Trying To Figure Out Time On ‘The Mandalorian’ (Or Star Wars) Is A Fool’s Errand

Season three of The Mandalorian debuted this week and there have been a couple of dust-ups, and both have to do with Grogu’s time with Luke Skywalker. The first, and less interesting, is the fact that Grogu’s time with Luke Skywalker came to an end not during an episode of The Mandalorian but, instead, during The Book of Boba Fett. I concede it’s a little weird,* but this does seem like an overreaction. First of all, if you pay attention to Star Wars at all the word was out that The Book of Boba Fett turned into a mini-season of The Mandalorian. Also, to those honestly caught off guard by this, well if I just learned two episodes of The Book of Boba Fett were full-on episodes of The Mandalorian, I’d be happy to learn there are more episodes of my favorite show. It’s like someone right now telling me that two episodes of Home Improvement are just episodes of Seinfeld. I would not be mad about this. I’d be ecstatic.

Again, the way this was handled was certainly unusual. I compared it to if, during an episode of Frasier, Sam Malone showed up. Now, this did happen on an episode of Fraiser, but it would be like if there were two full episodes of Sam Malone tending bar back in Boston before he boarded his flight to Seattle. I mentioned this analogy to a friend and he corrected me, saying it would be more like if Cheers were still on when Frasier was on and during an episode of Fraiser, Frasier Crane murdered someone. Then, in an episode of Cheers, Fraiser is acquitted. Then back on Fraiser, Fraiser is back to life as normal with no mention of the trial. Anyway, my point is here, this all seems like a missed opportunity for the good folks at both Cheers and Fraiser and I hope this plot point is used in the new reboot.

The other topic of note, which I find much more interesting, is Jon Favreau kind of nonchalantly mentioning Grogu spent a couple of years training with Luke Skywalker. People kind of freaked out about this because, in the nature of these shows, it all seems pretty compact, time-wise. If two whole years had passed, what was our pal the Mandalorian doing with himself? What was anyone doing? Honestly, I don’t think Favreau put much thought into it in the first place because time in Star Wars doesn’t really matter and is impossible to figure out. He later had to correct himself and lower that amount of time a bit, but he was probably surprised anyone cared in the first place because people who grew up on the Original Trilogy have been kind of ignoring this for year and years. (Actual years and years, not Star Wars years and years.)

Let’s use The Empire Strikes Back as an example. How long was Luke on Dagobah training with Yoda? It seems like a couple of days? Maybe three or four? But Luke sure improves quite a bit over the time he’s there. At least enough to survive an encounter with Darth Vader. Okay, sure, Vader wasn’t trying to kill Luke, but Luke got a couple of legitimate shots in and a moment where Vader admits Luke’s skills are “impressive.” This seems like more than a couple of days of training?

Making this more confusing is the case of Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO on the Millennium Falcon. Having somewhat successfully evaded Imperial capture (but not evaded the aforementioned Boba Fett) Han looks for places he can get his ship repaired and comes upon Cloud City, high above the gas planet of Bespin, run by his, let’s say, sometimes associate Lando. Now, how long does this take for the Falcon to get to Bespin without a hyperdrive engine? Han says it’s pretty far, but thinks they can make it. Using actual math and science, someone calculated this and found it would be over a billion years. Yeah, Luke should be really good by that point.

Since this is a fool’s errand to begin with, a popular number is maybe a month or two. But in the context of the movie, which is very tight from scene to scene, it’s jarring to think those four were just cruising along in the Falcon for a couple of months. Or even a couple of weeks. In the flow of the movie, it seems like they get there in a few hours, which even in Star Wars fiction is kind of impossible without hyperdrive.

But here’s my main point: I am not trying to figure this out in any way. Yes, I will spend months trying to figure out Luke Skywalker’s plan to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi because these are actual plot points that, still to this day, do not make sense. (Since that piece ran, even now, once every few weeks someone will tweet at me, “I have this figured out.” Every time, they certainly do not have it figured out.) But I’ve given up on trying to figure out how time works in Star Wars. It does not matter. Only 19 years had passed between Revenge of the Sith and the original Star Wars and people were already like, “Yeah I don’t buy this whole Jedi thing.” It would be like now trying to say The Killers’ Hot Fuss never existed. (Though, we’ve seen what government conspiracies can do to formally rational people so maybe, now, having lived through 2016 – 2020, I give this one more of a pass.)

Did Grogu spend two full years training with Luke? Did Han Solo spend over a billion years trying to get from Hoth to Bespin? It doesn’t matter. Don’t try to figure out how time works in Star Wars. The answer is it doesn’t work. And you can drive yourself crazy trying to make sense of it.

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