There’s a sensation that’s totally unique to the 21st century. That feeling of confusion after watching a new Marvel movie because you missed the previous, interconnected movie or show that explains a pivotal plot point. If the Germans had a word for it, it might be: whoiskangsyndrome.
But as Marvel’s influence continues to bleed into the rest of pop culture, we need to come up with an actual term for the confusion some people felt after watching the new trailer for The Mandalorian Season 3.
Released last Sunday night during an expensive Sunday night football commercial spot, the new trailer casually reveals a plot point that may surprise some: Baby Yoda is back. Despite bidding farewell to his Mandalorian father figure and heading off with Luke Skywalker for some Jedi training at the end of Season 2, the child known as Grogu is seen here riding shotgun with Pedro Pascal. There’s not even a brief mention of poor Luke.
The answer lies in a completely different Star Wars show: The Book of Boba Fett. The series, which shares a universe and a loose timeline with The Mandalorian, included a surprise standalone episode that followed both Mando and Baby Yoda while completely ignoring its own titular bounty hunter. Before Boba Fett was finished, Grogu had chosen to be a Mandalorian over a Jedi after Luke forced him to decide.
That’s right, The Mandalorian’s biggest cliffhanger was answered in a completely different show. It’s a bit like if you went to see the new Doctor Strange movie and your favorite Avenger was suddenly evil. (Oh wait, that happened too.)
To be fair, Mandalorian and Boba Fett are directly linked. They share characters and plot lines. Mando Season 2 even ended with a post-credits scene setting up Boba’s spin-off. It’s also possible that when The Mandalorian Season 3 actually debuts in March it will explain these changes better than a minute-long commercial ever could.
But it’s also understandable that some Star Wars fans didn’t watch Book of Boba Fett, especially given the mixed reviews. And even if Season 3 starts with a recap of the spin-off, it’s still reasonable for fans to expect that if there’s a cliffhanger on their favorite show, the actual resolution will come from the same show.
There’s a bigger problem here, too. As the entire world races to adopt the Marvel model, more and more of our favorite franchises may start to feel like homework. Paramount is preparing to launch both a Dungeons and Dragons movie and a show that may or may not exist in a shared universe. James Gunn says his new version of the DC Universe will feature a web of interconnected movies, shows, cartoons, and video games. And Amazon is reportedly exploring spinoff James Bond shows after buying 007’s parent company, MGM. (If James Bond switches to drinking espresso martinis in an Amazon Prime show, I may actually lose it.)
Since this trend clearly isn’t going away any time soon, we might as well come up with a name for it. How about Cinematic Universe Stress Syndrome, or C.U.S.S. for short?
The Mandalorian Season 3 premieres March 1 on Disney+.