This Star Wars article contains spoilers for The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.
It’s no secret The Book of Boba Fett turned out to be a polarizing entry in the “Mandoverse” last year. We’ve certainly written quite a bit about how the show ultimately does the classic bounty hunter a disservice by sidelining Boba midway through the story to address a cliffhanger from a completely different show. And a year on, many Star Wars fans can at least agree that using the series to provide a resolution to Din Djarin and Grogu’s emotional separation at the end of The Mandalorian season 2 was a mistake. And the choice didn’t just break Boba Fett’s show, but it also robbed The Mandalorian season 3 of this important reunion.
In fact, fans who skipped The Book of Boba Fett for whatever reason have been caught by surprise by trailers showing the duo back together ahead of the release of Mando season 3. As far as they knew, Grogu had left to start Jedi training and Din was poised to set off on new adventures without his adorable co-pilot, at least for the time being, with a future reunion down the line providing great emotional payoff.
When asked about the controversial decision to reunite Grogu and Djarin in The Book of Boba Fett instead of their own series, The Mandalorian showrunner Jon Favreau told Empire that they didn’t want to “hit a hard reset” in season 3. “It’s going to be interesting to see how this unfolds for people who may not have seen The Book of Boba Fett. But I think The Book of Boba Fett offered time to pass. You saw what Mando was like without Baby Yoda and we saw what Grogu was like without the Mandalorian and neither of them was doing too good. So them coming back together was a really good plot point that allows us to jump back into season 3 while maintaining the central relationship.”
The Mandalorian exec producer Dave Filoni echoed Favreau’s explanation when he spoke to Empire, saying, “I think that in some ways you want each season to have a feeling of an ending. But in a lot of what I’ve done, I don’t like hard endings. I like reading books in a series and then thinking, ‘Oh, there’s another book, and this is going to keep going.’ It’s always sad for me when an adventure ends and the characters are seemingly done with their journey. So I think there’s always that little bit of hope that something can continue.”
While it’s understandable that Favreau and Filoni didn’t want the separation of Grogu and Mando to feel finite and permanent, it still underserves the narrative of both shows to have such an important and emotional decision between characters play out as a bonus story rather than a crucial part of the narrative. In the Empire interview, Favreau goes on to talk about Grogu’s arc in The Book of Boba Fett and his choice between training and honing his Jedi powers or accepting Mando’s armor and becoming a clan of two, saying, “I think you had to service both things. Just because this kid has the potential and had training, does he belong away from the Mandalorian? I saw it more like Paper Moon, where the whole thing is about delivering the kid to the blood relative, only to realize that, whether genetically through her father or just through bonding, Tatum O’Neal has to end up with Ryan O’Neal. That ending feels really good to me. And this little kid [Grogu] is given a decision to choose. And the kid chooses the emotional relationship and wants to be with the Mandalorian, and passing up Yoda’s lightsaber. Part of you wants to see him develop in that way, and part the other.”
For Favreau, this arc was about giving Grogu the opportunity to choose his own path forward: “You have this interesting character who has Jedi training to some extent, Force abilities, but also is joining the Mandalorian culture, which we’ve established is something that you can opt into. It demands a lot, it offers a lot,” Favreau tells Empire. “Historically, Mandalorians developed all of those tools and armor and weapons to be able to counteract the Force abilities of Jedi. So as a storyteller this offers tremendous opportunity.”
Narratively, letting Grogu take control of his own destiny and choose to return to Mando was a great choice. There’s no denying that their reunion had the emotional impact intended by Filoni and Favreau. But regardless of their intentions, it still feels weird to have such an important moment in these characters’ stories be relegated to a couple chapters of another character’s story. Hopefully creators will learn from this misstep as the live-action Star Wars TV universe continues to expand with shows like Ahsoka and Skeleton Crew. We’re all for series connecting with each other, but using three out of seven episodes of The Book of Boba Fett as The Mandalorian 2.5 is a bit much.
The Mandalorian season 3 premieres on Disney+ on March 1.