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The Mandalorian: Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore

What is it ? : Peli Motto is dealing with a Rodian who has brought in his Landspeeder for repair, it is missing a number of parts, which she says she'll need weeks to obtain. After the Rodian pays up and leaves, some Jawa's enter with the parts for the speeder which they have obviously stripped off, but their dealings are ended as Din Djarin arrives in his N-1 Starfighter.
He needs parts for IG-11, but Peli doesn't have them, so sells him R5-D4 instead, who blows systems when he hears he is to go to Mandalore, but Peli sells him as a Droid built for adventure.
Arriving at Mandalore, Din continues instructing Grogu in navigation, pointing out the various moons of Mandalore, including Concordia where he was brought up, and Kalevala where Bo-Katan has taken up residence.
Landing, the planet is obviously scarred by the fusion bombing, the residue of which blocks communications. R5-D4 sets off to scan the atmosphere, but drops off their sensors, so Din seals his suit to find the droid, discovering it inside a cage, where it and he come under attack from bestial creatures, Alamites.
After fighting them off, they return to the ship where R5-D4 scans the atmosphere, finding that it is breathable after all, and Grogu and Din head off to explore the cave, where they discover a cavern containing the ruins of the city beneath. Jet Packing, and Repulsoring down, they move through the city into sewers, where Din is distracted by a Mandalorian helmet stuck in the dirt, and he is grabbed by a large spider-like robot, it injects him and before he passes out, he tells Grogu to get back to the ship and get Bo-Katan.
Grogu speeds back to the ship, and is attacked on route by an Alamite, which he force pushes out of his way, and programmes in the course to Bo-Katan, and R5 pilots them there.
In her castle she sees the ship arriving, and is annoyed that Din has returned, but when she sees Grogu alone, she seems concerned, asking what has happened to him.
They return to Mandalore in her Kom'rk-class fighter/transport, and she tells them how beautiful the world once was, before the Empire punished it. And she and Grogu follow the same path as Din had gone before. They are attacked by more Alamites, which Bo-Katan fights off, and seeing Grogu watch, she asks him if he thought that Din was the only Mandalorian.
Din is still held in a restraining cage, and the large spider droid shows it has a human like eye inside it's photoreceptor, and this detaches as part of a smaller, multi-limbed human sized body. It strips him of weapons, and connects tubes to Din and begins draining his blood, when the pump is shot as Bo-Katan and Grogu arrive.
Bo-Katan defeats the droid body, by grabbing the Dark Saber from the ground where it was discarded, which she wields expertly. But unseen, it's head detaches as a small bug like droid, and reconnects to the giant spider droid body once more, which takes only a few slices with the Dark Saber to defeat.
Din awakens from his drained state, and Bo-Katan offers him Pog Soup, he doesn't recognise it, which she finds amusing as most Mandalorians are raised eating it. He honours their culture, even though he seems unaware of most of it.
He prepares to continue his mission to the waters of Mandalore, and Bo-Katan agrees to help him. They find the entrance to the mines, and they reach the waters beneath, a massive lake with steps leading down to it. She reads from a plaque on the wall, on how these waters are where the founder of their civilisation, Mandalore the Great fought a Mythosaur, which is why its skull is the symbol of their species.
Din strips off his weapons, and steps into the water, renewing his vows, and Bo-Katan seems impressed, but suddenly he disappears into the water. Bo-Katan dives in after him, using her Jet Pack to swiftly follow him down, and grabs himn from deep under the water. As they return to the surface she spots a massive Mythosaur, whose eye opens and follows her, but they reach the surface unmolested . . . .

High Points : It's an episode of two parts. We get a lot of fun moments with Peli Motto at the beginning, as she sells R5 to Din and continues her dodgy dealings on Tatooine. And then we get the risk and solemnity of the mission to Mandalore, and loads of Mandalorian culture revealed.
I feel that the fact that not only is Mandalore inhabitable, but the fact there is a living Mythosaur there is going to have a massive effect on the storyline going on.

The Mandalorian continues to surprise, as it seemed that the quest to redeem Din would be the theme for this season, but here we are at the end of the second episode and it's done. This series really seems to hammer its way through plotlines quickly, which is admirable rather than keeping them dragging as so many series do.

And I have to single out the big spider droid thing for praise, it was creepy, by separating into smaller creeping segments when you thought it was defeated, and by having that eye. I wondered if it was a mining droid at first, as it targeted Din, which a droid programmed to gather Beskar might do (especially as its lair seemed filled with sets of Mandalorian armour). I now wonder if it was a droid repairing itself with Mandalorian body parts, as an almost reverse cyborg, or the remains of a surviving Mandalorian almost totally replaced by machinery?

Low Points : I've no massive complaints about this one, what it does it does well. My tentative comments would be that its all a little formulaic, he shows Grogu how to navigate to Bo-Katan, so later Grogu has to navigate to Bo-Katan. Peli tells Din that R5 will be able to pilot his ship, so later he has to Pilot the ship. Bo-Katan's location is mentioned, so she is needed later.
And the "Previously on" segment really acts as a suggestion as to what to expect, as it brings back elements from season one which are relevant to this episode.

So what do you really think ? : While I really enjoyed this episode, some of it felt a little like an info-dump, as we were told about Mandalore and the it's mythology, which I'm sure will be important later. And as mentioned above it felt a little formulaic, and victim to Chekov's Gun, in that as soon as something is mentioned I know it's going to come back in some form or other.
Which is why I haven't given this a massive score, as I don't feel it will be worth a rewatch, as much of it is scene setting for later episodes.

Final Words : Something I want to bring up, and it's nothing particularly to do with this episode, but we're still very much in the dark about Grogu's background. He was apparently born the same year as Anakin Skywalker, spent time in the Jedi Temple until order 66, and then recovered by Din on Arvala-7 in the first episode of the series. That's a gap of 28 years that we don't know about. He seems to have been in Doctor Pershing and Moff Gideons possession during some of that time, but whether that was a month, or 20 years, we have no idea.
Are we ever going to find out? Is everything else at the moment just a distraction, which is why we're flying through all these other plot points? I guess we'll find out.

Score : 8.5/10

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