The Mandalorian Season 3, The Mandalorian, The Fisher King and the Knight

The Mandalorian, The Fisher King, Plazir-15 and Love

Today, I’m going to discuss one of the most brilliantly written and crafted Mandalorian episodes, “Guns for Hire”, its world Plazir-15, and how it highlights the Arthurian motifs in the series, especially of the Fisher King.

This episode is often described as divisive for it’s humor, cameos, and fan disappointment regarding the Darksaber and it’s particular Mandalorian wielder.

But “Guns for Hire” is one of the most thematically important stories, not only for its characters, but for the Mandalorian series as a whole. In one episode, we see the past revisited specifically for Din Djarin and Bo-Katan, see the way for the story to move forward, and understand the story’s largest message.

What is that message? Compassion. Forgiveness. Love. Above all, love.

“Is there no room for forgiveness in a galaxy so vast?”

The Duchess

There is a LOT going on in this episode, from the main quest of Bo-Katan recovering her fleet and former warriors, to the grand detour to the Wonderland of Plazir-15.

Let’s break this down first by talking about the myth of the Fisher King and how it relates to the third season of the Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian and the Fisher King [Queen]

The Fisher King is one of the more common stories of the collected myths and epics of King Arthur. There are many different versions, and they do not all necessarily originate from Arthurian tales specifically.

But for the sake of this post, I will focus on one of the most popular versions of it, as presented in Terry Gilliam’s excellent film The Fisher King 1991. If you have not seen this film, I highly commend it.

And on a side note, we’ve already had one Terry Gilliam film influence Star Wars in recent years. That film is the fantastic dystopian fantasy, Brazil (1985) It influenced a scene in The Last Jedi, but more recently it was blatantly referenced in this season of the Mandalorian, especially the ending of the film. THe Mandalorian episode, “The Convert” borrows heavily from the bureaucratic nightmare of that film, and Dr. Pershing is mind flayed, much as the protagonist of said film.

I would not be surprised if The Fisher King tale used in Gilliam’s modern retelling of his film, is indeed the basis for the Fisher Queen allegory in the Mandalorian.

The Fisher King is the story of a king of a once mighty and fertile, and prosperous land. He was tasked by God to keep the Holy Grail, but loses it somehow, and with that loss the land and people suffer.

The Fisher King is abandoned and left desolate and alone. He spends his days fishing, because he cannot lead. The Fisher King in most of these stories loses the Grail (or becomes injured) because of his sins. Sound familiar?

The Fisher Queen ( Bo-Katan Kryze) on her thrown by the sea
Bo-Katan Kryze the Fisher Queen by the sea

Along comes a knight known as Percival the Fool. Percival is a simple man, humble and modest. He knows nothing of how the Fisher King came to be. He gives the King a drink of water, and the King is restored to health.

The Fisher King wonders how Percival came to have the Grail, for it is the vessel from which he drank. But Percival the Fool knows nothing of the Grail’s importance, he only sees that the Fisher King is thirsty.

A simple knight in shining armor that knows nothing of the world? Sounds like a certain Mandalorian in silver armor that never knows he is in Star Wars.

Din Djarin of the Mandalorian and the Knight
Din Djarin, the Fool and the Knight, the Percival of our tale

The story of Bo-Katan Kryze and Din Djarin is the story of the Fisher Queen and the Holy Fool.

Instead of a Holy Grail, the symbol of Unity for Bo-Katan’s people is the Darksaber. But the object does not matter, only the story it represents, as Moff Gideon himself pointed out in season 2.

According to Joseph Campbell, the Grail stories are stories of seeking unity, and some of the most popular of troubadour romances, that popularized the modern Western notion of romantic love.

And yes, The Mandalorian is based on Westerns and samurai films, but it has always been based in Arthurian romances as well. And so this season brings us to the story’s tale of romance between Din Djarin and Bo-Katan Kryze, aka Dinbo.

“Guns for Hire” is full of romances and that’s the point

The entire episode is rife with romance. It begins with romance, and yes, it ends with romance. Our introductory story is of a Mon Calamari prince and a Quarren captain.

Axe Woves, the former ally of Bo-Katan, is now leading her fleet and leading the others as mercenaries. The prince has had a bounty placed on him by his family and Woves and the rest are happy to take him back for money.

The aquatic, star-crossed pair’s story ends unhappily for now, but as neither die they may be reunited yet.

The most important takeaway from this scene is Axe Woves stating that he is well aware the Quarren have not taken the prince out of anger or to start a war, but rather out of love. This isn’t a throwaway line.

Our main story begins with Din and Bo on their way to Plazir-15 to meet with Woves and the rest of the Nite Owls.

But our story takes a wonderful detour to a Wonderland not-quite Utopia that will not only show Din and Bo having fun as a pair, but introduce them to the dark reflections of their own pasts.

When Din and Bo are forced to greet the democratically elected rulers of the planet named PLEASURE, they are invited to a table in which every reveler is one of a couple.

This was a party of lovers, presided over by the Duchess and Captain Bombadier, two lovers from different worlds overcoming differences and messy pasts to be together.

And Din Djarin and Bo-Katan are seated among the lovers. Yes, this story isn’t subtle!

Again, let me reiterate: Din and Bo are sucked into a detour, a whole giant allegory of a world known as pleasure, in a world in which lovers spend droll days playing games (and where Grogu gets to have fun). And Plazier-15 is show as a lush and fertile world, it’s domes pointedly similar to the domes of the ravaged Mandalore we saw in The Clone Wars.

But this utopia does have it’s problems. Captain Bombadier is a decent man, but as a former Imperial he cannot have a standing army enter his domed city. Din and Bo must investigate malfunctioning droids in a fun CSI-style romp.

But this story is more than just an homage to couples solving crimes while loving each other on the side.

Plazir-15 is where Din and Bo face their pasts

For the entirety of the series, we’ve known Din Djarin is traumatized by droids. During the Clone Wars, the Battle Droids of the Separatists attacked his planet and many others.

Ever since, Din has despised droids, even being paranoid by a humble astromech driving a speeder in the first episode. Din has made progress since then, growing to trust an IG unit, and his current astromech, as well as Peli Motto’s pit droids.

However, he hasn’t had to face the B-1 and other Battle Droids much. And these are the droids specifically responsible for the loss of his parents.

Din is only too happy to attack the working Battle Droids, and remind Bo they can’t be trusted.

However, Din and Bo learn that the Droids are being manipulated by humans, or rather by just the Duchess’s former security advisor Helgait. The old man is still a Count Dooku fan who hasn’t let go of his anger and resentment over the Sith Lord’s death. He cannot forgive.

Din realizes that the droids of the bar, and all the other droids working aren’t evil. While a few independently malevolent droids do exist in Star Wars, most are programmed BY PEOPLE to cause destruction. The droids of Plazir-15 simply seek to live and work in peace and move on from whatever they had been programmed to do before.

As the bartender droid explains, human life is short, and humans ask for so little.

In other words, this story is Din Djarin learning to forgive droids. Such compassion enables he and Bo to move forward in solving the mystery.

Bo-Katan faces her sister—sort of

As for Bo-Katan, for her Plazir-15 represents her sister Satine and the New Mandalorians. While Satine has never been name-dropped this season, it is clear the Duchess is intended to remind Bo of her.

Lizzo’s character is never named, but is only known by her title of the Duchess. This is, of course, the title by which Satine was known. The entire planet resembles Mandalore, but an even more lush version of it, not racked with fighting and scars and Bo and Satine’s planet came to be.

In a sense, the world is an even more extreme version of Satine’s Mandalore. And it’s a vision of a world that Bo had once despised. The Duchess even wears blue like her sister, and ornate headdresses.

Unfortunately, the story of Bo and Satine’s lives as children and teens has never been completely told. Bo-Katan was likely a teenager when she joined Pre-Viszla’s Death Watch.

We know that Bo aligned with her father Adonai, a man that upheld the traditions of Mandalore, and potentially Satine was the black sheep of the family, despite ruling. (Bo-Katan said earlier this season that she did not shame her father, implying that perhaps Satine had).

It’s clear the sisters held different values, but both clearly loved Mandalore for both its past (Bo-katan), and what it could be (Satine). Again, we don’t know why Bo was with Pre-Viszla. All we see is an abrasive young woman, who comes off in early episodes as having the energy of a “pick-me” and “I’m not like the other girls” kind of air.

It’s a bit reminiscent of Arya and Sansa Stark of Game of Thrones. Bo-Katan clearly grows up and realizes her mistakes when Maul takes over and her sister is killed, a sister she still loved. Both sisters held ideologies that were flawed when taken separately, but together would have represented a balance—a culture that could have been pluralistic, accepting of diversity, and not too foolishly pacifistic). They represented different ways of being a Mandalorian.

I don’t think Bo’s story on Plazir-15 is about forgiving her sister Satine. She doesn’t need to, and she knows what her sister went through trying to unify Mandalore.

It’s about Bo-Katan forgiving herself for her rejection of Satine and what her sister aimed to achieve.

The tragedy of Bo and Satine’s outlook on Mandalore, is that there was value in both of their beliefs. There was room for the traditions of warrior honor of Mandalore’s past, and for a present and future in which art, music, education and science could flourish as well. These were not, and never needed to be contradictory.

Satine was not a lesser woman for loving gowns, adorning herself with the native flowers of Mandalore, and Bo was not a lesser woman for donning armor and being a warrior.

Many years ago, a young Bo may have cringed at the ostentatious pageantry of Lizzo’s The Duchess’s parties, monorail, and games. But the mature Bo-Katan Kryze can only smile with pure joy at seeing Grogu being knighted in a silly ceremony that means nothing at all, but bring happiness to the child and his father.

Bo-Katan also smiles when the Duchess gifts her with the Key to Plazir-15. Again, to Bo, the key is just an object, but she has come to understand the intent with which it is given. It is the story that matters, and she has found an ally to her people.

But also, it is a key to pleasure, and Star Wars is hilariously literal. Bo and Din deserve love as much as anyone, and the path to love is forgiveness of others and oneself. And there is always room for forgiveness. The Mandalorian is showing the way of strength through love.

Bringing it all together

The conclusion of “Guns for Hire” means our lovers—for that is what they are becoming even if they don’t fully know it—must re-enter the symbolically real world of the start of the episode.

The entire story is a Hero’s Journey within a single episode. And so Bo-Katan must face Axe Woves and her former Nite Owls.

Naturally, Axe Woves isn’t happy to see Bo-Katan. And we realize that Axe’s animosity is not so much that Bo doesn’t have the Darksaber. Rather, it’s that she refuses to challenge Din Djarin.

In other words, he knows it’s about love.

But Axe Woves’s problem is that he cannot forgive, and he doesn’t accept a man he considers a zealot and not a Mandalorian by blood. And I don’t think he regards love as strength, but as a weakness.

But Bo-Katan rejects this. She has come to understand and find inspiration in Din’s true belief in loyalty and honor. He represents the Mandalorian spirit in a way Axe Woves never could, the latter whose honor can be purchased with money.

Bo-Katan challenges and fights Axe Woves, as her tradition encourages, but like Satine, she will not encourage death. She wants unity, and demands he yield.

And of course, Din Djarin, the Fool, recounts the story of how Bo-Katan killed the cyborg monster that overtook Din, and so by their rules and regulations (silly, silly, but a story they all believe), she is the rightful ruler.

He could have done this at any other time, but Din the Mandalorian who Knows Nothing, who otherwise stumbles into everything by sheer dumb virtue, has chosen carefully to tell this story now.

And so the Fisher Queen must lead again, reluctantly, perhaps, but she has one loyal man by her side, and a little green wizard. Bo-Katan has gone from a lonely forgotten princess by the sea, to a ruler again, animated by the Knight who has brought her the Mandalorian equivalent of the Holy Grail.

It’s not the cup that matters. It’s not the black lightsaber, either. It is the gift of love, the silly ritual mattering only to those that give it meaning. The Mandalorian has been about love from the beginning, and love’s ability to strengthen and transform.

They will lead Mandalore into the future with forgiveness, unity, and love.

Because that is the story of Star Wars.

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