The Mandalorian Is A Mess Right Now, But The New Episode Has The Best Cameos Yet

This season of "The Mandalorian" is kind of a mess. Season two gave us two clear objectives that seemed to define Din Djarin's story: go to Mandalore and bring Grogu to his people. These are cool yet simple goals with plenty of opportunities to drive the plot for awhile.

However, we already finished both quests already, leaving this season to seem rather aimless. The only thing driving the plot seems to be the drive to rebuild Mandalore now, despite that not being something that is easily achieved in a season of TV like this without doing a bunch of time skips like "House of the Dragon." Indeed, though the Mando-verse is presumably pointing to a massive crossover event down the line, the flagship show that started it all is going through a messy period. 

For instance, Din Djarin has become a side character in his own story, even more than before, with Bo-Katan (and other characters) stealing the spotlight all season. We've even been sidetracking during the sidetracks, with more parallel storylines than there are characters in "Game of Thrones." Sure, if they all end up leading somewhere, then they will pay off, but right now, "The Mandalorian" feels a little too scattershot. 

But this week, we're kinda fine with the side quests, because instead of Glup Shitto, we get three out-of-this-world cameos that make the episode a wacky fun time. Christopher Lloyd, Jack Black, and Lizzo all join the "Star Wars" universe as original characters, and even though they all act like they are in a completely different show, that actually rules. 

Say hello to your new parents

The latest episode of "The Mandalorian" not only felt like an episode out of season 1, which was more episodic and fun, but also like an episode of "The Clone Wars." There's an unfamiliar world that feels mostly unique, a compelling self-contained plot full of callbacks, and of course, those fun and very silly cameos.

When Din Djarin and Bo-Katan get to the planet Plazir-15 to look for her old Mandalorian comrades, who are now privateers, they find a massive and rather rich Epcot-like utopia. The planet is run by The Duchess and Captain Bombardier, played by none other than recording star Lizzo and the always reliable Jack Black.

These two steal the episode (maybe even the whole season) the moment they show up, mostly because their roles play out far differently than the type of cameos we've come to expect from the likes of Marvel and "Star Wars." More often than not (other than Stan Lee), every cameo in these two franchises is really just about the characters rather than the actors. The cameo is about who the actor is gonna play moving forward or which character from the expanded universe is returning, regardless of who is playing them.

But Lizzo and Jack Black's cameos feel like old-fashioned TV guest stars, which show up for a special (and very advertised) episode. They don't act like they belong in the same show as the other characters, they do some amusing stuff, and then leave. They feel like cameos we've seen from Brad Pitt or Billy Crystal on "Friends," New Edition appearing in "Family Matters," or Pam Grier popping up in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The only thing missing was a musical number, which also would have ruled when you have a flute master like Lizzo and a rock/metal beast like Jack Black.

The art of the guest spot

Indeed, when we first see the Duchess and Captain Bombardier, it is at a tea party straight out of "Alice in Wonderland," with Jack Black essentially playing the Mad Hatter, providing a myriad of facial expressions and even harmonizing at one point. It feels particularly odd since the rest of the episode plays like a gritty CSI investigation with a fascinating mystery. But any time Captain Bombardier is on screen  with his over-the-top beard and enthusiastic demeanor, we are instantly transported to a much different show, a pompous one where Lizzo does her best Marie Antoinette, playing what is essentially a space version of bocce ball and eating cakes with the nobles. 

Nothing exemplifies the tonal dissonance more than the scene where the Duchess quite literally makes Grogu a knight, inducting him into the Ancient Order of Independent Regencies. He may not be a Jedi, but he is definitely a different kind of knight now.

On the other hand, the closest we get to a proper "Star Wars" cameo is Commissioner Helgait (Christopher Lloyd). Not that Lloyd is playing anyone we know, but he serves to connect this episode to the Clone Wars, as he is a former Separatist and Count Dooku sympathizer who sabotages the city because he believes in the Separatists' ideals.

"Star Wars" will always have cameos, there is no avoiding that. But for every fan service cameo that results in a Glup Shitto moment, let's hope we get another Duchess or another Captain Bombardier to bring sheer whimsy to the galaxy far, far away.