploring the Mythosaur and uniting the Mandalorians seem like good places to start, but the unpredictability is exciting.