We’re running a weekly recap of The Mandalorian on Disney+ for season two. There are spoilers, duh! You’ve been warned.
Before I talk about The Mandalorian, I want to share a personal story.
Years ago, I was heavily involved in a small, unnamed network of church plants scattered in university cities around the United States. We had a simple model for replicating new churches.
First, we would send groups of 25 to 50 people to start a church in a new city. These weren’t staff members, mind you. These were just everyday laypeople who would uproot their lives, get new jobs, and move somewhere far away to get the church going.
That church plant would be led by a young, male lead pastor who had been raised within the ranks of the sending church’s pastorate. The church would eventually grow in numbers, comprising half college students and half local families.
As community members and students were saved, the lead pastor would pluck a young, charismatic male student from within those ranks and call him into ministry. (Nearly all the staff pastors were picked this way.) As soon as that young man graduated college, he would come on staff, having no formal seminary training, and often no real church background either.Even if your inward-facing, self-replicating church—or Mandalorian group, for that matter—never becomes a cult, in my experience, it can (and does) start to get weird.
And then—I’m getting to The Mandalorian, relax!—that once-small church would send that young man to another new city with a new group of 25 to 50 people to plant a new church all over again.
For what’s worth, this model worked well. But it also had problems.
Which leads me, finally—and crudely—to this week’s Mandalorian episode.
Here’s what I want you to do. Linger on the title of this show for a moment.
Notice that the show isn’t called “A” Mandalorian.
No. Mando is “the” Mandalorian. He is Mister-Mandalorian. The Uber-Mandalorian! Mando is to Mandalore what Captain America is to America.
So let’s flip the script a little. Everyone knows that Mando is The Mandalorian, but what this week’s episode (“The Heiress”) presupposes is…maybe he isn’t?
If Bo-Katan Kryze is to be believed, the Mandalorians aren’t who Mando thinks they are. She tells Mando he was raised by a splinter group of religious zealots to believe that all Mandalorians should look and act like him.
This is bad. The man who thinks himself as a Proto-Mandalorian was just told he doesn’t actually know what a real Mandalorian is.
When the Children of the Watch rescued Mando as a foundling, they took him as one of their own and taught him the “ancient ways” of Mandalore. They gifted him with a community and an identity. This is the way. It’s who he is.
Family is a beautiful thing. It’s normal and good to love your family, and it’s even good to love your family more than you love mine.
But what if you twist that good thing into something more crooked? What happens when you are so dispatched from all other families that you grow to believe that your family is the only one there is?
Well, then you end up like Mando, living under the mistaken belief that his little piece of the whole is the whole, that by some cruel irony, his upbringing in this way means he never knew the way.
So going back to my old church. I’m not saying that we didn’t know that other Christians existed. Of course we did. We didn’t have it as bad as poor, old Mando.
But there does come a point when you’re so entrenched into your own way of doing church that you wind up not knowing much about the Church as it exists anywhere else.
Your leaders don’t have theological training, so they view with suspicion someone who does. They never planned to become pastors, so they conclude it’s only by pride and jealousy that any man or woman could have aspirations to be one.
In Bible terms, you begin to think the Remnant of Israel is Israel, and so the ways and practices of the only church you’ve ever known means you can’t actually recognize the “capital C” Church when you see it.
My point is this: Even if your inward-facing, self-replicating church never becomes a cult, in my experience, it can (and does) start to get weird. And in my opinion, it’s the wrong kind of weird.
Some final thoughts before I wrap this up:
Mando said explicitly in this episode that he’s taking the Child to the Jedi. So I guess that answers the question of who Baby Yoda’s “kind” are. I’m excited to see some Jedi in this show. I want to see a lightsaber so bad!
Did you cry when the frog couple was reunited? I got some dust in my eye, for sure. Somehow, within the span of a few camera shots, this show pulled off more chemistry between actors in rubber frog masks than all three prequel films pulled off between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen. Sad!
I want to see more of Katee Sackoff playing Bo-Katan Kryze. I’m not such a nerd that can follow all the easter eggs and callbacks of The Mandalorian, but I am such a nerd that I geek out seeing Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck on my small screen again. She’s great. I hope they keep her around. Funny story related to that. Last year when I watched the first episode of The Mandalorian, and they said, “This is the way,” I had a fleeting thought that they were trying to make this catchphrase a thing, just like Battlestar Galactica made “So say we all,” a thing. So say we all is the true and better This is the way.
Also, Bo-Katan is looking for the dark saber! I still don’t actually know what that means, but I know the dark saber looks cool and that’s good enough for me.
Once again, I’m bad with the predictions, but I think this episode planted the seed that we’re definitely going to see a conflict between Mando’s Children of the Watch and the other Mandalorians. And I’m thinking they’re positioning Mando as a Moses figure, a man who stands in the breach between his family of zealots and the rest of Mandalore. I’m just spitballing here.
This episode was good! I’m excited for next week. So say we all.