This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.
Among The Mandalorian‘s many influences, at the top of the list is the classic Star Wars trilogy which started it all. Showrunner Jon Favreau, executive producer Dave Filoni, and the rest of the team have done a great job of incorporating lore from every era of the Star Wars saga in ways that make sense. Folding in elements fans know from A New Hope, for example, adds to the show’s sense of groundedness, showing us the weathered sci-fi locations that George Lucas made a staple of Star Wars while also picking up several loose threads unresolved after Return of the Jedi.
The season 2 of the Disney+ series doesn’t forget the Prequel era, though. With Bo-Katan and Ahsoka appearing in season 2, and Grogu revealed to have grown up at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, more and more direct connections to the Clone Wars are becoming important to Din Djarin’s quest.
The Prequels were characterized by bright colors (see Padmé Amidala or Shaak Ti), cartoonish CGI (Jar Jar Binks), and a mix of high adventure and impending tragedy. The Old Republic, when The Phantom Menace opens, is about to begin its decline. The election of Chancellor Palpatine, who is scheming behind the scenes as the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, heralds the rise of the Empire. Several in-universe decades later, The Mandalorian is still dealing with the fallout from the events set in motion in Lucas’ second trilogy.
Because the Prequel Trilogy ran from 1999 to 2005, it’s a generation removed from fans of the original films and the sequels. Yet, The Mandalorian manages to blend all of these different eras into a cohesive narrative and setting, while also exploring them with a new lens. With season 2’s focus on beginning of the saga, here are a few things The Mandalorian brings back from the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars:
Season 2 is not only interested in the Prequel movies, but in the Expanded Universe stories that fleshed out the galaxy around it, particularly The Clone Wars TV series. And Lucasfilm wasted no time in creating a narrative throughline between the Star Wars animated series and the first live-action series, giving us both Mandalorian warrior Bo-Katan Kryze and former Jedi hero Ahsoka Tano. While both fan-favorite characters act as quest-givers during Mando’s journey, Ahsoka is the one who gives the bounty hunter the most immediate answers about his little companion’s past.
The former Jedi apprentice appears in “The Jedi” after working with the Rebellion for years. Now, she’s chasing the trail of Grand Admiral Thrawn to the planet Corvus, where an Imperial magistrate might have the answers she needs to find both Thrawn and missing Jedi friend Ezra Bridger (see: Star Wars Rebels).
Although Ahsoka left the Jedi Order over disagreements with the Council’s decisions, she now takes the role of a Jedi mentor, guiding Grogu toward the next step in this journey, even if she won’t outright train him. She doesn’t want to train Grogu because the loss of Anakin is still fresh in her mind. Anakin became Darth Vader due to his attachments, and may see the same fate for Grogu if he can’t let go of Mando. Even after Darth Vader’s death and redemption, his fall still affects Ahsoka.
Bo-Katan Kryze & the Darksaber
“The Heiress” brought Bo-Katan Kryze back into focus. Played by Katee Sackhoff, her armor and hair style are a direct translation of her look in The Clone Wars. She even has two Nite Owls, her original group of commandos, with her, and their fast-paced, competent fighting brings some of the shine of the Prequel Trilogy into the more laid-back Western style of action in The Mandalorian.
At this point in the timeline, she is the rightful leader of Mandalore, a planet that changed hands a lot even before the Empire got ahold of it, with the politics there making up a sizable part of the plot of The Clone Wars. Although The Mandalorian takes place after a Great Purge that wiped out most Mandalorians on the planet, Bo-Katan reveals in her live-action debut that she’s determined to get Mandalore back once and for all.
Her mission on Trask is part of that quest. She needs to capture a shipment of stolen Mandalorian weapons in order to arm her growing group of followers. By the end of “The Heiress,” her trajectory is clear. Now that her group is adequately armed, she can go find Moff Gideon and take back the darksaber, which appeared in the villain’s clutches at the end of season 1.
While initially part of the old Legends continuity, the darksaber became a major part of the Mandalorian storyline on The Clone Wars, as the ceremonial weapon wielded by a Mand’alor, the ruler of the race’s warrior clans. Although there doesn’t seem to be many rival Mandalorians left to question her right to rule, it’s still pivotal that Bo-Katan reclaim the darksaber, as it being in Imperial hands is a major insult to her people.
“The Jedi” revealed that the Prequel era actually paved the way for another member of Yoda’s species. In reality, Grogu is a puppet, at least in some shots: Werner Herzog famously called it “heartbreakingly beautiful” when he saw two technicians performing the Child’s facial expressions. The character’s slick look combines Original Trilogy puppetry with Prequel Trilogy cartoonishness.
Now that Ahsoka has explained it, we know Grogu has an even more direct connection to the Prequels. He was raised in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant alongside all of the characters we know and love. Ahsoka, Anakin, and Obi-Wan Kenobi might have known him, and Yoda surely did. The fact that someone snuck Grogu out of the temple during the massacre of the Jedi during Order 66 adds a significant new event to the Prequel timeline.
Another way the Prequels paved the way for Baby Yoda is with Yaddle, the third known canon member of the species. Yaddle was developed based on concept art for a younger Yoda, but became her own character. Lucas wanted the origins of Yoda to remain mysterious, but Yaddle changed the mold by confirming there were others like the beloved Jedi Master.
Grogu explores the mystery of Yoda’s species further. Where did he come from? Is there a planet of Yodas? Would the planet of Yodas irreparably break the internet?
Jango & Boba Fett
Jango Fett’s role in Attack of the Clones led to some confusion as to whether the legendary bounty hunter’s father was technically a Mandalorian. For years, Jango’s origin was a hotly debated topic both in the fandom and in-universe. Members of the New Mandalorian government that ruled Mandalore during the Clone Wars, for example, denounced Jango as a phony, claiming he’d stolen the traditional Mandalorian armor for his own gain. The Mandalorian confirms that the truth can be found somewhere in the middle.
In “The Tragedy,” a resurgent Boba Fett confirms that his father was a foundling like Mando, raised to be a Mandalorian warrior and follow the race’s traditions. The episode even re-canonized a piece of Jango’s Legends backstory. As revealed in the armor chain code that Boba shows Mando, it was a Mandalorian named “Jaste” (very likely a nod to Jango’s adoptive father in Legends, Jaster Mereel) who mentored a young Jango.
Decades later, Boba Fett wears this heritage with pride. While not born on Mandalore (or by natural means), Boba feels every bit as Mandalorian as his father did. “The Tragedy” even confirms that the former Imperial-allied bounty hunter still follows a code of honor among Mandalorians. Indebted to Din due to his actions on Tython, Boba agrees to help his fellow Mandalorian track down Grogu and bring him to safety.
One character operating in the background of The Mandalorian is the mysterious Imperial scientist Dr. Pershing, who briefly appeared in season 1 to run experiments on Grogu and made his return in season 2 episode “The Siege.” Not much is known about Pershing or his twisted experiments except that he needs Grogu’s M-count-heavy blood to accomplish something for the Empire. “The Siege” reveals that he’s been injecting subjects with Grogu’s blood, a process that has resulted in twisted corpses floating inside of lab tanks on Nevarro.
While Pershing’s true motives and mission are yet to be revealed, one theory concerning his identity points to a direct connection to one of the Prequel era’s most important elements: cloning. The biggest clue is the patch on the arm of his lab coat, which matches the one worn by Kaminoan cloners in Attack of the Clones. It’s true that cloning has touched every part of the Star Wars saga, whether it’s a brief reference in A New Hope or Palpatine’s final scheme in The Rise of Skywalker, so it only makes sense that it would also pop up in The Mandalorian.
So far, all of the cloners we’ve seen have been aliens. It’s possible Pershing was trained by the Kaminoans or, judging from the mangled bodies on Nevarro, learned from them in secret and advertised himself as an expert cloner when he in fact is not. But the show is less interested in his back story; the important part is what his skill set might mean for the future of the Empire, the New Republic, and the Jedi. The Kaminoans were never able to replicate Force-sensitivity in their clones. Were Pershing to solve this problem, could this open up a new possibility for Star Wars?
One popular race on the show are the Zabraks, the same species as Darth Maul and a staple of The Clone Wars. The short, curved horns on their skulls give them a devilish aspect to a human viewer, making them a perfect, unsubtle choice for villain characters. That said, the Armorer’s helmet also features what look like Zabrak horns, although whether this is decoration or a necessity is unclear.
In terms of design, the Zabraks on the show are a mix of Original and Prequel sensibilities. Their red skin is drab—after all, these are background characters, not main villains like Darth Maul. Since they are mostly human, there is no reason why this type of alien couldn’t have been created with prosthetics in 1977—and the show imagines what the Prequel race would look like had Lucas put them in the Mos Eisley cantina in A New Hope.
The Mudhorn of Arvala-7 looks a lot like the Reek, the one-horned, rhinoceros-like creature Obi-Wan and friends fought in the Geonosian arena at the beginning of the Clone Wars in Attack of the Clones. Its lumbering gait and the way it attacks with its swinging head are very similar. The arena battle is a high point in Episode II, perhaps because of the strength of the fight choreography and the way it evokes the creature features classic Star Wars drew from. With better and better CGI technology available to Lucasfilm, The Mandalorian essentially updated the reek for a new era.
Unlike the Mudhorn being a reek look-alike, the blurrgs Mando rides on Arvala-7 are straight from the Prequel era and is unchanged. This species of top-heavy reptilian bipeds has previously appeared in animated form in The Clone Wars. However, they aren’t strictly a Prequel creation, even though many of today’s fans know them from Filoni’s previous work. They first appeared in cartoon form in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor in 1985.