One wonders what George Lucas thinks when he sees what Star Wars has become today. After all, these days, the Star Wars universe, both on film and on the TV screen, really does seem like a galaxy far far away from the one he created in 1977.
What started out as a simple story of a young farmboy who becomes the saviour of the galaxy has now evolved into a massive world-building exercise that has made the Star Wars universe is richer and more complex than ever. And key to that evolution has not been its higher profile films, but its smaller but no less important TV shows.
From animated shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: The Bad Batch, to the live-action Disney+ shows like The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Book Of Boba Fett and Andor, the Star Wars universe has expanded beyond what the original Skywalker Saga films set out to do.
And that’s not all – these supposedly standalone shows have also started to overlap, with each show contributing important characters and crucial plot points, to the next, enriching and stretching the galaxy far beyond what Lucas might have imagined.
Case in point, the current third season of The Mandalorian, the series that arguably saved the entire Star Wars franchise itself, which was brink of collapse after the failure of big-budget films like Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
When it first came out in 2019, on the tails of the disappointing Rise Of Skywalker, my expectations for new Star Wars shows were at an all-time low. All I hoped for with The Mandalorian was a half-decent TV show that would at least satiate my thirst for more (and better) Star Wars content.
Instead, imagine my surprise when writer/showrunner Jon Favreau knocked it out of the Sarlacc pit on the first season with what can be described as a Lone Wolf And Cub-esque story about a lone Mandalorian bounty hunter who has to take care of an adorable baby Yoda.
The first two seasons of the show (and also parts of The Book Of Boba Fett) were largely used to set up, develop, and cement the relationship between Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu (a.k.a Baby Yoda). But with the third season so far, we’ve seen big, more galaxy-scale events happening around the duo.
We’ve only had three episodes so far, but we’ve already seen Din and Grogu venture to the supposedly poisonous and inhabitable wasteland of Mandalore, team up with Madalorian princess Bo Katan Kryze (Katee Sacjhoff, given a starring credit finally), and face off with some space pirates at the same time.
So far, so Mandalorian, right? Well, it’s in the third episode that things really start to get interesting, especially if you’re a fan of the other, more mature Star Wars show, Andor.
In Andor, we get to see the rise of the Empire and how the citizens of the former Republic cope with it, as well the rise of the Rebellion.
Episode Three of The Mandalorian turns that on its head, giving us an episode that explores how former Imperial troopers and officers cope with the fall of the Empire and how the New Republic re-integrates them into society.
Sure, like Andor, the pace of the episode is a little slow and there’s a lot of talking involved, but knowing Favreau as well as producer and ‘Star Wars encyclopaedia’ Dave Filoni’s minds, it’s probably setting up the show for something big in the coming episodes.
The rise of Katee Sackhoff to co-star in the series also adds a great deal of potential for the show, as it means that Bo Katan Kryze will have a much bigger part to play this season, and heralds a bigger and more epic future for the Mandalorian race as well.
We were initially given only the first two episodes of the new season to watch and review, but I decided to hold back and wait for the third episode to come out before doing so. And I’m glad I did, because as entertaining as the first two episodes were, they were also exactly what we expected from the show, and didn’t really say a lot about what would happen throughout the season.
With the third episode, however, we’re seeing bigger moving parts come into play, upping the intrigue and potential of the season as the story expands beyond just Din and Grogu’s adventures.
That alone elevated my rating from the ‘7’ of the first two episodes to an ‘8’. And as a result, with five more episodes to go, my expectations for the Star Wars universe have never been higher. To paraphrase the show's most iconic phrase, this is most definitely the way it should be.
A new season brings new hope for even richer stories.