“I am your father” is the most iconic line in Star Wars for a reason.
Darth Vader and Luke, Obi-Wan and Anakin, Han Solo and Kylo Ren. Every iteration of Star Wars has had its own emotionally unavailable father (or father figure), and each saga is defined by a turbulent and dysfunctional father-son relationship. But with The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm is finally breaking this bad habit with perhaps the most unlikely father figure of them all.
The latest installment of this ever-expanding universe follows Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), a bounty hunter and adopted member of the nearly extinct Mandalorian race. After being tasked with delivering a being called the Child (which the internet knows best as Baby Yoda) to the Empire, Djarin breaks the Bounty Hunter code to save the little creature, setting him on a quest to deliver Baby Yoda to the Jedi.
Considering the history of the Star Wars franchise, it’s not surprising that The Mandalorian revolves around yet another turbulent father-son relationship, albeit of a different kind. Here the turbulence isn’t between the two characters, who could not be a more close-knit duo. Instead, it comes from the enemies they face together as their lives continue to intertwine.
In The Mandalorian Season 2, Mando is well on his way to snatch the title of galaxy’s greatest dad. In the last few episodes, we got to see just how far the Mandalorian has gone in his transformation from ruthless bounty hunter to caring dad. He’s become someone who will go to great lengths to protect his Child and takes threats to Baby Yoda like threats to himself. He even sounds like an annoyed sleep-deprived parent when he has to scold his kid for eating someone else’s offspring.
Going back to where it all started, in The Mandalorian Chapter 1 we got a taste of just how much Mando disregards other life. When one of his targets, an unnamed Mythrol, pleads to him to let him get home to his family in time for Life Day (the Star Wars galaxy’s version of Christmas), the bounty hunter’s swift response is to shove him into a carbon-freezing chamber. Thankfully, we meet the Mythrol again in Season 2 and he seems to be doing just alright for himself.
As soon as Mando sets his eyes on the bundle of joy that is the Child, however, his whole character changes. And it’s not just in the cute little moments that make it onto Twitter. Mando goes above and beyond to keep Baby Yoda safe: from shooting rival bounty hunter droid IG-11 point blank to taking on the Guild — and a whole load of Imperial troopers — Djarin is definitely ready to put his own life on the line to save his kid.
As the Armorer eloquently dubs them in The Mandalorian Chapter 8, Mando and the Child had by then become “a clan of two,” grounded in their shared experience as “foundlings.” This relationship goes both ways. Besides the cuteness Baby Yoda exudes in everything he does, he’s proven he’ll protect his Daddylorian whatever the cost. Yes, the Child may have tried to Force choke Cara Dune in Season 1, but that was only because he thought she was hurting his dad while arm wrestling. It’s easy to see though how the stellar parenting Baby Yoda is receiving might be what will prevent him from slipping to the Dark side of the Force like Anakin Skywalker or Ben Solo (who both struggled to find father figures when they needed one most).
The relationship between Djarin and the Child has developed even further in Season 2. We can see how Mando is stepping into his new parental role unlike anyone before in the saga. “If you put one mark on him there’s no place you will be able to hide from me,” he says when a foe holds a knife to the youngling. And when Mando ultimately gets the upper hand, Baby Yoda runs to his feet with open arms in an overload of cuteness ready to be scooped up by his daddy.
We only have to wait until the very next episode to get a confirmation of just how much the Mandalorian takes threats to the Child personally. While seeking passage on a ship, the crew feeds Baby Yoda to a sea monster. Mando doesn’t skip a beat before jumping in the water behind him, knowing full well it’s a trap.
In Chapter 12, the Child continues to grow up and even spends its first day at school. The fears of most parents are reflected in the Mandalorian. He knows full well his offspring will be safe and he has nothing to worry about but can’t help but be nervous when giving up the baby’s care to a stranger. In the same episode, he earns extra dad points by skipping drinks with his friends at the end of a successful mission because he has a sick baby to take care of in the backseat of his car — er, spaceship — something too familiar to any parent.
For a character who doesn’t really have a face, this outpouring of emotions is all the more welcome in developing Mando as a more complex and interesting character. Behind that shiny and cold beskar mask is no longer an emotionless bounty hunter. His determination in finding more Mandalorians and pursuing the only lead he has on the Jedi show how much he has changed since Chapter 1.
Mando is truly showing all the dads of the Star Wars saga that you don’t have to sacrifice your warrior abilities or your strength as a leader to be a good father, and instead what makes you better at your job is the ability to care for others.
The Mandalorian is streaming now on Disney+.