It’s been a heck of a ride since the third season of The Mandalorian premiered last month.
The Mandalorian just wrapped its eight-episode third season, showing the franchise is still as strong as it’s ever been. Jon Favreau has truly rewarded fans of the show, and Star Wars as a whole, with this blend of space opera and neo-western take on a galaxy far, far away.
It’s been a couple of days since the season finale has premiered, giving fans a chance to digest, and maybe even rewatch, the season as a whole. Regardless of how you look at this season — episodically or as a whole — there was a lot for fans to be happy about as we enter a post-season 3 world.
Warning: The following review contains spoilers. Be sure to check out our individual reviews of the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth episodes.
The Mandalorian season 3 picks up where The Book of Boba Fett left off. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu are reunited and off on another adventure. Their journey takes them on a path of redemption as Djarin seeks atonement for removing his helmet during the second season.
This path takes the pair to a fallen and desolate Mandalore where they team up with Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), who is without an army thanks to her losing the darksaber last season. Bo-Katan helps Djarin bathe in the waters of Mandalore thus redeeming himself. In the process, she sees the fabled Mythosaur when saving him after he is pulled under the water.
Bo-Katan and Djarin return to the hidden covert of Mandalorians and the Armorer (Emily Swallow) welcomes both into the covert. Bo-Katan quickly finds her place as a leader among the coverts she once called zealots. She gains their trust and fights alongside them in numerous battles, including one that gifts them a home on Nevarro thanks to high magistrate Greef Karga (Carl Weathers).
With a new home in tow, the Armorer sends Bo-Katan to collect the other Mandalorians so they can retake their homeworld. She allows Bo-Katan leniency in adhering to The Way as the Armorer claims Bo-Katan walks both ways and can reunite Mandalore.
Bo-Katan and Djarin work together to convince her old army to make their way to Mandalore and retake the fallen world.
During this time, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and Elia Kane (Katy M. O’Brian) hatch a scheme with what appeared to be an early iteration of the First Order. This leads to Gideon and the newly reunited Mandalorians clashing on Mandalore.
The fight concludes with our heroes retaking the fallen planet. The Mandalorians begin anew upon their homeworld as a reunited civilization with Bo-Katan at the head. Djarin leaves the new world as he allows Grogu to become his apprentice under the Mandalorian creed.
They set off on a new adventure where the two serve as enforcers for the New Republic in the Outer Rim with a new ranch-style home on Nevarro as base.
To me, the theme of this season was redemption and identity.
We start out the season with Djarin seeking redemption for falling from The Way. By the end, it was all about the redemption of an entire civilization.
Another personal redemption arc included Bo-Katan who fell after the Mandalorian Purge. She didn’t seem to want redemption in the early episodes but quickly realized she needed it. I think her character arc throughout this season is the absolute best part of the run.
Redemption arcs are done to death, but it’s because they work. What made The Mandalorian so interesting was it started at a very personal level and ended on the large scale. I loved seeing this focus broaden because it related so well into the next point: identity.
What does it mean to be a Mandalorian? In connection to the main plot thread, the question seemed to reverberate throughout the third season.
We ask this question regarding Djarin who had fallen from The Way before doing all he could to return. We see this with Bo-Katan who is Mandalorian royalty and never seemed to grasp the extent of what that meant for her until this season.
And then we had young Grogu. We wondered where he fit into this whole scene. Was he a Jedi or did he belong with the Mandalorians? Did he want to be his own being, living out his days playing with frogs and crabs on the beach?
While Bo-Katan and Djarin were much more prominent, I found the tug-of-war with Grogu to be just as fascinating. It made for a perfect time to reveal how he escaped the Jedi Temple during Order 66.
I don’t think his identity crisis is quite over yet.
Another great element from this season was how well it tied together the original trilogy with the sequel movies. The revelation of a shadow council that remained loyal to the Empire was such a great touch. This was especially impactful when you factor in Commandant Brendol Hux (Brian Gleeson), a likely relative of Gen. Armitage Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) from the sequels.
We also got a fantastic view of how big the galaxy truly is and how rich the lore runs. Star Wars has largely revolved around the Skywalkers and that’s ok. Over the course of nine mainline movies, George Lucas and other creators have built out some great lore.
The Mandalorian really took advantage of that as we saw more of the world than what was relevant to the main characters. I particularly found it interesting that the New Republic isn’t as great as it appears.
The third episode where viewers got a glimpse of the New Republic’s rehabilitation service for former Imperials, which showed the flaws in the new entity and how it eventually will fall in The Force Awakens. We also see this when Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) requests help for Nevarro and the New Republic denies, forcing the Madalorian covert to step in.
Which brings us back to the Mandalorians themselves.
As I mentioned, the theme of identity played a huge role in this season. For so long, we were trained to think the title of the show The Mandalorian referenced Djarin. And while that may be the case still, I do think the eponymous Mandalorian has branched out.
The titular Mandalorian could also be Bo-Katan, Grogu, Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher), or maybe the planet itself. That’s how well the show built out its world. The show, to me, no longer refers to a single Mandalorian, it refers to the entire group.
A “we are Groot” situation if you will.
That’s what I’ve loved about this show. The layering in the storytelling is phenomenal. It’s by no means perfect, but the story itself is truly a work of art. That’s not even mentioning any of the great action and star fighting that has become synomous with Star Wars over the years.
Every element of this show fit into the broader scope. Many may have their qualms with specific plot points or decisions, and that’s ok. Art is meant to be subjective. What I think is most impressive is the way they told the story was masterful and deliberate with very little filler.
As for the story itself, I was a huge fan. I love the build out of the galaxy and how it looks during the rebuilding era after the Empire’s fall.
Favreau and his team really put on a masterclass of storytelling and the story they told was one that was deep and fun.
Final Score (4.5 out of 5 Stars)
Five stars is an high bar for me so I only like to give it on special occasions. Season 3 of The Mandalorian was almost there if it weren’t for a few minor areas.
I loved this show from top to bottom largely because it shows how to tell a story properly. I can imagine there are some who were disappointed we didn’t get more of an explicit tease to future projects like Ahoska.
I get that but as far as the story Favreau wanted to tell, it was glorious. Sure, there were some loose ends like the space whales called Purrgil and Vane (Marti Matulis), who fled after Pirate King Gorian Shard’s (Nonso Anozie) fleet suffered defeat. Some might also take umbrage with how the finale wrapped things up so nicely with no real cliffhanger.
To me, that’s the beauty of this season. It featured some of the best action and emotion the series has to offer while also providing a quiet season ending for Djarin and Grogu. The man just fought dragons, pirates, Gideon, monsters on Mandalore, and who knows what else. He deserves a break in the kayfabe.
Joking aside, the quiet ending worked because it allowed some much-needed breath at the end of a thrilling ride. While I don’t think Pascal is headed anywhere, this season has made it so he could if he wanted.
The Mandalorian is more than just one person. It is a people and, thanks to some fantastic storytelling, these people are here to stay.
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