Yes, The Book of Boba Fett is essential viewing before The Mandalorian season 3, and that’s ok

With the premiere of The Mandalorian season 3 fast approaching, there has been a decent bit of chatter online about how some episodes of The Book of Boba Fett are necessary viewing before the season starts.

That is true, of course, with episodes 5 and 6 in particular being pivotal stories and moments in the larger narrative. So much so that, when they aired, it really felt like they were two episodes of The Mandalorian and not The Book of Boba Fett. In them, we saw Din Djarin continuing as a bounty hunter after having said goodbye to Grogu, but it’s obviously not going quite as well as he might have hoped. He’s still trying to control the power of the darksaber, and trains with the weapon with the Armorer and Paz Vizsla. And most significantly of all, we get a flashback explaining the Night of a Thousand Tears, and the Armorer tells him that for removing his helmet in the presence of others he is no longer a Mandalorian. And that’s not even to mention the fact that he got a new ship, a modified Naboo starfighter, which he rebuilt with Peli Motto.

We also get to see Grogu, whom Djarin brings a gift to while the child trains with Luke Skywalker. Grogu’s training is progressing, but not quite as well as we might have expected. Luke expresses frustration over these matters to Ahsoka, seeking guidance, and he eventually places a test before Grogu: he offers him Yoda’s lightsaber, presenting the path of the Jedi, or Djarin’s gift, presenting the path of the Mandalorian. Grogu chooses the latter, and R2-D2 takes Grogu back to be with Djarin… who’s fighting alongside Boba Fett on Tatooine. Grogu saves Djarin’s life, and together the two fly off into the unknown.

All of that happens in a different show than The Mandalorian. Some have complained about that fact, and I’ll admit that it does feel a bit strange, but not for the same reasons most people are saying it. I think it’s a bit strange because it feels rushed in that, just a few episodes after the two departed, they’re back together. I think it’s the right decision to have them back together, and I think The Mandalorian season 3 will be stronger and better received for it, but it feels a little quick.

What I don’t think is that big of an issue, though, is having it take place in The Book of Boba Fett. Some have said that this means audiences will be very confused, but I think that’s overstating things. A few people might be confused, yes, but for many casual audiences they’ll just see Mando and Grogu back together again and think it’s fun. That’s it. Besides, The Book of Boba Fett will have been out for over a year by the time the season premieres, so it’s not like people didn’t have a chance. I assume The Mandalorian will include a helpful recap that lets casual viewers get caught up, and then we’ll just be off on an adventure with Djarin and Grogu and everyone will forget about what they did or didn’t know.

And that’s my larger point here: we need to see The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian as connecting stories, just like (presumably) Ahsoka will be later this year, and like Skeleton Crew might become. These are inter-connected stories, all telling their own respective tales while feeding into the larger narrative that’s progressing. And if audiences aren’t adjusted to that by now, in the era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that’s on them. These stories are supposed to build off of each other, and that’s one of the strengths of a universe like Star Wars.

The challenge is to keep it so that people are rewarded for watching all of it without being distracted if they haven’t. Marvel has done this to mixed, but mostly positive, results, and so has Star Wars. It shouldn’t feel like you need to do tons of homework before you check it out, but neither should it be a problem to say that there’s more to check out if you want the full story. So we can debate about how it should be done, but please, don’t suggest that the problem is that you’ll have to watch The Book of Boba Fett too. That was the clear intention of the showrunners, in marketing and promotion, as well as style and crew, as well as in release schedule. It’s par for the course in franchise stories these days. And it pays off in the long run.

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