Where 'The Mandalorian' Can Go Next
[This story contains spoilers for the season two finale of The Mandalorian.]
The Mandalorian season two has come to an end and there’s not a dry eye in the galaxy. In an episode full of heart, action, twists of fortune and surprising reveals, “Chapter 16: The Rescue” is peak Star Wars. But unlike the conclusion of the first season, which saw Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) create a new enemy in the Darksaber wielding Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Eposito) and set out to find Grogu’s people, the conclusion of season two doesn’t lend itself to such a clear path forward.
Heat Vision breakdown
And with Kathleen Kennedy revealing a number of spin-offs set during the same time period of The Mandalorian and “the next chapter” coming in December 2021, Din Djarin and Grogu’s story may not be the immediate path forward for Star Wars on Disney+. But before the panic of whether or not Mando and Grogu really have said their final goodbyes sets in, there are a number of interesting plots points set up not only for the future of The Mandalorian but the entire 25-year stretch of time between this season two finale and The Force Awakens (2015).
The Book of Boba Fett
Arguably the best means to contemplate the future of The Mandalorian is to start at the very end. In a post-credit sequence, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) return to Tatooine and the familiar location of Jabba’s Palace, which has since been taken over by Bib Fortuna, who has taken up his former Hutt boss’ lifestyle. Fett kills Fortuna and takes the throne with Shand at his side, suggesting that Boba Fett will regain his notorious reputation in the galaxy as a crime lord.
One of the more unexpected angles from season two of The Mandalorian was how it positioned Fett not as an enemy to Djarin, but an ally, and an honorable one at that. But does his seat in Jabba’s Palace point towards darker ambitions, or is this just another means of surviving in a rapidly changing galaxy?
A larger question is whether or not The Book of Boba Fett is a spin-off or the actual third season of The Mandalorian? As my colleague Brian Davids pointed out after the episode, Kathleen Kennedy never said season three of The Mandalorian was coming during the investor’s day presentation, only that the next chapter would come out for Christmas 2021 and that the spin-offs would all culminate in a big event. This, taken with Pedro Pascal’s recent comments that he expects to have some role in the spin-off series begs the question of whether the actor himself even knows what’s next for Djarin. So while it’s entirely possible that The Book of Boba Fett is a spin-off, his confrontation with Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) about his Mandalorian identity in the finale indicates that the title, The Mandalorian, could also work for him. Perhaps The Book of Boba Fett, as The Mandalorian season three, alongside the spin-off series, Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic, will serve as an interlude to Dajrin’s story while Grogu trains as a Jedi, setting the stage for a small time jump for season four and the return of Djarin and Grogu as a duo.
And speaking of Grogu’s Jedi training, the big reveal of Chapter 16, impossible to miss if you’ve ventured on social media at all, was the return of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Just when Djarin and company are pinned down by the Dark Troopers, Luke Skywalker arrives in his X-Wing, clad in black and wielding his familiar green lightsaber. Thanks to some facial de-aging VFX, Hamill looks nearly as he did in Return of the Jedi, and possess the cool, cold confidence of the Jedi we imagined him being but never fully got to see on film. Luke takes Grogu with him to begin his training at the Jedi temple.
Now I don’t expect Luke Skywalker to become a central character in The Mandalorian going forward, but as one of the only Jedi left in the galaxy it makes sense that he would be uniting other force users, and I imagine the time will come when he will meet his father’s apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. So who else might we see training alongside Grogu? Well, if we look at the timeline, Ben Solo would be about five years old during this time, and we know where Ben Solo’s training at the Jedi temple ends…When Ben became Kylo Ren he killed off Luke’s apprentices. Cue panic mode again.
But this doesn’t mean Grogu was a victim of Kylo’s massacre. In fact, I’d bet he wasn’t, given that the young force-user already seems to be pining to return to Djarin once he has enough training from Luke to survive on his own. I firmly believe Grogu is safe and still alive during the events of the sequel trilogy, and will be reunited with Djarin. But I entirely expect him to have an encounter with a young Ben Solo, brash, optimistic, and unaware of the dark fate in store for him. Or of the fact that it will be Grogu’s blood, used in Imperial cloning experiments that will eventually allow Emperor Palpatine rise again, whisper in his ear and turn him over to the dark side. This will be made all the more painful if we see Grogu and Ben develop a friendship in their youth.
The Fate of Mandalore
Despite Bo-Katan’s best attempt to confront Moff Gideon herself and reclaim the Darksaber, it was Djarin who defeated the Imperial officer in a duel and came into possession of the Darksaber. Though Djarin doesn’t want the Darksaber and tries to give it to Bo-Katan, it can only be won in combat, meaning that Djarin is now the ruler of Mandalore. From foundling to would-be King, there are some clear Arthurian overtones in where we find Djarin at the end of the season. He obviously has no interest in being a ruler, but Bo-Katan will not simply accept the blade because it is the story of how it was won that gives the wielder power in the eyes of the Mandalorians. Those who have been following Bo-Katan’s saga through The Clone Wars and Rebels, know what a crushing blow not obtaining the Darksaber from Gideon is. Her very existence is hinged on reclaiming her place on Mandalore’s throne. So who does she become now that it has once again been taken from her?
It's easy to see how Bo-Katan could become an antagonist for Djarin in a future season. But for the time being, it seems like she would want to keep him close, if only so that the Darksaber doesn’t leave her sight. But what’s more is that audiences have already been introduced to the warring ideologies between Bo-Katan’s Mandalorians of Mandalore and the underground-dwelling zealots who raised Djarin. While Djarin has opened himself to Bo-Katan’s ways over the course of the season, removing his helmet in public on two occasions, it’s hard to break the ties of family bonds. The history of the Mandalorians is a history of Civil Wars as much as Djarin resists it he may find himself with supporters who back his right to rule, and are willing to follow an adjusted code of conduct that doesn’t reflect the way of Mandalore or the zealots, but his way.
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