mandalorin with the dark saber and the armorer

If you missed The Book of Boba Fett, you’re gonna need some explaining.
Image: Lucasfilm

The mega-hit Star Wars Disney+ series The Mandalorian returns next week and some fans might be a little confused when it does. Season two ended with Grogu leaving the Mandalorian to go train with Luke Skywalker. Season three will begin with Grogu already back by the Mandalorian’s side. And while the connective tissue is out there and easily accessible, the show’s creators have some less than encouraging thoughts on catching everyone up.

“For people who didn’t see The Book Of Boba Fett, we’re gonna have videos that catch people up on it on [Disney+],” Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau told Empire. “And there’s plenty of user-generated content [on the internet] helping people get up to speed, which is a tool that I use when I watch a show after it’s been off the air for a while. It’s not just the show—it’s the community that surrounds the show. I learned through my experiences with Marvel how sophisticated the audiences are, and [they] inform one another and are paying close attention.”

There’s a lot to unpack here but, first, a very quick explainer. The Mandalorian appears on The Book of Boba Fett, the show Favreau worked on after Mandalorian season two with his fellow executive producer Dave Filoni. He reveals to the Armorer that he took off his helmet. She tells him he’s no longer Mandalorian and how to fix that. He then goes and finds Luke and Grogu. They’re having a hard time connecting, so with the help of Ahsoka, Luke gives Grogu a choice: keep training with him or go back with the Mandalorian. He goes back.

Which is where season of The Mandalorian three picks up, we think. But even when The Book of Boba Fett was airing you just had the sense of “This would’ve been a great season three premiere for The Mandalorian, why am I watching it now as part of this other show?” Unfortunately, The Book of Boba Fett wasn’t met with the same level of adoration or success as The Mandalorian, so it’s likely a big chunk of the audience will be missing these crucial story beats.

The Mandalorian and Boba Fett

The Mandalorian and Boba Fett
Image: Lucasfilm

So issue one probably is The Book of Boba Fett didn’t drive the same excitement as The Mandalorian. If it had, this wouldn’t be a problem. (To put it another way, no one was like, “Wait, who is this Luke Skywalker character everyone is talking about?” when The Force Awakens opened.) However, there are two more issues.

One is that the show requires explaining at all. Again, if Book of Boba was a bigger hit it probably wouldn’t have mattered, but if The Mandalorian’s core storyline was told on The Mandalorian it also wouldn’t have been an issue. Sure, there’s something to be said for the ambitious, larger tapestry Favreau and Filoni are trying to weave—crossing over characters, stories, and timelines—but there’s a huge difference between the Mandalorian showing up on another show for a cameo versus resolving the huge cliffhanger of the entire season on another show.

Finally, there’s Favreau’s suggestion of—to paraphrase—watching YouTube videos. He is right in that there are lots of very smart, very passionate fans who make excellent videos exploring and explaining various things in Star Wars. And yes, those can be valuable pieces of the discourse. But we’re not talking about explaining the origins of the Darksaber, the history of Mandalore, or pointing out Easter eggs. Nor are we talking about a recap video, stuffing eight hours into five minutes. We’re talking about the main storyline of your biggest Star Wars show. Tony Soprano didn’t go to Baltimore and wrap up major storylines from The Sopranos on The Wire, did he? Of course not. The fans should not be responsible for explaining that. That’s on you.

This is all really discouraging because as a Star Wars fan, I love The Mandalorian. I love the way Favreau and Filoni do their best to please the fans, even when it’s way over the top. But you almost just wish they’d own up to it a bit. Their strategy didn’t work out perfectly this time. That’s okay. We move ahead. But so often in Star Wars these days, huge pieces of the story are covered in other forms of media—books, comics, etc. You shouldn’t need explainers to understand what’s going on. Those are to enhance the experience, not guide you through it.

Side note: we’ve reached out to Lucasfilm to confirm when, or if, these official videos will be on Disney+ as Favreau suggests. We’ll update this story when we hear back.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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