At the end of The Mandalorian season 2, episode 4, “The Siege”, New Republic pilot Carson Teva left Cara Dune with a Republic medal. The pilot had just tried to recruit her into the ranks of the New Republic, citing her strength as a Rebel shock trooper during the Galactic Civil War. He offered his condolences on the destruction of Alderaan, the planet where Cara Dune is from which the Empire had destroyed in A New Hope.
In spite of the fact that Cara Dune, with her excellent shooting skills and years of experience, would undoubtedly make a great asset to the New Republic, she refused the proposition, stating that she was not a “joiner.” Although she previously fought bravely for the Republic’s cause, picking off straggling Imperial officers who refused to surrender, she considered those days far behind her. As the structure of the New Republic became solidified and Cara’s duties became more diplomatic, she left to make her own path as a mercenary. Her trajectory shifted again after meeting Din Djarin and his former employer, Greef Karga, and she settled on the planet Nevarro to aid Karga’s initiative to rebuild the settlement. When Carson Teva invited her to enlist with the New Republic, she remained firm in her desire to stay in Nevarro and act as its marshal.
At the end of their conversation, Carson Teva gave Cara Dune a Republic badge. It can be considered an unofficial recognition for Cara’s bravery as a shock trooper that she probably never officially received, and served as a reminder that his offer to join the cause still stood, despite Dune’s initial refusal to join the New Republic. Furthermore, given its pentagon shape, it’s possible it means the New Republic has officially deputized her as a marshal on Nevarro.
The badge Teva left with Dune is different from other medals or badges of honor seen in Star Wars media. It bears the Starbird, the Rebel Alliance logo, which represents a phoenix rising from the ashes of the Empire. As Caron Teva already had the badge with him before speaking to Cara, he may have been carrying it with him at all times, possibly as a fixture of his uniform. Like Cara Dune, Teva served in the Rebel Alliance prior to the establishment of the New Republic. Since the badge is missing the circle of stars seen around the New Republic insignia, like on the pilot’s helmet, the badge is likely from the era of the Galactic Civil War. It may have been awarded to Teva for his efforts in the Rebellion by the New Republic, as a sign of his loyalty to their cause.
Since Cara left the New Republic forces, it is possible that she never received a similar award. Still, the tight-lipped soldier would not give up the full details of why she departed in the first place. It is hard to imagine that the New Republic was able to make up for what she lost on Alderaan, and her conversation with the X-wing pilot indicated there’s more grief below the surface than she would care to admit. Teva’s badge was a gesture of good will and gratitude that Dune never got from the Republic itself.
The lingering shot of the Republic medal left their dialogue’s conclusion open-ended. If she keeps it, the badge would be a constant reminder of Teva’s offer, and Cara Dune could possibly give it more thought in coming episodes of The Mandalorian. Even if she ultimately decides to remain on her own, the New Republic may become a closer ally in the future, which could pay off in stopping Moff Gideon’s new sinister plans revealed at the conclusion of “The Siege”.