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The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian season 3

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Reviewer

Paul Asay

TV Series Review

The Empire had its faults: Its all-powerful leader was the embodiment of all evil; and his attack dog, Darth Vader, wasn’t exactly cuddly. But still, there is something to be said for stability.

It’s been several years since both the Emperor and Vader died aboard their latest (ahem) invincible Death Star (as chronicled in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi), and the Empire has since crumbled into so much galactic dust. And while the good guys won the day, they’re maybe not so good at ruling. The New Republic’s grip on the galaxy, or at least its outer reaches, seems about as firm as a Bantha’s tummy. Star systems, freed from the Empire’s endless restrictions and tiresome paperwork, have sunk into chaos. And underneath it all, the wreckage of the old Empire may be slowly, secretly reconstructing itself.

But with chaos comes opportunity. Bandits and pirates roam the stars. Smugglers and assassins ply their nefarious trades. Various warlords vie for control of a planet here, a moon there.

For years, the Mandalorian—real name, Din Djarin—made a pretty good living as a bounty hunter, bringing in the galaxy’s worst criminals to justice—either warm or cold.

But then he ran into a little big-eared, green-skinned kid with some serious (if still largely unexplored) gifts in the Force. Mando went from being bounty hunter to babysitter. And you know what? He wouldn’t have it any other way.

VOGUE ONE

Alright, let’s back up the geek train here and launch into some explanations. In the Star Wars universe, the Mandalorians have long been known as wildly skilled warriors. Few, it seems, take up accounting. Throughout the galaxy’s recent history (or long, long ago history, as the case may be), they’ve been well regarded as go-to bounty hunters, mercenaries and assassins. Indeed, the Empire cloned one of their number—Jango Fett—to create its clone army (Episode II: Attack of the Clones). Boba Fett, the most famous Mandalorian (in Episodes V-VI), was also a clone, but was raised by Jango as his son.

Also of interest: The Mandalorians—at least the faction that Mando belongs to—are deeply loathe to remove their helmets. How they eat is beyond me. Also, hat hair.

The Mandalorian we primarily follow here is the 007 of the galactic bounty hunter guild—the man everyone wants to hire when they really need to track someone down, be that quarry a war criminal or a guy who cheated them at cards. He’s everything the galaxy expects a Mandalorian to be: professional, lethal and absolutely merciless.

And he’s still most of those things. But his outlook has definitely changed since he started toting the green-skinned child—called, rather awkwardly, Grogu—around the galaxy. Now, he’s beginning to understand that he’s not just a hunter now. He’s got a gifted, precocious youngster in his care. And that may require him be a little more … selective.

But while his priorities have shifted, Mando’s heritage is still important. He’s working closely now with Bo-Katan Kryze as they try to reunite their fragmented people. And as Mando explores just who he is in the world of the Mandalorians, viewers explore that world along with him.

The road ahead won’t be easy. But, as always, Mando just might be the most dangerous babysitter in the universe.

THE (DISNEY) EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

The Mandalorian is Disney+’s flagship original program, a story that takes place in the Star Wars extended universe between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, filling in the gaps between the old Empire and the formative First Order. And in keeping with both the franchise’s tone and the reasonably family-friendly streaming service, the show keeps its helmet pretty clean.

We don’t need to worry about too much foul language here—at least not crudities spoken in English. Viewers will hear some mild profanities in a few episodes–and even a bit more raw at times than we hear in the Star Wars movies. But compared to your typical Marvel superhero flick, the language by comparison feels fairly sanitized.  (If someone starts cursing in Jawa-ese, well, that’s beyond my ability to critique.) And since the Mandalorian rarely even takes off his helmet, it seems unlikely we’ll need to worry about excessive nudity.

But as Grogu grows, the Force—that spiritual power that unites and binds all things in the movies and can feel very much like an Eastern religion—is growing in importance, too. And the Mandalorians observe their own sort of faith, and in Season Three, that faith takes a more central role.

And we do have a few other cautions before you turn on your hyperdrive.

The Mandalorian’s body count can be high, and the way those bodies come to be counted. In the show’s very first episode, one unfortunate fellow is cut in two by a door: off-camera, of course, but still, a young imagination can fill in the details quite efficiently. Mando can dispatch enemies by the dozen, and throw in the occasional monster into the mix, and galactic undertakers stay pretty busy.

Viewers will get more reference to bathroom activities than they might expect, too. And while allusions to the Force may be minimal, some of these galactic denizens have their own religions that they reference on occasion.

The Mandalorian feels both gritty and fun, well in keeping with the central film franchise and many of its entertainment offshoots. But for those hoping for a wholly innocuous, worry-free galaxy to explore, this isn’t the show you’re looking for.

Episode Reviews

Apr. 19, 2023—S3, Ep8: “The Return”

In the season finale, Mando, Bo-Katan, Grogu and the rest of the Mandalorians strike back against Moff Gideon, who’s taken over the ruined planet of Mandalore as his own personal base. The entire episode is one sprawling battle.

In the air, Mandalorians tangle with jet-pack-toting stormtroopers. Blasters are particularly in vogue, though the energy blasts often bounce harmlessly off the combatant’s armor. Lightsaber-like energy swords and other hand-held implements do their own share of (more lethal) damage.

On the ground, Mando battles and bloodlessly kills a bevy of enemies using knives, energy weapons, blasters and more. Knives land in the relatively exposed flesh of knees and throats. He seems to break someone’s neck at one point. Several people fall off tall platforms and to their apparent doom. Mando himself must deal with flamethrowers, cords wrapped around his neck and a whole bunch of physical blows involving fists, feet and knees. Other combatants fight on the planet’s surface, too, and many die via blasters and energy poles and whatever else is on hand. Someone apparently is killed via a massive explosion. The Force takes a central role in some of these skirmishes—manipulating space and energy to knock people down, push away weapons and protect folks from some serious danger.

We also see something of a space battle, too, wherein scores of small spacecraft fire away at a much larger ship. Several explosions occur, and at least a few smaller fighters are blown up.

A sacred Mandalorian ceremony seems to echo, at least superficially, a Christian baptism. Several clones are destroyed. Many characters risk their lives for others. There’s a nice little message about adoption.

Apr. 12, 2023—S3, Ep7: “The Spies”

Bo-Katan and Mando have reunited with Bo-Katan’s tribe, the Night Owls. They’ve also met Mando’s own covert and forged an uneasy alliance to retake their decimated home planet of Mandalore. But Moff Gideon, an old Imperial officer and once holder of the near-mythic Mandalorian Dark Saber, is alive and free. And He has his own designs on the planet.

Several battles take place. The lion’s share of the fighting is done via blaster fire, but both sides are heavily armored, meaning the blasts often do nothing more than spark off the beskar plates. Injuries and fatalities are often more likely to be caused by blade blows (still bloodless) and people being tossed from some pretty towering heights. One combatant gets lassoed around the neck and dragged. Another is captured via several cords looped around his limbs. Flame throwers do significant damage to combatants, as does a machine gun-like blaster that has the oomph to punch  through at least some of the armor. A man apparently dies via thrusts from what look to be pink, electrified blades.

Two Mandalorians squabble during a chess-like game. Punching, blade-swinging and body-slamming ensue. A massive beast destroys a sort of sailing vehicle. People are punched and kicked. We hear about other Mandalorians who died in the Great Purge on Mandalore.

Grogu is given his very own stripped-down assassin droid, which now serves as something akin to a walking vehicle. He rides in the droid, which he enjoys a great deal. But the droid gives him a measure of autonomy from Mando—giving him the ability to ignore his guardian whenever he wishes. (Imagine giving a 2-year-old the keys to a Bobcat bulldozer, and you get a sense of the dynamic.) Grogu “talks back” to Mando (via a handy button that makes the droid say “no”). He also takes foods off a vendor’s table and either eats it or ruins it, which Mando has to pay for.

Apr. 5, 2023—S3, Ep6: “Guns for Hire”

Mando and Bo Katan seek to bring a group of mercenary Mandalorians—a group that used to work with Bo Katan—back into the Mandalorian fold. But before they can even talk with these soldiers, they’re asked to do a bit of mercenary work themselves. The planet these mercenaries inhabit is dealing with some malfunctioning droids. The planet’s rulers ask Mando and Bo Katan to track down the problem and make their peaceful planet safe again.

The malfunctioning droids cause quite a ruckus. They’ve been just destroying property for the most part (security footage shows a robot hop in a speeder and crash into a wall), but one droid chef malfunctioned while its hands were full of knives and a restaurant was full of customers. (We don’t see the security footage of the “malfunction,” but we do hear the screams therein.) Droids are kicked to see if they will malfunction: One does, throwing heavy objects and endangering civilians. It’s eventually gunned down, and we see its remains in a morgue-like structure. Another droid is hewed in two. Human combatants fight with blasters, knives and jetpacks. Someone is shocked into submission. Grogu eats a living delicacy.

Mando and Bo Katan arrive on a planet as its leaders engage in a banquet. “I hope you like secretions,” one of the hosts says as people suck on long clear tubes. They go to a droid bar where robots go to chill and drink what is called “nepenthe,” which we’re told lubricates joints and patches up programming.

We see two alien beings engaged in a tender moment, with an (apparent) female ship captain caressing her (apparent) male lover with her face tentacles.

Droids are threatened. Grogu uses his powers to help someone cheat at a game.

Mar. 29, 2023—S3, Ep5: “The Pirate”

The story’s action moves back to Nevarro, where former bounty hunter boss Greef Carga has turned into a respectable politician and is doing his best to keep the planet independent. But those efforts take a hit when the pirate king Gorian Shard arrives to claim Nevarro as his own. Greef sends an urgent missive to the New Republic, but given that the planet isn’t aligned with it, hope seems doubtful. But knowing that Greef is close friends with Mando, an enterprising New Republic captain seeks out Mando’s covert. If the Republic can’t or won’t do anything, perhaps the Mandalorians can.

The episode is dominated by battles on and above Nevarro. Several spacecraft are destroyed, presumably killing most of those on board. Combatants are bloodlessly gunned down by blaster fire: Some are injured, but others presumably died. Other fighters are dispatched through melee weapons—struck by hammers or yanked by pincers. Civilians flee from blaster fire. Pirates shoot at semi-sentient creatures hanging out in the trees. In a destroyed and deserted spacecraft, corpses float about in the weightless environment (and are only partly seen in the shadows).

Pirates drink bottles of green liquid, and the drink seems to have inebriating qualities. Threats are issued. Lies are told and an act of betrayal is committed. Someone says the word “d–n.”

Mar. 22, 2023—S3, Ep4: “The Foundling”

Mando and Bo-Katan continue to kick back with Mando’s old covert (essentially, his tribe). And Grogu—despite not reaching most people’s knees—begins his Mandalorian training. But this respite takes a turn when a winged beastie snags a Mandalorian child and flies off with him.

When battle is engaged, we see grappling hooks, knives and nets at work. The creature bats at least one Mandalorian away with its wing, sending the warrior falling. In a flashback, Grogu makes a desperate escape from the gleaming city planet (and former Imperial capital) Coruscant with the help of the Jedi. Several Jedi and stormtroopers are killed, mostly via laser blasts. One trooper is pushed (via the Force) off a precarious ledge. Various ships do battle in the sky, and one comes to a very hard landing.

Grogu uses the Force as part of a training battle—leaping out of the way of an attack. Both he and his opponent get hit with training darts and marked with paint. A massive monster eats another. A flying creature disgorges a boy—intending the kid, apparently, to be a meal for its hungry chicks.

Mar. 15, 2023—S3, Ep3: “The Convert”

Fresh off their dip in the Living Waters of Mandalore, Mando and Bo-Katan (the one-time leader of Mandalore who, until the last episode, was dismissive of Mando’s deep-rooted faith) must escape a petty warlord (armed with old Imperial TIE Interceptors) and make their way to safety. Meanwhile, one-time Imperial cloning expert Dr. Pershing (whom we met in Season One) settles into a sort of halfway house for reformed ex-Imperial workers. But while he’s fully committed to serving the New Republic, he longs to continue his now-banned research.

Pershing meets an ally at the amnesty housing center, and the two break rules to steal soon-to-be-destroyed Imperial equipment. Mando and Bo-Katan destroy several TIE interceptors (and kill the pilots presumed to be in them). A building gets bombed and destroyed. Someone is connected to what is colloquially called a “mind flayer,” which has the ability to wipe the recipient’s memories.

Former Imperials toast (with what looks to be watery milk) the New Republic, drinking to its health. We hear some conversation about the “complicated” ethics of cloning. Lies are told.

Mar. 8, 2023—S3, Ep2: “Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore”

Mando and Grogu have made their way to the home planet of Mandalore, where our titular Mandalorian hopes to bathe in its mines and thus return to good standing in the eyes of his kin. But he discovers that the planet isn’t as decimated—or as deserted—as he was led to believe.

These two (along with their new, terrified droid, R5-D4) encounter bipedal creatures called alamites, which attack them. They’re dispatched mainly through Mando’s use of the Darksaber, and we see the creatures cut, slashed and stabbed. (A hand appears to get cut off at one point.) A few fall from some seriously towering heights. Another battle with the bipeds includes more use of the saber and laser blasts.

The alamites are practically an annoyance compared to another very strange being encased in a variety of machine conveyances. The monster captures its prey, injects it with some sort of drug and seems to siphon off its blood. The creature’s artificial conveyances have limbs sliced off and metal innards gutted. Elsewhere, a character nearly drowns. Someone is shocked repeatedly by an electric-discharge weapon.

We hear about a fabled fight between the legendary Mandalore the Great and a Mythosaur found in the waters of the mines. We also hear plenty of references to the Great Purge, brought about by the Empire not-so-many years before. The Mandalorian creed becomes a point of discussion, and perhaps contention, between Mando and another Mandalorian. We hear a few references to the Force.

Peli Motto, Mando’s favorite starship mechanic, apparently works in concert with a handful of Jawas to strip someone’s speeder, then fixes the thing up using those same-stolen parts.

Mar. 1, 2023—S3, Ep1: “Chapter 17: The Apostate”

In the wake of his decision to remove his helmet late last season, Mando (with Grogu in tow) is embarking on a quest to bathe in the sacred waters of his decimated home planet, Mandalore. But he first wants to try to rebuild IG-11, the assassin droid that sacrificed himself in Season One.

Mando sees himself as a follower of the true “Way” of the Mandalorians, which feels akin to a religion. Certainly, no god is invoked, but Mando considers himself an “apostate” (for taking off his helmet) and talks about washing away his “transgressions,” almost as if it was a sort of baptism. Another Mandalorian (one who doesn’t adhere to Mando’s strict understanding of their culture) calls Mando’s group a “cult.” And the episode begins with a sacred Mandalorian initiation ceremony. (“I swear on my name and the names of the ancestors that I shall walk the way of the Mandalore,” participants solemnly recite. “The words of the creed will be forever forged in my heart.”)

The ceremony is interrupted by a monstrous sea lizard that gobbles up an attendee and throws many others around. (A couple Mandalorians nearly drown before being pulled to safety.) The creature is shot with blasters countless times. Explosive charges are placed on the thing’s scaly hide. Mandalorians try to pull him down with cords, all to no avail. The monster is finally killed—in a shower of gore and entrails.

We see other moments of violence, too. Several people get gunned down by blasters. Several spacecraft are destroyed. The upper half of a droid (some of its electronic innards resembling a severed spinal cord) crawls along the floor, seeking to kill what it thinks is its quarry.

Dastardly villains go to an old bar they used to frequent. Even though the place is now a school, they insist on being served drinks.

Oct. 30, 2020 – S2, Ep1: “Chapter 9: The Marshal”

In the opening episode of Season 2, the Mandalorian returns to Tatooine, hoping to track down one of his own kind—hoping a fellow armored compatriot might be the first step in taking the Child home. But while he finds a suit of Mandalorian armor in the small settlement of Mos Pelco, the man underneath is anything but one of his own. He’s the town’s marshal, and he has a big problem: a giant wormlike creature called a krayt dragon.

The dragon swallows both humanoids and banthas (elephant-size musk ox-like creatures) whole, and he vomits up what appears to be a green, acid-like substance on occasion. (We see people and creatures caught in its spray, but it’s difficult to tell if it’s lethal or not.) A huge dead creature is shown in all its bloody, bony glory: Explosions wound and kill. A gladiator-type tourney features two Gamorreans (large pig-faced humanoids) with axes, apparently battling to the death. (One does indeed die, though in unexpected fashion, and rather bloodlessly.) The Mandalorian fights with several assailants. A man gets strung up by his ankles, left to be attacked and likely devoured by unseen beasts. In flashback, we see several people shot and killed with blasters. A missile blows up a vehicle with several people on board.

The Marshal invites the Mandalorian to have a drink with him. (The beverage in question is blue and likely—though not positively—alcoholic.) Citizens of Mos Pelco hate and fear the sand people who live nearby (and who sometimes raid their village); it’s a plot detail that intentionally seems to recall the tensions between settlers and Native Americans in the Old West. We hear that Mos Pelco became a “slave camp” after the Empire fell. A man says “h—.”

Nov. 12, 2019 – S1, Ep1: “Chapter 1: The Mandalorian”

The Mandalorian hauls in a ship loaded with carbonited bounty quarry and turns those frozen captives into his guild’s master, Greef Carga. But when the Mandalorian asks for new assignments, Greef points him away from on-the-books bounty and to a seriously shady assignment. His client, if the man’s phalanx of old Stormtrooper bodyguards can be an indication, is a former bigwig from the now-discredited Empire. And he wants the Mandalorian to bring in a very unusual subject—alive if possible, but dead if needed.

Speaking of death, the Mandalorian sends plenty of people to theirs. He teams up with an assassin robot, and together they kill more than a score of adversaries (who, admittedly, are trying to kill them, too). He slaughters a handful of saloon roughs, too—stabbing one in the back with the guy’s own knife and pulling one halfway through a metal door that’s telescoping shut. (We see half of the body fall to the floor in a blurry foreground shot.) He shoots a robot in the head, too, “killing” it. Someone else dies by way of a gigantic walrus-serpent.

The Mandalorian tangles with a couple of big-mouthed, walking tadpole-like creatures known as blurgs. One grabs the bounty hunter’s arm and drags him around as the Mandalorian tries to set the creature on fire. (The blurgs are later knocked unconscious by way of shocking tranquilizer darts.) The Mandalorian also tries to ride a blurg, but is initially bucked off. The Mandalorian encases someone in carbonite, which he stores with several other such victims. (Their facial expressions make it clear that being frozen in carbonite is not a pleasant experience.) We see a monkey-like creature—the same sort of big-eared, beak-nosed beastie that hung out with Jabba the Hut in Return of the Jedi—on a spit, roasted apparently for food. (Another such creature cowers in a cage.)

Someone tells the Mandalorian he needs to use the “back tube.” “I could do it here, but if you’ve never seen a fledgling mithral evacuate their thorax, you’re a lucky guy.” He also says “Thank Ferruck!” after a close call. People drink at various galactic bars. Threats are made. When someone refers to a blurg as a “he,” someone else corrects him. “The males are all eaten during mating.”

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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