Tatooine is perhaps the most iconic Star Wars planet we’ve ever seen.
It’s the planet that started it all, in A New Hope. It’s the planet on which so many pivotal moments occur: the Binary Sunset, Luke Skywalker meeting Ben Kenobi, Luke and Ben meeting Han Solo and Chewbacca, Luke’s heroic Jedi moment rescuing Han, etc. And that’s just in the original trilogy. We return to the planet in the prequels, seeing Anakin Skywalker as a child, seeing a thrilling podrace, seeing Anakin’s descent toward becoming Darth Vader, and seeing Luke dropped off as a child. And who knows whether we might see the planet show up in The Rise of Skywalker, either…
Point being, it’s an iconic planet. And it also showed up in the first season of The Mandalorian, in chapter 5!
What was particularly interesting to me about this episode is that it’s the first time we’ve been shown Tatooine after the fall of the Empire. And things have changed.
One of the first sights we get of the planet, once the Mando leaves the Razor Crest, is of a bunch of stormtrooper helmets impaled on spikes. We know from the Aftermath books that, after the Empire fell, people rose up to retaliate against the remnants of the tyrannical Empire, and I wonder if that’s what happened on Tatooine.
So the Empire has fallen, and it looks like the locals of Tatooine seized the opportunity and retaliated, knowing that the might of the Empire wouldn’t be coming to punish them for doing so.
More interesting to me, however, was the state of the Mos Eisley Cantina. Thsi is the location of one of the most iconic Star Wars scenes, where we’re introduced to Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a host of aliens (plus that catchy tune). And it’s changed a bit over the years.
There are still various aliens in the Cantina, and that’s pretty cool, but it does look a bit less populated to me. That would make sense, however, and the droid at the bar (we’ll get to that in a minute) says that he doesn’t know of any jobs – whether guild or otherwise. Remember, this used to be a place for bounty hunters to go and hang out, and Tatooine was a notorious criminal planet. But that was in large part because of Jabba the Hutt’s presence on the planet as a major crime boss, and now Jabba is dead, killed years earlier by Leia the Huttslayer.
And I would bet that, all the way out here on Tatooine, the fall of Jabba had an even larger impact on the planet than the fall of the Empire did. Without Jabba there to sponsor, protect, and welcome various bounty hunters from across the galaxy, it seems like the planet stopped being quite as popular of a spot for these type of scum and villainy to frequent.
There is something else that’s changed about the Mos Eisley cantina, and it’s the bartender. When Wuher was bartending in A New Hope, he had a strict no droid policy – which meant that R2-D2 and C-3PO had to wait outside while Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker looked for a pilot inside. But here, when the Mandalorian goes inside the Cantina, there’s actually a droid bartending!
Quite a bit has changed, indeed.
One thing that has remained the same, though? Tusken Raiders still roam around.
Even the Tusken Raiders though are presented in a different way, though not much has actually changed with them. In previous Star Wars material, the sand people have been presented as savages and animals. But here, the Mandalorian recognizes that this is their home and others are trespassing on it. He’s got a sympathetic understanding of them, and in turn the Tusken Raiders don’t retaliate with murder but negotiate with the Mando via sign language. Dave Filoni again uses this nostalgic callback to change things a bit in our minds.
That’s what he does all along this journey to Tatooine, as it’s so familiar, yet also different.