HEAT VISION

How 'The Mandalorian' Villain Could Connect the Larger 'Star Wars' Galaxy

THE MANDALORIAN, Season 2
<p>Moff Gideon in 'The Mandalorian'</p>   |   Lucasfilm/Disney+
What is the villain from the Disney+ show really up to, and what does that say about how the show fits in with the larger 'Star Wars' picture?

[This story contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season two.]

As the second season of Disney+’s The Mandalorian has continued, the larger picture of the season as a whole — if not the series — has emerged, as the villainous Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) has shown more of his plan. In the process, the show has also become more tightly connected to the larger Star Wars mythology, bringing in existing characters from elsewhere in the franchise. With only a couple of episodes left in the season, could those two threads be more connected than it seems?

After the events of ”The Heiress,” “The Siege,” “The Jedi,” and “The Tragedy,” certain facts about what Moff Gideon  have come to light: he’s involved with some kind of scheme that involves cloning, and that’s the reason why he’s been hunting down Grogu all along; the creature formerly known as “Baby Yoda” is Force-sensitive — or, to use the more in-story definition, has blood with a high midi-chlorian count — which is, it seems, integral for the cloning process to succeed. Quite what he’s cloning, and why, remain a mystery for now.

For Star Wars fans of old, the notion of the Empire creating Force-sensitive clones is not a new one; in the now-abandoned Expanded Universe, Emperor Palpatine was behind a scheme to do that very thing, resulting in the creation of the Cuis Clones, six stormtroopers cloned from a Jedi Knight who became the Emperor’s personal assassins.

Although this concept has been dropped from canon, it’s perhaps worth noting that Star Wars in general hasn’t been shy about picking and choosing elements of past continuity to bring into contemporary canon — see, for example, resurrecting Boba Fett after the events of Return of the Jedi, or the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was originally created in a 1991 prose novel before being brought into official Lucasfilm canon in 2016’s third season of Star Wars Rebels — which opens the door to this idea being used in The Mandalorian, especially given the show’s tendency to look in unexpected places for source material.

There is, however, another existing possibility for the outcome of Moff Gideon’s plan, and one that is firmly inside Star Wars canon, as it originally stands. In fact, it’s somewhat of a plot hole as currently stands — what if Moff Gideon is cloning Supreme Leader Snoke from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

Little has been defined about Snoke’s origins, at this point in Star Wars mythology; he was one of a number of clones either by or on behalf of Emperor Palpatine, as per Palpatine’s boast in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, presumably to build the First Order into a viable army ahead of Palpatine’s public return. He was, notably, a Force sensitive clone, as demonstrated in The Last Jedi — but does that mean that Grogu was part of his DNA, in some way, and that Gideon had a hand in his creation?

If so, it’s a move that might be controversial amongst viewers who have been enjoying how separate The Mandalorian has been from what became known as “The Skywalker Saga” — but, at the same time, the show has leaned far more into pre-existing mythology in its second year, so it would hardly come entirely out of left field.

Perhaps more interestingly, it would be a move that underscores The Mandalorian’s standalone nature even as it brings the show as close to the movie serial as it’s come yet, with the title character literally interacting with a primary plot point from the movies only as something that’s all but a Macguffin for what he — and the show — really cares about: the safety and security of Grogu.

Ultimately, it’s not actually important why Moff Gideon wants the child, and whatever his scheme turns out to be. If it does turn out to be Smoke-related, that is interesting from the point of view of the larger mythology of the overall franchise, but from the point of view of The Mandalorian as a standalone entity, it doesn’t really matter… which speaks very strongly to the Mandalorian as a character: single-minded, focused on what’s important to him, and existing on the periphery of political events.

If this is where the show plans to go with the plot, it’s a quiet masterstroke. And if it isn't, if Gideon is revealed to be planning something that only lives within the bubble of the show itself, it could end up being a significant missed opportunity that, ironically, stopped the series from further standing out amongst the larger Star Wars story.

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