Tuesday, 3 December 2019

The Mandalorian Episode 4 - Has it Gone Woke?

Here is the fight scene, courtesy of assorted gif makers on Tumblr:

 I like the kick, although it's a bit silly - it seems like that would be easier to deal with than her jumping and pulling him down.

But then we have the right hook, around the centre of the face, and remember, you cannot hit a jaw here, you can only hit the rigid faceplate.Yes, it wobbles in the show, because we don't have real beskar and even soft steel would be pretty hard on the actor to wear, and dangerous to punch at.

Which is kind of the point. Don't punch steel.

Note the line of her attack. If she had hit, his head would have gone back and slammed against the wood. Bad!

But much worse for her, because the argument her defendants have made is that the helmet is effectively floppy, and so takes the blow and moves, whereas she would have had the consequences we see here - she obviously hurts her hand hitting the wood - but more so, since now it has the resistance of the fence and the hardness of steel combined.

People have said "well, she has special gloves" - yet she suffers when she misses the beskar helmet, the strongest material known (this was canon until the Disney purchase, and hasn't yet been contradicted), and hits the wooden beam.

I'm not certain, but it looks thin enough to kick through with a boot without damage to the foot, so I see no reason to claim the gloves have special abilities.

At least his groin does appear to be armoured. But look at that blow to the head. It doesn't just stagger him, it flattens him.

Now, women don't have the upper body strength that men do, not even if they take steroids like I think this actress does. The development of the male body gives transgender athletes gigantic advantages even after surgery and hormone treatment. I just don't buy that she has so much strength that she can flip him like that.

But setting that aside, if a strong human man tried to "box the ears" of someone in a steel helmet, hard enough to smack them down like that, I can't see how that wouldn't result in a hand injury. And beskar, the material used in that helmet, is much harder than steel.

[Correction - I think she hits him in the back of the head - I suspect the stuntman looks down to see where he is supposed to fall to, but in a real fight, I don't see a reason he wouldn't remain looking in her direction].


Hardness is determined by scratching. That armour hasn't been marked by assorted weapons fire, nor was it marked by impacts so far. It isn't like a modern combat helmet, nor is it like a medieval helmet.

Vickers Hardness Testing might be more relevant than Moh's Hardness Scale, however, as the Beskar Steel is apparently thin, yet was not deformed by blows with durasteel weapons, which are supposedly harder than steel.


If interested, see:


"Modern helmets are made of lighter materials like kevlar, carbon fiber, and impact resistant plastic, and are often designed to protect the wearer from gunfire.  They have padding for comfort and fit and are shaped to be as effective and ergonomic as possible."


Notice how ears aren't really protected in our modern helmets, because we don't have the technology to transmit audio easily to the wearer, at least not at the price the armies can afford.

One of the things emphasised in the lore about Beskar is that it is not light, and that is why he isn't dressed like a medieval knight. A jetpack couldn't lift the wearer if it was more substantial.

Note that even in medieval gear, there is padding under the helmet.



We know medieval helmet steel was around 1.5 mm, but it certainly cannot stop even a very light modern firearm without damage.* 

Shad describes the effect of being hit on the head by a heavy object in a padded helmet here. I do think that a roundhouse kick is far greater than the blow we see on the screen, and if some close to beskar club was in her hand, then certainly, she could have badly hurt him without penetrating the armour.

He also points out that the dagger is the usual counter to good armour - in the case of Mando's armour, the fact is that the unprotected areas are pretty trivial to target in any case, so even a dagger might be over-kill.

We know that his beskar helmet can not just stop heavier rounds, but do so without any noticeable damage.

So it's fair to assume that it is not just denser than steel (the weight is a liability), not just harder, but able to stop a round at the very least with the equivalence of something 4.4mm thick in the best materials we can currently provide.

So why am I critical of this episode?


Mostly, The Mandalorian series has focussed on realism - that is to say, realism in the Star Wars universe.

We see the main character running out of ammunition and fuel, and we see them being defeated despite overwhelming technological advantages and training when he attacks a sandcrawler full of Jawas.

A piece of junk dropped from a height might not penetrate his armour, but it still wears him down, and causes him to fail. He's not the typical action hero.

Thus, the show established rules, and was consistent with them - up until this episode, where the strong wammen could just do everything. A woman in a village without a gun is an expert sniper - and only that woman can use any sort of weapon, with the men shown as comical idiots.

We see a new character, lightly armoured, beating the snot out of a heavily armoured character - or at least a character who is heavily armoured in only a few sections, which Cara targets because... raisins.

We also saw a fight scene with another Mandalorian in an earlier episode, who did the realistic thing of grabbing a knife and aiming for the holes in his armour. Realism made that episode immersive - the change of level of realism makes this episode jarring.

It's ok to have superhero physics or brutal James Bond semi-realism, but you need to pick one and stick with it.

Modern James Bond has added immersion by having somewhat realistic consequences to fights as compared to the earlier movies.

If you want to break your bones, aim for bone. If you want to do it really quickly, aim for the metal helmet that is the strongest material known to that galaxy. It is in the lore that it can deflect a lightsabre, and certainly stands up to every impact here without even a little ding.

I have to wonder if the writers felt compelled to build Cara up by watering Mando down? Or is it they just wanted to use an actress who can punch in real life, and have her punch as if she was in a boxing match, and not brawling for her life with someone encased in super-steel?

Some have said that "well, it's just a result of training, real boxers have the same problem if they get into street brawls". But the problem is the character has fought armoured opponents for years, and her training should be about how to bypass armour, not batter it with flesh and bone.

a) Cara was hitting him in his ultra-strong armour using her bare - ok, gloved - hands. That is a great way to break your own bones, not the enemies.

b) it wasn't a draw although i think the writers thought it was - she was aiming at the crown of his helmet in such a way that she would probably have had the shot fire back at herself (as far as I can tell).

c) it is possible to defeat someone in armour with bare hands - the trick is to get them down, and you do see medieval combat treatises showing how to knock someone over so you can then get into the weak spots or drown them in a puddle.

She could have flipped him by hooking a foot behind his leg and pushing hard - he is top-heavy. Or pulled him down falling on him from above!

She was right there, it was obviously an option, but no, fight scene with strong wamman means punching not tactics.

d) Random woman on planet without guns is the bestest evah at sniping, because vagina. If they had had a line with her as a former rebel, everything would have made sense - or at least said something about practising regularly. We got nothing but instant expert. That is woke writing.

Yes, I am aware that women can be good shots in the real world. But in the places women shoot, men shoot too.

In fact, a lot of problems could have been solved by removing that Omera character. If the show needed a romance, have it with Cara. On Tumblr, the speculation is, however, that Cara will turn out to be a lesbian, and I suspect if she shows attraction to men, the Tumblr fury will know no bounds.

e) Mando pretty much instantly trusts this woman he was just fighting with - even gives her the gun that will get through his armour? Nope.

There are alarms ringing about this episode, but it's only one episode. Hopefully the rest will return to the more realistic style that the earlier ones had.


He trusted her pretty much straight away - compare that to the ugnaught. He gave her the one weapon that would bypass his armour. That’s bad writing.

Having random village woman be a sharpshooter, despite them not having any guns, also made no sense, and should have been explained by her saying something like that she used to be a sniper. All the male villagers seemed to be incompetent to boot.

All that said, I have no problem with Cara Dune appearing again; I just want the same rules as apply to the male characters.

People are nervous about Disney - it’s had an awful track record - so I am not surprised that that episode rang a lot of alarm bells.

There's an argument I've seen recently that she's using Weighted-knuckle gloves

My counter to that is that her gloves are thin or she'd struggle firing the gun, she winces punching wood, the special gloves are never alluded to, and the reason such gloves are used in real life is because the metal in the gloves is harder than bone, whereas all metals other than Beskar are softer.

Remember, this is supposed to be one of the few materials that can handle a lightsaber without a force-field.


I think Cara is wearing the equivalent of these.


I doubt very much they help when punching, but they would help against knives or bone, and you easily imagine in SW that they might have some value against an unarmoured opponent, but the material is thin, flexible, and clearly not as hard as beskar.

Which makes sense, considering what real medieval gauntlets looked like.

A rigid plate in front of the knuckles would make more sense, and a thin retractable spike would make the most sense of all, since she would be used to killing storm troopers in full armour.

Too thick, but you get the gist.

A retractable boot spike would also be interesting. Especially as Mando didn't appear to have much armour below the torso.

Cara Dune figurines out already? That was quick!

I have no idea why blogger inserts gigantic amounts of whitespace here, but no matter how often I delete it, it comes back, so just imagine there is an ad here and your ad-blocker took care of it.

The actress herself is very appealing and charismatic, and is an asset imo, and none of my criticism is directed to her.

Bryce Dallas Howard on Directing ‘The Mandalorian’ and Believing in the Force

I also see no evidence as yet that Bryce is doing a Kathleen Kennedy, aka "The Force is Female".

However, have a look at the reactions to this tweet. Feminists certainly saw this episode as a victory, along with Captain Marvel.

Also See:

The Force Is Female In Disney Star Wars After All

TV Tropes:

While Cara is training the [male] villagers to use spears, one of them can't even handle putting the pointy end forward.

Meanwhile, Mando is teaching villagers how to use blasters. While nearly all of them fire once at their target, Omera (the only one who knows how to use a blaster) goes ham on her target by shooting at it repeatedly, all with a smirk on her face.

Slightly off-topic, but it's interesting to see the constraints of historical armour. The figure I used for the thickness of the helmet seems to still be correct, although the real answer is it totally depends on a huge number of factors. Sadly, museums will not agree to me coring out samples.

Again, slightly off-topic, but it could explain why I found very little in this, and why people who don't see themselves as fans - especially women - might have loved this episode with the "doofus dad - wise women" cliches.

Discussion early on about the first four episodes, after some initial struggles with sound levels which made listening awkward late at night. They point out that the space orcs are punching the helmet too? Maybe it is traditional. You see a Mandalorian, you punch them in the helmet. Otherwise, it's just being rude.

I'm not sure if anyone else asked Zack this question, but he seems to be paraphrasing the question I posted him. I have actually hardened my stance with more information - modern combat helmets seem to be softer and lighter than medieval helmets, as they are specialised to sacrifice themselves to stop a bullet, not a club or a sword.

This material - beskar - is both heavier and harder than steel, and both factor into the question of what would happen if you swung to hit them sideways so hard, it totally flips a man over (which would probably snap the man's neck in any case).


In that shot, the blow is on the middle phalanges, and the force will twist the wrist, not compress it. I expect that is more likely to cause problems if you do it with the same force as a punch.

However, if someone wants to do a Mythbusters, and demonstrate on Youtube that they can flip some sort of doll that is the weight of a human plus the canon weight of that armour with one sideways blow to a hardened steel helmet  - one that can stop high velocity bullets without even a mark - then sure, I'll concede the point.

Ok, maybe that's too difficult. But the whole point of that beskar armour is that you can shoot at it over and over, at least with the typical hand-held weaponry in the SW universe. It's not ablative or reactive as far as I can see; it's not sacrificing itself to provide protection like a motorbike or bicycle helmet does.

I can imagine someone punching a motorbike helmet without a major problem because it is supposed to crush and cushion the blow, but then it is ruined as a result.

So here's the goalposts - find someone with an accurately made medieval plate full helmet, put it on a dummy that is weighted to the total of human male plus beskar, and use a bare fist to sideways smack on the ear as Cara does, to the point it reflects what we see in that gif.

If you say her gloves protect a bit - well, modern steel is far softer than this fantasy material so I think a bare fist is a fair simulation.

My opinion is firm that this will injure you. I personally would prefer an expert rig up a fake hand with the same material strengths to whack the dummy, but I have no idea who could do that nowadays.

Discussion here about full plate and why swords don't cut it - so you then use them as a club!

Note: If punching a steel helmet was a wise move, why would people have bothered with half-swording?

Relevant because of discussion of hardness:

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