Ian Thomas Malone



March 2023



The Mandalorian Season 3 Review: Chapter 17

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

There is no precedent in television history for The Book of Boba Fett’s decision to hand over two of its seven episodes almost completely to The Mandalorian, let alone in a way that completely undid the latter’s superb second season finale. There are undoubtedly millions of Mandalorian fans who did not make it to the fifth episode of Fett’s unremarkable season and have no idea how or why Mando and Grogu were reunited. Season three’s opener “The Apostate” at times didn’t seem particularly concerned with that reality, exacerbated by the more than two-year wait since we’ve had an actual episode of The Mandalorian.

The show has hardly missed a beat after moving on from its initial two-year arc, quickly establishing the stakes for Mando’s re-entry into his people’s good graces. The sequence featuring the giant crocodile was among the best uses of StageCraft after a stretch of extremely lackluster special effects in The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania among others. The Mandalorian continued its streak of superb effects alongside some beautiful practical sets, including a gorgeously revamped Nevarro that looks a teensy bit like Batuu from Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The scene with Greef Karga was a little clunky, offering a bit of necessary exposition while Grogu engaged in some of his most memorable antics, using the force to spin Greef’s chair and eat his desk candy. Mando is right to note that the situation with Grogu is complicated, but the episode passed on an opportunity to explore this dynamic between the two, even with Greef serving as the closest thing Mando might have to a confidant on the show.

The decision to rebuild IG-11 makes some narrative sense, Mando wanting a capable droid to explore the perils of Mandalore. The comic relief centered around IG-11 going rogue fell a little flat, indicative of the show’s broader relationship with its extended cast. The season two finale featured a full room of allies on Mando’s side when Luke Skywalker appeared. Now, Mando seems weirdly short on allies, though Cara Dune’s absence was deftly explained after the actress self-canceled off the show with her Majorie Taylor Greene-type antics. Nevarro feels weirdly small, Greef looking like he runs the show alone in a town with the resources to make an IG-11 statue in the square but no suitable alternative droids to help Mando’s mission besides a broken potentially homicidal bounty hunter turned nurse.

Letting Shard live was inexplicably reckless, a move that bit Mando in the ass almost immediately, albeit in service to a stellar space sequence. It’s clear Shard, and maybe Moff Gideon, will be thorns in Mando’s side down the road. Mando’s refurbished N-1 starfighter is one of the best throwbacks to the prequel trilogy that new Star Wars has given us, a beautiful substitute for the Razor Crest.

The show found itself a bit caught in the weeds with the return of Bo-Katan, who has fallen from grace among her people after failing to acquire the Darksaber in Mando’s possession. The show handled the exposition with some grace, but this episode was the first time that The Clone Wars and Rebels felt truly important to the plot rather than merely enhancing the experience. The overarching plot is understandably becoming more complex that the self-explanatory arc of the first two seasons. It’ll be interesting to see how much season three relies on established Star Wars lore moving forward.

“The Apostate” was solid television that never felt like it needed to make a big splash to compensate for the long hiatus. As a show, The Mandalorian has often produced its best work with fairly self-contained storytelling, but the demands of Mando’s mission will undoubtedly introduce a greater sense of serialization into the mix. The episode didn’t do a great job bridging the gap from Fett’s “Mando 2.5” dynamic, but it certainly served as a strong premiere in setting up the rest of the season.