This is not the way. In The Mandalorian, our Bounty Hunter Space Dad has finally met some legit Mandalorians who totally take their helmets off all the time.
If you'd only got your knowledge of Mandalorians from The Mandalorian, you might have been confused. Are Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and her squad a bunch of faux-Mandos? Nope! They are the real deal, and prior to The Mandalorian, their "way" was the only "Way" we knew.
Here's how the return of Bo-Katan Kryze and her Nite Owls of Mandalore reconciles the Mando canon of the animated shows The Clone Wars and Rebels with what we know from The Mandalorian. Plus, the return of Bo-Katan can probably lead us to the Darksaber, since she's the last person who had it.
Spoilers ahead for The Mandalorian Season 2 Chapter 11, "The Heiress."
Who is Bo-Katan in The Mandalorian?
In case you're fuzzy on the Mandalorians in The Clone Wars or Rebels, here's a quick primer for you. Bo-Katan is a Mandalorian from the planet Mandalore who fought to keep control of her planet when Darth Maul's Shadow Collective tried to co-opt a group she was a part of called "Death Watch."
Initially, Death Watch was an extremist element within Mandalorian culture — which, immediately prior to the Clone Wars, had been a neutral and peaceful planet. Back in The Clone Wars era, there were plenty of Mandalorians that not only didn't wear helmets but didn't wear armor, either. Bo-Katan's sister, the Duchess Satine, was one of the peace-loving Mandalorians and also the secret girlfriend of Obi-Wa Kenobi. Bo-Katan ended-up teaming-up with Obi-Wan to help drive out Maul and returned to Mandalore with Ahsoka Tano to try to retake the planet again at the end of The Clone Wars.
Bo-Katan also reappeared on Rebels, and at that time, became the rightful wielder of the Darksaber after it was briefly held by Sabine Wren. So when Bo-Katan asks Mando, "what do you know of the Jedi?" the truth is she knows a lot. From Obi-Wan Kenobi to Ahsoka to Ezra Bridger, Bo-Katan has plenty of Jedi.
Who are "The Children of the Watch"?
Bo-Katan says Mando's perception of Mandalorian culture actually comes from a splinter "cult of religious zealots that broke away from Mandalorian society." This neatly explains why Mando thinks "the Way" applies to all Mandalorians. If you've never watched The Clone Wars or Rebels, this would seem like a massive cop-out that suddenly allows new Mandalorians to take their helmets off all the time. But the thing is, for longtime Star Wars fans — and those of us who just saw Bo-Katan in the final season of The Clone Wars — this detail is actually canon reconciliation. When Bo-Katan joined Death Watch in The Clone Wars, she too was trying to help keep the warrior-society of Mandalore alive. It seems reasonable and very possible that "Children of the Watch" were an even more extreme version of Death Watch.
Mandalorians have a lot of splinter groups and divisions within those groups. When Bo-Katan realized the Death Watch was supporting Darth Maul in The Clone Wars, she became part of the Nite Owls, which seems to be a group that still exists in this episode. In addition to these splinter Mandos, Rebels also introduced us to the Imperial Mandalorians. On top of that, you had the Mandalorian Protectors, who were also an ancient and elite group also active around the time of Rebels.
TL;DR: There are a ton of different types of Mandolarians and, it turns out the only kind that can't take off their helmets are "the Children of the Watch."
It's unclear how long the Children of the Watch have been around. Din Djarin was rescued and became a Foundling at the height of the Clone Wars, so "the Watch" has at least existed since then, roughly three years before Revenge of the Sith. But the way Bo-Katan talks about, it seems much older.
Will Bo-Katan get the Darksaber back?
Chapter 11 of The Mandalorian is called "The Heiress," which refers to Bo-Katan herself. She is the heir to the throne of Mandalore, and until she can get the Darksaber back, it's harder for her to traditionally make that claim. This kind of makes you wonder if Moff Gideon has personal connections to Mandalorian culture himself, or if he just likes stealing their stuff. (The latter seems to be the Empire's modus operandi in the episode in general.)
It seems very unlikely that we've seen the last of Bo-Katan, partially because bringing back Katee Sackhoff (who played the voice role on The Clone Wars) is a double treat not only for Star Wars fans but for Battlestar Galactica fans who loved her as Starbuck.
If Bo-Katan doesn't get that Darksaber back, she's going to be so fraking mad.
The Mandalorian is streaming now on Disney+.