The Mandalorian signaled how sweepingly it plans to embrace the entire Star Wars universe when it packed its very first episode with references to The Star Wars Holiday Special, a much-despised 1978 TV show that even George Lucas would like to forget.
In our new Low Key podcast, we talk about how charmingly Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian has incorporated not only the things we all agree are cool about Star Wars (bounty hunters! Blasters! Freezing dudes in carbonite!) but also the parts of the universe that some fans don’t like to talk about (super-cute creatures! Midichlorians! The Star Wars Holiday Special!).
You can listen on your favorite podcast app (please scroll down) or right here:
Don’t worry; we hadn’t seen the third or fourth episode of The Mandalorian, when we recorded the podcast, so neither the podcast nor this story contains any spoilers about those episodes.
But in the first two episodes of The Mandalorian, Favreau, the show’s creator, has made it easy to embrace every element of Star Wars, subtly nodding to things only die-hards will care about while also avoiding exposition that might bore people who are discovering Star Wars for the first time through The Mandalorian.
It’s cool to realize that Nick Nolte’s character is an Ugnaught—the race of mechanically-inclined folks who show up in Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. But if you don’t know or care, that’s fine too, because he stands on his own. It’s also fun to note that the titular Mandalorian’s prejudice against droids parallels Han Solo’s, and that of the cantina owner at Mos Eisley Spaceport in the original Star Wars. But you don’t need to know that.
As we’ve previously written, the appearance of Baby Yoda’s powers in the second episode of The Mandalorian seems to validate George Lucas’ decision to include, in 1999’s The Phantom Menace, a pretty in-the-weeds explanation of how The Force is tied to organisms called midichlorians. It seemed unnecessary at the time. But those familiar with the concept of midichlorians were able to quickly grasp how Baby Yoda could levitate a Mudhorn despite an apparent lack of any Jedi training.
It’s just one way Favreau’s Disney+ series pays respect to the history of Star Wars—and in some cases justifies and redeems the parts of it that not everyone loves.
Here are some highlights of the new Low Key podcast, with timestamps:
1:10: We talk about this story about the Star Wars Holiday Special, which is “kind of a janky affair.”
2:45: Is Boba Fett overrated?
4:15: How The Mandalorian calls back the Clint Eastwood-Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns
6:45: Is The Mandalorian’s secret headquarters on Tatooine?
16:10: Why you need to use the closed captions while watching The Mandalorian.
22:50: Star Wars‘ over-explaining problem, aka Jedisplaining.
41:45: Shoutout to Minnow, which is NOT a sponsor.
42:45: What’s a better title: The Morning Show or The Mandalorian?
48:50: Netflix is doing a good job on representation, and sometimes showing so-so movies are a positive part of that.
50:50: In defense of Lifetime movies.
And follow us on Instagram at @thelowkeypod.