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The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 2 Bungles An Odd Star Wars Tradition

Contains spoilers for "The Mandalorian" Season 3, Episode 2 — "The Mines of Mandalore"

"Star Wars" is filled with tropes and traditions. The climactic lightsaber duel, the zany space battle, the scene where the hero is lured by the dark side — all of these are staples that have been played out over and over again. There are also the smaller trends, like big rubber alien suits and wacky droids, that have come to define the aesthetic of "Star Wars."

One of the franchise's most longstanding traditions is introducing dangerous monsters without explaining them at all. It all began with the trash compactor creature in the original "Star Wars," and the trend has continued ever since. From the wampa in "The Empire Strikes Back" and the Geonosian arena monsters in "Attack of the Clones" to more recent examples like the sand creatures in "The Book of Boba Fett," "Star Wars" loves to throw in memorable beasties with intricate designs and absolutely zero backstory.

"The Mandalorian" has continued this tradition proudly, bringing us great unexplained monsters like the ice spiders of Season 2's "The Passenger." However, in its latest outing, the Disney+ show may have taken things too far. "The Mandalorian" Season 3 Episode 2, "The Mines of Mandalore" introduces yet another unnamed and unremarked-upon monster, but this time, the tradition falls flat.

The droid monster in The Mines of Mandalore demands more explanation

In "The Mines of Mandalore," Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu venture into, well, you can probably guess from the title. The old Mandalorian capital of Sundari is far from the shining metropolis it once was, and the duo spends most of the episode navigating the ruins. They don't get far, however, before Din is trapped and captured by some kind of giant robot, which is revealed to be piloted by a much smaller and even freakier creature. Equal parts droid and generic beastie in appearance, the unnamed attacker kind of resembles General Grievous in its cyborg design.

Before we learn anything interesting about the creature, it's killed by Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff). The whole encounter is clearly meant as an homage to the longstanding "Star Wars" tradition of strange monsters, and Din's capture is particularly reminiscent of Luke being caught by the wampa in "Empire." However, in this specific context, the lack of any explanation is glaring.

Animals, like the wampa and the sarlacc, don't need motivations. We understand what they want without having to be told. But a weird little squid cyborg that drives a giant robo-tank? That demands a bit more exposition. Historically, "Star Wars' has employed random monsters to help build atmosphere for new locations, but Mandalore is already a known quantity. Sundari in particular has a long and rich history in the canon. It would have been interesting to connect the droid creature to the Great Purge, or to Bo-Katan's history with the city. Maybe it's leftover Imperial tech. Maybe it's an old guardian of the mines gone haywire. What could have been an opportunity for worldbuilding instead just becomes another random "Star Wars" beastie, and that's a shame.