The Mandalorian Chapter 14: The Star Wars Expanded Universe Stakes a Claim

"The Tragedy" reintroduces a much-loved classic Star Wars character and raises questions about which remaining Jedi is worthy to train young Grogu.

by | December 4, 2020 | Comments

Pedro Pascal and Grogu in THE MANDALORIAN, season 2, Chapter 14

(Photo by © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.)

This week, The Mandalorian gave fans of the old Star Wars Expanded Universe the same sort of buzz it gave Ahsoka Tano fans last week: the thrill of recognition. From using video game ideas to restoring the cool of a fan-favorite character, the episode gave the Star Wars galaxy back a lot of the texture it accrued in the 1990s, but lost when Disney bought the brand.

Also, actor Temeura Morrison, writer Jon Favreau, and director Robert Rodriguez reminded us why Star Wars’ original wearer of Mandalorian armor exuded so much swagger. Now that Boba Fett is once again part of the story, let’s dig into “The Tragedy” and speculate on what these EU callback may mean for the galaxy.

The following contains spoilers about The Mandalorian, season 2, episode 6, “Chapter 14: The Tragedy.” Stop here if you have not watched the episode.

A Jedi Encounter Set Their Path

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in THE MANDALORIAN

(Photo by © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.)

Acting on a tip from Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) traveled to Corvus, where he and his child ward met Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson, pictured), a Force-user trained in the Jedi arts. Although she could not train the child — whose name, she informed the Mandalorian, is Grogu — she sent the pair to Tython, where the ruins of an ancient Jedi temple may allow Grogu to contact a Jedi capable of training him. With their business complete, Djarin and Grogu left Ahsoka to continue her search for Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn.

A Tragedy Occurs at the Jedi Temple

Grogu and the Mandalorian Pedro Pascal in THE MANDALORIAN, season 2, Chapter 14

(Photo by © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.)

Arriving on Tython and reaching the temple ruins with remarkable haste, Djarin places Grogu on a central stone orb. At first, the child seems incapable of doing anything Jedi-like, but after the Mandalorian sees Slave I entering atmosphere, he notices Grogu has established contact with the temple and raised some sort of signal beam/ray shield. Unable to collect Grogu from it, he prepares for another fight.

Descending into the nearby valley, he soon meets his apparent opponents: Boba Fett (Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Fennec reveals Fett saved her from death while Fett reveals … well, not much about how he survived on the sands of Tatooine. The bounty hunter’s greatest concern is the return of his armor and offers to protect Grogu in exchange. Djarin, still adhering to the Way of the Mandalore, believes Fett has lost his right to the armor as he has been unmasked.

The point is academic, though, as Imperial Remnant troop carriers break atmosphere. Djarin, who took off his jetback during the exchange, runs back to the temple ruin to collect Grogu while Fennec and Fett get ready to fight the Imps.

Despite their numbers, the Remnant stormtroopers are overwhelmed by Fennec’s ease with a rifle and Fett’s impressive skill with a Tusken gaffi stick. Djarin, meanwhile, finds he cannot push through the ray shield to get Grogru. Soon, he joins the fight while Fett sees an opportunity to collect his armor from the Razor Crest.

And its a good thing he does as Djarin and Fennec are soon cornered by Imps, but Fett flies over head and uses nearly all of the tricks in his armor to inspire fear in the Imperial ranks. He also uses the rocket on his jetpack to destroy the troop carriers as they retreat.

Giancarlo Esposito in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season 2, Chapter 14

(Photo by © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.)

Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), observing the scene from his light cruiser in the upper atmosphere, sends down a turbolaser bolt to destroy the Razor Crest and a squad of Dark Troopers to collect the child. The maneuver is successful and Gideon, finally, has possession of Grogu and his Midi-chlorian-rich blood.

Fett proves he is the rightful owner of the armor and a man of his word. Since he failed to protect the child, he offers his services in retrieving Grogu from the Empire. Fennec does likewise and the trio make their way to Nevarro where New Republic Marshal Cara Dune (Gina Carano) tells Djarn where he can find former Imperial sharpshooter Mayfeld (Bill Burr); a key part of the Mandalorian’s rescue plan. Also, because the child has been abducted, it appears she will aid Djarin in springing Mayfeld from prison.

Ghosts of the Expanded Universe

Jedi temple in video game Star Wars: The Old Republic video game

(Photo by BioWare)

From Tython to Fett to the Dark Troopers, this week’s episode proved just how deep into Star Wars lore Favreau and his collaborators are willing to delve for story and action.

Tython is the starting planet for Jedi Knights and Jedi Consulars in the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. Set thousands of years before the events of Chapter 14, it is still an active hub of the Jedi Order and — at least in that game — the group’s ancestral homeworld. This conflicts with the Sequel Trilogy, which states the ocean world of Ahch-To is the original home of the Jedi, but there’s room for inconsistency when characters are talking about events in antiquity. Clearly, both worlds felt the presence of the Jedi early in the Order’s history.

Also, the Tython seen here is a much sparser world than the one in the game, suggesting Favreau reserves the right to alter EU concepts to better fit his story.

Nevertheless, the callbacks continue with the look of the temple ruin, which more than resembles the Trayus Core on Malachor V; the sanctum Darth Traya escapes to in the latter parts of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II — The Sith Lords. In that Sith shrine, she is able to tell the player’s character, a Jedi in exile named Meetra Surik, about the far future. She even alludes to Boba Fett in her prognostications.

STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Jeremy Bulloch, as Boba Fett, 1980

(Photo by 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm)

Fett himself, of course, was revived in the Expanded Universe. Despite his apparent death in Return of the Jedi, writer Tom Veitch and artist Cam Kennedy were quick to bring him back in Star Wars: Dark Empire. The comic book series would lead to plenty of post-Return adventures for the famous bounty hunter. But it is important to remember the EU was cursed with various levels of continuity and in the most important tier, the so-called G-Canon (for George Lucas), Fett was still being digested in the innards of the Sarlacc.

It was important, therefore, for Favreau to declare on no uncertain terms that this is, indeed, Boba Fett standing before Din Djarin. In doing so, he restored a lot of the coolness the character lost over the years. Since his major scenes in the Original Trilogy see him failing against an partially trained Jedi and a mostly blind Han Solo, he began to look dopey when compared to Mandos like Kryze and Djarin. But now that we’ve seen him be a capable fighter with nothing but a Gaffi stick, we’re more than glad to see he survived the Pit of Carkoon.

Maybe we’ll even learn how he did it someday…

The Dark Troopers, meanwhile, bring elements of the first Star Wars first-person shooter into canon. Star Wars: Dark Forces was a revelation for fans upon its release in 1996 thanks to its Doom-like format and its nods to the larger Star Wars story. In it, mercenary (and future Jedi) Kyle Katarn stumbles into an Imperial plot to create a new battledroids and powered armor for an elite squad of troopers. Sadly, Dark Forces and its sequels — collectively known as the Jedi Knight series — were dumped from any sort of canonicity when Disney declared the EU a collection of legends. The ships Katarn used, the Moldy Crow and the Raven’s Claw, remained part of the universe thanks to some tabletop games, but Kyle was lost.

The presence of the Dark Troopers several years after the events of Dark Forces suggests Gideon’s resources are far more vast than we’ve been led to believe. They also make the Dark Trooper project an undisputed part of Star Wars history.

All of which adds to the excitement of the episode, particularly for those whose interest in Star Wars was kept alive in the early-to-mid 1990s thanks to the first games and stories emerging from the EU.

Expanded Questions

Jedi Master Yaddle in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

(Photo by 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm)

Of course, all of these EU elements returning leads to a number of questions about Star Wars history, the shape of things in the New Republic era, and other characters Djarin could meet.

Is Kyle Katarn Back in the Picture? The appearance of the Dark Troopers leaves us wondering how much of Dark Forces is canon. Is there room again for Kyle Katarn? Favreau willingness to use EU ideas suggests he may appear — even if his part in recovering the Death Star plans has been erased from history. If so, he may be a capable teacher for Grogu. Then again, Star Wars: Jedi Knight Dark Forces II gave players the option to make Kyle switch to the Dark Side. If he is back, his nature could be dubious.

How Strong Is the New Republic’s Hold on the Galaxy? Considering the Remant’s freedom to invade an Inner Core world like Tython, the New Republic’s grasp on the galaxy sure feels tenuous. This is largely in line with stories set around the same time in the EU, but it might be something worth exploring on the show; of course, the ambiguous political situation makes The Mandalorian’s ties to Lone Wolf and Cub that much stronger; that series is set in a time when regional daimyos exerted more control over feudal Japan. Nevertheless, Gideon’s apparent might will requires a Republic response at some point.

How Organized Is the Imperial Remnant? Boba Fett’s declaration that “The Empire is back” suggests Gideon may have marshaled more military strength than we previously believed. Is it just a matter of Gideon knowing where Sheev Palpatine kept all of the secret projects? Or, by way of attrition, has Gideon become the heir to the Empire. If that’s the case, is Thrawn on his side or is there still room for conflict within the Imps?

Who Did Grogu Contact? Since the child ended the signal beam of his own accord — or because he was fatigued — did he contact a Jedi? And if so, who? The list of possible teachers is pretty slim. There is Luke Skywalker, of course, Kyle Katarn (if he’s back), Ezra Bridger (if he’s been rescued), and, perhaps, Jedi Master Yaddle (pictured above). This last option is the most intriguing. While she was killed in an Expanded Universe story, her continued existence is possible in the current history. Retiring from the Jedi Council (and any sort of public life) a number of years before the Clone Wars, she may have survived the Jedi Purge. Also, she is from the same species as Grogu. From a narrative standpoint, she would seem the most worthy to train him, at least in Djarin’s mind, and the most convincing reason for Grogu and Djarin to part ways. Although, considering the playful scene at the beginning of Chapter 14, we seriously doubt the pair will ever split up.

Well, once Djarin and his new band of outsiders rescue Grogu from the Imperial Remnant.

Where Is Mara Jade? One last EU thought: the fan-favorite character from the Star Wars EU novels could emerge from the shadows thanks to all of these nods to the old continuity. She could easily be retconned as a Sith Inquisitor and serve as a mighty ally (or foe) for our heroes.

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