The Mandalorian is finally back with season three kicking off an all new journey and quest for atonement. Let’s talk about today’s season three premiere.
After a couple year break (excluding an appearance in The Book of Boba Fett), The Mandalorian is finally back for its third season. Based off the premiere episode, which covers a surprising amount of ground—figuratively and literally—we’re in for one big adventure.
As always, my recaps are a smidge different (I don’t walk you through the whole episode), but I will be diving head first into spoilers. So if you haven’t watched the new episode yet, come back later…
Let me get this out of the way first. I love how Rick Famuyiwa directs. His episodes in previous seasons were among my favorites, and I’m thrilled to see him take on bigger and bigger roles in Star Wars. Not only is he now serving as an Executive Producer, he’s also directing three episodes this season, including today’s debut.
His style feels perfectly suited to Star Wars, and the driving idea of “faster more intense.” Much to my surprise, this episode covers a LOT of ground, despite it’s smaller run time. Famuyiwa manages to do a whole lot with a little. Through clever pacing and plenty of visual storytelling, he’s able to establish this season as a brand new beginning. Almost a clean slate as time has passed and things are moving forward into all new territory.
The Passage of Time
Chapter 17 (I love how the show continues to pick up the chapter numbers from the previous season), titled The Apostate, picks up the story of Din Djarin and Grogu. Yes, they’re back together and if you missed out on The Book of Boba Fett, this may seem a bit odd. I’m not going into all that here, but they’re back together and it’s clear quite a bit of time has passed since season two ended. Hell, it’s clear time has passed since the events of Book of Boba Fett as well.
From the show’s opening, this is made clear as we see the Armorer (my queen) inducting a new foundling into their order. Last time we saw her and Paz Vizsla was when Grogu found them on the Ring colony in Book of Boba Fett. At that time, it was JUST the two of them together, but now it seems they have recruited a whole new covert of Mandalorians and are building out a new life on…whatever planet this is.
The location remains unnamed, but one thing is for sure…it has massive damn turtles. Once again, Star Wars is giving us some awesome creature/monster action (the Krayt Dragon battle is still a highlight for me) and I couldn’t be happier. Even though it’s a shorter sequence, and ended by the timely arrival of Din, it’s a fun way to dive straight into the action and show us how things have progressed and that we’re in for plenty of action this season.
On top of that, the second location we visit in this episode shows off how much Nevarro has changed over the years. No longer a rundown hive of scum and villainy, Mando is instead greeted upon his arrival with a cheerful protocol droid asking about his business. It’s the first indication the planet has become respectable…even family oriented!
We saw some of this evolution in the last season, but things have only progressed from there. Greef is now the “High” Magistrate and the city is bustling with all manner of legitimate activities. It’s a far cry from where we started, and it’s an impressive sight.
That type of build-up doesn’t happen over night, and based off Din and Greef’s dialog with one another it’s clear they haven’t seen each other in a while. How long it’s been is tough to pin down (though Favreau has made some clarifying statements), but it has obviously been on the scale of years rather than months or weeks.
I’ve been critical of how the show, especially the interlude with Book of Boba, has handled the passage of time. Mostly, it has felt like events could have been weeks, days, or even years with no clear indication one way or another. Just a few tiny hints. In The Apostate, however, we’re getting clear, direct, evidence that a significant chunk of time has passed and I loved seeing it handled better this way. I like the idea of things progressing in the galaxy, and characters being able to just live for periods of time between big events.
A New Quest
But this is Star Wars after all, and big things are always around the corner. On top of reintroducing audiences to our favorite characters and establishing a bit of a time jump, The Apostate lays the groundwork for the season ahead and what Din Djarin will be dealing with this time around. The first season was about him recovering ‘the Child’ and understanding his own feelings about foundlings and protection. The second season was all about finding Grogu’s “people” and giving him a new home. Now it’s clear this season is all about getting to Mandalore and “redeeming” himself (something we gathered from the trailers).
During his meeting with the Armorer in the beginning, she once again reiterates Din is an apostate and no longer “Mandalorian” having broken the creed. Much like she told him previously, the only way to redeem himself is to bathe in the waters under the mines of Mandalore…their home planet which was bombed into oblivion. Mostly.
Din has brought what he feels, is proof that it’s still possible to access the mines of Mandalore and rejoin his cult—er, Children of the Watch. Instead of dismissing him outright, the Armorer seemingly approves of Din’s new quest, offering a stoic “This is the way” as kind of permission for him to undertake such a task.
Din knows he’s going to need some help to get this done, but knows his trusted allies are a relatively small circle. This is what brings him to Nevarro as he seeks the aid of an old friend. No, not Greef (the man is far too busy to go gallivanting around the galaxy now), but rather IG-11.
Despite having blown himself up in a last ditch effort to save Din, Grogu, and crew in the first season’s finale, it seems there’s still enough left of the assassin droid left to recover. Hell, he’s already been rebuilt once after thinking was was dead thanks to Kuill (may he rest in peace), so it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility.
The problem, however, is that upon reawakening the droid, IG-11 has reverted to his original programming. His last command being to kill ‘the Child,’ that’s exactly what it tries to do, even as it’s missing the majority of its body. Obviously, the attempt is unsuccessful and IG-11 is left off in—somehow— even worse condition.
Enter the Anzellans! That’s right, Greef takes Din to a trio of Anzellans (the same aliens as Babu Frik in The Rise of Skywalker) who are expert droid smiths. They are as adorable as they are weird, and even Grogu can’t help but love on them. Seriously, that moment was great and showcased why we love that little green person.
The Anzellans are going to need a new memory chip, however, to finish repairs. I mean, what’s a good quest without some sidequests? Generally speaking, this has been the norm for the show so far. There’s one big thing Din is trying to do, and along the way he has to do a bunch of smaller things to make it happen. It’s very much in line with the traditional heroes journey and the mythological aspect Star Wars has always pulled from. I dig it.
Pirates and Princesses
To my surprise, the episode takes Din to yet another location before the credits roll. Getting there, however, means fighting through some angry pirates led by Gorian Shard, the self-proclaimed Pirate King.
While this sequence feels a little out of place in the grand scheme of things, I loved it. Star Wars space battles have always been among my favorite things. By and large, they’ve been somewhat lacking, or fleeting, in the live-action shows. So even though the battle we see is smaller in scale, the dogfighting is refreshing to see. There’s a sense of fun and adventure to it, while also reminding audiences that Din is still very much a capable badass who shouldn’t be messed with.
The moment also provides an important character beat between Din and Grogu as we see Din is actively teaching Grogu the way of the Mandalorian. Now that the choice has been made and the two are sticking together, it’s neat to see how Din has shifted fully into “foundling father” mode and is instructing Grogu in the ways of his people; to eventually carry on his legacy.
We don’t spend much time with these pirates, though I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll be dealing with them again later on, and Din brings Grogu to Kalevala, the ancestral home of House Kryze! The planet was first mentioned in The Clone Wars as the homeworld of Satine and, of course, Bo-Katan, but this is the first time we’re actually getting to see it.
While we don’t see much, we do get a glimpse at a Mandalorian Castle. The stark architecture makes it clear this has been around for a while and speaks to the harder, warlike, lives the Mandalorians have led in the galaxy. Since Din has to wait on IG-11 to be fixed, it makes sense for him to try and find other allies to help him get back to Mandalore, though it’s clear Bo-Katan isn’t eager to assist. After explaining how her Mandalorian followers all abandoned her after losing out on the Darksaber, Bo summarily dismisses Din from her throne room.
Where We’re Heading
As I mentioned, it’s obvious the overall point/quest for Din Djarin is getting to Mandalore and atoning. He’s gonna have to do some things along the way to get there, and it’s in that aspect I think we’ll find the true story being told.
Since Din first met Bo-Katan in season two and learned he was only part of a splinter faction of Mandalorians, I’ve contended that the real story is all about him coming to terms with who he is as a person. As has been mentioned on screen, the Children of the Watch, are something of a cult, adhering to ways/customs from long ago. They believe they are the only “true” Mandalorians still around.
As Din’s quest took him to more places around the galaxy, and encountering others, we could see how that way of thinking was beginning to loosen its hold on him. Even as he seems desperate for forgiveness and re-acceptance, I have a feeling his journey to Mandalore will see him learn even more about himself, ultimately determining whether or not he feels the need to continue on his current trajectory.
Just based off the trailers, we’ve gotten hints that Din’s travels brings him into contact with several other Mandalorian clans. All of whom may have different creeds or customs. With the Darksaber in tow I suspect we’ll see him begin to gather the disparate clans together as he seeks to return to Mandalore. As Din learns more about himself and his history through the other Mandalorians, I imagine he’ll have to come to a reckoning with himself. Will he stay with the Children of the Watch, or forge his own path forward as Mand’alor?
Such a decision could put him in direct conflict with the Armorer, forcing him into something akin to a civil war even as he works to unite everyone. Even though he came to it by chance, I think this season will show Din embrace a leadership role and unite his people…Which is exactly what Bo-Katan was wanting to do. Except she wanted it under her rule. We know that at some point Bo-Katan joins up with Din for his latest journey, but I suspect that allyship will only last so long. It’s another potential point of conflict for Din, and that’s not even mentioning what might be happening in the larger galaxy!
What is The Mandalorian (or any Star Wars live-action show) without heaps of fun Easter eggs and connections for fans to enjoy? The season three premiere is no different and aside from the previously mentioned Anzellans and planet Kalevala, here’s what I noticed:
- N-1 Sounds – It shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s always neat when you hear something familiar, especially when you haven’t in a while. Much like with Boba Fett’s seismic charges, today we got to hear the N-1 starfighter’s weapons unload on the turtle monster thing which manages to recreate how they sounded during the battles in The Phantom Menace.
- The Terminator – IG-11’s revival seems to be a clear reference to the original Terminator film, even down to how it crawls across the floor trying to get to the target before being crushed. A fun nod to a classic.
- Purrgils – I was surprised at how thrilling (and beautiful) the moment was. As Grogu gazes out into hyperspace during their travels, a pod of purrgils can clearly be made out. The space-whale creatures were first introduced in Star Wars Rebels and served an integral role in defeating Grand Admiral Thrawn. In fact, the purrgils are the ones who whisked him, and Ezra Bridger, away to parts unknown…the reason Ahsoka is searching for them.
- Kowakian Monkey Lizards – This isn’t the first time we’ve seen them in Mandalorian, but the appearance of them this time makes the stark changes happening in Nevarro. In the first season, we saw them being roasted over a spit with other monkey lizards looking on from cages. Here, they’re roaming free, showing how things have become a bit more civilized in this part of the galaxy.
- Familiar Aliens – seen in the background, and among the pirates Mando deals with, Star Wars fans are treated to a number of instantly familiar aliens: Trandoshan, Klatooinian, Weequay, Nikto, and even a Mon Calamari.
- New Republic Tribunal – This isn’t so much an Easter egg as a fun connection. Greef mentions Gideon is facing a War Tribunal from the New Republic, which was first mentioned/established in the Aftermath books, and referenced later on in the (still excellent) Alphabet Squadron trilogy.
- Sundari – The capital of Mandalore, which we spent plenty of time seeing in The Clone Wars, gets a live-action mention for the first time.
- Hydian Way – Thanks to novels like Tarkin and, more recently, The Princess and the Scoundrel, the iconic hyperspace trade route has already been reintroduced into canon. Here, however, we get our first mention of it in live-action. In Legends, the Hydian Way was an integral part of Mandalorian history, as their blockade of the trade route is what kickstarted the Mandalorian Wars and the following events that played out in Knights of the Old Republic.
I’m sure I’ve missed something, so if you saw something I didn’t be sure to let me know!
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the return of The Mandalorian. No, it’s not Andor and I’m not sure anything else will be like Andor again (until its second season arrives). Honestly I’m okay with that. Instead, the season premiere of The Mandalorian feels like a return to the swashbuckling adventure side of Star Wars with plenty of lore to dive into. There’s more than enough room for both of these aspects on the screen.
Things kicked off with some great action, promising even more impressive moments down the road. Combine that with a solid “reset” of things, it feels like we’re going into this season completely fresh and ready for all new stuff to go down. I can’t wait to see where Din and Grogu head off to next.