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The Real Reason No One Recognized Luke In The Mandalorian

The first-ever live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian takes place during an intriguing window of time. Telling the story of the space-faring bounty hunter Din Djarin, aka Mando (Pedro Pascal), and the Force-sensitive Grogu (otherwise known as Baby Yoda), the Disney+ streaming series is set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the final film in the original Star Wars trilogy, and 25 years before the events of The Force Awakens, the first film in the Star Wars sequel series.

In the 1983 movie, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) work together to destroy the Galactic Empire's second Death Star, stop Darth Vader and defeat the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid), and destroy the Empire once and for all. Darth Vader ends up in a lightsaber battle with Luke, his own son, and the Emperor steps in to torture Luke with Force-lightning. Displeased, Vader betrays the Emperor and tosses him down a reactor shaft, to his apparent death. Vader dies in Luke's arms, Luke has him cremated, and Rebel allies Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Wedge Antilles (Denis Lawson), an X-wing fighter pilot, succeed in decimating the main reactor of the Death Star. Success on all fronts!

However, The Mandalorian revealed to us all that the Empire didn't just shrivel up and die after Darth Vader tossed the Emperor into that giant pit. The remnant factions still aspire to restore their regime to its former glory, and some of them would very much like to get their hands on Grogu to help in that endeavor.

In The Mandalorian's season 2 finale, entitled "Chapter 16: The Rescue," The Mandalorian and Return of the Jedi collide in full force when Luke Skywalker himself appears to take on Grogu as a Jedi Padawan. This reveal at the end of the episode shocked fans, but that same look of awe was missing from Mando and the other characters' faces. They hardly blink at the sight of this legendary hero. Don't they know that this is the Luke Skywalker of Rebel Alliance fame, the son of Darth Vader, the Jedi who had his hand saber-sliced off? 

Actually, no — no, they don't. This might surprise fans, but there are quite a few reasons that Mando and his allies don't know who Luke Skywalker is, or at least don't recognize the Jedi's face.

Who the heck is Luke Skywalker?

For fans of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker holds almost God-like status in the canon (Rian Johnson's late revisions to the character notwithstanding). That's because we, as an audience, get to travel around the galaxy far, far away with him and his friends. And throughout the original, prequel, and sequel trilogies that span the nine-movie Skywalker Saga, we learn essentially everything there is to know about Luke, his family, and his friends and foes. Alongside Han Solo and his twin sister Leia, Luke is at the heart of the biggest Star Wars stories that have been told thus far. 

But the humans, humanoids, creatures, and droids within the Star Wars universe aren't us Earth-side fans, and the galaxy is a massive place filled with tons of planets, all enduring their own struggles and celebrating their unique triumphs. Although most people in the Star Wars universe are aware of the Empire to at least some degree, their everyday lives don't revolve around the Rebellion and the war if it isn't happening on their planet. They aren't tracking Rebels' locations or keeping up-to-date with the fight against the Empire if it isn't directly affecting them — and why would they? It's understandable that word of the Rebel Alliance's actions during the original Star Wars trilogy — and Luke's actions in particular — may not have reached everyone in the galaxy, especially only a handful of years after the events of Return of the Jedi.

It's also possible that the news never will reach everyone. In The Mandalorian season 1, Mando visits Luke's home planet of Tatooine, yet there's no mention of the heroic Jedi even there. Also, the series is set only 25 years before The Force Awakens, and in that film, Rey (Daisy Ridley), who grew up on the desolate planet of Jakku, refers to the Jedi as "mythological figures." 

On the other hand, it's possible that most everyone in the galaxy has heard of Luke Skywalker, but they just have no idea what he looks like. Even if Mandalorian characters like Din and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) know of Luke's existence and have heard of his name before, they aren't exactly blessed with Earthly inventions like texting or internet, so without seeing Luke themselves, they likely wouldn't be able to tell him apart from some other random robed dude. 

Considering all that, it's not surprising to see a lack of recognition on the faces of Mando, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), and even Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) in The Mandalorian. All they know — and all they need to know — is that this man is a Jedi and he can protect and train Grogu, completing Mando's season-long mission.