(Image for this post was stolen from The Spruce website)
After the season finale of The Mandalorian, I was speculating that “The Book of Boba Fett” shown in the teaser was going to be the third season of the series, which would unexpectedly take on an anthology format, devoting each season or two to a story about another Mandalorian character. Also, I was enjoying the blissfully un-21st-century feeling of having no idea what was going to come next.
Turns out I was completely wrong in multiple ways. By Monday, they were putting Jon Favreau on Disney-owned morning programs to explain what was going down.1I’m not linking to the Good Morning America interview because it annoyed me as a Star Wars pedant. At least Favreau gave them explicit permission to call Grogu “Baby Yoda.” The Book of Boba Fett is a new, separate series, led by Robert Rodriguez, coming in December of 2021. After it’s complete, season three of The Mandalorian (which is currently in pre-production) will start.
I’m a little disappointed, because I liked the idea of an anthology series, but it sounds like good news overall:
- I’m very glad to hear that they won’t be trying to run the Boba Fett series simultaneously with The Mandalorian. And the schedule is spaced out enough to suggest they’re trying not to repeat the “Oops! All Star Wars” problem.
- An advantage to making it a separate series, that I hadn’t considered previously, is that it’s not obligated at all to be tonally consistent with the rest of The Mandalorian. Rodriguez’s episode of The Mandalorian already felt more “visceral” than plot-focused — with all the chunks of Stormtrooper armor flying through the air, if nothing else — so I can imagine an entire series of Fennec Shand and Boba Fett being allowed to be relentless bad-ass anti-heroes.
- If The Mandalorian‘s story isn’t going to continue until 2022, that means that the characters and story (and show-runners!) will be able to “breathe” for a while, which will help with the feeling of repetition and prevent audience burn-out.
- I’m assuming that the other series set in the same time period — Asohka and Rangers of the New Republic — will have some cross-over with the situation set up by the season 2 finale, so they can build up more interest in the dark saber and Bo-Katan’s leadership of Mandalore, so they’re more intriguing to those of us who didn’t watch Clone Wars or Rebels.
- As my friend Seppo pointed out, once Grogu is gone, it’s tough to tell what The Mandalorian is “about.” If Boba Fett’s story had been part of this series, that implies that the series is just about “What does it mean to be a Mandalorian?” But confirming that it’s a separate series means that the focus is back on the character of Din Djarin and his development. While I still don’t think there’s enough intrigue yet, I think there’s room for interesting stuff to happen to him going forward.
I also want to give another shout-out to the Star Wars Explained channel on YouTube, for being intensely nerdy about Star Wars, but not in an annoying way. And also for planting this idea in my head of how the sometimes seemingly disparate episodes of The Mandalorian have been, to one degree or another, about the Mandalorian. Because the series has had a Lone Wolf and Cub format since the end of episode 1, it’s easy to forget that there’s more to the story than just his relationship with Grogu, and in fact that many of us were sold on the premise before we even knew there was a Lone Wolf and Cub format.
In his The Mandalorian Season Two Review video, Alex of Star Wars Explained says he thought the episode called “The Passenger” was “just okay.” Other characters in season two would send his mind racing about how they were impacting the character arc of Din Djarin, but he wasn’t seeing that here. But since I think it’s a neat and easily-missed part of the series-long character development, here’s my take on Why Frog Lady Is So Important To The Mandalorian:
The key scene, not surprisingly, is when she reprograms an assassin droid to be able to talk to Mando and guilt him into taking his responsibility more seriously. We’ve already been seeing Mando’s “alignment” gradually changing over the entire season up to that point. But so far, it’s always been out of self interest or to protect the Child. And the series has emphasized repeatedly how the rest of the galaxy runs by different rules than those we see in the good vs evil of the main movies — people are predominantly lawless, selfish, and untrustworthy.
The Frog Lady reminds Mando that Mandalorians are supposed to live by some kind of code of honor, and it’s more than just rituals like never showing his face, and it’s more than self-interest or fulfilling some kind of quest. Mando spends so much time doing side quests that it can be easy to forget that his motivation is ultimately selfish: he does good things to get something he needs in return. In “The Passenger,” he has to choose to do more than just the minimum that he agreed to, and he has to choose it just because it’s the right thing to do.
We’ve seen tons of stories about good people going through the process of becoming powerful heroes. Star Wars in particular is full of those stories. The Mandalorian may be unique in that it shows a powerful hero who needs to go through the process of becoming a good person.