How one simple detail in The Mandalorian changes the entire Star Wars universe (The Mandalorian, Chapter 11: The Heiress)
Disclaimer: Photoshop refused to work for me as I wrote this piece. If at any point you think to yourself, “He should have Photoshopped this; it would have been so funny to see!,” just know that I agree and I’m very upset about it.
If you read my previous piece on The Mandalorian S2E2, you know that my big hangup was that Baby Yoda’s horrifying snacking was played for laughs. Overall, I liked the episode, but I felt that there was a dip in quality. Episode 3, however… Well, Episode 3 really hit it on the head. If you’re a fan of previous Star Wars series, you know that the standout character was the live-action debut of Bo-Katan, the heiress to Mandalore mentioned in the episode’s title. The episode was titled The Heiress, not Season 2, Episode 3. I just wanted to clarify that detail. On top of that, the episode also features an absolutely insane costuming choice that changes the context of the franchise’s entire universe and that’s what I want to talk about today. That detail is… sweaters.
Specifically, we’re talking about the goddamn fisherman sweaters that the Mon Calamari (the Admiral Ackbar-lookin’ dudes) and the Quarren (the squidhead-lookin’ dudes) wear throughout the episode. Now, despite being a space fantasy series, Star Wars’ art direction has always shown some reflection of the real world. Darth Vader’s armor, Jedi robes, and the look of the Empire are famously inspired by world history but some aspects are more literal. The hairstyles in the original trilogy are simply hairstyles that were popular at the time of filming, multiple weapons including Han Solo’s blaster are modified versions of real guns, and the technology is futuristic by 70’s standards. It’s the same reason that some creatures in the universe are real-life animals like snakes or frogs or the werewolf from the theatrical cut of New Hope: the line gets drawn somewhere in the art direction and there’s nothing wrong with that.
You see this in the recent sequel trilogy as well. In particular, Rey’s staff features a normal strap and clips from a duffel bag. Multiple characters wear jackets made of what is clearly normal leather. These are hints at textile advancements in the universe, which you can expect from a thirty-year time gap. But the sweaters in Mandalorian give me pause. Why the actual fuck are fish aliens wearing sweaters?
The first thing you notice about the sweaters is that they’re not just sweaters. They aren’t Star Wars™ sweaters where they might be modified to look somewhat different from our own. They’re just fucking sweaters. The costume department went to a Kohl’s somewhere and just bought sweaters that they then stuck on fish alien costumes. You could own the same type of sweater if not the exact same sweater. I own a few of these fucking sweaters in my basement right now as we speak. At least now I have an easy cosplay costume for whenever conventions become a thing again.
Normally this wouldn’t be a notable detail if it were not for what it means for the other films in the franchise. The production staff for The Mandalorian seems to be displaying a pattern of not considering or just not caring about what their choices imply for characters or for the world. The show takes place just a few years after Return of the Jedi and you’re telling me that they could have been wearing sweaters this whole fucking time? The rules fucking allowed sweaters?
Wild. It’s fucking wild. Star Wars could have been featuring a variety of sweaters this whole time like it was a bunch of assholes celebrating Friendsgiving. Just imagine it: Han Solo could be in a goddamn track hoodie like Rocky while Chewbacca wears a funny dog sweater. Luke could be in a plaid sweater vest like a fucking nerd until he becomes a Jedi and switches to a black turtleneck so he looks like a beatnik. Imagine Darth Vader in a stretched-out holiday sweater pulled over his helmet and armor getting his ass kicked by his beatnik son that writes shitty poetry while Palpatine cackles in an old man cardigan. Leia and Lando’s wardrobes would be battling for sweater dominance if George Lucas knew that the rules allowed for this type of clothing. Lando with a cape and sweater combo? Fucking forget it. It’s over for everyone.
Think of how much better the prequels would have been. Padme’s sweater game would have been insane all on its own, for one. Imagine Obi-Wan, though. If fucking Obi-Wan Kenobi wore cardigans and fisherman sweaters all the time, the prequels would have been on another level entirely. Jar Jar Binks would have been more tolerable in a nice cardigan. Obi-Wan and Anakin could have cute matching sweaters with their initials embroidered on them. CGI Yoda could be in a CGI cardigan and Mace Windu would rock the absolute shit out of a turtleneck.
Some might make the counterargument of “Oh, but they go to desert and lava planets. You can’t wear a sweater in the desert or lava.” Well, I have news for you, they also go to an ice planet, New York Planet, a place literally called Cloud City, and they spend quite a lot of time in space. Space isn’t fucking warm and I would bet serious Republic Credits that there’s not always central heating running on all those ships. Clearly, sweaters should be more commonplace in any universe involving space travel. If you think that you can solve the cold problem with “Well, maybe they all wear outfits with great thermal lining,” then like, yeah, I guess they could, but sweaters are fucking stylish, my guy. Maybe more people would have been on board with the Empire if they dressed like space folk singers and not space Nazis.
Now, maybe I’m making too big a deal out of this but the truth is, I have a great fondness for Star Wars and sweaters individually. The Star Wars franchise has fascinated me from a young age and I generally happen to look dynamite in sweaters (yes, that includes the photo of me cosplaying as a crab alien). I’m just really jazzed that a certain fashionable article of clothing is now canon in a fantasy saga where a hero becomes a space Nazis and another hero steals the family name of that space Nazi. I am aware, however, that George Lucas and his art department probably made the executive decision to not make sweaters a thing in the trilogy as opposed to not being aware that the rules would retroactively allow it decades later.
My main point is, why the fuck did George decide against sweaters? Were they not fantasy enough? The characters wear clothing, George. Han Solo wears a shirt and pants, George. Luke wears fucking cargo pants in the climactic fight against Vader in Empire, widely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made, GEORGE. Fucking cargo pants. And you’re telling me that not a single person in the films could have worn a cable-knit sweater? Get real, dude.
Clearly, this piece has gone off the rails. What began with my delight at an unexpected costuming choice led to my pondering of the implications for the rest of the franchise, which has devolved into fanfiction, basically. I blame Mandalorian’s art department. If they had never made this fucking world-breaking decision, I would not currently be spiraling out of control trying to imagine Admiral Ackbar dressed like George Costanza. Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, whoever else I need to call out, I’m calling you out.
Overall, The Mandalorian S2E3 was a solid episode and I’m happy with the direction it appears to be heading.