True Life: I’m In A Cult.
The Mandalorian season 3 is two episodes in and the religious undertones are strong with this one. Din Djarin, freshly reunited with his adopted son Grogu, is trying to get back in with his people, a clan of Mandalorians known as the Children of the Watch. But for those of us who know exactly who they’re children of, Din’s dogged obsession with “the way” is even more worrying than it already is at face value.
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Be warned, spoilers from The Mandalorian season 3 and details from Star Wars: The Clone Wars (which could very well inform future episodes of The Mandalorian) follow.
What’s the deal with the Children of the Watch?
Pre Vizsla and Bo-Katan Kryze looking very bitchy here.
As we know from earlier episodes of The Mandalorian, Din Djarin is a foundling rescued by Mandalorians after his village came under attack by Separatist battle droids during the Clone Wars. But Din wasn’t just rescued by any old Mandalorian—he was rescued by a Death Watch Mandalorian, as evidenced by the logo on their shoulder pauldrons.
But who is Death Watch? The group of Mandalorians, originally led by Pre Vizsla (father of Jon Favreau’s character in The Mandalorian, Paz Viszla), wanted to take back Mandalore during the Clone Wars and return the planet to its former state as a militaristic monolith. Vizsla, notably, wanted to take control of the planet from then-Duchess Satine Kryze (Bo-Katan Kryze’s sister), who was trying to take Mandalore down the pacifism route.
But after repeatedly failing to reclaim the planet, Death Watch eventually split into two different factions: a group of Mandalorian super commandos that was led, bizarrely, by Darth Maul, and another group known as the Mandalore resistance, led by Bo-Katan herself. The two sects battled for the heart of Mandalore (Maul wanted to rule, but Bo-Katan’s squad wanted to help restore Satine), with the resistance working side-by-side with Jedi like Ahsoka Tano and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ultimately, both Pre Vizsla and Satine died during these conflicts, and Mandalore was soon after destroyed when the empire dropped fusion bombs on the planet’s surface.
The Children of the Watch, then, are exactly what they sound like: Children of former Death Watch members. Notably, Bo-Katan has never had kids, so with the inclusion of Paz Vizsla we can safely assume these are the children of the Mandalore super commandos, the very same ones who wanted to do a war on everyone and who aligned with Darth Maul of all people (I mean, urm, of all Zabrak). Din was raised in the ways of the Children of the Watch, adopting their customs and religious beliefs. So yeah, he’s in a weird murder cult.
The significance of The Mandalorian season 3 episode 2
Sassily strutting his way towards death.
In the most recent episode that aired last week on Disney Plus, Din returns to the ruined planet of Mandalore to repent for removing his helmet (which is very much not “the way,” guys). There, he’s saved twice by Bo-Katan Kryze, the rightful heir to Mandalore, who returns to her home planet for the first time since it was destroyed.
After Bo-Katan saves Din from being juiced by a weird, General Grievous-esque dude, Din heads to the living waters beneath the mines of Mandalore to re-baptize himself so that he can rejoin his cult friends. It’s there that, because he is a himbo and is wearing a full suit of Beskar armor, he immediately sinks to the bottom of what he believes to be a shallow wading pool but is actually a very deep body of water.
When Bo-Katan dives in to save him yet again, she comes face-to-face with a gigantic underwater creature that Star Wars fans will recognize as the Mythosaur. The rather obtusely named Mythosaur is a Mandalorian legend, a creature that, as the Armorer says in an earlier episode, “the songs of eons past foretold of…rising up to herald a new age of Mandalore.” The Mythosaur is the symbol that unites all of Mandalore, a planet infamous for splitting up into different clans and political factions. But until now, even the most devout of the Mandalorians believed the creature to be only the stuff of legend.
The proof of its existence could have many ramifications: The Children of the Watch could become even more devout and cult-y, Bo-Katan could have her faith in Mandalore restored, and/or Din could double down even more on parroting the beliefs of his cult family. All of this, however, makes for incredibly weird vibes.
What’s next for Din Djarin?
You’d never know that’s Jon Favreau under there, because Paz Vizsla can’t take his helmet off
If you were ever a member of a rather extreme religion (former Catholic here, hi), then Din’s experience without the additional Star Wars context is enough to make you uncomfortable. His dogged belief that he needs to atone for his sins (taking off his helmet) make him dangerously single-minded, so much so that he almost dies several times upon his return to Mandalore. His belief that this way is the only way sounds a lot like the religious zealotry we deal with in our own modern society, the beliefs waved around by those who try to ban drag shows and abortions.
Bo-Katan, a former member of Death Watch herself, derides Din’s beliefs at almost every turn, telling him back in season 2 that “the Children of the Watch are a cult of religious zealots that broke away from Mandalorian society. Their goal was to re-establish the ancient way.” She also eye rolls her way through any conversation she has with Din when he does little more than monosyllabically preach about The Way. She’s lived it, she’s over it, Scientologists would hate her.
Naturally, I’d like to believe that Bo-Katan will slowly pull Din away from the Children of the watch cult, especially after she immediately jumps to Din’s rescue and effortlessly wields the Darksaber (a sword believed to belong to the true ruler of Mandalore, one that must be won in battle, that Din got at the end of last season from Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon). But with the reveal of the Mythosaur, and Din’s technical re-baptizing that will get him back in the cult’s good graces, I fear that Din’s religious journey will only continue on for more of this season.
But, as my partner suggests, there’s a very clear end to this path, one that will likely devastate him: the Children of the Watch, emboldened by confirmation that Mandalore is not completely destroyed and that the Mythosaur is real, will welcome him back with open arms just to turn around and say, “alright, let’s go do a holy war.”
Hopefully, at that point, Din will ex-communicate himself, or attempt to unite all the clans by wielding the Darksaber alongside Bo-Katan. That would be the way.
The next episode of The Mandalorian will air on Disney Plus Wednesday, March 14 at 12 a.m. PT/3 a.m. ET.
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