The Mandalorian and the continuing allure of the Ronin
Watching any of the fandoms for this podcast are rarely a chore. Sometimes, especially in the case of The Mandalorian, it was an absolute delight. The story of a wandering, masterless warrior continues to fascinate our species.
A man (very rarely is it a woman, only The Bride from Kill Bill comes to mind at the moment) trained in the deadly arts who has lost a great battle, lost his cause, lost his master, lost his people, facing the dangers of the world alone with no tribe, is the stuff of legend. To see a warrior battle for mere survival in a world that no longer holds him in great esteem is a storyline found in Hollywood Westerns, Bollywood extravaganzas and ancient tales of feudal Japan alike.
Often violent and, let's be honest, just downright cool, these stories transcend all cultures, creeds and genres. These heroes are seldom all good or all bad, always straddling an ambiguous moral grey zone, with only their own rules and code to follow as they face the harsh realities of the life they have chosen. To have such a tale brought to us through the lens of the Star Wars Universe was something of an early Christmas gift to nerds all over the world.
The Ronin also has a recurring trait that can bring hope in a time of great darkness: he is often the only one that can save us, unite us and make us better within our own communities. His rogue lifestyle reminds us of the importance of our own groups. We all know that one stick is easy to snap with a little pressure, but a bundle of sticks can be a much more arduous task. The Ronin can be the rope that ties the bundle together. The ronin samurai in Akira Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai. Sherrif Bart in Mel Brook's immortal Blazing Saddles. And now, The Mandalorian of the Outer Rim.
I think that deep down, at the core of all human beings, we all empathize with the rogue warrior character because each of us is that person. Most of us grew up in some kind of tribe, be it family, religious community or group within the same geographic location that imbued us with a sense of right and wrong, and impressed upon us a certain array of rules that need to be followed in order to be successful. The universe however continues to expand, and within that expansion are changes that require each and every one of us to adapt. The year 2020 is a perfect example of this. No matter the circumstances, many of us have had to redefine our tribe, adapt to changes in how we identify ourselves and what it can mean to go it alone in situations where we never thought we would have to do such a thing.
If the first two episodes of season 2 of the Mandalorian are any indication, the themes of uniting disparate groups to overcome a larger, much more dangerous enemies and finding your own tribe will continue to resonate for us a long as stories are told. Ronins will continue to exist because we love them so much. They are enduring symbols of endurance, resoluteness and strength. We love that they never, ever give up.
And surprise guests stars. We really love surprise guest stars.
S1E2 The Child
S1E6 The Prisoner
Teas drunk while recording:
Kelly: David's Tea Rosemary Black Pepper
Marika: Maison Chayi Chocolate Cardamom
Teas drunk while geeking: :
Kelly: Geek + Tea Dark Side
Marika: David's Tea Grand Cru Matcha