That’s all, folks. The Mandalorian season 3 has signed off with a surprisingly definitive ending that played it safe in most respects – but still left us wanting more from Din Djarin and (Din) Grogu in a galaxy far, far away.
Those expecting a complex, heart-wrenching episode filled with twists and turns will see the writing on the wall almost immediately: Din’s quick escape from captivity completely undercuts the cliffhanger of the previous Chapter. It certainly can’t be accused of wasting time – much of the season has been spinning its wheels until now, after all – but sets the tone for everything being wrapped up a little too cleanly in favor of the good guys.
At least the action is well worth sticking around for – even if you can telegraph everything else well in advance. Mando’s messy, desperate fight through the shield barriers and towards Moff Gideon’s cloning bunker is an inspired set-piece that carries shades of Obi-Wan waiting behind while Qui-Gon Jin fought Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. It also gives a chance for the choreography, probably one of the more overlooked aspects this season, to get its flowers – which is no bad thing.
That’s also the case for Bo-Katan’s stunning retaking of Mandalore, a fizzing aerial set-piece that again makes great use of The Volume and provides some serious tempo as Mando inches towards a showdown with Giancarlo Esposito’s glowering Moff Gideon.
Their tussle doesn’t disappoint, with Gideon getting the upper hand on more than one occasion and – finally – a sense of real peril as Grogu is cornered by the Praetorian Guards who dispatched Paz in the previous episode.
Inevitably, Bo-Katan swoops in to save the day, finally getting some revenge for giving up Mandalore to the Empire. That does come at a cost, however, as Gideon shows some much-needed physicality (his season 2 finale showing was weak, let’s be honest) to crush the Darksaber and get the upper hand on Bo-Katan. She, Mando, and Grogu are only saved when Axe Woves pulls off the impossible and crashes a Star Destroyer into the Imperial base.
The end result of the kamikaze act is a mixed one. Moff Gideon seemingly dies in a blaze of fury, an unsatisfying end to a villain that had so much more to give. Grogu’s hero moment, using the Force to shield the flames, is a much more earned character beat – and a deserving pay-off for the little guy’s training with Luke.
Chapter 24 is then wrapped up with the heartwarming reveal of Din Djarin adopting Grogu as his own son, all while The Great Forge burns again on a reclaimed Mandalore. The Mandalorian then sets out its mission statement for potential future seasons: Mando heads to Carson Teva of the New Republic and makes very clear his intentions are to go back to bounty hunting basics. If we get another season – and Jon Favreau has said we will – then expect a more chilled, low-key series of adventures involving Din Djarin and Grogu pottering around the galaxy and cleaning up hives of scum and villainy on the Outer Rim. Sign us up.
‘The Return’, though, is guilty of being too risk-averse, introducing intriguing ideas and instantly tossing them to one side. Moff Gideon’s clones? Gone in an instant. How does Bo-Katan move on from not having the Darksaber? We never really find out. And what of the remnants of the Empire and the Shadow Council? A story for another day, perhaps. When even Axe Woves is unscathed from what should have been a suicide mission, that’s a bit of a red flag.
But if The Mandalorian ended now, it would be hard to find fault with how the curtain came down. Mando getting his own peaceful homestead on Nevarro is a fairly neat way to wrap up the series. Most other loose ends, too, have been tied away. In that respect, the season 3 finale is a job well done – even if it lacked the magnetic spark carried by Luke Skywalker’s savior act a few years back.
As for the season as a whole? The Mandalorian season 3 is perhaps the biggest victim of a post-Andor world. Simply, it was never the super in-depth show people now want it to be. There are no shades of gray here; good often triumphs over evil in Star Wars – and remains the case here.
But there are lessons to be learned. The world-widening Chapter with Doctor Pershing is a good blueprint of how to take this world forward away from Mando, while detours to Plazir-15 and a raptor’s nest, conversely, failed to dazzle with how often it took the spotlight from Din Djarin. If – and when – The Mandalorian returns, it needs to navigate its own space in the wider franchise with more purpose by focusing on what Mando, not anyone else, does best. Until then, we’ll be counting down the days until we can see Grogu and his new daddy once more.
Get up to speed on the galaxy far, far away with our guide to everything announced at Star Wars Celebration 2023 and all the upcoming Star Wars movies and Disney Plus TV shows. Then get ready for more Star Wars adventures with what to watch before Ahsoka.