Star Wars wasn’t supposed to make me feel this way, but I’ve never felt so giddily associated with the autistic experience than after watching The Mandalorian.
MAJOR Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t seen The Mandalorian on Disney+ yet, then you need turn away and come back to this one, k? It won’t make sense otherwise, and you’ll be glad you both watched that show, then read this post. Thanks!
Yeah, everyone says IG-11 — a bounty-hunting, gun-toting, torso-spinning assassin droid — is their new robot spirit animal. And I don’t blame them.
He’s a TANK, brutal, laconically comic, and fearless.
And as someone on The Life Autistic, my main thought: IG-11 is totally “us.”
We’re not all programmed to terminate bounties, nor will we ever have the shooting, twirling, lithe grace of IG machinery, but here’s where we relate:
Terseness. His economic responses are the kind that’d make Calvin Coolidge look loquacious in comparison — coldly judging options as “acceptable” or confirming simple veracities with “This is true.” I only wish I could be as succinct, but I need people thinking I’m less a robot, not more.
Facts first, assessment later. When IG-11 is hit, Mando asks if he’s ok. His response is almost classically autistic:
“Running a quick diagnostic. It has missed my central wiring harness.”
Mando: “Is that good?”
It’s the kind of thing we folks on the spectrum would say, assuming that the question would be answered by the facts we share.
Adherence to routine. In harm’s way? So what? Routine is routine.
Mando: “Now let’s regroup, out of harm’s way, and form a plan.”
IG-11: “I will of course receive the reputation merits associated with the mission.”
Mando: “Can we talk about this later?”
IG-11: “I require an answer if I am to proceed.”
We are often equally inflexible — even in the heat of the moment.
Fatalism. “Manufacturer’s Protocol dictates I cannot be captured. I must self-destruct.” Unlike IG-11, though, we sometimes just go ahead and do this without announcing it. We can’t be compromised, so we melt down, shut down, and sometimes just blow up given the wrong circumstances.
Redeeming ourselves. We are aware that we’re difficult. Prickly. Not always easy. But we have our merits, and we’ll prove it.
Mando: “You know, you’re not so bad. For a droid.”
I’ve gone back and watched all IG-11’s scenes, and there are so many resonant little gems, like his clunky-graceful movements (that hip pivot when stepping over a dead alien!), retorts (“Species age differently.”), sheer bravado in taking on hordes of mercenaries, and pragmatic pivots to team up when necessary.
The Mandalorian wasn’t meant to deliver a ‘cool autistic character,’ but IG-11 is about the coolest and closest we’ll get.