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Not even a mastery of the Force can prevent viewers of this week’s episode of The Mandalorian from getting an itchy trigger finger, or trying to calculate how much stamina the characters on screen have before the clock runs out. While the Disney+ series has pulled from every corner of Star Wars lore, this latest episode, “The Tragedy,” directed by Robert Rodriguez launches a full on assault that celebrates the long legacy of Star Wars video gaming. And for many a Star Wars fan, it was the games developed by LucasArts, and more recently EA, that have allowed the franchise to endure.

Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) finds himself pinned down by Stormtroopers on the planet Tython while Grogu is in Force trance. At Djarin’s side are Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) and famed bounty hunter, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), make quick use to their limited arsenal to take down wave after wave of Stormtroopers. The entire scenario plays out like a capture the flag game mode in Star Wars Battlefront II, with Grogu serving as the flag. Rodriguez, an admitted fan of video games who has recently been experimenting with VR technology, as in his short film The Limit (2018), brings a number of those gaming sensibilities to his episode of The Mandalorian. Din, Fennec and Boba’s fight, not only for their survival, but the protection of Grogu, feels like watching a co-op between expert gamers in the best way possible.

Beyond Rodriguez’s stylistic choices, and perhaps most interestingly in regards to the future of the Star Wars franchise, the episode, written by showrunner Jon Favreau, introduces Dark Troopers into the current Star Wars canon. Dark Troopers were first introduced within Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995), a Doom-inspired first-person shooter that featured the debut of beloved expanded universe character, Kyle Katarn, and launched the Star Wars Jedi Knight series, which was about as close as fans could get to experiencing the magic of the original trilogy. Much of Dark Forces revolved around Katarn’s mission to stop the production of the advanced battle droids, dubbed the Dark Troopers. Their addition within this episode is more than just a nod to the Expanded Universe, now dubbed Legends, of Star Wars’ pre-Disney past. It emphasizes the essential impact of those games on Star Wars as a whole, in much the same way The Clone WarsRebels, and The Mandalorian have done with the books and comics over the years, and the introduction of previous EU characters like Thrawn.

In acknowledging the great designs and stylistic choices of Star Wars video games, the door seems open for further tributes and inclusions down the line. While fans may have to wait a while for Knights of the Old Republic favorites Bastila Shan and Darth Malak to get a name drop, theories are already circulating about a more recent addition to Star Wars gaming showing up in The Mandalorian in the near future. The canon game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order introduced Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis, who could very well still be alive during the events of The Mandalorian. Adding fuel to that fire, Kestis’ performer and voice actor, Cameron Monaghan expressed enthusiasm on Twitter about the possibility of working on a spin-off project, live-action, or otherwise.

The Mandalorian has already sent fans on Easter eggs hunts through Star Wars novels, comics, animated series, and even those Ewok movies that it seems time has largely forgotten about, all in the service of finding the next big clue about where Din and Grogu’s story could go next. But now fans have an excuse, if they ever really needed one, to dust off those old computer discs and reboot their PS1 and Xbox’s and perhaps discover the great element of Star Wars’ future.


Photo courtesy of Disney