'The Mandalorian' Is a Better Future for Star Wars Than 'Rise of Skywalker'

The strengths of Star Wars might just shine brighter on the small screen.
Screenshot from The Mandalorian. Close up of the Mandalorian's bust framed against a bright yet overcast sky, wearing the iconic mandalorian helmet with a "T" shaped visor.
Image courtesy of Disney

Star Wars, at least in the mainstream, has always been a movie franchise first. In the early aughts we started to see more and more animated series, but now, for the first time, there is both a live action TV series and a movie that released within the same general time frame. Having these two visually and tonally similar works to contrast has helped the Waypoint Radio crew really dial in what they like and dislike about Star Wars as a whole. On this episode of Waypoints, we share our thoughts on both The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian, Star Wars as a franchise, and one weird thing that happened on Patrick's twitter feed. You can read an excerpt and listen to the full episode below.


Rob: One of the things about Star Wars that I've always liked so much is that everything in Star Wars has such a concrete tactile feel. Ships feel like they have an existence they've seen hard use, they've been beat to shitm they've been used for a purpose again and again and again. If you see a mining ship in Star Wars, it's going to look like a thing that's been crushing rocks and getting bashed around asteroid fields for 30 years. The Millennium Falcon looks like some someone's cobbled together truck that they've kept running through three or four generations, and has the wear and tear associated with that.

So I think a lot of Star Wars sort of implies this object permanence of the things that inhabit the universe. But then in terms of the way Star Wars tends to tell its stories, these things can become weightless at will, right? That's why it's so frustrating that "Oh, Imperial Star Destroyers are terrifying, you see them appear in the sky above your planet and you know, the Empire is here." And then Rise of Skywalker is like "What if a million Star Destroyers appear in the sky above your planet."

Austin: I know, it sucks!

Rob: But I think with the Mandalorian, [with] little things in the closing stages of this season, which I do think was a lot of fun, pays off a lot of the foundations that were laid early in the season. I think I think it works on that level, which the new trilogy does not. It pays off the things that are set up in the first act.


Austin: Yes, they show up in the third act. This is not groundbreaking cinema here. This is the thing you do, is you put the IG droid in episode one or whatever, and he shows back up in seven and eight and rules and absolutely fucking rules. That sequence kicked ass!

Cado: Chekhov's Droid.

Austin: Chekhov's Droid, yes.

Rob: I forget Carl Weathers character's name.

Austin: You mean Greef Karga? Great name!

Rob: Yeah, awesome.

Austin: Yeah dude, his name is Greef Karga! He's an ex-magistrate! What's his face, Gus from Breaking Bad shows up and just goes "I'm going to give the rundown on each of you. I'm going to read the dramatis personae write ups of each of these characters, and you're going to realize we secretly had a dope set of characters in this show."

Rob: But at the same time, at the end of this series [the Mandalorian has] got to go back to that planet and Karga's there. And somehow the guild that we saw before, you know, this planet is overrun with bounty hunters, Karga's running this entire Guild. Now everything has changed but it's very hand-wavy as to like, what changed here? Why? Last we saw, open warfare had just broken out between the Mandalorians and the bounty hunters on this planet. Now all of that seems to just be gone.

Austin: Also by this planet you mean a main street, seven buildings, one town on this planet. Are there more, who knows?

Cado: That's always kind of been a Star Wars problem though is that planets are the one town. It's kind of also just a sci-fi problem, you can only move so many places.


Rob: But Star Wars plays it up because they so often return to that Western-Main-Street motif. And then you have things like the tunnels where the Mandalorians were hiding. "Oh, they've been they've been wiped out, they're all gone. Except the most important one. She's still there-"

Austin: To give you an upgrade!

Rob: Yeah, exactly. One of these things happening you're like, "Okay, cool." Star Wars and The Mandalorian feels like it's stapled together out of these moments where "Oh no, all is ruined on this planet, a planet got blown up, a settlement was wiped out. But anyway, here's that character who was clearly there the last time we checked."

Austin: But anyway, here's your jetpack.

Patrick: Aren't those problems just Star Wars problems though? I feel like the problems I have with The Mandalorian are the problems that I could poke holes at in the original trilogy in a way that–

Rob: Patrick, I bought so many tactical manuals!

Austin: Oh my god. And droid that stood up wasn't in any of them!

Patrick: What are you trying to justify to me i'm not–

Austin: Rob's relationship is very physical, very material. And it's not a dig I get you.

Patrick: I'm saying that as a compliment to The Mandalorian, for which my issues with it feel in concert with the issues that I [have] with Star Wars as a whole, and so that's why I responded so much better to it than something like Rise of Skywalker. [ The Mandalorian has] the shit that, when I sit my friends, I go "[that doesn't make sense]" and you can do that with the original trilogy all day. That's fine [in The Mandalorian] because that seems to better understand the strengths of Star Wars.


I'm far less interested in what they do in the theatrical releases of Star Wars in the future than I am in what they could possibly do in the TV series, because Star Wars at its best, like the original trilogy, is just three really good big budget TV episodes. It's just a three episode arc. And the strength of something like the MCU was understanding that it's really just a big budget TV series and finding ways to do storytelling in different ways.

Star Wars came in with like kind of a adopting a format that never made much sense in the first place, it's just a thing it did. That's part of why that I think The Mandalorian works as well as it does is that its weaknesses are also born out of its episodic format because there's not necessarily as much happening in each episode, but taken as a whole you're like, "Okay, those arcs worked for me."

Discussed: The Rise of Skywalker 24:33, The Mandalorian 1:07:28

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