The Mandalorian Season 3 Salutes A Star Wars VFX Legend's Work

This post contains spoilers for the second episode of "The Mandalorian" season 3.

There are some freaky creatures and robots in the "Star Wars" universe, but the cyborg creation in the latest episode of "The Mandalorian" is one of the freakiest to grace the franchise. If it looks a little familiar, that might be because it's the work of "Star Wars" special effects maestro Phil Tippett, who helped create some of the ground-breaking VFX tech that brought the original trilogy to life, like the AT-AT walkers and the Battle of Hoth. Tippett recently blew people's minds with his stop-motion feature film, "Mad God," which took him 30 years to finish and release, and he lent his incredible skills to an episode of Rian Johnson's Peacock series "Poker Face," with multiple stop-motion creations coming to life in terrifying glory. 

In the second episode of season 3 of "The Mandalorian," our hero Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) descends into the mines of Mandalore to try and bath in its holy waters and absolve himself of the sin of removing his helmet to become a true Mandalorian once again. The only problem is that a weird cyclops cyborg is hanging out in the mines, and it captures the Mandalorian with ease. Little Grogu manages to escape and go get some help, but they still have to contend with Tippett's mad creation, which means they have their work cut out for them. 

A taste of Tippett's creations

The bio-mechanical entity and its spider-like machinery are reminiscent of Tippett's creations for "Mad God," though there's a little bit of the ED-209 robot from "RoboCop" in there, too. It was a great move to let Tippett create mechanical beings that evoked his personal work, because they're really creepy. There's a power in letting artists go wild with what they love, and the mechanical mine monster is one of the most unique and interesting creatures in all of "Star Wars." It has one big red eye, peeking out from behind glass, with insect-like appendages that allow it to scramble through the mines with relative ease. "Mad God" revolves around its protagonist descending into a pit full of monsters and machines, so it gave Tippett plenty of experience designing similar creatures and it pays off. The cave monster is cool

Though it is eventually defeated by Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) when she comes to rescue Djarin, watching the monster and the Mandalorians do battle in the mines feels like old "Star Wars" in a way that's hard to describe. Then again, that's probably because Tippett is responsible for so many of those incredible original trilogy moments, and he served as a consultant on the episode, lending a bit of that old-school flavor. 

A Star Wars legend

Along with Joe Johnston and Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett helped create some of the most memorable robots and monsters in the "Star Wars" universe, including the clunky AT-ATs, the foul-smelling Tauntauns, Jabba the Hutt, and even the Rancor. Before computer-generated imagery had advanced enough to do more than simple compositing, stop-motion, matte paintings, and puppetry were the only way to make three-dimensional science fiction and fantasy stories come to life. Artists like Tippett helped make the impossible possible, and it's lovely to see the franchise pay tribute to him in a new way with the monster in "The Mandalorian." 

Sometimes the movie and TV industries don't give due credit to the people who help make things happen behind the camera, but it's been really refreshing to see Tippett get a lot of love in the past few weeks, both on "The Mandalorian" and in "Poker Face." 

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