The season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian not only re-introduced us to the lovable Din Djarin and Grogu, but also re-introduced us to the state of the galaxy during this time period. A lot has changed, and this episode carries a lot of weight of storybuilding – some of which happens in major plot developments, but much of which happens through conversations that take place.
Let me mention five such elements that we learned, giving us information about what’s going on in the galaxy.
1. Moff Gideon faces a New Republic Military Tribunal
The primary antagonist of the first two seasons, Moff Gideon didn’t appear in the premiere – because he’s currently imprisoned. He was captured in the season two finale, and we learn the latest in this episode from Greef Karga. Din Djarin asks him what happened to Gideon, and Karga responds that “he was sent off to a New Republic War Tribunal.” It’s notable that, if you turn the subtitles on, you’ll see that Karga actually begins with an “ugh” and that Djarin responds with a scoff. So they don’t exactly think too highly of the New Republic’s efforts there (more on that later).
It does tell us, though, that Gideon is standing trial for his crimes. He’ll presumably escape at some point (or be broken free), but I’m interested in seeing whether we actually get to see any of this tribunal or whether we just hear about it. Either way, it’s an example of the New Republic trying to move on from the Empire’s regime and keep justice. It may not work as well as they hoped.
2. Cara Dune has joined the New Republic Special Forces
Cara Dune’s absence from the series moving forward didn’t really need to be explained, but the episode gave us a simple explanation that works perfectly. As Greef Karga tries to recruit Din Djarin to be the new marshal of Nevarro, Djarin asks what happened to Marshal Dune. To that, Karga responds that “after she brought in Moff Gideon, she was recruited by special forces.” It’s a simple one-sentence explanation, but it’s all we need to know anyway. Cara Dune brought the New Republic a valuable prisoner, and they managed to recruit her to join them.
That is actually something that’s been set up for a while as a potential path, and one that makes complete sense in-universe. She was a former shock trooper for the Rebellion, meaning that she already has experience as a specialized soldier for this Alliance to Restore the Republic. After the Rebellion victory at the Battle of Endor she and the other shock troopers performed mop-up duty across the galaxy, bringing in ex-Imperial warlords. But as the Rebellion turned into the New Republic, the role turned more and more into peacekeeping, and that’s not what she had signed up for, so she retired early. But at the end of Chapter 12, as New Republic officer Carson Teva investigates, he mentions to Dune that her records indicate she’s quite a soldier, and he says they could really use her. She declines his offer, but the threads were set up long before that she could join the New Republic and assist special forces on elite missions.
3. Bo-Katan’s forces have deserted her
When Bo-Katan Kryze first appeared in the series in season two, she was on a quest to retake Mandalore and was gathering strength for it. She was amassing a fleet, including stolen Imperial ships, as well as Mandalorian allies – but most of all she needed the darksaber, which is why she agreed to join Din Djarin in infiltrating Moff Gideon’s ship. But Djarin won the darksaber in combat, not Kryze, which meant that though she did (presumably) get Gideon’s ship, her efforts to unite Mandalore took a serious hit. So much so that, when we meet her in this episode, she’s all alone. “When I returned without the darksaber, my forces melted away,” she tells Djarin. When he inquires further about the location of her fleet, she responds that the stolen fleet is “making their way through the galaxy as mercenaries.”
Of course, someone with Kryze’s complex history might not be exactly trustworthy (and could still be trying to manipulate things to get what she really wants), but if we take this at face value, it reflects just how crucial the darksaber is to these efforts. It has long been said that the person who wields the saber will be able to unite the different Mandalorian factions, and Kryze once thought it would be her. We don’t know whether she’s given up on those ambitions, but it seems others have started to give up on her. Djarin, however? Maybe he could be the one to do it. When Kryze learns he still has the saber, she tells him, “Then you lead them. Wave that thing around and they’ll do whatever you say.”
4. Mandalore might not be beyond hope
One of the most significant story threads that this series has established over the past two seasons is the state of Mandalore, and season 3 is finally diving into it. In Chapter 11 Din Djarin said that the planet is “cursed” and that “anyone who goes there dies.” In Chapter 16, Boba Fett said that “the Empire turned that planet to glass.” But, as Bo-Katan cautioned Djarin in Chapter 11, “don’t believe everything you hear.” What we know for sure is that the Empire launched a devastating attack on the planet, the Night of a Thousand Tears, and the planet has been abandoned ever since. In this episode, Djarin presents the Armorer with a fragment from the planet’s surface encased in crystalized glass, proving that the Empire really did turn the planet to glass. But it also leads Djarin to assume that, if a traveler could retrieve this, the planet must not be poisoned.
That’s not what he hears from Bo-Katan at the end of the episode, though, as she tells him that Mandalore has been “ravaged, plundered, and poisoned” – which he points out is a different tune than she previously sung. So what’s the truth? He’s determined to find out.
5. The New Republic still struggles to govern systems
One other observation worth making pertains to the New Republic. It’s one that we’ve actually heard hinted at often, and we get another hint of it here. When Din Djarin asks Greef Karga about getting a marshal from the New Republic, Karga dismisses it, saying, “The last thing we intend is to bow down to yet another far-off bureaucracy. No. Under my watch, Nevarro will become the first truly independent trade anchor in this entire sector.” We’ve known that the New Republic has difficultly establishing a brand new government, learning that it’s a lot easier to overthrow one than to build a new one. It works pretty well for the core worlds, but especially as you move further from the core there are plenty of planets who are weary and wary. The New Republic’s reach hasn’t yet extended out this far in any considerable force, and the people don’t seem to want it to either.
The reason why it’s important to mention here is because in that vacuum, it will be easier for darkness to grow. We know that the New Republic years later will mostly ignore the rising threat of the First Order, despite Leia Organa’s pleading with them to take it seriously, because they’re ok to just confine them to these far reaches. When a new threat emerges in this timeline, likely brought about by a returning Imperial Grand Admiral who had long ago disappeared, the New Republic may not have the initial strength to counter it on these fronts.