For the first time in 802 days, there is a new episode of The Mandalorian streaming on Disney+!
The highly-anticipated third season of the acclaimed series premiered today, kicking off what promises to be a thrilling ride this season as we head into brand new directions while following the adventures of Din Djarin and Grogu.
So let’s dive in to the first episode of the season, which keeps the episodic titles going with “Chapter 17,” which is subtitled “The Apostate.” As always, there are full spoilers ahead, so it’s best not to read any further until you’ve had the chance to watch the episode for yourself!
On a desert world, the small band of Mandalorians descended from the Watch, led by the Armorer, gathers for a rite-of-passage ceremony for a young child. The Armorer fashions him a helmet, and he then takes the creed and promises never to remove it. Before the ceremony is completed, however, a giant crocodile-like creature emerges from a lake and attacks the tribe. The Mandalorians spring into action but struggle to defeat it, taking losses, until Din Djarin arrives in his N1 starfighter and kills the beast. Djarin and Grogu speak with the Armorer, who views him as an apostate. He brings a piece of evidence that suggests the surface of Mandalore might not be poisoned, and vows to cleanse himself in the waters beneath the planet, which by creed would redeem him. The Armorer reluctantly responds, “This is the way.”
The next stop for Djarin and Grogu is Nevarro, where they reunite with High Magistrate Greef Karga. He shares the latest updates on the planet’s thriving growth, but they’re interrupted by pirates wanting to drink in the old bar that’s been turned into a school. Karga refuses to permit this, and disarms the lead pirate in a duel. Djarin and Karga kill the other pirates, leaving the leader, Vane, to warn others that Nevarro has gone clean. Karga offers Djarin the position of marshal to help protect the town, vacated after Cara Dune took a job with New Republic Special Forces, but Djarin declines. Instead, he points to a statue of IG-11 in the town square and says that he wants the droid back.
He gets to work with the parts and manages to bring the half-built droid back to life, but IG-11 reverts to his prior programming and tries to kill Grogu. He’s defeated, and instead some Anzellan droid workers on the planet take a look. They can rebuild him, but not his memory. Djarin says he’ll find another memory chip for the droid, much to the others’ skepticism. Djarin leaves, but before he can clear the system he’s attacked by pirate ships, led by Vane, seeking revenge. He eliminates all but Ragnar, who leads him into a trap laid by the pirate leader, Gorian Shard, and his massive cruiser. Djarin manages to escape by jumping to hyperspace.
He heads for Kalevala, one of the planets in the Mandalore system, where Bo-Katan has taken up residence in an old castle. She’s alone, telling Djarin that her efforts to reunite Mandalore fell apart after she failed to return with the darksaber. Those following her dissipated, and her fleet is off travelign the galaxy. She’s given up, but tells Djarin that since he’s the one with the darksaber, he’s the one who could reunite them. She’s distanced and disinterested, but she tells him where to find the pools beneath Sundari, if he’s really interested. He thanks her and leaves.
There were many ways in which this episode felt like a soft re-launch for the series, doing a considerable amount of worldbuilding and setting up plenty of different threads that will surely continue down the road. Like in the previous two seasons, it looks like there’s a main quest that’s forming, but then other side quests that are going on at the same time – which may remain independent, or may converge later in the season.
There’s the main quest, which is very clearly established in this episode. We didn’t really learn anything new on this front, as the end of season two alluded to it, The Book of Boba Fett made it explicit, and the marketing for season three reiterated it heavily: Din Djarin is going to Mandalore. He needs to atone for the sin of having removed his helmet, something that’s demonstrated at the beginning of the episode with the young child taking the creed. Djarin has broken that creed, so he’s not considered to be Mandalorian any longer by his own clan (and it wouldn’t be a season-opener of The Mandalorian without a giant creature attacking, as we’re now three-for-three… and four-for-four if you count The Book of Boba Fett). Of course, contrast the opening and closing scenes of the episode and you get a more complicated picture: the opening scene is the Armorer presenting a newly-forged helmet to a kid who can’t remove it, while the closing scene is Bo-Katan without her helmet. Not all Mandalorians believe the same as the Watch.
But at least so far, Djarin still believes his tribe to be right, or to put it more sympathetically, he’s not ready to be cast out by the only family he’s ever really known. Mandalore, however, has been decimated by the Empire in the night of a thousand tears, and neither the Armorer nor Bo-Katan really seem to believe it’s able to be salvaged. But Djarin has been at working finding evidence that perhaps it can be, as perhaps the planet hasn’t been as poisoned as they’ve been led to believe. Either way, he’s going to find out. That’s the main storyline, and it will probably evolve as the season goes on.
This episode also introduced plenty of other threads, though. The first is Greef Karga and Nevarro. It’s pretty cool to see how the planet has grown since we first encountered it in season one, and it’s accompanied Karga’s own growth during that time. He’s gone from bounty hunter boss to a respectable high magistrate seeking to lead his people well. His leadership has been good for the planet, and the growth is evident all around. But he’s also looking for a marshal to help protect the world from pirates and criminals. The town’s previous marshal, Cara Dune, took a job with New Republic Special Forces. I’m surprised that the show acknowledged right from the start her absence, but it’s a perfectly understandable explanation and one that can simply be stated and then moved on from. (And it’s not like Pookie died on his way back home or anything like that. It’s perfectly natural and fits well.) But who will be the new marshal of the town? Only time will tell how important that thread is, but I’d guess we’ll pick it up at some point.
The second “side” thread pertains to that pirate threat. A group of pirates causes trouble in the town but are quickly neutralized by Karga and Djarin (it’s good to be reminded that this high magistrate used to be a bounty hunter and can hold his own). That’s not the end of the story, however, as the pirate boss Gorian Shard makes an appearance. It’s a new design but one that looks like a great blend of alien and pirate, and Djarin has to escape from him. But with the pirates still hovering above the planet of Nevarro, and with trailers showing Mandalorians fighting against pirates in the streets, we have yet to see the end of this pirate threat. (One other note to make here that I just couldn’t help but wonder is whether these pirates will remain threats forever or will become fragile allies of sorts in a bigger fight. In the original Thrawn stories a group of pirates and mercenaries played a key role, and between this and The Book of Boba Fett showing Boba trying to establish leadership of a group, I wonder if that could come into play later too when a certain Grand Admiral returns. Just a thought.)
The third thread that shows up is about a familiar ally who Djarin wants to reunite with: IG-11. The assassin droid sacrificed himself to save Grogu and the others in the season one finale, and as a result his heroics have gotten him a statue built on Nevarro in his honor, built from his scattered parts. Djarin says that he needs the droid to help him explore Mandalore, and the ensuing efforts result in a humorous moment that’s probably meant to be scary, as the half-finished droid tries to kill Grogu again. The Anzellans get to work next, showing us more creatures from the same species as the adorable Babu Frik, and seeing them with Grogu is a delight. What’s not at all clear, though, is why Djarin needs a droid to help him, why that droid has to be IG-11, why they need a new memory chip for him, and why it’s so hard to find. To be honest, I’m not really sure why to any of that, and so far it feels a little forced. I suppose it’s the one droid Djarin has come to trust, and I’m sure it’ll be more evident as the season goes on, but it left me scratching my head a bit. It did reinforce some prior leaks, however, which suggested Taika Waititi and IG-11 would return, and those leaks also hinted at further plans for the character down the road that could explain some of this.
On top of all of that, there’s another thread that was name-dropped that I hope we pick up on as the season goes on, and it’s that Moff Gideon is facing a New Republic War Tribunal for his crimes. We know that Gideon will appear, and that the New Republic will have a role too, and I’m very excited to explore these matters more. Plus, if he’s facing a war tribunal, it would not at all be out of place for the Chancellor of the New Republic to appear, and it’s a character that fans of Andor will be quite familiar with: Mon Mothma. That would be amazing.
All in all, the premiere episode of The Mandalorian season 3 delivered everything we’ve come to know and love about the series. It was a bit unsteady at times, it may have tried to do a bit much in one (shorter) episode, and the writing may have been hit-or-miss, but these characters are instantly lovable and iconic, the action exciting, the worldbuilding immense, and the storyline riveting. It’s so great to have this series back, and from the sound of it (both in this episode and from some of the advance reviews), things will really pick up next week. Din Djarin is headed to Mandalore, and I cannot wait.