Gretchen Lee—Staff Writer
After a thrilling opening to the second season, “The Mandalorian” has started connecting more to other Star Wars content, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.
While “The Mandalorian” is incredibly creative and fresh, its plot can be whittled down to this: Mando is on a mission, but first he must complete 50 side-quests in order to get to where he needs to be. Part of the entertainment of the show is watching this tired space dad jump through an obscene number of hoops to take care of his alien son; from fighting an actual dragon with a sci-fi cowboy, to retrieving an egg for the people who stripped his ship for parts, “The Mandalorian” is delightfully weird. It’s a show that takes its sweet time getting to the point while still presenting an interesting plot that keeps viewers hooked. Throw in a western theme, an adorable alien child, and a lead who manages to be incredibly attractive—even though we never see his face—and Disney has the recipe for the perfect show.
Since “The Mandalorian” gained such a massive fanbase during its first season, it makes sense that it would begin taking more risks this season. One such risk is in connecting more to “Star Wars: The Clone Wars; the wildly popular animated show that marked Star Wars’s first dive into serial television. This season of “The Mandalorian” has seen Mando interacting with Bo-Katan, Duchess Satine Kryze’s sister and the person currently vying for the position of leading Mandalore, and Ahsoka Tano, the former apprentice of Anakin Skywalker and one of the last remaining Jedi.
While it’s exciting to see the live-action renditions of these characters and gain insight into what happened to them following the end of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” series, I have mixed feeling about how much “The Mandalorian” is starting to tie-in to the rest of Star Wars. Personally, part of why I like the show is because it shows the lives of people in the galaxy far, far away who aren’t caught up in the Skywalker family drama. It has done an excellent job of showing how the average Joe has been impacted by the actions of other famous characters and I really like the fact that the main cast is composed of a series of nobodies. While Bo-Katan and Ahsoka aren’t joining the show as series regulars, the fact that more and more “well-known” characters are being incorporated has me feeling a bit uneasy. I don’t want the show to lose the level of anonymity and disconnect it has carried thus far.
Another major reason why the disconnect was nice with this show was the fact it kept the fanbase around the series relatively discourse-free. Of course, there were some arguments about the show on Twitter and other social media platforms, but it was relatively low-level compared to how volatile the Star Wars fandom has been known to be. This show brought an entirely new set of characters and helped unite fans after the controversy surrounding the sequel trilogy and Solo. Fresh faces and storylines meant that fans could watch the show without prior prejudices. Now, by bringing back old characters and tying Mando’s story into stories started long ago, I can already see fandom discourse picking up and the pot beginning to boil.
Fan service can be a good thing, when done the right way, and creative liberty is important for the people who are creating “The Mandalorian.” However, the characters can be tricky to balance, especially in a show where each episode has a different director and lead writer. Hopefully the fan service will be handled well and major Star Wars characters from other media will remain in the series as short cameos, not regulars. Let the storyline focus on nobodies who explore parts of the galaxy far, far away we have not yet seen.