Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Is it me, or did the past two months of weekly episode drops of The Mandalorian quite literally go by in the blink of an eye? Time flies when you’re having fun, right?
After waiting over two years for the series to make its triumphant return, the third season of The Mandalorian is a welcome balm for the weary souls of Star Wars nerds both near and in galaxies far, far away. In the years since the launch of Disney+, Lucasfilm has amassed a formidable offering of live-action titles to expand the franchise, and there are plenty more still on the way. But even as we continue to dive into unexplored nooks and crannies of the Star Wars universe in a television format, The Mandalorian is the bread and butter that kicked it all off — and I, for one, just can’t get enough of it.
Thankfully, while there was a considerable wait between seasons, the last time we saw Din Djarin and Grogu was actually more recent: in the latter half of The Book of Boba Fett, to be exact. Some viewers initially questioned the decision to explore the reunion between bounty hunter and the foundling there, rather than in the main series. However, now that we’re on the other side of season 3, it should be abundantly clear that this was the right call when working within the constraints of an 8-episode season (as some of the plot would have been lost in order to incorporate that story here).
The third season of The Mandalorian sees a tonal shift in the show, because it’s no longer just a series of events that unfold out of Din’s journey to retrieve, protect, and rescue Grogu. Now, especially following his training with Luke Skywalker, while they still have a father-son dynamic (one that’s now official: Din Grogu!), Grogu’s role in Din’s life has morphed from that of a seemingly helpless foundling to a tenacious apprentice. Danger does still find the pair one way or another anyway (beskar must be a magnet for it), but the series can now focus on threads of plot that have been quietly spun in the background since day one — the plight of the Mandalorians.
The title of the show has always functioned as a direct reference to its titular character, Din Djarin. Given that the bounty hunter doesn’t go around handing out his real name to just anyone, we see most characters refer to him as the Mandalorian or Mando. However, we’ve only been able to experience the Mandalorian culture through the limited lens of Din’s personal experiences. Further to that, wedges were driven between he and other Mandalorians — between his friction with Bo-Katan Kryze over the Darksaber, their differing opinions on the Way, and the fallout of Din’s decision to remove his helmet. Now, The Mandalorian takes on another meaning in season 3, because not only does Din repair those fragmented relationships with his people, but different factions of Mandalorians learn to put aside their differences as they come together in their quest to finally retake Mandalore.
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Circling back to our revered leader, Bo-Katan, Katee Sackhoff was by far one of this season’s most impressive, standout performances. Initially, given the issues that Din obtaining the Darksaber caused between them, it seemed that perhaps Bo-Katan could have been a major antagonist for season 3. However, the two characters managed to find a way to put aside their differences and work together instead, which ended up turning into what might be the show’s best team up thus far. With Bo-Katan framed in a different light as her begrudging truce with Din morphed into a genuine partnership, Sackhoff gave it her all and showed audiences exactly how and why her character has the ability to rule Mandalore.
On the other end of the heroic spectrum lies Giancarlo Esposito, who left no stone unturned as he swiftly marched back on screen in the latter half of the season (donning an incredible new suit and a voice modulator that couldn’t have been more fitting, at that). If it wasn’t clear before, there’s no doubt that Esposito’s Moff Gideon is truly one of the most terrifyingly charismatic and alluring villains to grace the Star Wars universe at this point. He brings something wholly unique to the table in his performance, which only served to strengthen the season’s explosive climax.
And thought it was brief, I’d be remiss not to mention one of the best moments this season — the triumphant return of Ahmed Best, who portrayed Jar Jar Binks in the prequel trilogy. Following his role in the game show series Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, Best donned his robes as Jedi Master Kelleran Beq once more, this time for an emotional scene that saw him play a pivotal part in rescuing Grogu from the siege of the Jedi Temple.
The build up throughout season 3 was crafted a bit differently than its predecessors, but it was important to trust the process here as we jumped from places like Mandalore to Coruscant to Nevarro. The creative team played the long game, and it paid off as the plot finally unravelled, the final episodes packing a hefty, epic punch.
With a planet to rebuild, whispers of Thrawn, and a galaxy on the cusp of the formation of the First Order, there’s still plenty more for The Mandalorian to explore as we look toward the future of the show. But after all that they’ve been through, there was something incredibly satisfying about the choice to ultimately end the season not with an ominous post-credits tease, but rather a scene of Din and Grogu finally getting a moment of much-deserved peace.
The Mandalorian season 3 is now streaming exclusively on Disney+. Catch up on all of our episodic recaps here.