The Mandalorian season 3 finale is packed with action but plays it safe


Well, that’s all, folks. Season 3 of The Mandalorian has officially come to an end in a relatively short episode packed with satisfying action. But considering the bigger picture of the season, “The Return” plays it safe. There are no major cameos or shocking reveals, and the ending is rather tidy.

The Great Forge of Mandalore has been reignited, and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) is back as the unofficial ruler of the fallen planet. The most satisfying and epic moments belong to her, especially during her rage-filled battle with Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).

The core storyline of the episode — and, it turns out, the season — is the retaking of Mandalore. At the end of the last episode, it was Moff Gideon: 1 and Mandalorians: 0. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal/Brendan Wayne/Lateef Crowder) had been captured and dragged away, and the rest of the Mandalorian troupe was retreating.

Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides) flees into space using just his jetpack (how is that possible?) to alert the orbiting fleet. The Mandalorians up there descend to the surface mere moments before Gideon’s TIE Bombers and Interceptors burst from the clouds and rain fire on the light cruiser.

Back on Mandalore, Din easily frees himself with a little help from mecha Grogu, who’s taken well to his new IG-11 suit. There’s more action from Din in this one episode than in the rest of the season combined, pitting the shiny Beskar-ed Mandalorian up against a bunch of dark troopers and Gideon himself.

We get a classic Star Wars hallway scene in this episode. Weaponless Din punches and kicks and blasts through half a dozen dark troopers guarding the entry to Gideon’s command center. And he does it with style. Also doing it with style is Bo-Katan, who leads an aerial assault on the dark troopers while wielding the Darksaber. Mandalorian jetpack fans have been fed so well this season.

Bo-Katan, the real hero of The Mandalorian season 3, gets her moment

Sprinkled throughout the action are reveals and confirmations about Gideon’s plans. It turns out he pulled a Palpatine and was attempting to make a bunch of clones of himself and imbue them with the ability to wield the Force. It’s a horrifically interesting idea, but the reveal still falls a bit flat, perhaps because we’ve spent so little time with Gideon all season only for him to reveal himself as the big bad late in the game.

After dueling and all but besting both Bo-Katan and Din, Gideon goes out in a fiery blaze of glory when Axe crashes the light cruiser into the former Moff’s base. Don’t worry; Axe is fine. Din, Bo-Katan, and Grogu are good, too, thanks to Grogu using the Force to ward off the flames. It’s an anti-climactic end for a villain whose motives we didn’t learn until the previous episode.

I didn’t fear for Bo-Katan and Din during their battles with Gideon. Star Wars needs both of them for future projects. Likewise, there was little doubt Grogu was going to survive when cornered by three Praetorian Guards; Disney isn’t going to kill off the cutest citizen of the galaxy.

Perhaps the most shocking moment of the episode is the destruction of the Darksaber by Gideon’s hand. Sure, Bo-Katan doesn’t need it to rule Mandalore, but it’s still a sacred piece of history, dangit!

Moff Gideon’s grand plan revealed

Still, with Gideon out of the way and his clones destroyed — thanks, Din — Bo-Katan and the Mandalorians can finally retake their homeworld. Sans Darksaber, Bo-Katan reignites the Great Forge as the rest of her people look on. It’s a satisfying and symbolic moment for the princess after decades of fighting and disconnection.

Down below, the Mandalorians gather in the Living Waters to anoint the late Paz Viszla’s son as an apprentice, a step up from a foundling. When Din asks the same for Grogu, the Armorer (Emily Swallow) says he’s still too young to speak and take the creed. Din, the bypasser of rules, proclaims to formally adopt Grogu as his son so he can give permission for the little green guy to become his apprentice. The Armorer is like, “Sure,” and Grogu officially becomes…Din Grogu.

So Din was the Mandalorian’s family name the whole time? His name is actually Djarin?

Din Djarin and Din Grogu start a new adventure

Leaving Mandalore, Din takes Grogu to the Adelphi base to offer his services to New Republic officer Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) as a bounty hunter, who agrees to the off-the-books deal. The episode ends with the Din family settling in their new cabin on Nevarro, courtesy of High Magistrate Greef Karga (Carl Weathers). Djarin (feels weird) is sitting back, feet propped up, watching Grogu lift frogs with the Force.

Amidst an uneven, disjointed third season, The Mandalorian still managed to include many momentous moments. Whatever you think of Bo-Katan and the retaking of Mandalore, her story was the strongest of the season. It’s immensely satisfying for longtime fans of her character arcs in The Clone Wars and Rebels; RIP to the Darksaber though.

The tidy, heartwarming ending hints at a return to the style of the first two seasons. With The Rangers of the New Republic scrapped, showrunners Dave Filoni and John Favreau could use stories meant for that show on The Mandalorian; Din and Grogu are basically New Republic employees now.

We can’t wait to see him in his first X-Wing.

Episode grade: B

Season grade: A

All episodes of The Mandalorian season 3 are available to stream now on Disney+.

Next. The Mandalorian: “The Spies” teases the Heirs to the Empire. dark

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