Series Created by Jon Favreau — All Episodes Available on Disney+ Now.
To a certain extent, The Mandalorian was once the kind of show that united the Star Wars fanbase after the divisive sequel trilogy. However, the show that spun off from the excellent second season of the show — The Book of Boba Fett — was not only uneven, it also undid the very end of The Mandalorian season two through these episodes that were always more episodes of The Mandalorian than The Book of Boba Fett, even though they were sandwiched into the latter show. Since then, live-action Star Wars on Disney+ has featured the very satisfying but safe nostalgic Obi-Wan Kenobi show, as well as the outstanding course-correcting dark and mature Star Wars series Andor. It was always going to be hard for this third season to live up to Andor, but what is really frustrating is that it doesn’t even live up to its own previous seasons. The third season of The Mandalorian is a little bit of a disappointment.
The third season of The Mandalorian takes place after the events of The Book of Boba Fett, which means that Grogu is back with Din Djarrin (voiced by Pedro Pascal), the titular hero, and they are together trying to get back to the abandoned Mandalorian home planet of Mandalore so that Din Djarrin can bathe in its living waters and be recognized as a part of his tribe once more, which he must do since he has been exiled due to him having removed his helmet. When something goes wrong on Mandalore, Grogu and Din rely on Bo-Katan Kryze (played by Katee Sackhoff in fine form) to help them survive. And on the home planet, Bo-Katan sees something that changes her.
Now, here’s the thing. That description is mostly about the second episode of the season, and that is because the first season of the episode is essentially an awkward episode-long attempt to remind viewers of what happened in The Book of Boba Fett in case they forgot, or, frankly, never saw it. And when it doesn’t recap things, it’s all table-setting and exposition for story threads that future episodes will pick up on. It feels rushed, forced, and is, on the whole, relatively unsatisfying. Although episodes two and three take a significant step up in quality, that first episode was a sign of things to come for a season of television that felt poorly planned out.
It is a season with a lot of action, but even though all that action is mostly satisfying, the way the show wraps things up — or fails to — leaves a lot to be desired. There is a flashback to Order 66 that is extremely satisfying, but it is merely a glimpse and we get no more than that throughout the season. The third episode of the season — Lee Isaac Chung’s The Convert — was a fascinating change of pace for the show, as it was about New Republic-era Coruscant and the way that Imperials are re-integrated into society, but that story thread regarding Dr. Pershing also feels ignored in later episodes. The second season finale of The Mandalorian set up a hugely fascinating conflict about ownership of the Darksaber, but this season is not at all interested in that development. It is eventually abandoned in a way that felt much too easy.
The baffling decision-making peaked in the sixth episode of the season — Guns for Hire — when the show became a little bit too silly with its Saturday Night Live-esque cameo-fest at a time in the season at which point they really should’ve focused more on bringing things together as the season was coming towards its end. This episode didn’t bother me as much as it has others, but it is such a departure from the kind of serious storytelling that so many want from Star Wars. Constantly, in every episode of the show, the writing was sub-par when compared to the brilliance of Andor. Whereas Andor featured these eloquent and entertaining speeches about politics, the line that is supposed to get you pumped up in the third season of The Mandalorian is a much too simple riff on a line from the most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy — “Mandalorians are strong together.”
Eventually, the season wraps up with something that felt a little bit too old hat to me. The show has essentially spent three seasons with the same antagonist, and there is no attempt to make it feel fresh here. Though the final two episodes consist of (mostly) epic action sequences, everything about it felt rushed and perhaps even a little bit stale (even though I did enjoy the finale’s use of wipe transitions, as well as how it tried to isolate Din and Grogu from one another).
This season, the show also seems to have forgotten who its main character is. Much too often, Din Djarrin takes a back seat to what Bo-Katan Kryze is doing. This wouldn’t be a problem if we actually got more than beskar-deep with the series’ actual protagonist, but instead, it all just feels too superficial. Frankly, the show got too busy this season, and it ended up really hurting both significant characters and notable subplots — like Din and the Darksaber, respectively. It genuinely felt like the show thought up new rules as it went along, and since it is willing to do that, it is a shame that the showrunners decided it was only okay to actually show Katee Sackhoff’s face but not Pedro Pascal’s.
There is a lot to like about the third season of The Mandalorian. A lot of what has worked previously works here, like how fun it is to watch Grogu and Din Djarrin on adventures. But the third season got off to a clumsy start due to poor planning for both this show and The Book of Boba Fett, and then it struggled to ever really get back on track. Instead, it all too often felt rushed, busy, and wonky. As such, this is a significant step down from the excellent second season of the show that once united the fanbase.
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.