The Mandalorian Chapter 24 – For Mandalore

The season finale of The Mandalorian arrived this morning, providing massive action, cool moments, some resolutions…and plenty of lingering questions. Let’s talk about it!

Titled “The Return” and once again directed by Rick Famuyiwa, season three of The Mandalorian goes out with an episode that essentially serves as one massive battle. There’s plenty to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at throughout the episode, while setting the stage for future adventures to come…even if a few things didn’t quite work.

As always, I’ll be knee deep in spoilers. So make sure you’ve watched the episode before coming back to this. In the meantime, get caught up with my previous recaps here: Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23.

(Center): Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and IG-12 (Taika Waititi, far right) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Massive Action

By and large, today’s episode serves as Part 2 to last week’s chapter, The Spies. It literally picks up the action where we left off and you could easily see how these would work together as one big episode if they wanted to. Once again Rick Famuyiwa shows off his skill with directing action and visual storytelling. As such, with all the setup of what’s going on being handled last week, today’s episode is ALL about the action.

In that aspect, it absolutely rules. Seeing TONS of Mandos flying into action against scores of Gideon’s new beskar outfitted troopers was insanely cool/impressive. Between the blasters firing and jetpacks going, it’s among the coolest live-action battles we’ve seen on screen so far. Combined with the more intimate action of Din, Grogu, and Bo-Katan facing off against Gideon and his Praetorians and there’s all sorts of eye candy to gawk at. Not to mention plenty of individual moments for characters to show how badass they can be (Din working through the barriers is going to go down as an all-timer).

Scene from Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

It was also cool to get a glimpse at how Mandalore is starting to come back to life. Seeing the “farm” the survivors have cultivated, showing that life can once again flourish on the planet is a neat touch, while also ending with the Forge being re-lit sets the stage for Mandos to once again be big players on the galactic stage.

Lastly, having Din formally adopt Grogu to take him as an apprentice, while establishing himself as a contractor for the New Republic…greatness. It was both touching and allows a path forward for further adventures with the duo.

Oh! Let me get this out of the way here: I liked what ended up happening to the Darksaber. The whole theme of the season has been about uniting their people, and working together for the greater good rather than individual glory. The destruction of the Darksaber is symbolic of that ideal. Too long have the clans fought over the possession of the weapon, and using its legacy towards their own ends.

As we’ve seen throughout the season, Bo-Katan has established herself as a capable leader whether she has the blade or not. There’s the understanding that leadership goes well beyond who holds a sword, and that is what’s needed to see their people thrive again.

Generally speaking, there’s some nice wrap up stuff going on here, almost in a way that feels more akin to a series finale. I like how/where things ended up for the most part, but getting to there is where things felt a bit…rough. It’s a problem I’ve had with pretty much the whole season.

(Center): Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) with Imperial armored commandos in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Dangling Threads

There was much hooting and hollering going on in today’s finale. Seriously, I was absolutely having a blast with a big goofy grin on my face. That’s largely been the case with every single episode this season. The problem, however, is things kinda fall apart when I think about them more after the credits begin to roll. Overall, I tend to be a positive guy, but my issues with this season of The Mandalorian just haven’t gotten better. So yeah, I’m going to talk more about them.

Taken on their own, each episode of this season has brought some fun stuff to the table. While watching, they’re highly enjoyable. The problem comes with the bigger picture aspect; they just don’t mesh well together. There’s just not much sense of cohesion to things going on. It wanted to balance “adventure of the week” storytelling with all this bigger universe building (as they head towards larger events), but the result was incredibly disjointed.

Hell even plot threads brought up WITHIN this season were left dangling, forgotten, or rushed through (IG-12 lasted all of one episode, while Din’s dramatic capture was reversed in minutes, and we find out Gideon’s been cloning himself only for them to be destroyed within the same scene). Take the initial idea of returning to Mandalore for example. For two seasons we’ve heard about how devastated the planet was, how it was cursed, and retaking it would be nearly impossible. Yet, within the first couple episodes Din, Grogu, and Bo not only returned to the planet, but managed to do so by themselves and return relatively unscathed.

Later on, they mention needing the fleet to take back Mandalore. Granted, they eventually DID need the fleet, but at the time it was brought up, they had absolutely no idea Gideon had a whole Imperial base hidden away there. At most, they were more concerned with big monsters, but considering the planet they’d been hiding out on where giant turtles and dragons snatched up Mandos on the daily…You’d think that wouldn’t give them as much hesitation.

Moff Gideon also seemed…weird this season. We had hints of his escape, the implication Mandalorians were behind it, but we’re left to assume it was his new troopers behind it. We get a better look at his overall plans which seem to revolve around creating the ultimate Dark Trooper. It’s neat, but the implication seemed to be bigger than what we got. I never felt that the Dark Troopers were a legitimate threat, or established as such (beyond a more direct/personal one), to feel like the endgame of the villain’s arc.

Then there’s the whole helmet thing. We spent a couple seasons showing Din experience the larger galaxy and coming to understand the “Creed” and the way his specific faction view things might not be the only way. Within short order he was “absolved” and back to how he was. The growth we’d seen, and the story path that felt clearly laid out was just…abandoned.

Furthermore, the Armorer and her covert only accepted Bo-Katan because she’d bathed in the living waters and didn’t take her helmet off after. Then she’s given permission to remove her helmet and walk “both worlds” so she can unite other clans.

Generally speaking, it’s a cool idea and, honestly, could take up an entire season to explore. But they just don’t. Instead the two groups of diametrically opposed Mando factions come together relatively smoothly, with only a handful of scenes showing the tension between them. By the end, they’re all happy to be alongside one another as they chant “For Mandalore!”

Again, I LIKE how that came together, and think it’s the smart way to go. I just wish we’d SEEN more of how they got to that point. As I mentioned in a previous recap, too much of this season has largely relied on audiences connecting the dots and filling the gaps themselves. We’re told things happen without really being shown. While this makes for fun individual episodes, it makes the larger story feel paper thin and cobbled together.

Even on a smaller scale, we saw some of this in The Return this morning. Like, where did all those TIE Interceptors go?! We saw a massive wave of them flying up to engage the Mandalorian fleet, and while everyone else jumped on board the dropships, Axe Woves distracted them. We only see him take out two of the TIEs but we never see them again. I suppose we can infer there was a space battle that took out Gideon’s forces, but we don’t actually see it.

Don’t get me wrong, a LOT of Star Wars is built of convenience, and I’m fine with that. It’s space fantasy and things don’t always have to make sense. Plot convenience isn’t a bad thing, but when combined with scripts designed to rely on the audience to fill the gaps, it’s tough to ignore those silly inconsistencies.

New Republic pilots including Trapper Wolf (Dave Filoni, wearing hat), Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, in center) with Bartender (Misty Rojas) in a scene from Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

What’s Next?

Based off how things ended in today’s finale, the galaxy is pretty much the limit at this point for where things go next. We know Thrawn is a looming threat and poised to make his introduction soon (with Ahsoka this Summer). His arrival, even mentioned by the Shadow Council in last week’s episode, is sure to upend every part of the galaxy.

With Mandalorians finally coming back together on their home planet, and Din Djarin (I guess Din is a surname!) officially on board to work with the New Republic, things are certainly in place for the Mandos to come to the New Republic’s aid when the Thrawn hits the fan. In the meantime, having Grogu as his formal Mandalorian apprentice and being tasked with taking him around the galaxy, sets the stage for some fun solo adventures that don’t necessarily have to connect to the bigger galactic story.

There’s a few directions the show could go from here, and I’m curious to see what they land on next. I could easily see the focus turning to the resurrection of Mandalore, and bringing more tribes together, with Djarin and Grogu popping up occasionally to help out. I’d be completely on board with that. I could just as easily see the show going back to focusing only on the duo and embracing the weekly adventure series that worked best for it originally.

As for further down the line, there’s still much to uncover. There’s still a long period of time from Grogu’s rescue at the Jedi Temple to Mando finding him after the events of Return of the Jedi. I’m also fairly convinced as he goes along, he’ll find a way to balance his new Mandalorian training with the Jedi training he’s already had.

That could be an interesting story down the road as we see him take on the dual-mantle much like Tarre Vizsla (the original Mando/Jedi who created the Darksaber) did. And that’s not to mention when we see the Mythosaur once again, it’s connected to Grogu looking down into the depths of the Living Waters…

(Far right): The Armorer (Emily Swallow) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

For the moment, I’m very much on the Moff Gideon is finally dead train. Sure, they already established he has clones and it would be easy enough to find a way to bring him back, but I feel like that story is definitely told. There’s enough other Imperial Warlords out and about to become the main focus (as Djarin even alludes to at the end of the episode).

And I’m STILL suspicious of the Armorer. I don’t know, there’s something she’s being shady about. While The Spies (what the hell was up with that title then?) seemingly hints at one of the Mandalorians, heavily implying the Armorer herself, being in cahoots with Gideon nothing really came of that. While I think the Armorer is genuine in wanting to rebuild Mandalore, there’s something else she is holding back on. Curious to see if/how that may play out in the future.

Anzellans (Shirley Henderson) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Closing it Out

For the most part, The Return delivers a thrilling finale, even if it wasn’t entirely satisfying from a larger perspective. On the whole, season three of The Mandalorian seemed more intent on setting things up, than showing any sort of payoff for those things. While some of these setups can be followed up on down the road, that doesn’t change the fact it makes this specific season feel less cohesive. I get their telling a bigger story and pulling threads together from multiple things, but it’s possible to do so while still having an engaging standalone story at the same time. The balance just wasn’t here.

Again, so many of the episode this season, I absolutely loved. Many of the directors did some awesome stuff (despite the scripts), and visually there are a number of stellar set pieces. I can see myself coming back to a number of these episodes to enjoy on their own time and again. But as a season, it’s all over the place.

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Jordan Maison
Editor-in-Chief: Writer and cartoonist who went to college for post-production, he now applies his love of drawing, movie analysis, filmmaking, video games, and martial arts into writing.