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‘The Mandalorian’ Makes The Sequel Trilogy Look Even Worse Than It Already Did

by Culture Slate about a year ago in star wars

What If...?

The tale of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It is probably one that you have heard time and time again already. I myself find moments of brilliance in the trilogy and can enjoy each installment to different extents, but I cannot deny that it is flawed and feels like it did not have a cohesive plan. Yes, I know, George Lucas did not plan every single thing either, but one would think that in this day and age, people would be able to "get it right" more easily.

So where did Disney and Lucasfilm "go wrong," so to speak? Somewhere down the road, they felt a need for a reset. The announcement of a sequel trilogy meant that some of the Expanded Universe would have to fall by the wayside in order to keep viewers surprised. The Expanded Universe was eventually given the Legends label to separate it from the canonical continuity. The Clone Wars TV series was also discontinued, though Dave Filoni would go on to work on 2014's Star Wars Rebels and even weave in characters from that series that took place in the years leading up to the original trilogy. Marvel Comics regained the Star Wars license, and most of their initial comic series in 2015 were focused on the original trilogy era. There were prequel references here and there, but by and large, Star Wars felt "prequel shy" for a time. To be fair, the prequel trilogy was also flawed. But it still had its fanbase.

This "prequel shy" vibe extended to the sequel trilogy. With Episode VII being directed by JJ Abrams, an original trilogy fan who felt no need to connect much to the prequel trilogy, some fans felt alienated, especially when Abrams joked about showing a dead Jar Jar Binks. (This joke, of course, did not age well, given what we have since learned about Ahmed Best's struggle.) Some of George Lucas' ideas were used for the sequel trilogy, but The Force Awakens felt like a "retro movie," as Lucas put it. New and interesting characters were introduced, but the plot felt too familiar to some.

Then came The Last Jedi. Rian Johnson followed through with Lucas' idea of Luke Skywalker as a cynical hermit. This film felt more connected to the prequels in the sense that Rian Johnson was continuing the story of how the Jedi were full of hubris that led to their downfall. We have recently learned that he thought of including Hayden Christensen as the ghost of Anakin Skywalker, but I think he made the right choice in utilizing Yoda instead to give Luke advice about what it means to be a teacher. Rian Johnson moved the story forward, but it also felt, intentionally or not, like he was subverting some of the things that Abrams set up in The Force Awakens. I feel that he knew what to do with Luke, Rey, and Kylo, but did not know what to do with other characters like Finn and Poe.

Then came The Rise of Skywalker, which saw the return of JJ Abrams in the director's chair. This film felt like a subversion of The Last Jedi, which Kylo Ren no longer being the main threat as was previously teased, and with Rey's heritage being altered to be this cheesy grandiose thing that was not foreshadowed whatsoever. It was very clear that the trilogy did not follow a clear plan. Due to some of the odd choices of this film, it fell short as a finale to the entire saga. It had prequel references here and there, but I believe that Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau would have done a better job making the sequel trilogy feel connected to the rest of the saga while pushing things forward. And they may have even planned things better.

In The Mandalorian, we saw how the season 1 episode "The Gunslinger" became relevant again in season 2's "The Marshal" and, most recently, "The Tragedy." Even "The Prisoner," an episode that felt "filler" to some, became relevant to both "The Tragedy" and an earlier season 2 episode, "The Passenger." Even if Filoni and Favreau did not plan every single thing, the show feels like everything is planned. This is not new for Filoni in particular. In Rebels season 2 finale "Twilight of the Apprentice," we saw the outcome of Ahsoka Tano's fight with Vader. Season 4's "A World Between Worlds" gave us more context. While I dislike the self-indulgence of that particular episode, it still illustrates that Filoni plays the long game. Even the series finale of Rebels connected back to the "space whales" episode of season 2 that many perceived as "filler." I think that Filoni knows how to plan.

I am not a "Filoni can do no wrong" type of fan. Like Lucas, I think he would have needed someone to filter his ideas through, and Jon Favreau has proved to be effective as that particular someone. Had they been in charge of the sequel trilogy, I am sure that the Expanded Universe would have had to be retconned anyway. Filoni had no qualms contradicting the Expanded Universe while making The Clone Wars, after all. But there is something to be said about how The Mandalorian, with a little bit of retro-fitting, could feel like it fits neatly within the Expanded Universe.

The show is set five years after the original trilogy, but we have seen in "The Jedi" and "The Tragedy" that the show is willing to embrace prequel era connections. There are Expanded Universe references. And there may even be seeds that connect to the sequel trilogy. It even includes elements introduced in the goofy Holiday Special and Ewoks films. The show feels like it aims to please every type of Star Wars fan. If Filoni and Favreau had made the sequel trilogy, perhaps it may not have ended up exactly as Lucas envisioned it, but it probably would have pleased more of the fanbase, since it seems that Filoni and Favreau seem to have a better understanding of the scope of Star Wars.

Written By Steven Shinder

Syndicated From Culture Slate

star wars

Culture Slate

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