Mandalorian culture in the Star Wars galaxy probably feels like a total mystery to many fans watching The Mandalorian on Disney+, because outside of the animated series like The Clone Wars and Rebels, this group of humans hasn’t been represented much onscreen. The first episode of The Mandalorian, released Tuesday with the launch of Disney+, hints at the title character’s season-long arc in a big way, and it might have everything to do with his “signet.”
Midway through the premiere, the Mandalorian brings a small brick of beskar steel he receives as a down payment on a bounty to a fellow Mandalorian called the “Armorer.” This woman forges weapons and armor for Mandalorians, and he pays her to forge something using new newly required material.
She comments that the piece of beskar steel was “gathered during the Great Purge,” presumably referring to the Jedi Purge that happened after Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66. They also agree that it’s good this is “back with the Tribe.” What comes right after feels even more important:
“Has your signet been revealed?” she asks.
“Not yet,” the Mandalorian says.
This somewhat ominous moment remains shrouded in mystery at the end of the episode, but it seems like a new facet of Mandalore’s somewhat feudal society. Based on what we know from Star Wars Rebels, Mandalorian society is structured like a pyramid. There’s a ruler at the top, large factions known as houses, and smaller familial units (called clans) that form alliances within the houses. Their history is plagued by Civil War, and it seems like we’ll learn even more through this new signet tradition.
A signet is a kind of symbol, usually embossed into a ring or other piece of jewelry, meant to identify a person in lieu of a more traditional signature. It’s fittingly archaic, and the most flashy use for a signet ring would be to press it into hot wax to seal a letter. In the Star Wars galaxy, things will be quite different.
Based on the language used, a signet is not something a Mandalorian chooses, nor is it something they are assigned. It is something that is “revealed.” The Armorer asks the Mandalorian about his signet right after deciding she’ll make him a pauldron, or a piece of plate armor for the shoulder, almost as if pressing the signet symbol into the piece of armor would be an obvious thing to do — if it had been revealed already.
Given this context, it seems like a Mandalorian’s signet is a symbol or sigil meant to function as their signature, a crest warn on the armor to intimidate enemies and identify them. The “reveal” of a signet probably comes about when they accomplish some great deed(s), and then a symbol from their culture is emblazoned on their armor for everyone to see. What will it take for it the signet to be revealed?
At the start of the series, only the Mandalorian’s helmet is made out of beskar steel. He’s a blank slate, a man of few words and potentially conflicted morals. The Armorer forges the pauldron, and the scene is intercut with flashes of his past, of his parents dying and the trauma that might explain why he hates droids. We get an inkling that he’s not a cold-hearted killer like Boba Fett. He might be something more noble, something better, something beyond just a mere bounty hunter.
With the crucial decision of whether or not he should protect “The Asset” from the remnants of the Empire after Episode 1, the Mandalorian has a chance to define what kind of warrior he’ll be and what kind of example he’ll set for his people. Despite being a fully mature man, this experience feels like it’ll be a coming of age story for him where he’ll define himself and finally acquire the signet that’ll define him as a unique individual.
The whole thing almost feels like a video game, with the protagonist leveling up a little bit as we get more of the story, establishing a firm example for how the series will progress. In various promotional imagery and in the trailers we’ve seen so far, the Mandalorian clearly acquires more pieces of beskar steel and adds them to his existing armor.
How will the Mandalorian define himself moving forward? Is he a good guy? Or is he a bad guy? We can’t wait to find out.
The Mandalorian’s premiere episode is currently available to stream on Disney+.