When The Mandalorian first debuted in 2019, fans quickly caught on to a peculiarity about the main character: he never removes his helmet. Later episodes would go on to reveal that he was forbidden to do so by creed, his face having not been seen by another sentient being since he was a young boy. The same rule applied to the rest of the Mandalorians in his covert, who were presented as highly religious and set in their ways.
Being hard-headed is nothing new for Mandalorians, but previous members of the warrior creed seen in Star Wars animation frequently removed their helmets - making Din's rule a head-scratcher for fans. The first season of the series didn't get into much explanation beyond The Armorer's insistence that the policy keeps the group safe from a fate similar to that of their planet.
Season 2 dove in head-first with the concept when Bo-Katan Kryze made her live-action debut, immediately stunning Mando when she and her allies removed their helmets. Not only did he view them as apostates, but he had never even encountered a Mandalorian who took their helmet off in the presence of others before. Din was eventually booted out of his dwindling covert in The Book of Boba Fett for breaking the rule himself, but for the time being he still seems intent on following it.
There's still a great deal to learn about how the Children of the Watch covert factor into Mandalorian society. They were never present in The Clone Wars or Rebels, and presumably they were well aware of the many Mandalorians who didn't abide by their set of rules. Fortunately, Jon Favreau is well aware of the unanswered questions, and he intends to cover them all in time.
Jon Favreau Will Continue to Explore the Mandalorian Helmet Rule
In The Art of The Mandalorian: Season 2 obtained by The Direct, showrunner and executive producer Jon Favreau explained that he devised the helmet rule while crafting the show's story, and received no push-back from his partner in crime:
"As I was first pitching the Mandalorian story [in November 2017] and figuring out what I wanted the show to look like, I gave myself the freedom to tell the story that I wanted to tell. And, to his credit Dave never said, 'Oh, you can't have [Mandalorians not removing their helmets] be the rule; we've already established that [they can remove their helmets]'. I even played a Mandalorian character [The Clone Wars' Pre Vizsla] whose helmet was off most of the time."
The series' creator wanted to get to the bottom of where the Mandalorians had been during the show's point in the timeline, and how to give the characters the appeal that George Lucas' did:
"But there were a few things that I wanted to explore. One was why we didn't see a lot of Mandalorians in the original trilogy and sequels. You see them so much in Clone Wars, but you don't see any of them now. The other was, how do you get back to what George did, which was treat the characters almost like action figures? How do you get back to how young kids interact with Star Wars, the colors and shapes and characters?"
His pondering led to the helmet rule, something that was also inspired by Boba Fett:
"By keeping [Mando's] helmet on all the time. It's not about the face under it, it's about the helmet. Same with Boba Fett; you don't think about what's under the helmet, you think about that mysterious silhouette."
Favreau teased that things will get more in-depth regarding the rule, noting that Din's encounter with Bo-Katan has already kick-started the process:
"I wanted to preserve the magic of that, or return it to that, knowing full well that we would get complex later, that there are some groups that have evolved, like Bo-Katan's group, that are dealing more with the politics of the moment. Having those two meet each other and contend with one another was a way to address that."
What was once an odd quirk for Mando and his covert has now become a staple of the show. Jon Favreau managed to craft a rule that expanded the lore of the Star Wars universe while simultaneously serving the main character's story. It became inevitable as time went on that Din would be removing his helmet, but there would require a bit of pushing to get him to that point.
He skated by on a technicality when IG-11 healed him in "Chapter 8," so "Chapter 15" is really when Din first violated the rule. But the willingness to do so really started when the seed was planted in his head during the meeting with Bo-Katan. Mayfeld noted that Mando's personal rules seem to change as he gets desperate - which is true - yet taking his helmet off in front of somebody else never would've been a consideration in Season 1.
The bond between Din and Grogu is the heart of The Mandalorian's story, so it came as little surprise that when the title hero did do the deed, it was for his son. He was desperate to save Grogu from the clutches of Moff Gideon, but his mind opened to the possibility of breaking the creed when he realized that Bo-Katan and her people were no less Mandalorian than he was - despite their lack of regard for the rule entirely.
Bo-Katan and Din eventually came to terms on an alliance, and they learned from each other. While they came from different backgrounds, their goals were aligned. It's Boba Fett who brings a completely different element to the table.
Fett makes it clear that he doesn't give a damn about Mandalore or any creeds, though that could change given the respect he has for Din. As Mando continued to find himself surrounded by other Mandalorians who played by different rules, the choice to take off his helmet in "Chapter 15" became easier (but still highly uncomfortable). The arc comes full circle when he's saying goodbye to Grogu in the season finale, willingly letting the kid see and touch his face while looking on his son with his own eyes.
It didn't take long for Din to pay the price for having a heart. The Armorer declared him a Mandalorian no longer for violating the rule, and after helping Fett on Tatooine and surprisingly recovering Grogu, it seems as though Mando will be heading off to repent in Season 3 - at least, for the start. As he continues to ruminate over his priorities and the helmet rule, there may well come a time when "This is the way" becomes "F*** the way."
There's a clear sense of the overall direction for The Mandalorian going forward as Din learns to wield the Darksaber and become a leader. How the gaps are filled will be interesting, but it's clear that part of Jon Favreau's plan is to continue exploring Mandalorian society and how all the members of the various creeds will eventually come together, regardless of religious beliefs.
More clarity will be provided when The Mandalorian Season 3 debuts on Disney+ in late 2022.