What happened after the Rebels beat the Empire at the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi? In 2010, a Robot Chicken video sort of made fun of this concept; just because the Rebels killed the Emperor and blew up the second Death Star, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that the good guys immediately just took over the galaxy. And, in the latest episode of The Mandalorian, newcomer Cara Dune (Gina Carano) sheds a little light on the transfer of power that happened after Endor, which could explain the rise of the First Order thirty years later.
Spoilers ahead for The Mandalorian, Chapter 4, “Sanctuary.”
In the newest episode, Mando is reunited with an old crony named Cara Dune, who tells him she saw “action after Endor,” but that the work — which included protecting diplomats and suppressing riots — wasn’t to her taste. This helps establish why Cara Dune is a badass, and why she’s good at taking on AT-ST’s and championing lost causes. But in the greater context of Star Wars history, it suggests something else. Maybe the New Republic sucked?
Mando mentions that Cara was a “shock trooper” for the Rebellion and her reference to Endor could imply she fought on Endor, and was perhaps, part of Han Solo’s commando unit sent to destroy the Death Star’s shield generator. All of this really makes it sound like an Endor flashback with Cara would be dope, but it also makes you wonder why a solider for the Rebellion would “retire” early after a new legitimate government took over. Cara doesn’t mention the New Republic by name, but in the previous episode, Greef Carga (Carl Weathers) does outright suggest Mando check-in with the Republic if he’s actually pissed about the Empire. Mando replies “that’s a joke.”
With Cara having ditched the New Republic, Mando’s comment seems worth a second look. In the old canon of the expanded universe, the New Republic collapsed and was reborn numerous times before stabilizing after the events of Dark Empire. Even then, it was never an effective government. Within new canon, it seems like the New Republic was even less effective. For those who are really interested in the nitty-gritty of this stuff, novels like Claudia Gray’s Bloodline and Chuck Wendig’s Empire’s End do a good job at explaining the broader strokes of galactic politics, but what The Mandalorian is doing is actually zeroing-in on what all this political turmoil looks like on a day-to-day level.
If a Rebellion soldier, who clearly has a good heart, was inclined to stop working for the New Republic, then it makes you wonder if that government was really doing what it should have been doing. By the time of The Force Awakens, Leia is 100 percent operating outside of the Republic, partly because the official government won’t let her. Both Leia and Cara are kind of fed up with the bogus government, which Mando calls “a joke.”
If the New Republic was an ineffective governing body, and lacked the Jedi Knights that made the Old Republic strong, it’s easy to see why the First Order was able to rise from the ashes of the Empire. The Mandalorian is mostly telling us the story of one man and his adorable Baby Yoda, but the subtext of it all is clearly painting a bleak picture about the efforts of the Rebellion. If the New Republic failed to be a good government, then it makes sense the First Order would gain sway over a lot of people. Which, fatefully, all leads back to the return of Emperor Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker.
The Mandalorian is airing now on Disney+.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere on December 20, 2019.