One thing you can rely on when it comes to Star Wars: there will always be fascinating new characters popping up. The galaxy is full of interesting heroes, villains, and everything in between. One great source of new characters recently has been the brilliant Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Earlier this season, The Mandalorian gave us one of the most exciting new characters to grace the expanded universe, and I think Disney needs to pounce on the opportunity to fill out their backstory in a novel.
I’m talking, of course, about Dr. Mandible.
Despite his brief appearance in Chapter 10 of the show, Dr. Mandible left a major impression. He’s a member of some kind of weird bug race; he has valuable information for our hero; and his name is Dr. Mandible. What’s not to love?
Now, we admittedly don’t know a whole lot about Dr. Mandible… but that’s exactly why a Dr. Mandible novel is so crucial. We need to fill in this guy’s mysterious past. I’ve got some ideas on what a theoretical Dr. Mandible novel might look like.
First thing’s first: there’s no way his real, actual name is Dr. Mandible. I know Star Wars has leaned into some pretty weird names in the past (looking at you, Elan Sleazebaggano), but I just can’t accept that there’s a big bug boy whose name is “Mandible.” Clearly, Dr. Mandible is just what people call him. My guess? His name is a series of clicks and whirrs that is unpronounceable in Basic–something like Chrruk Skkrnn.
Now, what else can we extrapolate about Chrruk from his brief appearance? We know that he frequents a Tatooine cantina; we know he plays sabacc; and we know he knows enough about Mandalorians to connect Din Djarin with the Frog Lady that ultimately leads our protagonist to Bo-Katan’s group.
That tells us a few things. First off, it seems like this guy knows his way around the galaxy. I mean, he knows more about Mandalorians than most people we’ve met so far, which is impressive in itself. Add that to the fact that he’s seen frequenting a cantina in a spaceport (a la Han Solo), and I think there’s only one likely conclusion: Chrruk is a smuggler of some kind.
But why? Why did this guy turn to smuggling? Well, let’s look at the only other piece of info we have on Dr. Mandible: he’s a sabacc player. I know what you’re thinking–it’s Star Wars. Pretty much everyone plays sabacc now and again, right? Sure, that’s fair. But think about the Star Wars Expanded Universe for a second. It loves to take small, random facts about characters and turn them into backstory-defining traits (or, at least, that’s how Legends operated, and I think it’s safe to do so here). By that logic, Dr. Mandible was almost certainly a big-time professional sabacc player at some point.
Therein lies the setup for the Dr. Mandible story. We follow Chrruk Skkrnn as a young, hotshot gambler. He’s not a cheater, either; he’s just got a way with cards. He understands sabacc in a way few do–and he also happens to draw a lot of lucky hands (this being Star Wars, maybe there’s a bit more to it than simple luck, but it’s safe to say that Force sensitivity won’t be a big part of Chrruk’s story).
Then, the Empire rises, and everything changes.
Suddenly, non-human species are facing open discrimination. Things get tough for the insectoid Chrruk. It’s around this time that some Stormtroopers–too lazy and cruel to learn Chrruk’s real name–label him “Dr. Mandible,” which sticks. He can’t enter the same tournaments anymore, and even when he does get into a game, his luck seems to have run out. He runs afoul of Imperial troops more than once, and he starts getting jumpy and nervous. He can’t read his opponents’ tells anymore; he’s too distracted and afraid.
Eventually, his rough gambling streak lands him in hot water with the criminal underworld. The easy play here would be the Hutts, but that’s a bit of a cliché at this point; I’d prefer to use a different criminal syndicate. The Crimson Dawn, maybe? Extra points if this is late enough into the timeline that Maul has been ousted and perhaps Qi’ra is in charge. With a massive debt on his shoulders and little chance of employment within the Empire, Chrruk turns to a life of smuggling. The back portion of the novel sees our hero making his first big score, and realizing that it’s almost as big a thrill as pulling off a perfect hand of sabacc. He moves to smuggling full-time, as it gives him all the excitement of a high-stakes round of cards and lets him thumb his nose at the Empire, too. He even turns “Dr. Mandible” from a mean-spirited nickname to a renowned nom de guerre.
How fun would this be? The early parts of the book could explore a side of the Star Wars universe we rarely see, as the sly and talented Chrruk rises through the ranks to become one of the best professional gamblers in the galaxy (somewhere along the way, we can fit in the obvious Lando cameo when the two play a round against each other; the honorable Chrruk is naturally disgusted by Lando’s tricks). Then, we could see his heartbreaking plummet downwards in the wake of Imperial rule. Around the middle of the book, he starts gathering a crew to pull off the big job that will form the novel’s climax, introducing us to a wealth of new and memorable faces, and finally, the last act will be a rollicking adventure as our band of rogues evade and outsmart the Empire.
Disney, if you’re listening, we need this book. Not just because Dr. Mandible is the best name any Star Wars character has ever had, but because it could show us so much of the galaxy that we don’t often see: how does the Galactic upper crust live? What is like to be a celebrity in this universe? What would it be like to have all of that ripped away by the Empire? It would also gives us a non-human protagonist, which is surprisingly rare (though not unheard of) in the current EU. And above all, after a really garbage year, it would be nice to see a guy like Dr. Mandible succeed and stick it to the evil, fascist government he’s been forced to suffer under.
And, you know, I’d be happy to write this. Just saying. Get in touch.