The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3, “The Heiress” re-purposes an AT-AT, making them more effective and fixing complaints about their size.
Warning: Contains SPOILERS for The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3, “Chapter 11 – The Heiress.”
AT-AT walkers have long been a core part of Star Wars, but The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3, “Chapter 11 – The Heiress” fixes a complaint about them. Since making their debut at the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, the All Terrain Armored Transport (and subsequent follow-up models) have been a core part of the Empire’s military. Its hulking, heavy four-legged frame makes it a symbol of might among the ground forces, and it remains among the most iconic vehicle designs in a galaxy far, far away.
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The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3 puts a new spin on an old classic. As Mando makes a way-too-fast landing on the moon of Trask, his ship, the Razor Crest, falls off the dock and into the ocean, where it’s retrieved using a crane that has the legs of an AT-AT. It’s a moment of ingenuity in terms of contributing to the worldbuilding of Trask alone, but the strength of the scene only gets better when considered in context of AT-ATs as a whole in Star Wars.
Although AT-ATs are impressive in size, they have long been criticized by fans for being far too cumbersome and impractical. As the Battle of Hoth showed, they can be taken down and rendered completely ineffective; the same thing that gives them their strength is also their biggest weakness. They may pack a punch, but against far more mobile ground troops and transports, the AT-AT’s lack of agility is a major flaw. Similarly, they are a large target, making them easy to hit. The Mandalorian season 2, then, re-purposes the AT-AT into something far more suited to what it is. By using it in water as part of a crane, it makes perfect use of the size and strength of its legs.
An AT-AT isn’t an infallible military weapon, but it is quite clearly effective when put to use in the manner shown in The Mandalorian. The Empire, of course, were often all about might, so it’s easy to see why it’d be so attracted to something like an AT-AT, but using them in water, while not totally fixing their issues, is a canny use of them as it hides one of their biggest weaknesses, given them slightly greater defenses. Using them as part of a crane is perhaps even better, since it makes full use of what they can do, showing they’re well-suited to that kind of loading work rather than battles.
The use of an AT-AT crane on Trask in The Mandalorian season 2 doesn’t just fix the issue with how impractical they are, but it also serves to further flesh out the galaxy in the wake of the Empire’s defeat. With Imperial forces diminished, albeit not completely vanquished, then it makes a lot of sense for their weaponry and materials to be taken by others and repurposed. As Trask is a black market port, then it better fits with how they might have acquired such a thing too. It could also slot neatly into Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which showed the same arms dealers who sold weapons to the First Order also sold them to the Resistance. Whether it’s Imperial or otherwise, there’s clearly always money to be made when it comes to selling machinery and weaponry in Star Wars.
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