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With The Mandalorian Season 3, Dave Filoni Is Once Again Fixing Star Wars

The Mandalorian season 3 Dave Filoni fixes Star Wars again fix broken franchise after The Last Jedi Rise of Skywalker sequel trilogy

Star Wars was woefully broken. There isn’t a person among the fanbase who would argue against that fact. Whether you hated Star Wars: The Last Jedi for its deconstruction of the mythos or hated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker because it was a terrible film or just didn’t go to see Solo: A Star Wars Story because you were tired of it all, by the time the Skywalker Saga “ended,” it was clear that the franchise was broken. The film projects were all put on an ongoing long pause, and it seemed like things were pretty dire. Surprisingly, this was not a new feeling for Star Wars fans. A similar thing happened when the lackluster prequel films had come out. But how to get out of this new low for a franchise that should be printing money faster than a pod racer swerving through a trench on Tatooine?

The answer was the same now as it was back then: Dave Filoni.

Maybe you weren’t alive when the prequel trilogy came out and you’ve only experienced the tepid hatred of a trilogy of movies that peak at somewhere around “OK,” but over the years the prequel trilogy came out, things were not so good for Star Wars. It wasn’t bottom-of-the-barrel TRoS level, but it wasn’t great. The trilogy was a mess to many.

That is until Star Wars: The Clone Wars came out three years after the final film. Dave Filoni, hand-selected by George Lucas, began releasing a series that slowly (very slowly) retroactively improved the trilogy by telling the story of what happened between Episode II and Episode III. In turn, it retroactively improved a host of characters and remedied plotting issues while also introducing us to one of Star Wars‘ most beloved characters, Ahsoka. Our own Darren Mooney has already covered this idea at length and this article is about The Mandalorian, but the bottom line is that the series kept Star Wars alive and even brought it to a healthier place.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars final season

Now, Filoni, alongside Jon Favreau, is doing the exact same thing with The Mandalorian, and season 3 was the most obvious confirmation of this fact as it worked to begin not just revitalizing the franchise on the whole, but also fleshing out the details of plot decisions that Disney made that were mind-bogglingly dumb and hoping to at least put them in some sort of context. Granted, there is plenty of other content out there attempting to do this as well — from comic books to novels to interviews with writers/directors explaining what they really meant — but that kind of extended content just doesn’t have the impact of a TV show or movie, barely swinging the general public’s understanding. No, to truly retcon a franchise out of the suck, you’ve got to make something big. That’s what The Mandalorian is. It’s big and it’s working.

While season 3 of the show begins fixing plot points and characters from the sequel films, it should be noted that Filoni and Favreau had different goals in seasons 1 and 2 of The Mandalorian. Those seasons fixed Star Wars in a far different way than this third season was attempting. In the kind of way where something is presumed irreparably broken to its very core. Those two seasons repaired the very being of Star Wars after Disney’s film efforts split the fanbase and then completely tore it all down with the turgid The Rise of Skywalker. The first two seasons, especially the first, were about rebuilding faith in a franchise that had nearly completely lost it.

While some of how season 3 is now working to improve the films that came before it are there in the first two seasons, the show is built not to address specific plot points but instead the idea of Star Wars as a whole and how it should function moving forward. To this end, The Mandalorian was a resounding success, reestablishing a universe people loved and introducing (or reintroducing) a host of characters that you actually wanted to cheer for. It was the franchise fixed, ending with a celebratory callback of Luke Skywalker kicking ass.

The Mandalorian season 3 Dave Filoni fixes Star Wars again fix broken franchise after The Last Jedi Rise of Skywalker sequel trilogy

And there, at the end of season 2, you have the beginning of season 3’s efforts to rehabilitate Episode VIIVIII, and IX. The beginning of the end for many, wrongly or rightly, was The Last Jedi, in which Luke Skywalker was torn down into an old man who had given up on the Force. This decision and others left a portion of the fanbase wishing they’d gotten a different Luke in the film. I’m not here to re-litigate whether that Luke was a good move or not (it was) but to point out that Filoni’s rebuilding begins here. In The Mandalorian and then again in The Book of Boba Fett, which functioned partially as The Mandalorian season 2.5, the Luke Skywalker many fans wanted came to the screen. He is both a badass, droid-crushing Jedi and a wise teacher rebuilding the Jedi Order, not some green milk-drinking old man who tosses away lightsabers.

But it’s not just getting to see Luke be the insanely powerful Jedi that some were hoping to see in the films. It’s also an attempt to start building up his loss of faith beyond the betrayal of Kylo Ren, a move that could lead to many who complained of his turn being out of character to see it in a new light. We learn that Luke’s very first recruit, Grogu, decided to leave him to join Mando instead. While obviously not a major plot point, it does build a bit more background into the fragile ground that Luke’s attempt to rebuild the Jedi Order was on, foreshadowing his and his school’s inevitable failure. We may not see creepy-CGI Luke Skywalker again, but even this small look into his efforts give his character turn in TLJ more credence.

(L-R): Dr. Penn Pershing / Amnesty Scientist L52 (Omid Abtahi) and a parole droid (Regina Hermosillo) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

That isn’t the only aspect of the new trilogy given more credence by The Mandalorian, especially as the third season turns less into a show about Din Djarin and more into a show about the larger Star Wars universe. In season 3, the true reclamation project begins, and it starts with the New Republic itself. One of the most seemingly ridiculous plot points of the new trilogy is that the Empire is basically back, just called the First Order this time. It seemed like a cheap excuse to rehash old plotlines from the original trilogy and, in fact, very much was. From the pre-title scroll and nothing more, we’re told that basically everything was back to where it was before to the point that the First Order could build an even more powerful Death Star without anyone knowing. It seemed absurd and unbelievable.

The Mandalorian, however, starts building out how this could happen in horrifically plausible ways. Whereas the very space-operatic nature of the films leads to final conclusions like bad guys losing and good guys winning, the show spends much of its third season analyzing how ill-prepared the universe was for the downfall of the Empire. Bureaucracy, corruption, and indifference permeate the season outside of the quest to reclaim Mandalore, and we’re shown how, despite the Emperor’s downfall, the Empire still lives and breathes within the New Republic. The broad, and mostly ridiculous, strokes of the sequel trilogy become more nuanced as we see that the Empire was never truly defeated and the good guys kind of suck at what they’re doing too.

(Note: Not to harp a point, but could you blame Luke for losing faith in everything as he sees the New Republic turn into the same kind of mess that led to its predecessor’s downfall and the universe make the exact same mistakes all over again?)

The Mandalorian season 3 Dave Filoni fixes Star Wars again fix broken franchise after The Last Jedi Rise of Skywalker sequel trilogy

(L-R): Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and R5-D4 in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The Mandalorian taking place on the outskirts of the Republic’s power also lays the groundwork for how the Resistance would crop up despite the New Republic still technically being the governing body of the universe until its untimely end. We see old X-wing fighters desperate to help but unable to thanks to lack of funding and political red tape. No wonder yet another ragtag group of fighters would rise up out of the disjointed governing to help fend off a new attack that the government probably spent active time denying. If you’re Captain Teva and you see Mando having success where the government cannot, you’re probably going to join his fight.

A lot of the heavy lifting in season 3 comes from the expansion of Moff Gideon’s role into a far bigger bad guy than “Dude with the Darksaber.” We learn that he’s part of a larger conspiracy of connected scraps of the Empire, working to build what will eventually become the First Order. Within this context, some of the stupidest parts of the new films at least become a bit more palatable. While still an incredibly dumb, truly tone-deaf, and completely idiotic decision it was to return the Emperor through cloning (even if there was precedent), it’s at least given a bit more context here as we see not only Gideon cloning himself but hear word of multiple cloning projects that hint at attempts to bring the Emperor back to life. This early groundwork also, maybe… kind of… just barely lets you believe that the cloned Emperor could eventually build up an entire fleet of fully manned ships on a secret Sith planet.

OK, fine, Filoni can’t work miracles, but at least he’s trying. Of course, the prolific creator is working to wrap up many of his own storylines as well as the Disney+ shows become more and more about characters from The Clone Wars — season 3 probably should have been called Bo Katan and The Mandalorian, but these are the characters and stories that improved the prequel trilogy, so why shouldn’t they do it again? As these shows go on and eventually Filoni gets his own movie, one thing is very clear — he’s going to try not only try to make great new Star Wars content but improve what has come before as well, no matter how many boneheaded decisions Disney continues to make.

About the author

Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is a News Writer and film aficionado at Escapist. He has been writing for Escapist for nearly five years and has nearly 20 years of experience reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and video games for both print and online outlets. He has a degree in Film from Vassar College and a degree in gaming from growing up in the '80s and '90s. He runs the website and has written for The Washington Post, Destructoid, MTV, and more. He will gladly talk your ear off about horror, Marvel, Stallone, James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.