Mandalorian Madness: 1-2 Punch of the first two episodes of Season 3

(L-R): Grogu and Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Grogu and Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Season 3, Episode 1 (Chapter 17): The Apostate

Mando is back with a season 3 premiere episode (directed by Rick Famuyiwa), and it did not disappoint!

For the truly dedicated Disney Plus audience who are caught up with The Book of Boba Fett, it is not surprising to learn that Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal’s ‘Mando’) has reunited with Grogu (‘Baby Yoda’ of internet fame).  For those who have only watched The Mandalorian, this show has some explaining to do.

The episode opens up on The Armorer forging a new Mandalorian helm, and she brings it out of a cave onto a beach lined with masked Mandalorians.  There is a child with no helmet standing there, and The Armorer presents her creation while chanting the creed by which this particularly religious sect of Mandalorians live by.  Right before the child can swear to always wear the helmet, a giant alligator-type monster attacks from the surface, snacking on Mando’s left and right.

Just when it seems all is lost, Din flies by in his suped up N-1 Starfighter (yet another reason to check out Boba Fett if you’re curious as to how he got it) and blows the creature away.  He and Grogu turn to The Armorer, who reminds him that he is Mandalorian no more because he willingly removed his helmet.  He vows to bathe in the purifying waters beneath the mines of Mandalore (which will prove challenging due to the fact that Mandalore was wiped out by The Empire during ‘The Purge’), to which she replies “This is the way.”

As far as getting set up for his next quest, he returns to a gentrified Navarro where his old friend (Carl Weathers aka “Dylan!”) Greef Karga is the High (being the operative word) Magistrate working hard to turn the planet into a profitable enterprise.  Where Din is requesting that Greef help him restore IG-11 as he is the only droid Mando can trust, Greef is disappointed that he won’t consider staying on Navarro as the Marshal.  Karga introduces Mando and cub to Babu Frik’s people, who excel at repairing droids, but they insist that the repairs cannot be done without a rare memory chip.

Some space pirates attempt to stir up trouble given that the place used to be a bounty hunter hangout, but Mando helps Greef take care of business while leaving their leader alive to warn the others that Navarro is off limits.  While Mando and Grogu are on route to visit another ally, they are attacked by the very same pirates and their king.  There is a very bombastic dogfight in an asteroid field, showing off Din’s formidable Starfighter and piloting skills.

Before the credits roll, the dynamic duo visit yet another planet featuring a Mandalorian castle, owned by none other than Bo-Katan (wonderfully reprised by Katee Sackhoff).  This once great ruler of Mandalore missed her opportunity to regain the Darksaber (which is still in Din’s possession), and apparently has lost her following as a result (they have mostly become mercenaries).  Din explains to her of his mission to return to Mandalore, to which she wishes him a dry good luck.

Overall, there is great table-setting done for season 3 in this premiere episode, and it is a joy to see Grogu and Din together again.  There is a brief mention how Cara Dune has joined the special forces which is why she is no longer Marshall, and though it is clear some time has passed, according to creator Jon Favreau it has been at least two years that Grogu had been off training with Luke Skywalker since the end of season 2.  It will be interesting to see how Din wrestles with the idea of trusting more droids as his side mission to restore IG-11 will surely prove difficult and who knows if it is going to achieve the desired results.  It was an exhilarating first episode of season 3 of The Mandalorian, and shows promise that we could be in for the most exciting adventure yet (the space whales should be a heavy indication of that)!

Season 3, Episode 2 (Chapter 18) – The Mines of Mandalore

The impact of Chapter 18 is amplified by a lot of the table dressing established in the season opener, and this episode starts off in a familiar place but ultimately takes the audience to new heights while defining this season’s stakes.  A brief stop on our favourite center of the Star Wars galaxy (at least since Return of the Jedi), Tatooine, sees a check-in with Peli Motto and her offer of an R5 astromech droid to Din Djarin who needs a trustworthy companion for his mission to Mandalore.  R5 seems remarkably timid compared to a hero like R2-D2, yet die-hard fans will recognize this as the very same droid that was almost sold to Uncle Owen instead of R2 before he blew a gasket (which could have been intentional to avoid adventure in A New Hope given R5-D4’s characterization in this episode).

As the trio jets off in the N-1 Starfighter amid the celebration of Boonta Eve fireworks, we are thrust straight into Mandalore, where Din first uses R5 to test the planet’s terrain and toxicity.  On the way there Mando tells Grogu that he actually lived on a nearby planet called Concordia, and on his first encounter with the Mandalorian ruins he must use his Darksaber to fight off brutal cave-dwellers.  Once Din establishes that the environment is breathable, he brings Grogu into the caves for round two.

Things do not go well for The Mandalorian as he is quickly ensnared by a freakish bug-like creature that uses mechanical exo-skeletons to move around.  Luckily, Grogu has been training with Luke Skywalker for approximately two years and was swiftly able to “Get to Bo-Katan!”  Bo-Katan also must fight more Alemites as Grogu navigates her though the caves, and she gets reacquainted with the Darksaber as she slices up the Mosquito-Man in his many forms.  She tells Grogu that she knew Jedi and fought along-side them as allies and teases “Did you think your dad was the only Mandalorian?”

Once Bo-Katan and Din reunite and she agrees to show him to The Living Waters, she tells him of her royal family and how her father was proud of her because she did not disappoint him in public.  When Bo continues that he ‘died defending Mandalore’, Din reassures her that “This Is the Way.” Bo-Katan and Grogu look on as Mando marches into the water, swearing on his name and the names of his ancestors.

When Din is suddenly dragged down into the depths, Bo-Katan must also dive into The Living Waters in order to reach the bottom and save him.  On their way to the surface, they have an intense brush with a giant Mythosaur (once rode by Mandalore the Great and is now the sigil of their planet).  The episode’s final moments are met with the revelation that perhaps the legends within Mandalorian culture are true.

With a tough act to follow in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale, this season needed to expand on Mandalorian culture in new ways to elevate the series within the Star Wars galaxy.  Where the season opener sets the pieces that will be integral to the current season, the following episode sees immediate payoff in seeing Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin carry out the mission that was discussed previously with The Armorer.  If The Mandalorian Season 3 continues to build on this momentum with each episode, we could wind up with the most exciting season yet.  Veteran director Rick Famuyiwa and newcomer Rachel Morrison directed their respective episodes with such unified vision that it really plays well into the central themes of the hero’s journey (for the current crew of Din Djarin, Bo-Katan, Grogu, and R5-D4).