What the f*%K.
Oh wait sorry, wrong galaxy… what the dank farrick.
The Mandalorian Season 3 should have been a sure bet. Surer than Lando Calrissian’s hand during a game of Sabacc for the Millenium Falcon.
We weren’t looking for okay, or good, or even great…
…but goddamn magnificent.
So, why on Mustafar’s Mountains was this season a resounding, unequivocal, and inconsequential… meh.
If you’re a true Star Wars sweaty, like me… you’re dying for a means to channel your inner dark side, and moan like you’ve just stormed out of a viewing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. However, disclaimer, if you’re looking for positivity, enlightenment and/or a restored faith in the Star Wars universe… HA. As Obi Wan puts it, “only a Sith deals in absolutes”, and so you might as well call me Darth.
Now, before we begin, I’ll be getting Sarlacc pit deep on everything this series had to offer. So, if you’re still yet to see our favourite Mandalorian’s third season? Well, like a lost Jawa wandering the frozen planes of Hoth… you don’t belong. However, if you’ve seen all 8 episodes of Din Djarin’s tale (well, barely) then by all means…
So, what the dank farrick actually happened?
Considering season 2 and its absurdly satisfying finale (i.e. Moff Gideon’s Dark Troopers, the return of Luke Skywalker and the emotional removal of Din Djarin’s mask), The Mandalorian season 3 certainly had Wampa sized boots to fill. We Star Wars gawks had endless questions swirling around our force obsessed minds, revelling in an era in which Star Wars finally had a competent vision for its universe.
Would Bo Katan challenge Din Djarin for the Darksaber? How would Moff Gideon’s arrest by the New Republic agitate the remaining Imperial remnants of the Empire? How would Din Djarin now navigate the galaxy having broken the core tenants of his creed? Not to mention having parted ways with Grogu aka ‘Baby Yoda’ when-
-Oh wait. SILLY ME.
See, a little something called The Book of Boba Fett (aka The Mandalorian Season 2.5) happened. Y’know? The series in which months of speculation as to the many directions Djarin and Grogu’s story could go was reduced to a sequel trilogy rivalling, lazily planned excuse to have Grogu reunite with Djarin, sweeping away the weight of the second season finale like sand…
…and you know how we feel about that.
All the while, Din Djarin’s shoehorned inclusion in The Book of Boba Fett crippled Boba’s own chances of a fully realised tale, with his bizarre turn from merciless killer to benevolent king made all the more jarring. I mean, sure. I don’t know how Disney’s Star Wars was ever going to convince me that Boba Fett would transition from, “a cold blood killer” (as Cad Bane put it) into a neutered lapdog, eager to do right by the people of Tatooine (don’t ask why). Honestly, I could rant about Boba’s character butchering till the Ahch-To, blue milk secreting Moofs come home but… let’s stay on target.
With key developments in Grogu and Din’s story being squeezed into Boba Fett’s show, all because Disney sacrificed narrative potential to lazily boost The Book of Boba Fett’s viewership… The Mandalorian season 3 would always be doomed to a messy start.
SO, WHOSE STORY WAS THIS?
With this season of The Mandalorian yet again only having 8 episodes to flesh out Djarin and Grogu’s character (with run-times between 50 to 30 minutes), surely Favreau and his crew dedicated every precious minute to furthering their stories? I mean, their hurried reunion must have been pivotal to some grand design, willed by the force itself, right? RIGHT?
Well no. Not at all. With what felt like every character and his astromech getting far more screen time than our fan-favourite duo, Grogu and Djarin are not in the cockpit this season. Like, not even a little bit.
Everything developmentally complex about Din is routinely and smoothly fixed in a literal parsec.
“Oh, Din’s no longer Mandalorian because he removed his helmet? Excellent, maybe he can existentially grapple with what it means to identify as Mandalorian, and pave the way to a less dogmatic means of engaging with his faith…
…or he can just bathe in the ‘Living Waters’ and el presto. ‘This is the way’. No biggy, right? Interesting character development is overrated anyway.”
Additionally, Grogu is reduced to a prop for the majority of the season, nothing more than a convenient plot device.
“No longer training with Luke Skywalker? Interesting, there could be major plans to have him shakeup things for Mandalorian kind, worthy of pulling back on the emotional heft of Season 2…
…or maybe it’d be cute to just have him in the background, only to occasionally save the day in nonsensical fashion. Awesome, I mean, what else is a lifeless, animatronic teddy for?”
Sorry, fellow fans. That’s exactly how Grogu feels this season, and honestly? If I have to suffer another scene of him ‘waddling’ like a demented sock-puppet from scene to scene, I think I’ll cancel my Disney Plus subscription.
No matter how you saber slice it, our boys are done dirty, plain and simple. This is their show, and yet they contribute shockingly little of substance to the direction of the series. However, it’s less about what Grogu and Djarin don’t do, and more about what other characters do, that bogs this aimless season to the ground.
Now, if you’re familiar with this character, you know that Bo Katan Kryze is a BOSS. No question about it. Played by Katee Sackoff, first voicing the animated version of the character in Star Wars: Clone Wars before being rightfully cast to embody her in live action glory… she oozes cool, without even trying. Unable to claim the Darksaber in the season 2 finale, due to Din having personally bested Moff Gideon in combat, presented a golden opportunity… to have Bo Katan at dire odds with Din Djarin.
Let’s face it, Bo’s past as part of ‘Death Watch’ under the near malevolent ‘Pre Vizsla’ is a dubious one. As much as this show forgets, Bo’s ferocity has led to morally questionable decisions. Translation…
…Bo should’ve been coming at Din with FIRE fit for Beskar.
The laziness in failing to construct a scenario in which Bo progressively goads a reluctant Djarin into combat to win the darksaber is shameless, especially considering their respect/chemistry. The sheer potential to extract narrative juice from such a conflict was ripe — fit for the glory of Mandalore.
Instead? We’re treated to a paint-by-numbers arc in which Bo switches from a dejected, throne lounging depressive into a hardcore (with none of the ‘hard’) troop rallying convert over night… all because she got an eyeful of the fabled ‘Mythosaur’ from Mandalorian legend.
Oh, it gets worse. Sorry but, Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, whoever thought this up… if your explanation for having Bo Katan reclaim the Darksaber is having Din say…
“Oh, yeah… actually, this does belong to you anyway, coz of x + y = z, lol”…
…keeping a supposedly valid, Mandalore uniting loophole quiet 6 episodes into the season!? Perhaps consider retiring (even if I am paraphrasing a little).
Ah yes. Our favourite Nazi Negro (no, not Kanye West). Moff Gideon, played by the delightfully talented Giancarlo Esposito whose meme-level, on-the-nose typecasting has him terrorize some of the biggest franchises on the planet… the more of his face we’re treated to, the better.
So, why nobody told the showrunners of The Mandalorian this IS BEYOND ME. Arrested by the New Republic, the thought of Moff Gideon going through cycles of interrogation, only to flex what I’d imagine is his flair for manipulative disinformation to orchestrate a brilliant means of escape? Only a Holocron could be more tantalising. However, all we got for the majority of the season were ‘rumours’ that he, “never made it to trial”.
Only gracing us with his presence in the final 2 episodes of the series, having Esposito relegated to the shadows is downright criminal. Worse still? Having his motivations culminate in ‘force clones’ of himself (lame) that Din Djarin could kill with the push of a button? This was amatuerish writing, and far beneath the intellect Moff Gideon showcased in both seasons 1 and 2.
Who we saw die better have been a clone, otherwise Gideon’s demise was limper than Jar Jar’s pod-racer-zapped tongue in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
Exactly. Yet, lo and behold, Dr. Pershing is granted a full episode to bore us with his exploits. After a craftily inserted dogfight between Bo Katan’s ‘Gauntlet’ ship and the Empire’s ‘TIE interceptors’ (i’ll admit, this did ignite my saber), the pace quickly grinds to a holt with an extensive escapade on Coruscant between characters with less charisma than Chiss (but none of the smarts).
Other than some intriguing Coruscant centred world-building, what ultimately transpires is of little consequence to the overall plot — Pershing dreams his clone research (showcased in prior seasons) can be used for good, only to have his mind wiped as the New Republic squanders opportunities to realise his research for the benefit of the galaxy. YAWN. This could’ve been marginally cool, no doubt about it. However, with its lacklustre execution as a means of vaguely letting audiences know that, “oh yeah, the Empire is still, y’know… empiring”, this uninspired arc had no business demanding Grogu and Djarin’s precious time.
THE DUCHESS AND CAPTAIN BOMBARDIER
Jack Black and Lizzo cameo in Star Wars.
Need I say f*$%ing more… no seriously, don’t make me.
Let’s just wrap this up shall we?
OH, WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN
Imagine the possibilities. What if ‘The Armourer’ had been a spy for Gideon all along, responsible for the Empire’s successful cultivation of Beskar? God forbid it make too much sense. Better still, a reveal that her horned helmet signifies a connection to Darth Maul’s Mandalorian reign.
Dreaming too big? Okay, fine. Why not at least have Din’s capture at the end of the penultimate episode follow through to the finale and beyond, forcing Bo Katan to wrestle with the prospect of picking up the pieces? Why not pay off Gideon’s mention of ‘Grand Admiral Thrawn’ with a cameo reveal, or have the Mythosaur factor in on the fight to reclaim Mandalore?
20 minutes on reddit, and you’ll find countless fan theories that are infinitely more satisfying than the story this Bantha Poodoo season threw at us.
LOOK. I don’t want to be ‘the doom and glum’ guy in this community (or, dare I say the C-3PO). Yes, the visuals were incredible. Of course, Moff’s Dark Trooper suit was badass. Yes, Praetorian Guards are wicked cool. And you’re damn right, Ahmed Best’s ‘Jedi Master Kelleran Beq’ saving Grogu from the ashes of the Jedi Temple was FIRE.
However, that only makes things all the more bitter sweet. This season ended in happy lives, earned without nearly a fraction of the loss or sacrifice showcased in previous seasons.
THIS IS NOT THE WAY
The world of Star Wars oozes cosmic excitement, so to grant fans the odd laser-scorched dogfight, saber clashing duel or throwaway celebrity cameo is easy, and that’s The Mandalorian: Season 3 in a nutshell: easy. With a fanbase built around ‘I am your father’ and watching Anakin Skywalker aka ‘the chosen one’ burn alive on a Mustafarian beach? Tough twists, and tragic turns should be the standard.
Yet, evermore, the core spirit of this franchise continues to fade. It can be said that properties like Star Wars: Andor and Star Wars: Jedi Survivor do their bit to keep the spirit of this universe alive, and I for one certainly have high hopes for the Ahsoka series too… but alas, The Mandalorian was once considered the crown jewel (or Kaiburr crystal) of the Disney Star Wars era.
If this show can fall from grace, what hope does the future of this franchise have?
To paraphrase the dark lord himself… you might find my lack of faith disturbing, but trust me…