Let’s get one thing clear: “The Mandalorian” would not work as a serious drama like “Andor.” When I say that it should emulate the latter show, I don’t want it to become a bleak look at fascism or capitalism. There are many aspects of “The Mandalorian” that work, and its somewhat lighthearted tone and focus on adventure are often quite entertaining.
However, what “The Mandalorian” needs to adapt from “Andor” is its own identity outside of the larger “Star Wars” universe. This was something that gradually became a problem as the series progressed, eventually succumbing to uncomfortable fan service, such as the live-action introduction of Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) and the reveal of de-aged Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) taking brief custody over Grogu. This problem also seeped into “The Book of Boba Fett,” which eventually became “Mando” season 2.5 towards the end of its run.
What made “Andor” ultimately so refreshing to watch was that, despite obviously being a part of the “Star Wars” franchise, it did not feel tethered by obligatory franchise reminders. Other than Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), we got no recognizable characters or Easter eggs. It built upon what we already knew about the Empire and about the larger “Star Wars” story, but it was written to be watched by everyone, regardless of their familiarity with the franchise. “Andor” was essentially a compelling space drama and character study first, and a piece of “Star Wars” media second.