One of the highlights of the new Star Wars era has been seeing all of its storytelling come together beneath one umbrella. Various projects do better jobs of connecting to the rest of the canon than others, something The Mandalorian in particular has done an excellent job with. Nearly episode in the first two seasons has featured several things familiar to fans, be it through nods to unused designs, direct callbacks to iconography, or the appearances of characters from other stories.
The Mandalorian Season 2 expanded the show's scope significantly, bringing in other Mandalorians like Bo-Katan Kryze and Boba Fett while incorporating more of the Force through special roles for Ahsoka Tano and Luke Skywalker. The Book of Boba Fett similarly appeased fans of the prequel, original, and sequel trilogies, as well as The Clone Wars, through an epic episode that featured half a dozen major characters.
But it isn't always just the huge character cameos that get fans excited. Sometimes it's the simple things, like nods to The Phantom Menace with Cobb Vanth's speeder. The new spin-offs have introduced countless concepts that have been, and will continue to be, explored for years, broadening the lore of the Star Wars universe in ways previously unimagined.
Sometimes a story may call for a previous project's introduction to be brought back - and that was nearly the case with The Mandalorian. Din Djarin's desperate attempt to locate Moff Gideon's cruiser brought him to an Imperial base while transporting an explosive material, but things very nearly connected to Solo: A Star Wars Story instead.
Major Solo Element Scrapped from Season 2
In The Art of The Mandalorian: Season 2 book obtained by The Direct, Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director Doug Chiang revealed that "Chapter 15 - The Believer" originally featured the coaxium fuel introduced in Solo:
"Initially, the Empire was going to be mining coaxium [the explosive hyperdrive fuel featured in Solo: A Star Wars Story], but when that changed to rhydonium, we needed to start thinking about trucks."
The concept artist also shared that an early draft of the episode depicted a shootout near the element, with Cara Dune making a risky save:
"There was an early story moment where there's a huge shootout in the coaxium vault [later changed to the equally volatile rhydonium], and then Cara Dune drives one of the Juggernauts through the wall to rescue them [laughs]."
An Explosive Situation
It's unclear why the change from coaxium was made, but rhydonium certainly proved to be an equally destructive fuel in "The Believer". The explanation could ultimately come down to the creative team choosing to introduce something new to the Star Wars lore, akin to the way Solo did things with coaxium. Both elements are fuel for ships, with the key difference being that coaxium is used for hyperdrives.
Something interesting to consider is how much the story of "Chapter 15" changed over this decision. The final outcome would've been the same, as the main objective for Din and Mayfeld was to find where Gideon was (and, by extension, Grogu). Mando revealing his face and the discussion with Valin Hess that turned disastrous were likely key to the plot from the outset as well, but how the duo got in and out of the Imperial facility changed drastically.
Chiang's words seem to imply that the Juggernaut trucks weren't a factor in the episode until rhydonium was the element decided upon, so a new means of transportation would've been needed. Flying in wouldn't be an option, but perhaps the pair snuck differently and the fight with the raiders didn't exist. The final shootout in the coaxium vault suggests that there was a heist element at some point, much like the theft that Han pulled on Kessel in Solo.
What ended up being settled upon was perfect for the story that needed to be told, but the coaxium connection sounds like a nice idea. It's easy to imagine Bill Burr screaming in the middle of a firefight surrounded by enough fuel to demolish a mountain, and Cara Dune's rescue surely would've worked Mayfeld up even more. While the wild exit may have been pulled back for the final product, "Chapter 15" delivered the intimate character building needed to set up the season finale.
Both The Mandalorian and Solo are available to stream on Disney+.