Din Djarin sets out on a redemption tour in The Mandalorian season 3 premiere

Image: The Mandalorian/Disney+
Image: The Mandalorian/Disney+ /

Space whales! Space pirates! A group of tiny Babu Friks! Grogu using the Force to spin around in a chair! All that and more happened in The Mandalorian season 3 premiere, “The Apostate.”

While The Mandalorian season 2 concluded in December 2020, it feels like just yesterday that we were catching up with Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and his former bounty-turned-adopted son Grogu, aka Baby Yoda. The pair appeared in last year’s The Book of Boba Fett, which explored Grogu’s choice to forgo his Jedi training with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and go back to exploring the galaxy alongside his new dad.

The third season premiere of The Mandalorian gets right down to business: Din, a member of the religious sect the Children of the Watch, was deemed an apostate by the leaders of his sect after willingly removing his helmet. In order to be redeemed, the Armorer (Emily Swallow) tells him he must bathe in the Living Waters of the Mandalore.

Just one big problem: the planet of Mandalore is reportedly uninhabitable after being destroyed and poisoned after the Empire devastated it in The Purge. But Din is determined; this is his core mission this season. Along the way, we’ll explore the history, culture, and legacy of Mandalore and the at-odds factions of Mandalorian warriors. The culture and creed of Mandalorians haven’t been fully explored since the days of The Clone Wars and Rebels. But that was before the Empire committed genocide on the planet’s people. The Mandalorian is set about five years after the defeat of the Empire in Return of the Jedi. But the Mandalorians still have no homeworld and the survivors are divided into different groups and sects across the galaxy.

The Mandalorian season 3 will explore Mandalorian culture

We open the episode by revisiting the Children of the Watch. The Armorer is in a dark cave forging Beskar armor for a new member, but as she walks out to present a fresh helmet, we see she and the group are no longer hidden beneath Nevarro. There are more than a dozen Mandalorians watching as a young boy is initiated and given a helmet. This moment feels like foreshadowing for the scattered Mandalorians finally returning to their home planet and forging a new future together.

While that sense of camaraderie and community would be nice, there’s another big problem: Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), sister of the last duchess of Mandalore, and the Darksaber. The last time we saw Din and Bo-Katan together, they teamed up to attack Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) ship and rescue Grogu. Din dueled and defeated Gideon, earning the stolen Darksaber, a black lightsaber forged by an ancient Mandalorian Jedi. According to tradition, whoever wins the Darksaber in combat is the rightful ruler of Mandalore.

And that’s where things get awkward. Bo-Katan has been fighting to lead her home planet since her sister’s death and the loss of the Darksaber to Gideon. In the premiere, Din finds her holed up in a cold stone castle on another planet in the Mandalore sector, moping over her defeat.

Din wants her help, but Bo-Katan is clearly uninterested in hearing about his obsession with redemption and being reinstated into a cult. This scene sets up lots of tension between the two Mandalorians that will surely play out over the rest of the season.

The Mandalorian season 3 premiere is solid, but not groundbreaking

The rest of the episode gives us a familiar mission of the week. Din is set on returning to Mandalore and seeing for himself if the planet is really poisonous. But he needs some help from old friends. That takes Din and Grogu back to Nevarro, a formerly seedy spot that’s been turned into a thriving community thanks to new High Magistrate Greef Karga (Carl Weathers). Nevarro still has a bit of a pirate problem, but it’s quickly handled (for the time being) by Greef and Din. These scenes are shot through with space western, together with some Pirates of the Caribbean-esque flair courtesy of a pirate named Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie).

Why is Din back on Nevarro? Well, it’s not to settle down on a nice tract of land like Greef offers. It’s for IG-11, the former assassin droid who sacrificed himself in the first season. There isn’t much left of the droid, but Din needs him to return to Mandalore. Greef directs Din to a group of Anzellans (Babu Friks) who run a local repair shop. But they can’t fix him without a new rare part.

The episode concludes with Din and Grogu setting off to find the replacement part and eventually heading to Mandalore.

The Mandalorian returns with “The Apostate”

While the season 3 premiere doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, it’s an easy-to-digest story that hit all the classic notes that have become standard in the series: heart, humor, and a dash of blaster-filled action to keep things exciting.

The episode foreshadows a regrouping of Mandalorians and hints that we’ll finally explore Din’s traumatic past. Grogu is clearly going to help him, particularly after a journey of self-discovery himself. It’s likely Din’s journey may parallel Grogu’s; they’re both being forced to choose between who they want to be and who they were born to be.

Oh, and those space whales Grogu sees while he and Din are in hyperspace? Those are Purrgil. They were last seen in the final episode of Rebels when Jedi Ezra Bridger used the Force to get the whales to wrap their tentacles around Grand Admiral Thrawn’s ship and drag them both into hyperspace. Neither has been seen since.

Episode Grade: A

The Mandalorian season 3 Episode 1, “The Apostate,” is available to watch now on Disney+. The next episode premieres Wednesday, March 8.

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