Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Mandalorian S3E2 Features A Completely Unnecessary Droid Cameo

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "The Mandalorian" Season 3 Episode 2.

For much of its existence, "Star Wars" has thrived off of cameos. Whether it's Jabba the Hutt in "The Phantom Menace," Chewbacca in "Revenge of the Sith," or some other random guest turn from a familiar alien, George Lucas' original films are full of callback appearances.

In the Disney era, this trend has become even more common. There's Luke Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano in "The Mandalorian" Season 2, the Grand Inquisitor in "Obi-Wan Kenobi," and Cad Bane in "The Book of Boba Fett," just to name a few. The franchise has practically turned into a WrestleMania match at points, with fan favorites emerging from backstage to mount the turnbuckles as their entrance music booms in the background. Sometimes these moments are just as exciting as they're intended to be. Other times, they're just distracting.

Such is the case with a recent cameo in "The Mandalorian" Season 3 Episode 2, "The Mines of Mandalore." The episode begins with Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu flying back to Tatooine, where they reunite with local mechanic Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris). She quickly sets Din up with a droid for his voyage to Mandalore, and it's one that most "Star Wars" fans have met before. That's right –- R5-D4 is the very same droid who almost gets sold instead of R2 in the original "Star Wars." And his appearance in "The Mandalorian" is entirely unnecessary.

There's no reason for R5-D4 to be in The Mandalorian

To be fair, "The Mines of Mandalore" isn't R5's first onscreen appearance since the original "Star Wars." He's popped up in Peli's yard in previous seasons and "The Book of Boba Fett," in addition to a cameo on Tatooine in "Attack of the Clones." But in all those other appearances, R5 is simply set dressing; a blink-and-you'll-miss-it nod to the original trilogy. In "The Mandalorian" Season 3, he's a full-on character again. And it's... weird.

There's just no reason for this. What are the odds that R5 would be in the exact shipyard that Din likes to visit? And more importantly, why does he abandon his droid racism (a troubling topic for another time) for this random astromech he's never met before? Din goes to great lengths to rebuild IG-11 in the season opener, only to abandon that mission immediately when Peli offers R5. And for what? For a cameo? To nudge all us viewers in the ribs and say, "Hey, remember? From 'Star Wars?'"

Cameos like this shrink the "Star Wars" galaxy. They remind us that every movie and show is scripted to evoke nostalgia, thus breaking the illusion of being transported into another world. Din bumping into the droid Luke Skywalker called "Red" one time doesn't serve the story at all. It's just a Pointing Rick Dalton meme in a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars needs to slow down on the nonstop cameos

R5-D4 isn't ruining "Star Wars" by appearing in "The Mandalorian" Season 3. But his inclusion is reflective of a larger problem that the franchise has been suffering from for years. Pointing backward at old stories is the safe route. It's a way to squeeze out some nostalgic glee without taking risks on bolder or more interesting story ideas.

In all fairness to Disney, a lot of the recent experiments in "Star Wars" haven't exactly been universally beloved. "The Last Jedi" famously polarized fans despite earning widespread critical acclaim, and ever since, Lucasfilm has seemed hesitant to bet big on more divergent projects. "Andor" is a recent exception to that rule, but even it was likely greenlit due to the popularity of "Rogue One."

It's easy to throw in a classic character and call it a day, but the returns on that strategy are diminishing at an alarming rate. Cameos from Ahsoka and deepfake Luke Skywalker couldn't save "The Book of Boba Fett" from mediocrity, and the presence of R5-D4 doesn't make "The Mandalorian" Season 3 any better. It's time Disney remembered that every beloved character was a new character first. Please, for the love of the Force, stop cramming unnecessary cameos into "Star Wars."