We’re starting to see what’s going on here. What began as a seemingly stand-alone Star Wars project, The Mandalorian has now, in its third season, revealed some of its connective tissue to the franchise. The series, which takes place nine years after the events of A New Hope, depicts a galaxy suddenly free from the yolk of imperial control. The Empire has collapsed. The Rebels have won. The galaxy is saved. Except not really.
We know from the sequel series, beginning with The Force Awakens, that the New Order will soon rise to take up the Imperial baton. What the new season of The Mandalorian seems ready to answer is this question: How did the galaxy, finally free of totalitarian rule, decide once again to go imperial?
In Episode 3, “The Convert,” we see the repatriation of imperial officers, who must live as second-class citizens—their freedom of movement and employment restricted under the New Republic. We also see the complacency of New Republic politicians, themselves likely with unsevered ties to the Empire. As for the “good guys,” the galaxy they seem to have liberated is far from free and safe. Take the Outer Rim, which includes worlds not party to New Republic treaties and, therefore, not under their military protection. Instead, they must ally with mercenaries to fend off pirates.
The point of all this: the transition from imperial order to galactic democracy has not been a smooth one. The leftovers of that old rule, including the disbanded imperial military, are without a mission and ripe for the kind of re-indoctrination we’re likely to see as the world of The Mandalorian moves toward the New Order.
Episode 6, “Guns for Hire,” reinforces many of these issues, with Mando and Bo-Katan acting as diplomatic loopholes for the planet of Plazir-15. (The planet is unable to arm a military due to one of its leader’s former affiliations with the Empire—a restriction similar to those imposed on former Axis powers after WWII.)
Plazir-15 shows some of the shaky transitions between governing structures, especially with its two rulers.
The Duchess of Plazir-15 is just one example of the uneasy transition between Empire and Republic
Plazir-15 is supposedly a direct democracy, albeit one with monarchal trimmings. The Duchess of Plazir-15 (played by Lizzo) is both royal and elected. Her position highlights some of the challenges faced by former imperial worlds: She must keep peace and order while also retaining ruling legitimacy. To do so, she must circumvent New Republic rules in order to keep her people safe. These actions, however, mean exercising power that seems more imperial than rebel. For instance, she keeps her planet under surveillance for this purpose.
One of Andor’s political observations is the existence of complacency in totalitarian rule. Those who preside over such rule lack imagination. They cannot imagine resistance because, for them, no other system of rule appears desirable—or possible. The same applies for this who live under such rule: What is the point of rebellion if it is futile?
Complacency, however, doesn’t seem to have only been a symptom of Empire. The Duchess’ actions on Plazir-15 may relieve her citizens of labor, but they do so only by implementing a new form of power—one where its ruler can monitor and then make decisions for the so-called good of the majority. All season long, we’ve seen this kind of post-imperial influence. Police are replaced by cameras. Prisons are replaced by New Order housing projects. Call it “soft power.” That’s the state of the galaxy now.
The Duchess, like the treatment of Dr. Penn Pershing, will likely act as an example of how the New Republic has gone wrong—and how a resurgence of the Empire’s ideology through the New Order is possible.
We’re likely to see more of her in the future.
The Duchess is played by Lizzo
And we hope to see more of her.
Lizzo’s tweet the morning her episode aired: “I’m in Star Wars YALL!”
It’s unclear yet when Lizzo’s character might return, though it seems like the franchise wants to start bridging the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. To do that, they’ll need more characters like The Duchess.
So we probably haven’t seen the last of her.
Joshua St Clair is an Assistant Editor at Men’s Health Magazine.
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