The Mandalorian director Bryce Dallas Howard addresses criticisms that the show's second season leaned too heavily on nostalgia and cameos.
It would've been a missed opportunity if The Mandalorian didn't connect to the bigger Star Wars universe, director Bryce Dallas Howard says. The second season of the hit Disney+ series just wrapped up, but while most enjoyed the outing, some didn't like how much of it leaned on nostalgia.
Following a successful first season, The Mandalorian continued Din Djarin and Baby Yoda's adventures across the galaxy; this time, Mando's mission was to reunite Grogu with the Jedi since he's strong with the Force. This brought them to various places where they met a diverse group of people — some of them became allies. Most of these side characters, however, have been in other Star Wars properties before like Bo-Katan Kryze and Ahsoka Tano. The Mandalorian season 2 finale even featured a young Luke Skywalker who ultimately took Baby Yoda.
As cool as it was seeing all these fan-favorites appear on The Mandalorian, not everyone's a fan of this creative decision. Fears that the show might be leaning too much on nostalgia are justified, but Howard, who has directed two episodes of the show tells Digital Spy that not connecting it to the bigger Star Wars franchise would be a big missed opportunity.
"I think it's a really fine balance, of course. As an actor, I'm familiar with those kind of questions, because, for example, with working in the Jurassic franchise, it's like, 'OK, we can have fun with some deep cuts for the fans, but, at the end of the day, it's about a good story, well told.
"I would liken that as well to The Mandalorian in that there are these stories of characters that exist, but even though they might not be playing a central role... Constantly in stories, there are new characters. But in this one, what's cool is, (if you are a super-fan), you will actually be caught up, and will have an understanding of the various layers of the scene."
"I think to not connect The Mandalorian in any shape or form, especially with Dave Filoni's collaboration, it would personally feel like a missed opportunity. As a fan, when I see Dave's name on something, I want the storytelling to be that much richer."
"I want to feel the specificity of the Star Wars universe be brought to life, especially when it's live-action. It's definitely a fine line. But that's part of the joy."
Howard does have a point, it would be a waste to not take advantage of the established world that The Mandalorian belongs to. Except for Luke, most of the characters it brought back were either fully fleshed out like Boba Fett or existed in a different pocket of Star Wars like animation in Ahsoka and Bo-Katan. Given this, there's still a lot of stories left to tell in relation to them. For instance, Ahsoka's appearance also functioned as a backdoor pilot to her upcoming spinoff series also on Disney+ that would presumably deal with what Grand Admiral Thrawn is up to and the still-unknown whereabouts of Ezra Bridger. Bo-Katan, on the other hand, is fittingly involved in The Mandalorian considering how Moff Gideon took the Darksaber from her. Now that Din is its rightful owner, it sets up a potential conflict between the pair.
For those who are still uncertain with The Mandalorian because of the many Star Wars cameos it had in season 2, things could be different for the show moving forward. With Grogu gone, the narrative can now fully focus on exploring Din's Mandalorian roots and culture itself. Perhaps, it even takes on a procedural form as he potentially goes back to bounty hunting. Both of these elements have been present in the space opera for decades, but haven't been fully explored yet.