In this week’s episode of The Mandalorian, we barely got any, actual Mandalorian time, with the show instead choosing to focus on Dr. Pershing, the ex-Imperial scientist who gets set up by Gideon’s ex-Imperial-but-actually-still-Imperial Comms Officer Kane, and ends the episode with his mind wiped of useful information.
That information? The Mandalorian goes out of its way to talk in depth about the knowledge Pershing possesses and wants to keep pursuing, cloning and genetic engineering. And as soon as they started talking about that, alarms began going off in my head.
The most logical place this is going is one I really hope is not the case. That would be some elaborate explanation of Palpatine’s return in the new Star Wars trilogy, but really, just the third movie, Rise of Skywalker. We know Pershing was working with genetic material from Grogu himself, an extremely force-powerful being, and when we think of Force users and cloning, obviously Palpatine is what comes to mind.
There’s even a line in here about how his first experiments failed, which I view as a nod toward the genetic freaks that were Snoke and the failed Snoke-clones we later see in Rise of Skywalker, which appear to be early attempts to bring the Emperor back to life. Then, they finally do it, but it appears they will do it without Dr. Pershing, given his new lack of memory.
I really, really hope that’s not what this is. Why? Because at this point I think it’s pretty well-established that Palpatine’s sudden return in Rise of Skywalker, along with the explanations of Snoke and the reveal of Rey’s Palpatine DNA, were all slapdash retcons invented by JJ Abrams to try to salvage a trilogy that Rian Johnson turned hard left in The Last Jedi. But what’s abundantly clear to anyone with eyes was that there was never a coherent plan in place for the full trilogy, hence the famous “somehow, Palpatine returned,” line and overall improvised storyline.
I would argue it is an absolutely terrible use of resources to spend any time attempting to connect the current plotline of The Mandalorian, one of the only good Star Wars things Disney is currently producing, to try to justify or explain one of its worst new-era decisions, bringing Palpatine back.
Sometimes this works. I mean, Rogue One was a great movie that was fundamentally about explaining why there was a flaw in the Death Star where a single X-Wing could blow up the entire thing. But in this case, no, I do not want to have Mando and Grogu integrated into some grand storyline about how Palpatine was cloned and hidden away and amassed his absurdly huge Death Star Destroyer army. All of that was stupid and obviously invented on the fly. We do not need to spend a season or two of The Mandalorian being integrated into 20-years-early justifications and deep dives into those events.
I’m worried this I unavoidable, however, as I’m not sure what the entire episode dedicated to Pershing and his cloning ambitions would be there for otherwise. And while I’m not currently watching The Bad Batch, I’m told there are elements to that storyline that are also leaning in this same direction. Not good.
The Mandalorian was at its best when it was wholly separate from the main Star Wars saga. But we’ve already crossed paths with Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker and that didn’t go great, and now if we’re heading into Palpatine territory, this just seems like a place this series was never meant to go. Thrawn stuff, I suppose I’m okay with, and we know we’re heading there for the Ahsoka series at least. But no, any time spent justifying Palpatine’s return during much better productions is a total waste.
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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.