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‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3: We Need to Talk About IG-11

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Editor’s Note: The following contains minor spoilers from Season 3 Episode 7 of The Mandalorian.On the latest episode of The Mandalorian, Grogu got an upgrade. Upon returning to Nevarro, he and Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) were presented with a mechanical body that Grogu could pilot around, giving him arms and legs long enough to keep up with Din and the other Mandalorians on their adventures. There’s just one problem: the mechanical body in question belongs to IG-11 (Taika Waititi), the assassin droid that sacrificed itself to save the day in the Season 1 finale. None of the characters present bat an eye at this turn of events, even though earlier this season they were all earnestly trying to rebuild and restore IG-11 to his former self. This lack of respect for what is essentially IG-11’s corpse is deeply uncomfortable and demonstrates that Star Wars still struggles with the question of what its droid characters are supposed to be.. IG-11 Deserved Better Than Being Grogu’s Mech-Suit. Designed by LucasFilm. Droid characters have been a staple of Star Wars since the beginning. From R2-D2 and C-3PO in the Original Trilogy (and beyond!) to Star Wars: Rebels’ Chopper and the Sequel’s BB-8, there are plenty of iconic and beloved droids in the franchise. All of them have memorable personalities, develop friendships, and experience emotions just like any non-Droid characters. IG-11 may not have been as expressive as any of those characters, but The Mandalorian’s first season still treated him like an individual once Kuiil (Nick Nolte) reprogrammed him. He made his own decisions and engaged in creative problem-solving, he also saved Din’s life multiple times. And his death is framed as deeply tragic like any non-Droid character’s death would have been. IG-11 is as much an individual as Din, Grogu, or any other character on The Mandalorian.. So why are Grogu, Din, and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) so at ease with the idea of using his body as a vehicle for Grogu? If they’d used Dark Side magic to restore Kuiil’s body to a semblance of life for the same purpose it would be deeply awful, without question. Or what if The Rise of Skywalker had completely disassembled C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) instead of just wiping his memory, and turned him into a suit of armor for Rey (Daisy Ridley)? It would’ve been deeply upsetting. The decision to turn IG-11 into “IG-12” is just as upsetting. It feels like Grogu is parading around in the corpse of the Droid that saved his life multiple times. But the characters all accept this as something completely reasonable. Din’s biggest concern is how much more mischief Grogu will be able to get up to, seemingly unphased by what’s happened to the only droid he’s ever trusted.. RELATED: ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3 Is Taking the Wrong Lessons from ‘The Book of Boba Fett’. Image via Disney. This inconsistent approach to Droid characters is not new to Star Wars. For as long as we’ve had the likes of R2-D2 and C-3PO, we’ve also had Droids that exist not as characters but as machines. Though now it’s been retconned into a heroic sacrifice, A New Hope expects us to be relieved when R5-D4 suffers a critical malfunction, forcing Uncle Owen (Phill Brown) to buy R2 instead. Return of the Jedi features gratuitous scenes of Droid torture in Jabba’s Palace, where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) had sent R2 and C-3PO without informing C-3PO of his plan to gift them to Jabba. The Prequels and their animated spin-off The Clone Wars prominently feature swarms of antagonistic battle droids, meant to serve as cannon fodder for our heroes to cut through without questioning the morality of it.. The worst offender might just be 2018’s Solo, which featured L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) as Lando Calrissian’s (Donald Glover) navigator. L3’s most prominent character trait is her passionate advocation for Droids’ Rights, arguing that Droids were the equals of humans or any other species and deserved to be treated as such. But the movie plays this for laughs, treating L3’s character as innately absurd. It even punishes her for her beliefs when she attempts to start a Droid uprising on Kessel, leading to her body being destroyed and her mind being uploaded into the Millennium Falcon’s navigational computer.. Star Wars Needs to Commit to Acknowledging Droids Are People. Image via Disney+. Why does Star Wars seem so determined to reject the premise that Droids are people? Very few fans would argue that Droids like C-3PO or Chopper don’t have just as much life in them as characters like Luke Skywalker or Ahsoka Tano. If Star Wars were consistent about Droids being a simple advanced technology to make life for non-Droids easier, that would be one thing. They would be hyper-advanced versions of Siri or Alexa, given mechanical bodies to ease the load. But Star Wars has repeatedly demonstrated that that’s not the case. Just last year, Andor featured B2EMO (Dave Chapman), an old groundmech salvage assist unit that had been in the Andor family for years. B2 is nervous and anxious, which seems to affect his functionality as much as his age does, often stuttering and regularly needing to recharge. The family seems to do more to take care of B2 than he does to help them, but the Andors don’t hold this against him. And when Maarva (Fiona Shaw) dies, B2 grieves her like everyone else on the show. And most shockingly for a Star Wars project B2’s grief is acknowledged and respected by the other characters around him, even though he’s a Droid.. B2 is the most explicit example, but Star Wars is full of droids having emotional experiences beyond what a machine made for utility should. Battle Droids are regularly shown to experience fear in The Clone Wars. L3 feels passion and anger at the way Droids are treated. Characters like R2, C-3PO, and Chopper all have emotional connections to their companions, Droid and non-Droid alike. And just an episode ago in “Guns for Hire,” The Mandalorian introduced the concept of a Droid Bar, demonstrating a capacity for Droids to partake in relaxation outside their intended functions as workers. Star Wars wants to have rich and interesting Droid characters, except when it would be inconvenient for it.. The idea of giving Grogu a mechanical body to get around does make a lot of sense. It gives him more autonomy, allowing him to be more directly involved in the story. The “yes/no” button gives him a limited voice, without running the risk of having him begin to speak on his own and potentially ruining his adorable appeal. But giving him IG-11’s body is not the way to do it. Greef made it clear that they’d pulled out IG-11’s memory circuit, literally taking everything that made IG-11 himself and discarding it so that Grogu could have a fun vehicle to ride around in. This is a horrifying turn of events that not only ruins what should be a fun moment for Grogu but also continues a long and frustrating trend that Star Wars needs to get over sooner rather than later. Either Droids are people deserving of respect, or they aren’t. Star Wars can’t keep having it both ways, and there’s only one correct interpretation. The audience acknowledges that Droids are people, and so should Star Wars.. Read More About ‘The Last of Us’ 

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