How The Mandalorian Wrote Out Gina Carano But Kept Cara Dune In The Star Wars Universe

Cara Dune in The Mandalorian Season 2
(Image credit: Disney+)

Spoilers below for those who haven’t yet watched The Mandalorian’s premiere, so be warned!

At long, long last, one of the biggest and best reasons to pay for a Disney+ subscription is back in front of our eyeholes, with The Mandalorian having kicked off its third season with big action sequences, big plans for Pedro Pascal’s helmeted hero, and a big ol’ chair for Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan to lounge in while engaging in Darksaber-related brooding. The premiere brought several fan-favorite Mandalorian characters to the forefront, while also introducing new creatures and details into the mix, but understandably missing from the episode was fellow badass Cara Dune, with portrayer Gina Carano having been fired from the series over controversial social media posts back in February 2021. 

That said, the episode somewhat surprisingly didn’t just ignore the character’s existence outright, and did indeed drop an update in there so that fans could know Cara is still out there making a mess of whoever gets in her way. Check out how the was referenced below, as well as executive producer Dave Filoni and director Rick Famuyiwa’s insights into that narrative choice. 

The Mandalorian's Season 3 Premiere Update For Cara Dune

The last time Star Wars fans saw Gina Carano’s Cara Dune was the last time anyone had watched a proper Mandalorian episode — though Pascal’s character did return for more story building within The Book of Boba Fett — back in the Season 2 finale, which featured the bombshell reveal of Mark Hamill’s de-aged Luke Skywalker. The premiere, titled “The Apostate,” fittingly tapped into its Cara Dune update after Mando arrived on Nevarro and reconnected with Carl Weathers’ Greef Karga, who was all smiles in his updated role as the planet’s high magistrate.

After it’s made clear that Greef’s new role hasn’t exactly ceased all villainous encounters, he voiced the need for a good marshal without Cara around anymore. Mando inquired about her current situation, which was explained as:

After she brought in Moff Gideon, she was recruited by special forces.

Not the most detailed explanation, obviously, but clearly one that could be introduced into The Mandalorian’s continuity without stepping on any other plot points and causing disarray. And really, it’s not like Moff Gideon himself received far lengthier exposition, with Greef revealing Giancarlo Esposito’s villain was shipped off to a New Republic war tribunal. That detail will no doubt be explored further as the season goes on, though we likely shouldn’t hold out hope for another in-person Cara Dune appearance, even though there's a slight chance for a reprisal.

The Mandalorian EPs Talk Addressing Gina Carano's Character

Speaking with Deadline ahead of The Mandalorian's premiere, Star Wars storytelling genius Dave Filoni addressed the idea of Cara Dune's continued reign within the overall Star Wars timeline, and whether or not she could show up again. 

It’s a big galaxy, and we have many characters in it — many characters are fighting for their screen time. We’ll just have to see as the season unfolds what the adventures are, but it’s a great character, someone who was vital to Din Djarin’s beginnings; we’ll see if he has evolved beyond that.

Considering The Mandalorian's first two seasons featured largely sporadic appearances from all characters outside of Mando and Grogu, there weren't any guarantees that Cara Dune would have been a major plot anchor in Season 3 anyway, even though it's likely the case. It's hard to know how things would have shaped out had Carano avoided any and all social media posts between seasons, but it did seem like the sky was the limit for her tales. To the point where Cara Dune was reportedly front and center for a Rangers of the New Republic spinoff, which faded away once she was fired

So was Dave Filoni merely teasing the idea that "The Apostate" featured a verbal update for Cara, or will there be any further evolving for her story? While Carano has been outspoken in the past about the firing, and how she felt she was "head-hunted" by Disney execs, she's also maintained her love and respect for co-star Pedro Pascal, and has largely had nothing but good things to say about the Star Wars universe and her experiences while filming. So it's not impossible to think that she could have been asked to return to film a brief cameo, assuming she would even be interested in returning.

But as premiere director and EP Rick Famuyiwa explained it, we shouldn't forget that this is The Mandalorian after all, so the story is going to stay rooted to him and Grogu regardless of what Cara Dune is up to out there. 

Cara was a big part and continues as a character to be part of the world. It had to be addressed in the creative, and [Jon Favreau] took the time to think about that. It was something that was discussed as we knew it was going to have impact on the show, but at the same time, what has been at the heart of the show are the two characters — Din Djarin and Grogu — so ultimately it felt like a servicing of that, and around the Mandalorians.

Now that we know what the former(ish?) bounty hunter is up to out there in the universe, we can hone in our questions to the events in the premiere. Such as "whattup with Bo-Katan not being all hungry for the Darksaber now?" And "how long before we get confirmation about a new spinoff and Disney World park focusing on Anzellan droid smiths?"

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.