What sci-fi/fantasy franchise would feel complete without the overarching presence of mythological beasts far beyond the understanding of mere mortals? This is perhaps the most impressive (if brief) parallel that “The Mandalorian” draws with “The Fellowship of the Ring.”
Before Frodo and the rest of our heroes ever even enter the Mines of Moria, Gandalf is plagued by the knowledge of what may very well await them inside: a fiery Balrog, a “demon” of the ancient world that was awakened by the Dwarves and subsequently laid waste to their mighty realm. While the exact circumstances of Mandalore’s destruction differ — as explained in “The Book of Boba Fett” and in this episode, the armadas of the dastardly Empire descended upon Mandalore like an iron fist — episode 2 gives fans a glimpse of the quasi-religious fervor placed upon a certain creature in Mandalorian culture.
When Mando, Grogu, and Bo-Katan reach the mystical Living Waters (which, uh, don’t look all that “living” these days), Bo-Katan finds an ancient tablet and reads the words laid down from a long-dead Mandalorian describing the mines as a former “Mythosaur lair” — not too dissimilar from when Gandalf does the same in the tomb, actually, as he reads from the decaying book that hints at their impending doom. Mando, of course, strolls right into the water and nearly drowns, saved only by the quick-thinking Bo-Katan … but while she’s rescuing him from the chilly depths, she briefly comes face-to-face with a still-living Mythosaur. One may be fire and one may be water-based, but this certainly feels like the show’s version of a Balrog.
Here, “The Mandalorian” finds its most potent echo of “The Lord of the Rings” yet.
New episodes of “The Mandalorian” stream on Disney+ every Wednesday.