With its premiere just over one week away, promotion for The Mandalorian’s third season is ramping up. But early footage from the new season and interviews with the creative team highlight a growing issue about the consistency of telling a single story across multiple properties.
Who is looking after Grogu? Depending on whether you’re a casual viewer of The Mandalorian or the kind of person to watch the other Star Wars TV shows being offered, such as The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Andor, the answer may differ. If you’ve only seen the flagship Star Wars TV show The Mandalorian, that answer is Luke Skywalker, who took the little green guy with him at the end of season 2.
But if you’ve watched through to The Book of Boba Fett, the Disney+ miniseries teased at the end of The Mandalorian season 2, the answer is Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal). Just after the halfway point of Boba Fett, it detours to a mini-arc—The Mandalorian season 2.5, if you will—with the primary aim of reuniting Djarin and Grogu: When forced by Luke to choose between his defacto dad and becoming a Jedi, Grogu chose the Mandalorian.
Of course, if you’re the former viewer who’s only watched The Mandalorian, going from Grogu leaving Djarin to being back by his side with zero explanation might be kind of jarring. Grogu’s return has been prominent throughout the trailers, so it’s not like the spoiler-averse Mandalorian is hiding that Grogu will have a significant presence in season 3.
In the first official clip from season 3, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) is meeting with his old friend Greef Karga (Carl Weathers). It gives us what we want—a miniature Yoda using the Force to levitate a snack into his hand—while also addressing the rancor in the room.
“I’m confused,” Karga says. “I thought you had completed your mission, but you’re still around here with the same little critter.”
“It’s complicated,” Djarin replied “I completed my quest. He returned to me.”
In an interview with Empire magazine, showrunner Jon Favreau explained the logic behind reuniting the duo when they did, noting that they “couldn’t just hit a hard reset.”
“It’s going to be interesting to see how this unfolds for people who may not have seen The Book Of Boba Fett. But I think The Book Of Boba Fett offered time to pass,” Favreau told Empire.” You saw what Mando was like without Baby Yoda and we saw what Grogu was like without the Mandalorian and neither of them was doing too good. So them coming back together was a really good plot point that allows us to jump back into Season 3 while maintaining the central relationship.”
For some, the idea that someone has to watch another TV show to be caught up on the one they want to watch is absurd.
Even though the first trailer for The Mandalorian season 3 prompted people to make jokes about how Grogu/Baby Yoda was in the new season, new footage and Favreau’s comments brought on a new round of those comments, including from some who genuinely didn’t know how Grogu returned.
But the people defending the decision pointed to other properties like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which spreads a single, overarching story across multiple TV shows and movies, as an example of what Star Wars is tapping into. If people can do it with the MCU, why are they making such a big stink about watching The Book of Boba Fett to find out how Grogu reunited with Djarin? Another argument is that The Mandalorian told you about its spinoff, which came out over a year ago, and if you have Disney+ for one show, you can access the other.
The crux of the disagreement—which TV show the ultimate reunion between Djarin and Grogu should occur on, Boba Fett or The Mandalorian—is an encapsulation of a larger debate in Star Wars fandom, and franchising more generally: Should stories be self-contained, or is their primary function to serve the overarching story?
The Mandalorian’s first season could mostly stand on its own, although more knowledge of the greater Star Wars universe offered rewards. But the second season became more interconnected with the greater universe as it introduced several characters who appeared in other properties like the prequels, the original trilogy (courtesy of Temuera Morrison’s Boba Fett) animated The Clone Wars series, culminating with the season-ending reveal of Luke Skywalker. Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi followed in Mandalorian’s footsteps with increased interconnectedness, but the more those shows on, the more criticisms about Star Wars’ reliance on its nostalgia emerged, part of which fueled the negative reception of the latter two shows.
For some, it’s why a series like Andor, a prequel with an endpoint in Rogue One that kept the callbacks to a minimum, felt like a breath of fresh air: Sure, you could watch Rogue One, but you didn’t have to watch it going in.
And while the MCU has relied on its connected universe as a form of storytelling—it’s built into the post-credits scene of the first MCU movie, Iron Man (which coincidentally was directed by Favreau)—some viewers are starting to become frustrated with the latter storytelling device. Movies like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are being criticized for the legwork required to understand the references while Marvel shows such as Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel have been praised for the lack of connections to the rest of the MCU.
But if you’re only learning about Grogu’s return, Lucasfilm and the folks behind The Mandalorian are trying to get you caught up. If you don’t want to watch several episodes of another TV show for the information, there’s a recap of everything you need to know, clocking in at just over two-and-a-half minutes on the Star Wars official YouTube channel that will tell you the gist of what you need to know.