Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian: The Making of Season 3 is a delightful behind-the-scenes look at the most recent chapters of the popular Star Wars series. It is a perfect palate cleanser following some of the excessively negative reception to The Mandalorian season 3, which was more divisive than seasons 1 and 2.
Every word, every piece of concept art, and every behind-the-scenes look in the Disney Gallery captures how The Mandalorian season 3 was a labor of love. Writers, directors, actors, production designers, costume designers, stunt coordinators, and other key individuals involved in season 3 get the opportunity to share the joys of bringing these episodes to life.
Part of what makes this feel so authentic is that the episode does not shy away from exploring some of the challenges the cast and crew faced along the way. For example, Dave Filoni is candid about the fact that he was initially skeptical about introducing a Baby Yoda at the start of the series:
"“In season one, Jon wants to make a Baby Yoda. I’m like, ‘What? Why? Why would we do this? That sounds like not a good idea.’ But, you put that initial fear aside and you say, ‘Okay, well, let’s really examine this.’ And I was like, ‘Jon ,if you’re gonna do this, I’m gonna be there with you. Cause I know Yoda’s one of George’s favorite characters and we cannot mess this up.'”"
Given what a phenomenon Grogu has become, it seems unthinkable to have doubted whether his character would work. What’s important is that Filoni was willing to take the risk, trusted in Favreau’s vision, and worked to make the character happen in the best way possible.
The Grogu puppet is adored by all, though Lizzo may love the Grogu puppet more than anyone. Seeing the utter joy that she and Jack Black had when “meeting” Grogu and being on set will bring a smile to your face. Lizzo and Jack Black are beloved celebrities who have brought all kinds of music and stories to life, yet they still had this childlike wonder at being part of a Star Wars story.
Aside from the initial creation of Grogu, other challenges included bringing characters and planets in Star Wars animation into a live-action format, which includes Katee Sackhoff bringing Bo-Katan into live-action:
"“When the idea came up for me to play her in live-action, I really had to stop and think about it. Because I had absolutely zero idea what she looked like not animated. So I really had to learn the character all over again and translate that character into movement. In the way that she used her mouth and the way that she walked and stood and really start it all over again.”"
By the end of the Disney Gallery episode, Sackhoff is describing how she pulled off an important stunt during the season 3 finale. She has put everything she has into portraying live-action Bo-Katan and making the character work so well in every episode of The Mandalorian season 3.
When it came to planets, one of the challenges was bringing a devastated Mandalore into live-action, as the planet only appeared in animation prior to The Mandalorian and flashbacks in The Book of Boba Fett. This involved some fascinating real-world inspiration, as explained by production design Andrew L. Jones:
"“We looked at the nuclear Trinity test site where the explosion was so hot that it fused the sand into a glass like material. And Jon said that the idea was that the surface of Mandalore had undergone such a series of nuclear blasts that the surface had fused into this shiny material with this green color that trinitite has. And we went to all sorts of lengths to explore that, including buying some radioactive trinitite that you have to wear gloves to handle. And eventually, we settled on a process that used a special resin that gave us something that really looked like the concept art and was durable. You gotta do something that’s gonna last through production.”"
Mandalore was the primary location of episodes 2, 7, and 8, and the most important location throughout season 3. The Disney Gallery helps you appreciate all the nuance and hard work that went into building these environments. The work Jones describes was just about the surface of Mandalore, with the Mines of Mandalore and Moff Gideon’s secret base needing their own designs, not to mention the designs of all the other planets throughout the season.
From a storytelling perspective, some divisive decisions, including the role of the Mythosaur and Din not becoming Mandalore’s “Aragorn” with the Darksaber, were also given more clarity. Read Filoni’s comments about why only Bo-Katan needed to see the Mythosaur:
"“The Mythosaur moment for her is this moment of faith where she sees something that should be impossible. And she is asked to believe in it. If the creature gets up out of the water and reveals itself, it’s just way too obvious. It has to be something isolated. It has to be something that only she sees. Something that she has to make a choice.”"
While it would have been cool to see the Mythosaur burst out of the water and to see a Mandalorian riding it, that was not the story being told, and it wouldn’t have tied in as strongly into season 3’s themes or Bo-Katan’s character development. Bo-Katan and the Mandalorians needed someone or something to believe in other than the Darksaber, and faith is more powerful when it’s something you have to believe in deep down instead of a giant creature staring you in the face.
As for Din’s arc, Favreau explained why Din didn’t become the ruler of Mandalore with the Darksaber as many fans expected his journey to be akin to Aragorn or King Arthur:
"“I think people expected Mando. He had the sword, he’s gonna take the throne. He’s gonna change from a travelling bounty hunter to Aragorn or something. And you felt like, ‘Oh, that seems like where you’re gonna go with it.’ But if you look at the clues, it actually hopefully, makes you reach the conclusion of where we went.”“And so, what many may have expected to be a show down between the two of them, ends up with them both going for something very different and working together. And ultimately, all of the different Mandalorian groups coming together.”"
Season 3 was about uniting all Mandalorians to reclaim Mandalore. Din and Bo-Katan working together was a better way to build to this endpoint instead of Din suddenly being the leader of Mandalore because he had the Darksaber. If Din and Bo-Katan could work together, so could all other Mandalorians.
The only issue with the Disney Gallery special is that it does not include Pedro Pascal at all, and barely features Lateef Crowder and Brendan Wayne. The Mandalorian has become much larger than its main character, but that doesn’t mean that the men behind Din Djarin should be ignored throughout most of an hour-long special about the making of season 3.
This was likely due to the fact that Pascal was not on set for season 3 due to his busy filming schedule, along with the fact that Din never takes the helmet off in season 3. Nevertheless, it feels strange to not have the voice and face of the protagonist be entirely absent, along with barely acknowledging the two men who bring everything Din does in the suit and behind the helmet to life.
Overall, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian: The Making of Season 3 reminds us why we love The Mandalorian and how it continues to capture the magic of Star Wars.
Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian: The Making of Season 3 is streaming now on Disney+.