You and I aren’t the only ones who fell in love with Grogu. It’s obvious Mando himself fell in love with the child.
Did you notice that as the relationship between Mando and Grogu evolved, it seemed to get more real?
But audiences may not realize that The Mandalorian is a parable.
What's that mean exactly?
Well, by definition a parable is a simple storie used to illustrate moral or spiritual lessons. Thus in short, the parable of The Mandalorian is about modern manhood, and first time fatherhood.
- We’re all bounty hunters, IRL
- Having a Way, is The Way
- How manhood merges with fatherhood.
Ready? Let's go!
We’re All Bounty Hunters, IRL
“When one chooses to walk the Way of the Mandalore, you are both hunter and prey. How can one be a coward if one chooses this way of life?”― The Armorer
Mando earns an honest living. Essentially, he also lives paycheck to paycheck. After all, he's a contract employee. In our modern gig-economy and side-hustle era, many people can relate! Those of us who can, know things about Mando’s modern lifestyle as a bounty hunter. (Like, that he probably eats a lot of rice and beans).
Meanwhile, one of the biggest mysteries about Star Wars has always been who's bankrolling everything? How exactly does the economy work in that galaxy far, far away?
It's worth noting that on Earth, one principle everyone can use to help understand almost anything is, “follow the money.” Yet in Star Wars, there’s no money to follow!
Sure, there are hints that bounty hunters, cantina owners, moisture farmers, junk traders, and smugglers can manage. There's a lot of bartering. There’s even that moment in The Last Jedi when we learn that certain people in the military industrial complex are getting rich from building ships for both sides.
But on the other hand, we have no idea how the Empire and Rebel Alliance pay for gas money!
Therefore, it refreshing and real to see Mando earn an honest living every episode. That’s the way it works in the real world, right? Money in, money out. In that sense, you’re a hunter, and you’re also the prey. Cowards need not apply.
Thus in short, we’re all bounty hunters!
Having a Way, is The Way
“This is the way.” — The Armorer
First of all, we’ve learned that the Mandalorians are a cultural group composed of members from multiple species.
In other words, the Mandalorians are not bound by race, but by a common culture, creed, and of course, the Mandalorian code.
The Mandalorians are not racist, yet they do believe in hierarchies. Mandalorians care so little about skin color, some don’t ever show their faces. But it’s important to note, they do judge every individual by the merit of their actions.
Further, while Mando's no Jedi, the Mandalorian code requires equally strict moral discipline. Yes, it started with not-showing his face. But we also saw ‘The Way’ guide Mando to act boldly in perilous situations.
For example, he dove into the enormous and deadly Krayt Dragon for Boba Fett’s dented old helmet.
So far, we’ve only been able to gather tidbits about the underlying principles of the way of the Mandalorian code.
But as a parable about modern manhood, ‘The Way’ showcases the value of consistency in men, and the value of believing in something bigger than yourself.
The writere David Foster Wallace perhaps said it best in his passage about ‘choosing what you worship’ from his speech, “This Is Water.” Here it is:
“In the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure, and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.”
Now we know that The Mandalorian is one of those parables. ‘The Way’ is the spiritual-type thing Mando follows.
And, thanks to David Foster Wallace, we also know the real reason why Mando didn’t get eaten alive by the Krayt Dragon!
This is the way.
How Manhood Merges With Fatherhood
“You are a clan of two.” — The Mandalorian Armorer
By far, one of the most intriguing parts of The Mandalorian to me was the developing father-son relationship between Mando and Baby Yoda, Grogu.
Like many men, Mando wasn’t prepared for first-time fatherhood. That’s because, in reality, right up until the day we have a child, men remain the child.
(And yes, everyone struggles to be a grown up in certain ways regardless).
But as William Wordsworth said, "The child is the father of Man."
In other words, the entire experience of fatherhood is something of a role-reversal. Raising a child presents an opportunity for the parent to heal damage and patch baggage from our own childhoods.
(Images courtesy of Disney)
On the other hand, children like baby Yoda are often totally helpless. Kids are vulnerable, reliant, and hardwork! For all their inherent and unintended sage-like wisdom, you have to teach children everything.
Kids also do terrible things sometimes, like eat a Frog Lady’s eggs. So perhaps the lesson is simply this — That’s your child to parent, Mando. The Child is yours.
And the counter intuitive thing is that children don’t need a buddy. Children need more. Something akin to a dynamic paradox.
In other words, children might need you to be funny, stern, just, and back to goofy. They need structure, yet require patience. They need both a hero to save them and a villain to battle. They need to hear sage-like words of a Jedi master. (And that's before breakfast).
The Saving Grace
Unsurprisingly, the weight of the job is why parents live with a crushing sense of duty, love, responsibility — and guilt. We saw it happen to Mando. His sense of duty drove all his decisions. And we felt his anxiety when he was separated from the child.
But ultimately, we saw in Grogu the way children have the power to save us. Just like Grogu saved Mando from the charging Rhino.
In essence, Grogu gives Mando all the meaning and love his empty life lacked. That sense of love and meaning is what made the father-son relationship between Mando and Grogu so enjoyable.
Thus, the Mandalorian is an intriguing parable about modern manhood, and what happens as it merges with fatherhood.
What other lessons can we learn from Star Wars?