The Mandalorian has been one of the most successful entries in Disney’s era of Star Wars content to date, depicting the adventures of Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu as they explore new and familiar worlds.


But that doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws. From arbitrarily packing characters from every corner of the galaxy into episodes to squandering narrative opportunities, it’s got a lot to learn from another Star Wars series – the Diego Luna-led Andor.

Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of Andor was its lack of interaction with some of the players introduced in the original trilogy and Rogue One, making it a more self-contained entity.

Yes, we got to explore more of Senator Mon Mothma’s backstory, but this felt earned. As she’s been kept to the sidelines, it was a welcome exploration of what made her want to get involved in the Rebel Alliance and also gave us something we haven’t seen before - the politics of the Star Wars universe between Episodes III and IV.

It's to Andor’s credit that characters like Darth Vader, Galen Erso and Director Krennic weren’t used, giving us a largely new set of faces. The lack of existing characters allowed us to get a sense of who our new players are and their motivations, especially Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen Rael and Denise Gough’s Dedra Meero, while helping to significantly expand the development of Cassian Andor himself.

While Andor is set in a familiar time frame that has been explored in other projects like Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Rebels, it didn’t take away from the series. It still felt urgent and fresh, offering a deeper exploration of the fledgling Rebellion and Imperial rule than we’ve seen before.

Din Djarin shakes hands with Greef Karga in The Mandalorian season 3.
Din Djarin shakes hands with Greef Karga in The Mandalorian season 3 Disney+

While the first season of The Mandalorian largely succeeded with this in its later time period, the second season felt like it was trying to link almost every episode to other recognisable aspects of the franchise, be it Bo-Katan from Clone Wars and Rebels, Boba Fett, Luke Skywalker or Ahsoka Tano. Although some of these were organically integrated into the wider story, others felt out of place and simply there to set up arcs in other projects.

Similarly, one of the biggest issues with The Book of Boba Fett was its over-reliance on other characters and storylines. Continuing Grogu and Din’s storyline away from their own show felt jarring and took away from the central narrative of the series, while cameo appearances from Cobb Vanth and Cad Bane felt shoehorned in.

So, what can The Mandalorian do now? There’s a big opportunity for it to explore a largely uncharted timeframe between Episodes VI and VII. If the focus is kept on the main storyline and less on setting up further shows or separate plot lines, the series can be more effective and push the franchise as a whole forward as Tony Gilroy has done beautifully with Andor - hopefully the likes of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have taken note of this.

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in Andor.
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in Andor. Disney

The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett aren’t the only shows guilty of squandering narrative opportunities at the expense of fan service. The much-anticipated Obi-Wan Kenobi fell into some traps after it spent time with a number of familiar faces, including a surprisingly prominent appearance from a young Princess Leia and of course a face-off with Darth Vader.

Leia’s appearance seemed especially unnecessary with a previous link prior to Episode IV questionable, and it is entirely possible for an Obi-Wan project to exist without fighting his former padawan. The necessity for him to clash again with Vader prevented opportunities to expand the character away from Anakin and for the show to deepen its timeframe within the franchise.

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Andor showed how to integrate existing characters with new worlds and storylines rather than feeling tired or forced, as some of the cameos in The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi have done.

The Mandalorian at its best has been a breath of fresh air for the Star Wars universe, offering glimpses at new worlds and characters. But at times, it’s felt distractingly like a launching pad for spin-offs. We can only hope Favreau, Filoni and company lean more into the fractured universe post Episode VI – that may well have been explored in the now-cancelled Rangers of the New Republic – with Andor’s success having shown how to handle a fresh corner of the universe.

The Mandalorian is available to stream on Disney Plussign up to Disney Plus now for £7.99 per month or £79.90 for a full year.

Check out our list of the best movies on Disney Plus and best shows on Disney Plus, or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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