Ever since The Mandalorian (2019) arrived on Disney+, interest in Star Wars has deviated from the movie theater to television. While we’ve had Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker (2019) in that time, Star Wars fans now appear to be putting their faith in the smaller screen.
And who can blame them — JJ Abrams‘ trilogy-topping sequel was met with as much negative criticism as its predecessor, Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi (2017). Now, both films have gone down in history as the two most hated entries in the entire Star Wars franchise.
Over the past two and a half years, we’ve enjoyed two seasons of The Mandalorian, and more recently, the spin-off show, The Book of the Boba Fett (2021). And then we have Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022) just around the corner, which will be followed by Andor (2022) and Ahsoka (TBA).
It’s hard to remember a time when we were as excited for an upcoming Star Wars movie as we are for Star Wars TV shows. Sure, while there are projects in the work, there aren’t any releases on the horizon, while Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron (TBA) has been put on indefinite hold.
Now, even the smallest nugget of information for an upcoming Star Wars TV show is enough to send the fanbase into a frenzy, leading to months of speculation and anticipation. In fact, you could say that the Force is much stronger with Disney+ than it ever was in the movie theaters.
But while The Mandalorian has become an instant classic (we can’t imagine Star Wars without the titular bounty hunter and little Grogu), and with the “MandoVerse” continuing to expand with new shows, has Disney and Lucasfilm played one big Jedi Mind Trick on Star Wars fans?
The Mandalorian Season 1 is often dubbed as having “saved” Star Wars — it entered our lives at a time when we had lost all faith in Star Wars movies, with the two most recent Star Wars sequels barely in our rear view. And its second season came with many surprises of its own.
We saw Bo-Katan Kryze brought to life in live action by Katee Sackhoff, who voiced her in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008 — 2020) and Star Wars: Rebels (2014 — 2018). And then, of course, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), another fan-favorite from both of those shows.
But just when we thought The Mandalorian Season 2 couldn’t wow us anymore, the finale, “Chapter 16: The Rescue”, rendered us all slack-jawed with the appearance of a de-aged Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who was accompanied by everyone’s favorite droid, R2-D2.
However, while this moment sent shockwaves of nostalgia throughout the entire fanbase, restoring faith and hope in the Star Wars franchise, we happen to think that this is where the real problems for Star Wars in television started. And we don’t think we’re alone.
Little over a year after Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu parted ways, we finally had The Book of Boba Fett, a show that was teased in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale’s post-credits scene. The show saw the return of Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett, and Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand.
Like The Mandalorian Season 1, The Book of Boba Fett got off to slow but promising start, detailing the bounty hunter’s time on Tatooine’s Dune Sea with Tusken Raiders, as well as the early days of his tenure as a self-appointed ruler of the planet’s criminal underworld.
But just four episodes in, and fans’ attention started to wane. Criticisms were pointed largely towards some of the show’s characters, in particular the “Mod Gang”, as well as Boba Fett himself. A beloved character long shrouded in mystique, now a friendly neighborhood bounty hunter.
And then something unprecedented happened — the fifth episode, “The Return of the Mandalorian” reinvigorated interest, almost effortlessly. The episode, which totally abandons Boba Fett’s journey, is, without argument, a pilot episode for The Mandalorian Season 3 (TBA).
Fans were quick to point out that this was the best episode in the series so far, even if the star of the show himself is nowhere to be seen. And just when we thought we’d return to Tatooine, the following episode, “From the Desert Came a Stranger”, continues to ignore him.
While Boba Fett and Fennec Shand do make brief appearances, the sixth episode focuses largely on Din Djarin and Grogu, as well as the return of Luke Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, with Mark Hamill and Rosario Dawson both reprising their roles. Even R2-D2 makes a comeback!
It seemed that Disney and Lucasfilm were using The Book of Boba Fett as the stepping stone for rebuilding the Star Wars franchise. With Grogu about to enrol at Luke Skywalker’s brand-new Jedi Training Academy, it seemed like a bridge to the sequel trilogy was being built.
But by the time we got to the end of the show’s finale, “In the Name of Honor”, Grogu was already back in Din Djarin’s care. In fact, if you think about it, he hadn’t really ever been gone. Between The Mandalorian Season 2 and the upcoming third season, Grogu’s departure had been undone.
And it’s this that seemingly renders the entire storyline with Luke Skywalker pointless. Many fans will disagree, of course, as the Jedi Knight has been a fan-favorite since Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977), but we can’t help but feel like he’s been used as a bait-and-switch.
Either way, it leaves us with many burning questions. Why take Grogu away only to return him to Din Djarin between seasons? Why tease the Jedi Training Academy — with which Grogu’s absence in the sequel trilogy could have been explained — only to expel him before he even enrolled?!
But these problems don’t just belong to The Mandalorian — after all, this “trilogy” of episodes actually forms part of The Book of Boba Fett, a show which appears to have just as little in the way of direction. And whether or not a second season will happen is besides the point.
While we saw many things coming a mile off — Boba riding the Rancor through Mos Espa, Black Krrsantan (Carey Jones) joining forces with Boba, Mando turning up to help — there were many stones left unturned, namely the flashbacks of a young Boba (Daniel Logan) on Kamino.
It would, of course, be a lie to suggest that The Mandalorian has absolutely no direction. We know that there will be a conflict of some kind between Din Djarin and Bo-Katan, something that is heavily teased in “The Return of the Mandalorian”.
But the real problem now seems to lie with Din Djarin and Grogu. While they’re easily one of the most beloved duos in the entire Star Wars franchise, there hasn’t really been any sacrifice, despite this having appeared to be the case in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale.
Grogu’s appearance in The Book of Boba Fett is treated like the most nostalgic cameo ever, yet by that point, he hadn’t actually been gone. And while his destiny was teased in the following episode’s cliffhanger, the subsequent episode quickly answered that question to no real effect.
So, are the live-action Star Wars TV shows just as directionless as the widely-hated Star Wars sequel trilogy? It might be quite a stretch to suggest that they’re as directionless, but it certainly seems like they’re suddenly lacking in the direction department.
The sequel trilogy had no roadmap from the get-go, despite Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015) being a promising entry at the time. Its two sequels, however, proved, without question, that Disney and Lucasfilm had failed catastrophically at even the most basic planning.
Either way, it remains to be seen whether The Mandalorian Season 3 will remedy some of the major problems established in The Book of Boba Fett. Perhaps Grogu’s time with Din Djarin is only temporary, and that his true destiny lies with Luke Skywalker, after all.
On the other hand, if this turns out to be the case, we’d only be revisiting charted territory. While many fans would prefer to erase their memories of the sequel trilogy, it has been long speculated that Disney and Lucasfilm intend to “lead into” those films with the Star Wars TV shows.
And perhaps this is a wise move, because we’d be lying if we said that The Clone Wars wasn’t responsible for vastly improving the hugely criticized prequel trilogy. It would also mean that there has at least been some direction, a problem Star Wars can’t seem to avoid.
As well as a number of live-action shows, there are also new animated Star Wars TV shows heading for Disney+. Recently, The Clone Wars composer Kevin Kiner teased a new animated project, while a new rumor suggests a Star Wars: Visions Season 2.
In the meantime, all things Star Wars are streaming on Disney+, including Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021), Star Wars: Resistance (2019 — 2020), The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and all 12 Star Wars movies, including the spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016).
Do you think the live-action Star Wars shows lack direction like the sequel trilogy? Let us know in the comments below!