The MandalorianThe third season of has been particularly inclined to focus on standalone stories. Which is good, sometimes! We love a good galactic adventure, especially with our boys Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu, née Baby Yoda.
But to convince us that this galactic fortune-telling is worth it, it has to be more than fun. It also doesn’t have to be totally jarring and out of step with the rest of the series, which is becoming increasingly difficult for the expensive and increasingly star-powered Star Wars projects at Disney.
Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz voiced BB-8 in the sequel trilogy? Okay, that sounds wrong, but it’s not obvious anyway. Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally playing the soldiers in mandalorianis the first season? Good too, since they were mostly silent and totally costumed. (Although we won’t forgive the Sudeikis soldier for punching Baby Yoda.) And Zach Braff as a special guest in Obi Wan Kenobi? I mean…weird, but at least it was just a voice role.
Unfortunately, The MandalorianThe success of plucking guest celebrities from creator Jon Favreau’s enormous rolodex without causing mayhem has come to an end. In the sixth episode of the mostly standalone series, which premiered on Disney+ today, there are not one, but three celebrity cameos. One of them is legitimately fun for us sci-fi fans, so we’ll give it a pass. But the other two? Really, there’s something in the water on the set of this show, because they’re absurd.
Let’s cut to the chase here: Christopher Lloyd, aka the great Doc Brown, appears as Commissioner Helgait in Episode 6. That’s awesome! We love Doc, and his role is actually more meaty than just a nod to Back to the future lovers (i.e. all alive). Helgait turns out to be the villain Mando and Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) are looking for, who has reprogrammed nonviolent droids into killing machines ravaging Plazir-15. It’s only fitting that a revered actor like Lloyd show up and do something meaningful, even if his appearance elicits dizzying cheers that shatter illusions and point fingers.
But the illusion has already been shattered by the time he shows up. Mando, Bo, and Baby are to meet with Helgait on orders from Plazir-15’s royal family members: Bombardier and Duchess. The actors who embody them are respectively Jack Black and Lizzo.
There’s no way you can make me look at barely costumed Jack Black and Lizzo and expect me to not recognize them solely as themselves. They’re in one scene, which makes their stunt casting all the more obvious, and their characters don’t even have full names. Sorry, Favreau: you can’t pretend these two are here for any reason other than to ask you to put them in an episode.
I’m sure Lizzo specifically asked to cuddle Baby Yoda, like the Duchess does in her literal scene. (They also briefly play a version of space basketball together.) I really can’t blame her for that, although I could barely pay attention to what was going on in the episode because she was there Lizzo -ing. Jack Black, too, can never be convincingly anyone other than Jack Black, especially not here. I wish it was easier to pretend he was at least being school of rockDewey Finn in space, but no: it’s just Jack Black, inexplicably married to Lizzo and talking to the Mandalorian.
These cameos are so entertaining that it’s hard to appreciate Christopher Lloyd making his Star Wars debut. Worse, it is difficult to appreciate all that The Mandalorian poses in the episode – or maybe even in the upcoming series. Season 3 has already been a bit of a slow wash, spinning its wheels as it moves back and forth between exposition and unique experiences. But with Jack Black and Lizzo having managed to sneak into franchise canon for no good reason, maybe it’s time to admit it: The Mandalorian jumped the galactic equivalent of a shark.
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