The Mandalorian Sticks the Landing in "The Return"

TV REVIEW: The Mandalorian Sticks the Landing in ‘The Return’

Endings are hard.

The season of life kind. The relationship kind. The baguette kind. It makes sense—in the broader, grander sense of things—that the thing that all writers and creators struggle with at some point in their creative careers are endings.

It’s one thing to get a plot off the ground and animate it with enough life that it carries itself through episode after episode of riveting plot, an unfurling of mixed yarn and thread, each vibrant in its own way. It is an entirely different thing, a sometimes harder thing to take those beautiful stories and tie them together in a cohesive and satisfying tapestry that finishes the story that you had intended out to tell at the beginning of it all.

The final episode of season three of The Mandalorian does just that.

Of course, before we can get into anything:

Warning: The following review contains spoilers. Be sure to check out our reviews of the firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixth, and seventh episodes.


Seems like Pandemic-era gardening didn’t skip the Mandalorians, either. I wonder if they also made sourdough and got into crocheting. (Image Source: LucasFilm via Italy 24)

Running through the subterranean base on Mandalore, our episode begins right at the peak of action that the previous episode had left off on. Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) leads half a dozen remaining Mandalorians from the trap that had been set by Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). Calling up to Axe Groves (Simon Kassianides) on the refurbished Imperial ship, the two devise a plan to level the playing field.

Meanwhile, after a daring rescue of Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) by Grogu (Grogu), the two separated groups reconnect with two distinct plans: Bo-Katan and the incoming Mandalorian support troops will deal with the modified Stormtroopers in the Imperial Base while Din and Grogu set off to hunt down Moff Gideon. In true Star Wars fashion, R5-D4—the quirky astromech droid that joined the adventure earlier on in the season—comes to the rescue by flying in from Din’s ship and hacking into the Imperial computer system. From there, the plucky droid assists Din and Grogu get through the base, engaging in some spectacular fights along the way, including a scene where they walk through a chamber filled with clones of Moff Gideon. (Of course, Din responds the only way one can respond to a room full of Gideons: he blows it up.)

The Doctor called and he’s looking for his—oh, sorry. Wrong franchise. (Image Source: LucasFilm via Gamespot)

Back on the planet’s surface, Bo-Katan is introduced to one of the many farms the survivors of Mandalore had planted since the Purge. The Armorer (Emily Swallow) then informs Bo-Karan that the other Mandalorians are in place, setting the last piece of the incoming battle into motion. Underneath the planet, Din Djarin and Grogu enter into a fight with Moff Gideon and the trio of Praetorian guard that killed Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher) in the previous episode. While the fight outside of the base is taking place, inside Grogu and Din work together as a team to fight off their aggressors.

I have nothing witty to say here. Bo-Katan is amazing. That is all. (Image Source: LucasFilm via Den of Geek)

As the two fights convene, Axe Groves’ plan of using the Imperial Star Destroyer succeeds and he drives the massive ship down onto the planet’s surface, jumping out moments before the crash. Down below, drawn into a standoff, Bo-Katan, Din, and Grogu fight with Moff Gideon until the bitter end: the base is engulfed in flames, destroying everything and everyone besides our heroes, who were enveloped in a Force protection bubble by Grogu.

Back in the domed capital city, the Mandalorians all gather in a ceremony by the Sacred Waters where Din Djarin formally adopts Grogu, giving him his new name: Din Grogu. Then, in another ceremony, Bo-Katan and the Armorer relight the Sacred Force, bringing in a new age to the once dead planet. Returning to the Republic saloon that had been introduced in “The Pirate,” Din Djarin finds Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and enters into an off-the-books agreement with the X-wing pilot: he will take care of bounties that the Republic needs handled in the Outer Rim in exchange, in part, for a trophy in the bar. Returning to Nevarro, Din and Grogu are welcomed back as heroes and settle into their new cabin home, safe from the hustle and bustle of the universe.

All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces. (Image Source: LucasFilm via Italy 24)


What an episode. Honestly, I’ve been excited about this season since the beginning and while I was nervous that the Favreau/Filoni team might finally lose their winning streak, I was very, very pleased when that proved to not to be the case. Sure, there were bits and pieces that were a bit confusing (how did Grogu get to Din in the first place?), parts that led to even more questions (did Din Djarin block a blaster shot with a vibroblade?), but overall, this episode tied up the season with a nice, found-family colored bow, finishing a few major storylines for The Mandalorian itself while also completing a few other arcs from previous Star Wars properties itself.

The end of Moff Gideon at the hands of our trio was a satisfying one, narratively speaking, while also leaving just enough of a spot that if he was revived via a clone, it wouldn’t feel as cheap (but for the record, I do not like reviving good villains for the sake of a thrill). Watching the Mandalorians work together to retake the planet that was lost to them would have been great on its own, but watching these two different, disparate groups of Mandalorians that can’t even agree on whether or not they can eat in front of each other with their helmets on did make this episode stellar. Returning to familiar places like Nevarro and the Republic saloon reminded us of the expanded world the show brought us while setting up more building blocks for stories to come.

Final Score (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Spaceships. Jetpack fights. Glow-in-the-dark swords. This episode, while not perfect, had nearly everything that any Star Wars fan could need or want. Expanding upon the worlds that our beloved characters live in, bringing us stellar performances from tried-and-true powerhouses like Katee Sackhoff and Giancarlo Esposito, to the less familiar but no less phenomenal Omid Abtahi and Katy O’Brian, this season of The Mandalorian was solidly scripted, performed, and executed from beginning to end.

But of course, as per usual, the true standouts of the season were Din (or is it Djarin, now?), Grogu, and Bo-Katan. Their new family unit, forged throughout these past eight episodes made the whole of the season memorable and worthwhile. Despite the romanticism of Din’s speech in the previous episode, the lack of romantic tensions between Din and Bo-Katan not only made the pairing more special as they were brought together, time and time again to aid, assist, and keep Grogu safe, but was a breath of fresh air in a media culture that is often dead-set on a romantic endgame between any male and female duo. Indeed, ending the episode with Din Djarin and Grogu settling into their life on the ranch (seriously, were you not just waiting for him to start singing “Home on the Range?” I know I was,) while Bo-Katan remained on Mandalore with the Armorer (which if you want to talk romantic tensions between the two of them, to loosely quote Steve Rogers: “I could do it all day,”) rebuilding their joint society was a perfect way to close this chapter of The Mandalorian.

Because ultimately, Star Wars is not just about the journey of the individual hero. While Luke was certainly the focus of much of the original three films, the Legends material and the subsequent canon films and TV shows made the true power of these stories clear. What shines through all legendary stories, regardless of origin, is not just the story of the hero, singular, but rather, of the hero, plural—watching the interwoven threads of each of these characters’ stories culminate in one gigantic push against entropy, against evil, against death was as satisfying a half hour as I think we’re going to get.

And—since Jon Favreau has stated that he’s already written it—here’s to season four!

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One thought on “TV REVIEW: The Mandalorian Sticks the Landing in ‘The Return’

  1. Perfect way to encapsulate the power of Star Wars – What shines through all legendary stories, regardless of origin, is not just the story of the hero, singular, but rather, of the hero, plural—watching the interwoven threads of each of these characters’ stories culminate in one gigantic push against entropy, against evil, against death was as satisfying a half hour as I think we’re going to get.

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