This episode contains spoilers for season three’s first episode of The Mandalorian.The Mandalorian‘s third season opens with Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) seeking to reclaim his lost honor after he removed his helmet during the rescue and eventual adoption of Grogu. Heroics be damned. Mando was expelled from the Watch for the most egregious transgression, and his only salvation in the order is to bathe in the Living Waters of the mines of Mandalore. This is no easy feat when the planet’s surface was destroyed by the Empire.
Mando’s return has monsters, blaster-slinging action, a space dogfight, and gurgling Grogu cuteness, but it all felt rushed. The lean runtime packs a mountain of exposition in a breezy 37 minutes, when a solid hour would’ve done it a world of good.
Chapter 17, “The Apostate,” has the Armorer (Emily Swallow) crafting a new helmet for a foundling, who stands in a river surrounded by the Watch. The boy takes the oath of the Mandalore and the helmet is placed on his head. Suddenly, a huge crocodile-like creature erupts from the water. It snatches and gobbles as the Mandalorians rain blaster fire, but explosives don’t work as the carnage continues.
Mando swoops down in the sleek Naboo N-1 Starfighter and shreds the creature with turbo lasers. At the foundry, Mando shows the Armorer a green piece of crystallized glass from the surface of Mandalore. The Creed teaches of redemption. He will bring proof that he bathed in the Living Waters, thus the decree of exile will be redeemed. This is the way.
Grogu and Purrgil in Hyperspace
Grogu stares in wonder at the whale-like Purrgil as they fly through hyperspace before landing on a thriving Nevarro. Streets bustle as they walk past a statue in remembrance of IG-11 (voiced by the great Taika Waititi). Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), resplendent in flowing red robes, is now the High Magistrate. He has a prime tract of land and a big offer for Mando. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of pirates.
Vane (Marti Matulis) and his men, underlings to Pirate King Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie), want to drink in the old saloon. Greef refuses. It’s now a school. Tensions lead to a quick draw. Greef shoots the blaster from Vane’s hand. His men are then cut down by Mando and Greef. Vane scurries away with a stern warning. Pirates are no longer welcome on Nevarro.
Cara Dune (Gina Carano) left to join the New Republic’s Special Forces. Greef needs a new marshal. Mando politely declines. He requires a trustworthy droid. Mando attempts to reactivate IG-11 from his parts. The droid defaults to its original programming and attacks Grogu. The terminator gets crushed via a statue dropped from the service droid. Greef takes Mando to the diminutive Anzellans to repair IG-11, which needs a new memory circuit. Grogu grabs an Anzellan like a teddy bear. Mando pries him away. He promises to return with the part.
Pirates Attack in The Mandalorian Premiere
Mando shows Grogu the flight controls as they soar away. The lesson is interrupted by a pirate attack. Vane has returned with back-up. Mando flies into an asteroid field. He deftly outmaneuvers and destroys the fighters. Vane flees but leads Mando towards Shard’s heavily armored vessel. The Pirate King demands their surrender. Never underestimate a modified N-1 — Mando flips the turbo switch and rockets into space.
Their next stop is Kalevala. They land at a Mandalorian castle on a cliff. Bo-Katan (Katee Sackoff) sits on a desolate throne. There’s nothing to join. Her forces left. She had no authority without the Darksaber. Mando should lead them as its owner. He asks if she’s given up on retaking Mandalore. She coldly responds that his cult abandoned their home long before the Purge. Bo-Katan blames them for fracturing their people. Mando tells her his plan to bathe in the Living Waters. She scolds him as a fool, “There’s nothing magic about the Mines of Mandalore.” She tells him their location beneath the civic center in the city of Sundari. Mando will find out if “the planet is really poisoned.”
The Mandalorian and Grogu are heading to Mandalore for a baptism in the Living Waters. They’ll have to repair IG-11 first; then they can find out if Mandalore is a toxic wasteland. An apostate is defined as someone who renounces their faith or religion, and that’s not Mando, who clearly wants back in the not-so-warm embrace of the Watch. It could be that he’ll leave the cult permanently over the course of the new season; a good guess is that he’ll use the Darksaber and rally Bo-Katan’s stolen fleet to liberate Mandalore.
Slick Action Scenes
The premiere had very little depth despite the expertly crafted action. Cara Dune was expunged with two lines of dialogue (likely for political and cultural reasons behind the seasons). Objectives were clearly laid in a bare-bones manner.
The series never fails to reward with slick action scenes and great creature effects, and the space battle with the pirates looked amazing, but bells and whistles don’t make up for good character development. Scenes of Mando cradling Grogu in his arms were too brief. These characters need additional growth beyond a half hour runtime; as of now, the whole thing just feels robotic.
The Mandalorian is a production of Lucasfilm. New episodes premiere every Wednesday exclusively on Disney+.