The Mandalorian: A Larger World
[The following essay contains MAJOR SPOILERS; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]
Several critics have argued that Season 2 of The Mandalorian features an excessive amount of blatant “fan service”—and quite frankly, it’s difficult to refute that point in light of the fact that Ahsoka Tano, Bo-Katan Kryze, Boba Fett, and Luke Skywalker all make rather substantial appearances. I cannot, however, agree with the vocal minority that insists that this creative choice represents yet another example of the writers inadvertently diminishing the size and scope of George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away. Unlike The Rise of Skywalker’s revelation of Rey’s true heritage, The Mandalorian’s introduction of a few familiar faces actually serves the overarching story, reinforcing the series’ core themes and cementing the protagonist’s unique perspective.
The Mandalorian was advertised as an opportunity to explore the more obscure corners of the Star Wars universe, free from the narrative baggage of the Skywalker Saga. Initially, the titular bounty hunter’s encounters with some of the setting’s most iconic, important, and beloved characters would appear to break that promise; fortunately, the show manages to avoid such gratuitous and cliched contrivances as the “Rey Palpatine” twist. Din Djarin is consistently portrayed as a very small fish in an immeasurably large sea; even when his mission brings him into contact with powerful Jedi and legendary warriors, they always have their own goals, motives, and moral codes—their short-term objectives may briefly align with his, but their personal agendas ultimately take priority.
In other words, while Mando is certainly at the center of the action, the world doesn’t revolve entirely around him. To paraphrase Jango Fett’s creed: he’s just another simple man trying to make his way in a hostile galaxy. Indeed, when compared with the political turmoil plaguing the fledgling New Republic, the devious machinations of Moff Gideon’s Imperial Remnant, and the fanaticism and dogmatism dividing the various Mandalorian factions, his noble quest to reunite The Child with “his people” comes off as almost quaint and insignificant.
Star Wars’ evocative world building has been one of its most appealing qualities since the cantina scene in A New Hope; every creature, critter, and scoundrel lurking in the smoky shadows of that wretched hive of scum and villainy, no matter how seemingly minor, has ambitions, aspirations—a story to tell. The Mandalorian shines a spotlight on one such “background” character, relegating the “canonical” heroes to supporting roles—which, consequently, offers the audience a uniquely grounded point-of-view that completely recontextualizes the grandiose conflicts that previously defined the franchise.
The Force feels all the more magical when seen through the eyes of a relatively “normal” (or, at the very least, uninitiated) man.