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The Mandalorian is at its best when it’s weird and full of cameos

Thanks, Lizzo

Grogu looks up inquisitively in The Mandalorian with a “Spoiler” warning and pink tint over the image Image: Lucasfilm via Polygon
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

The Mandalorian is a show that’s better off without a story than with one. Which is exactly why the third season’s sixth episode was its best and most fun so far. Rather than trying to forward the show’s bigger overall plot, episode 6 sticks to the best Mandalorian formula: Din Djarin goes to a weird little planet, has an adventure, and hangs out with some great guest stars.

[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for season 3 episode 6 of The Mandalorian.]

The third episode sees Mando and Bo-Katan travel to the world of Plazir-15, where they meet a planet ruled and controlled by the best suite of guest stars the series has ever enjoyed. The royal, but democratically elected, couple working to make this world a utopia is played by Lizzo and Jack Black.

Jack Black and Lizzo standing in Star Wars costumes in The Mandalorian season 3 episode 6 Image: Lucasfilm

The pairing works well, not because the two are giving particularly excellent performances or have great characters, but because it’s designed to trade off their fame and likeability. The characters don’t need to be too complicated because they don’t really matter much in the grand scheme of the series, and cameos themselves tell you all you really need to know. In other words, they’re two characters that can’t be played by just any pair of actors; it needed to be Lizzo and Jack Black having fun hanging out with Baby Yoda. And that’s a welcome breath of fresh air in a show that’s recently forgotten how to have fun.

This is even more true of the episode’s villain Commissioner Helgait, played by Christopher Lloyd. Perhaps sci-fi’s most widely recognized “kindly mad scientist,” thanks to his role as Doc Brown in Back to the Future, Lloyd is the perfect surprise villain for this episode. He’s both perfectly believable as a secret political radical with a droid army plot he’s been brewing for years, even if most people’s first instinct is that he’s just a kindly and eccentric old man. Even better, he perfectly fits the “crime series guest star” rule that the culprit is always the person who’s been famous the longest.

Christopher Lloyd in The Mandalorian wearing a Plazir-15 security uniform and hunching over a console of buttons Image: Lucasfilm

With all these guest stars, and a plot and structure that would feel at home in a Law and Order episode, The Mandalorian’s latest episode might be the surest sign yet that the show’s main plot isn’t what makes it interesting. What makes it interesting is its ability to deftly flip from one part of the Star Wars universe to another, showing off all the weird worlds, characters, and creatures it contains. Unfortunately, for season 3’s remaining few episodes, we’re almost certainly stuck hanging out with even more Mandalorians than usual as they try to take their planet back, so this was probably the last bit of consequence-free fun we’re getting this time around.

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