The Mandalorian saved the best part of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker: Babu Frik

Sometimes, The Mandalorian it’s not really a TV show. It’s a tourist bus. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – one of the joys of watching the show is seeing it navigate the deeply esoteric aspects of Star Wars lore (see: The Dark Sword) or altered bits of less popular history (the Naboo fighter hot-roding). Season 3 premieres The Mandalorianthis theme continues, consisting of perhaps the only universally loved aspect of the 2019 split Rise of Skywalker: my man Babu Frik.

For those in need of a refresher, Babu Frik was a little droid specialist whose heroes Rise of Skywalker turn to in order to extract the secrets of the Sith from C-3PO’s memory. He’s the kind of one-of-a-kind character where Star Wars stands out – 8 inches tall with 20 feet of personality, he explodes on screen as a wildly expressive puppet with an unforgettable voice from Shirley Henderson. He even, like Yoda, has a distinctive speech pattern that’s just fun to listen to, a bit of cartoony exuberance in an otherwise serious scene.

Technically, Babu Frik does not appear in the season 3 premiere The Mandalorian. What we get is better: a whole bunch of droid specialists like him (all also voiced by Shirley Henderson). They’re called Anzellans, a species of tiny, upright aliens that look like a cross between a gremlin (dry) and a primate. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) goes to them to see if they can rebuild the bounty hunter droid IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi), which self-destructed in the show’s first season.

Babu Frik repairs a droid in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Photo: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

As a recent addition to the Star Wars canon, the Anzellans don’t have much backstory. There is perhaps an apocryphal account of an early draft Rise of Skywalker a scenario where Babu Frik or a version of him gave the heroes a weapon that could destroy a Star Destroyer fleet – because the Anzellans’ small size and keen eyesight made them extremely desirable ship mechanics with exceptional insight into Star Destroyer plans. This eventually turned into droids that made it to the finished film.

The Mandalorian would be only the second on-screen appearance of the Anzellans, and Star Wars literature only mentions them in a handful of books. There’s no indication that they’ll be a big part of this TV season, but they might! He’s a hilarious workman caricature, like a wacky version of a Star Wars mechanic with a heavy Brooklyn accent that tells you, no matter how much you argue with him, your R2 unit will never play the fiddle. Having an archetype that’s so hilariously wide playing against Din Djarin’s steel determination is just inherently fun and reminds you that these fantastic Star Wars heroes Also share the space with a more normal range of characters, even if they are played by cute puppets.

In fact, Din Djarin’s mission is leading The Mandalorian to all kinds of interesting faces, both old and new. In addition to the Anzellans, the premiere introduces a gang of pirates led by whimpering jerk Vane (Marti Matulis), a gorgeous rubber-faced alien, and his boss, seaweed captain Gorian Shard. The Mandalorian it also has enough backstory to dig into its own roster of characters – Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) returns to help his friend Mando, and Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), a former Mandalorian royal who doesn’t follow Din’s faith, leads a sharp dispute with the hero.

Pedro Pascal in costume as the Mandalorian Din Djarin and Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze.

Photo: Francois Duhamel/Lucasfilm

Three seasons of The Mandalorian in the end, it feels like it has the texture of an old EU story, with enough overgrowth to feel like it could go anywhere, but still feels familiar. Not always realize it – probably the weakest part of the launch is how much it deals with Mandalorian lore that is underexplained and overstated – but on some level it understands that an essential part of Star Wars is delighteither from meeting a great new character, or from reconnecting with the one he introduced to us before.

Fans of the animated Star Wars website know this — The Clone Wars he was particularly interested in sorting out the legacy of the franchise’s adventure series to build a satisfying mosaic of characters and locations that initially seemed random but eventually coalesced into something meaningful. It’s newer to the Star Wars universe, but no less satisfying. Sometimes Star Wars is good for thoughtful political thrillers. other times? It’s a party bus driven by Babu Frik.

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