Did The Mandalorian Season 3 Just Homage James Cameron's The Terminator?

Spoilers for "Star Wars: The Mandalorian" Chapter 17 – The Apostate follow.

Season 3 of "The Mandalorian" wasted no time in getting right back into the action fantasy that only "Star Wars" can deliver. In the opening minutes of the seventeenth chapter in the series, "The Apostate," the Mandalorian sect that Din Djarin was banished from is attacked by a giant super croc in a breathtaking sequence that's reminiscent of the season 2 premiere when Cob Vanth and Mando unite with the Tusken Raiders to defeat a massive Krayt dragon. In "The Apostate," Din swoops in on his N-1 Starfighter to save the day. As a reward, he is granted an audience with the Mandalorian Armorer (Emily Swallow), who once again tells Din that his only hope of redemption after removing his helmet is to return to their home planet and cleanse himself in the waters of the mines of Mandalore. 

After the Galactic Republic effectively "glassed" the surface of Mandalore after crystalizing the planet with plasma cannons, it's feared the entire world is now poisoned. Din has never been much of a fan of droids, but he has to recruit one in order to safely check if Mandalore is still habitable at all. Din travels back to Nevarro, convincing Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) to let him dismantle the statue of IG-11 in hopes of returning the hero assassin droid back to its former glory. 

Instead, IG-11 comes back online in straight killbot mode, determined to finish the job it was assigned when the assassin droid was first introduced way back in the first episode of season 1. When IG-11 goes on the attack, the sequence in the brand new episode "The Apostate" feels like it's pulled right from James Cameron's sci-fi horror classic "The Terminator."

IG-11 vs T-800

The killer robot movie is a well-worn concept, but it was perfected in "The Terminator" with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the unstoppable force, the T-800. Everyone remembers the tense finale of "The Terminator" where the T-800 follows Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese into an abandoned factory. The endoskeleton hunts down Sarah through all the whizzing machinery even after it's been ripped in half by a grinder. The T-800 keeps crawling towards Sarah, determined to finish its mission to eliminate the mother of John Connor, the future leader of the human resistance.

The head and torso of IG-11 in "The Apostate" looks remarkably similar to the last remnants of the T-800 before it's crushed in the hydraulic press. Din dismantles the statue on Nevarro honoring IG-II's sacrifice to use what's left of the assassin droid after he self-destructed in order to save Din and Grogu in the finale of season 1. Din reactivates IG-II, only to find that his personality matrix has been compromised. The droid reverts right back to its first order given by the Bounty Hunter's Guild to kill the Child, aka Grogu, back in the first episode of season 1. The red-eyed glare indicating that IG-11 is in kill mode is pretty much a direct homage to the T-800 Cyberdyne Systems model.

IG-11 crawls after Grogu in much the same way as the T-800 does when it's relentlessly hunting Sarah Connor. The effect also looks like it's accomplished with stop-motion which honors the work done by Stan Winston's team in "The Terminator." "The Mandalorian" probably used a VFX technique that simulated stop-motion, but the effect pays homage to the work of Ray Harryhausen and legendary puppeteer and Phil Tippett.

Other nods to The Terminator in The Mandalorian

The third season premiere of "The Mandalorian" isn't the first time "Star Wars" fans have seen references to "The Terminator" franchise, and it won't be the last. In season 2, episode 5,"The Jedi," the live-action version of Ahsoka Tano was introduced, and it also featured Kyle Reese himself, Michael Biehn, as Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth's security detail. It was fantastic to see Biehn back on the screen in such a monumental episode inside the sci-fi fantasy world of "Star Wars." Having the same iconic actor from "The Terminator" appear in "The Mandalorian" was exciting for fans of both properties. 

The character arc of IG-11 in season 1 also has a lot in common with the T-800 in "The Terminator" and "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." Originally, IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi) is programmed as a ruthless killer, similar to the T-800 in the original film, only to be reprogrammed by Kuill (Nick Nolte) to become a more caring, servant droid. When IG-II sacrifices himself to save Grogu and Din from Moff Gideon, it's a little reminiscent of the moment when the T-800 gives a final thumbs up at the end up "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." 

With IG-11 being worked on by those tiny little Babu Friks mechanics, it looks like the droid will be reprogrammed once again to reunite with Mando, even if he doesn't wind up being the droid that accompanies him on the mission to Mandalore. Any other nods to "The Terminator" would be welcomed, so hopefully, IG-11 has a much bigger role to play as season 3 develops. 

New episodes of "The Mandalorian" season 3 premiere on Wednesdays on Disney+.