'The Mandalorian' Introduces Its Own Section of the Star Wars Universe and a Major Twist
Chapter 1 of The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars TV show, dropped at the launch of Disney+ and it did not disappoint. The long-awaited series, written and executive produced by Jon Favreau, strikes a tonal balance between the attitude of the animated shows and the gritty world of Solo: A Star Wars Story (for which Favreau voiced a digital character), mixing in a healthy dose of Star Wars lore. Dave Filoni -- one of the executive producers on Star Wars previous television efforts, the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, and Star Wars: Resistance -- directed the first of the episodes, which will be released weekly, starting Friday, November 15. But the series opener introduced us to a vast, seemingly original world with one mega-twist at the end. Let's dig into how all of this ties into existing Star Wars canon and our takeaways for the show going forward.
Warning: spoilers ahead for The Mandalorian.
Who is the Mandalorian?Well, we don't know -- obviously. But the Mandalorian Culture got a major retcon when Disney bought Lucasfilm and reset the expanded universe of novels, comics, and video games. They're completely separate from Jango and Boba Fett, who were revealed to be the genetic basis for the Clone Army of the Republic in Attack of the Clones. Last seen in Star Wars: Rebels, the Mandalorians were just uniting under the banner of a new leader who was part of House Kryze. The political structure is a pyramid shape with a single leader, the Mand'alor, at the top, "Houses" in the middle level and the base being "Clans," which were more likely to be made up by bloodline connections.
The reason the structure might be important to note revolves around the scene in Chapter 1 where Mando goes to visit another Mandalorian armorer who melts down his Beskar steel into a shiny new pauldron. She asks if he's revealed his signet yet, and he says he hasn't and she tells him he will soon. A "signet" is usually a symbol on a ring, and in previous non-canon Star Wars stories they were used to show one's allegiance to the Rebels, Empire, or Jedi. However, since this signet info is dropped in conversation between two Mandalorians, it suggests this signet won't be about a political alliance, but an identity reveal. A significant Clan or a House maybe? What symbol would be so recognizable in this world that Mandalorians have to keep it hidden?
Even if our Mando is a Foundling and has very little connection to his family line, he does seem to represent the Mandalorian cause just as much as he shows us the bounty hunter lifestyle. The Ugnaught Kuiil, voiced by Nick Nolte, helps The Mandalorian find his bounty in the episode just because he'd heard stories of Mandalorians but never met one. There's lots of talk of Beskar, special Mandalorian Steel that was taken by the Empire at some point (during the Great Purge) and made into marked ingots. Beskar is an extremely strong alloy that could even deflect a lightsaber blow. Mando is collecting Beskar to make authentic Mandalorian armor, slowly piecing together a full shiny set of new duds.
All of these plot points are cool to think about and may be dealt with, but mostly serve to orient us in-universe to the mood set by the first scene of the show. When Mando takes out some bar bullies while apprehending the Mythrol played by Horatio Sanz, we're introduced to a cowboy walking into a saloon, the "man with no name" archetype. He's a badass, he's mysterious, and in the case of The Mandalorian, we can't see his face or hear his un-distorted voice. We're dealing with a rogue who is amassing symbols to build a personal mythology. He has the helmet to represent Mandalore, a signet to honor something (probably Mandalore), and he's building scintillating Beskar armor. He's not becoming himself -- he's becoming legend, piece by piece, bounty by bounty. That's also how we should expect to get our information about him: a steady drip.
Where the hell are we?In this first episode of The Mandalorian, we see a lot of desert tech. This is keeping with the grand tradition of Star Wars, which is fond of starting its stories with a desert planet on the Outer Rim, but that also means that it's hard to tell some desert planets apart. With the New Republic just starting to get a foothold in the galaxy, a lot of the Outer Rim planets are still relying on scraping together whatever they can to get by without a central government. The Stormtroopers in dirty armor don't represent the Empire since the Empire is dead -- they represent something that used to be Imperial repurposed.
Outside the lair of "the client" (Werner Herzog) is one of the eyeball-on-a-stick security droids that we first saw outside Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi. Kuiil the Ugnaught's camp is styled more like the base camp on Jakku than the Lars Homestead. The place where the Bounty Hunter's Guild meets looks like a familiar cantina, but has a window behind the bar that doesn't appear in A New Hope's central Tatooine watering hole. So far, none of these planets have been obviously places we've seen before in Star Wars canon.
That Ending...Let's get into the ending of Chapter 1, shall we? Because, the revelation of Kid Green is the most surprising thing in this episode to any old school Star Wars fan. Questions about Yoda's origins have been asked of George Lucas, and the creator has refused to answer most of them. At one point, the character had a first name, "Minch," but Lucas decided less is more for his magic frog wizard, and he's declined to name Yoda's species or home planet since the character was created. Since then, Yoda's been untouchable, per canon. Apparently, Lucas liked the mystery of Yoda and thought that expanding on the most powerful Jedi in the known history of the galaxy would just rob the puppet character of his magic. However, it's going to be impossible for the Mandalorian to cash in on this bounty without us getting a little more context on Kid Green and why he's wanted so badly by (at least) Werner Herzog and his band of dirty Stormtroopers.
Three Kid Green TheoriesWhat's the deal with this green baby? We're told in Chapter 1 that Mando's target is 50 years old. The Mandalorian takes place five years after the Battle of Endor (Return of the Jedi), and the Battle of Endor took place in 4 A.B.Y. (After the Battle of Yavin), meaning we're in about 9 A.B.Y. or… 50 years since the birth of Anakin Skywalker? Recently, in the Castle Vader run of Marvel's Darth Vader comic books, it was revealed in canon that Emperor Palpatine created Anakin Skywalker by influencing the midichlorians to create life. Around that same time, Kid Green was born. At this point, the birthdays lining up could be a coincidence, or the Kid Green could have something to do with Darth Plagueis and Palpatine's plan to manipulate the Force to make a chosen one.
To play devil's advocate to this theory: If you were the most powerful Sith in the galaxy and wanted to make the most powerful Force user in the galaxy, would you be more likely to try and create someone like Yoda, the best Jedi ever, or someone like Anakin, the miracle child of a Tatooine Hutt Slave? We're still about 20 years (in-universe) from the Force's "awakening"; a floating crib does not a Chosen One make.
There's another unlikely option, and it's the same crazy way Palpatine returns in Rise of Skywalker next month: cloning. If you have a major event in your fictional world called "The Clone Wars," you're going to have to deal with the consequences of cloning, right? Here's why Kid Green Clone Yoda Theory isn't my favorite: The idea of cloning Force users into other Force users seems like a world-crushing conversation to have. Are we suggesting that midichlorians, the blood-borne connection to the Living Force, can be extracted and grown in a person? Then why not make a clone army of Jedi? Why not increase the midichlorians in normal people by making a clone midichlorian farm? The idea of cloning Yoda just in case (and considering Kid Green predates Order 66) isn't a horrible one for the good guys, but it seems unlikely that Yoda would approve such an unnatural process.
The third option seems most likely: Whatever species Yoda (and Yaddle, from Phantom Menace) came from, it's is a rare one. Their species can live for hundreds of years, but we've only seen two of them in Star Wars canon this whole time. This theory makes the most sense from the standpoint of a television western. The Mandalorian, we're told, is a "Foundling." During the forging of some new armor, we see flashbacks to a young boy's village being attacked and the boy being hidden. The Mandalorian is a lot like the Kid Green: a loner instance of a rare culture and/or species. One is a helpless innocent, the other has true grit.
The Two HiresThe end of the episode features a battle sequence featuring a Taika Watiti-voiced IG Bounty Hunter droid teaming up with the Mandalorian to take down a bunch of aliens who are guarding a tiny green child. It's all so well constructed as a shootout and the big reveal at the end of the episode is handled so well, it's easy to forget that IG-11 and Mando were unaware of each other's missions. At the very end, IG-11 says that his directions were to terminate the target, which is the exact opposite of the direction Mando got from the shifty white-clad man at Werner Herzog's hideout. Herzog's added term about paying a lesser fee for proof of death seemed to shock the mystery man, who very much wants Kid Green alive. It seems like more than one group is aware of this being's existence and importance, which means the Mandalorian might have accidentally stepped into a world of trouble.
Other details to consider:
- If you use the subtitles on Disney+, you'll have an easier time identifying alien races. When a character speaks Huttese, it's identified as such. The Ferryman is subtitled as speaking Kubazian. When Niktos yell at the end battle, the species is identified in the subtitles. Fun!
- The blurrgs make their second live-action appearance after debuting as animated creatures in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and showing up in their live blobby form in the made-for-TV movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (and thank you to our devoted readers for pointing this out). The sequence where Mando learns to ride one is oddly reminiscent of one of the worst scenes in the prequel trilogy: when Anakin and Padmé are in a field on Naboo and Anakin tries to ride some sort of ant-eater-cow.
- Kuiil mentions the Mandalorians used to ride the "Mythosaur," which was a large dinosaur-like creature. The horned Mandalorian crest that we see handing above the entrance to the armory is a Mythosaur skull.
- The Mon Calamari (the Admiral Ackbar species) unit of money is called the flan. That culture has a lot of food-based words. What are their young called, snacklings?
- The opening Mythrol bounty mentions that Mando's ship the Razor Crest is a pre-empire ship and, in the trailer for the season, we've seen some Super Battle Droids as part of a flashback sequence. Fingers crossed for more prequel tech to show up!
- The Mythrol also mentions Life Day, the holiday celebrated by Chewbacca's Family in the non-canon and horrible Star Wars Holiday Special. Stop trying to make Life Day happen, Mythrol. Life Day is not going to happen.
- Apparently carbon-freezing has become safer in the years since The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader pioneered the technique with Han Solo.