Star Wars: The Mandalorian season three has been a bumpy ride, but it was rescued by a satisfying finale. The adventures a Din Djarin/Mando (Pedro Pascal) and his charge Grogu (who will always be Baby Yoda to me) were the highlight of the first two seasons. They went from planet to planet like cowboys going from town to town in the Old West, giving the series an exciting episode each week.
Bo-Katan Gets Her Spotlight
In season three the story of Bo-Katan Kryze (a terrific Katee Sackhoff) and her attempt at unifying the surviving Mandalorians has subsumed the original concept of the series, at times almost putting Mando and Grogu in the backseat. The story was complicated by the mythos of Mandalore, the mysterious Armorer (Emily Swallow), and the ancient customs that constrain Bo’s attempt to bring her people together.
In many ways this reminded of the Disney+ series The Book of Boba Fett, where we start out with the focus on the reformed bounty hunter Boba Fett (Temeura Morrison) trying to bring together people on the desert planet Tatooine — the birthplace of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. When that series started to fizzle midseason, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni brought in Mando and Grogu to inject some life into an otherwise dull story.
Now in this season, the story of Bo-Katan and the Mandalorians is not truly dull, but over the course of eight episodes, it had me wanting more of Mando and Grogu’s adventures and less of the squabbling between Mandalorian tribes and getting to the plan to work together and take back their home planet.
The cameo is always something that I have had problems with, except in the Marvel movies when the late great Stan Lee would make his always-welcome appearances. Many times, cameos feel forced, as was the case in season three episode six, “Guns for Hire” — or if you’re following Disney+ it’s Chapter 22 — which brought in a rather humorous but totally unnecessary story line involving Lizzo, Jack Black, and Christopher Lloyd.
My problem is that the entire episode does nothing to enhance the overall story. With huge matters at stake like uniting the Mandalorian clans and defeating the imperial remnants, the episode feels like filler because it is.
Gideon Goes Darth Vader
Supervillain Moff Gideon (the great Giancarlo Esposito) does not arrive until episode seven, so it was a long wait for the Big Bad to return. Thankfully, Esposito is given a chance to shine and makes the most of his scenes.
Gideon is now sporting a new armor made of beskar, the Mandalorian mineral that is stronger than a lightsaber. When Gideon puts on that helmet and talks through the voice box, it gives off Darth Vader vibes. And as we see in his battles with Bo and Mando, it gives him super strength besides seemingly invincible protection.
Grogu Gets a Voice
A mild spoiler here — Grogu is given IG-11’s body by Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), and it’s incredibly enjoyable watching Grogu experience the freedom to walk quickly and even “talk” through the robot. All he says is “Yes” or “No,” but this ability is used in some funny scenes and even in dramatic scenes where he can make a difference.
Favreau and Filoni Know What They’re Doing
I don’t want to seem to complain, because I like Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni and what they have done with live action Star Wars content on Disney+. I am a huge fan of Filoni’s previous work in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. He has earned the right to freedom and flexibility, but I have to also call it like I see it. The last two episodes, particularly the finale, rescue season three.
As we move forward and look ahead to the highly anticipated Ashoka series starring Rosario Dawson as the beloved character, I am hoping that there will be more emphasis on tying up the loose ends from the Star Wars Rebels finale rather than telling a completely new story. Fans (myself included) want to see characters like Grand Admiral Thrawn, Sabine Wren, and Ezra Bridger return.
We also want to see how this connects to the bigger picture – meaning how the New Republic unraveled and the First Order we see in the sequel trilogy rose to power. There are hints of it here, especially the emphasis on cloning that we know in the future will result in the return of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
The last two episodes are worth waiting for, and the previous six do some character- and world-building that are no doubt going to be important in season four; however, I do feel a little cheated to not get more interactions between Grogu and Mando. But what we do get shows how their bond has grown deeper over time like a father and his beloved son.
Until next time, may the Force be with you!