This is where the show is going to start being more difficult for many viewers.
Star Wars is a galaxy with a rich lore. There was the original trilogy, still the best in the franchise, and then we got prequels and sequels of varied quality. The major other ideas came from television shows, comics, and novels, all of which have been messed with since the Disney takeover. I highly enjoyed some of it, but the biggest marketing lock was Clone Wars, a computer animated show that gave so much weight to the clones as characters and to other cultures in the galaxy. Hell, it revived Darth Maul and somehow made it work. Maybe one of the bigger things that show did was to introduce and deepen the lore around Mandalorians. They did not resemble much of what we’ve seen in the new series, but now that’s become more interesting.
“The Heiress” is another episodic installment in this series that doesn’t feel as isolated as we’ve had thus far. We see the end of his adventure with the Frog Lady, my heart swelling so huge when she found her Frog Man and they hugged and then gazed at their egged Frog Babies. It’s ridiculous and sweet, but from there Mando and Baby Yoda are tricked into a trap and require saving. Three other Mandalorians show up and save the day, and that’s where shit gets wild.
Beware, for beyond here be spoilers.
Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) feels like a remnant of the cold war to me. She was an adult in Clone Wars, the younger sister of the only woman Obi-Wan Kenobi ever loved, and is now the heiress to the Mandalorian throne. She’s a complicated character with a rich backstory. Absolutely none of that is touched on in this week’s episode of The Mandalorian and I have no idea how much viewers will connect to these people. I know who they are and have for years, at least with two of the names dropped. Bo-Katan is an important side-character in Clone Wars, the almost-sister-in-law to Obi-Wan Kenobi and friend/ally to Ahsoka Tano, the former padawan of Anakin Skywalker. There, I just dropped a whole bunch of crazy-ass lore that makes no sense to anyone unobsessed with Star Wars like I am.
Look, I loved this episode. We got a moment with Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon, we had an wild action sequence that involved jetpacks and hijacking a spaceship, and some really sweet stuff with the Frog People and Baby Yodes. I’ve no doubt that this will be a fun time for all viewers, but between this and Cobb Vanth in the season premier (not to mention [REDACTED], which I’m still trying to process) I just…I don’t know how deep down the rabbit hole casual fans and Baby Yoda Stans are going to go to understand these characters and references. I lost it when Bo-Katan popped onscreen, recognizing her by the helmet markings alone as my girlfriend was just happy to see some Mandalorian action. When Ahsoka Tano was mentioned she vaguely remembered that, but only because I dragged her through the final few episodes of Clone Wars earlier this year and she dug some of what she saw. I’m so happy Favreau and Filioni are doing this but I wonder how far most will follow them on this.
The least-hot take I could have? Bryce Dallas Howard is a pretty neat director. I wasn’t fond of her first episode last season but…damn, she’s really stepped up to the plate this time. Action and geography are important together and Howard’s got it down! All of the imagery and timing is perfect and I’m just overjoyed with what she’s done.
I can’t wait for the rest of this season, but I’m concerned about longevity with the people only here to see Baby Yoda. He’s less prominent this season and we’re getting a lot of deep lore from the vaults of Star Wars this season. I hope people seek out those shows and stories, but I also hope it won’t be 100% necessary going forward. I can’t wait to see how they handle Ahsoka Tano and [REDACTED].