The season three finale of The Mandalorian aired today, wrapping up the story in an action-packed episode.
It picks up right after last week’s cliffhanger, and we’re immediately thrown into the fight between Mandalorians and Imperials. There’s a lot to talk about, but not a whole lot to say without spoilers, so just be warned that full spoilers for the episode are ahead!
Bo-Katan and the scouting party of Mandalorians are on the run, while Din Djarin has been taken captive. But Djarin manages to escape, with the help of Grogu in the IG-12 suit. Together, Djarin and Grogu devise a plan to take out Moff Gideon, aided by R5-D4. Meanwhile, Axe Woves alerts the fleet about the ambush, and the Mandalorians all board the Gauntlet fighters to reinforce Bo-Katan on the surface. Woves alone stays behind to pilot the cruiser as a distraction for the Imperial ships. In the base, Djarin fights wave after wave of Imperial trooper as R5 opens respective doors. He and Grogu then stumble upon a room of Gideon clones, but Djarin destroys them all. This infuriates the real Moff Gideon, who begins fighting Djarin. Soon the Praetorian Guards arrive and gain the upper hand, but Grogu stops them and draws them away from Din.
Bo-Katan and her group come to a cave underneath the surface with luscious green growth, and she learns that plant life actually can survive on the surface! The reinforcements arrive, and Kryze leads them into battle, wielding the darksaber, as they meet the Imperial troopers in the air. She soon notices Djarin in trouble and arrives to take over the fight against Gideon, allowing Din to rescue Grogu. But as Din fights the Praetorian Guards, Grogu uses the Force to aid him, and the two of them together emerge victorious. Kryze uses the darksaber to fight Gideon, who wields an electro-staff, and Gideon manages to crush the darksaber.
He taunts her about this, but Bo-Katan says that Mandalorians are stronger together. Djarin and Grogu arrive, and together the three Mandalorians prove too much for Moff Gideon. Woves pilots the defeated Mandalorian cruiser toward the base, and it crashes into the Imperial base, destroying everything inside and killing Gideon. Grogu protects himself, Din, and Bo-Katan from the flames using the Force.
In the aftermath, the Mandalorians hold a ceremony in the living waters, with Ragnar taking the creed and becoming an apprentice. It’s then Grogu’s turn, and Djarin officially adopts him as his son, Din Grogu, making the child an apprentice. At this, the Mythosaur awakes beneath the waters. Later, Bo-Katan ignites the flame of the great forge, as the assembled Mandalorians chant “for Mandalore!” Djarin and Grogu then head to meet Carson Teva, where Djarin offers to work as a bounty hunter for the New Republic hunting down Imperial warlords. And then finally, on Nevarro, Din gives Greef Karga a rebuilt IG-11 as the city’s marshal, and Karga gives Djarin and Grogu a home to live in. They settle there together, at peace.
This was an epic season finale that tied together many of the story threads in satisfying, if not spectacular, fashion and included some of the best moments in the series to-date. The story felt disjointed at parts (which is really a symptom of the season overall, not this finale), but the tremendous action sequences more than made up for it.
For example, the shot of Bo-Katan Kryze igniting the darksaber as she led the Mandalorian forces into battle was legendary, and a genuine fist-pump moment. Director Rick Famuyiwa really went overboard with terrific and creative action sequences, and I mean that in the best way. I loved how Din Djarin had to fight through successive waves of the Imperial troops to get to Gideon, starting with no weapons and then adding more and more as he went along. All the battle scenes with the Mandalorians facing the Empire in the air were fantastic, and seeing Bo-Katan get to wield the darksaber in combat against Moff Gideon was also epic. These are moments that I never dreamed we’d see in live-action, but here we are, and it looks great. If there’s one thing that the show really stepped up this season it’s the action sequences, as we’ve seen great moments of dogfighting in the air and then in this episode plenty of other great moments all around.
But the best part of these fight scenes in this episode was how satisfying it was to see the show’s three main heroes working together to win. I’ve been mentioning for most of this season how I thought that these three characters – Din Djarin, Grogu, and Bo-Katan – being the ones to lead a united Mandalore made perfect sense. They’re all Mandalorians, but one of them is a believer, one of them is a skeptic, and one of them is a Jedi. The Mandalorian clans (like House Kryze and the Children of the Watch, for example) can’t seem to stop fighting one another, and the Jedi are their ancient enemies. So sure, they can talk all they want about the need to unite, but when these three are the ones stepping up to do it, the message is sent all the clearer. Mandalorians are truly stronger together, and it’s by working together that Din, Grogu, and Bo-Katan are able to defeat Gideon. It was so satisfying to see Grogu aiding the cause, and we got to see just how much he’s grown. We’ve seen him use the Force before, and even seen him use it to block fire, but when we saw him do it before it took everything out of him. He’s far stronger now, thanks to his training with Luke, which paid off here. It was such a great touch to see how Luke’s training of Grogu directly led to Grogu being able to escape the Praetorian Guards, as he used the same tactic.
It was also a nice reversal of the previous season finale: in season two, it was Djarin who came to the rescue of Grogu. This time, it’s reversed. Last summer, as Pedro Pascal teased the show’s third season, he said that the series is starting to ask the question “who will be protecting who?” Turns out the answer is yes. They’re stronger together.
And Bo-Katan is the perfect figurehead to bring it all together. She’s tried to rule Mandalore before, but she was also part of the infighting amongst their clans. She then sought to rule, believing the darksaber enough to unite their people, but Moff Gideon won. When we met her in season two, she was on a quest to recover the darksaber. She was at work rebuilding her forces, but she wasn’t ready to take Mandalore without the ancient weapon. So, when we met her at the start of this season, her forces had dissipated upon her return empty-handed. The legend of the darksaber was, in the eyes of many, the only hope at bringing their people together and reclaiming their home. Yet we saw last week that Bo-Katan was starting to wonder if even that was enough, confessing as much to Din in a moment of honesty. But it’s Din Djarin, of all people, to say that the symbol means nothing and that he’s following Lady Kryze because of honor, loyalty, and character. In other words: Bo-Katan is the leader Mandalore needs, but not because of the darksaber.
That all culminated this week when the darksaber was, surprisingly, destroyed by Moff Gideon. Yet despite the weapon’s destruction, the episode ended on a happy note, with Bo-Katan reigniting the great forge as the leader of a new era of the people’s history. I have mixed feelings about the darksaber’s destruction. On the one hand, the darksaber is so freaking cool, and seeing Bo-Katan wield it here was an absolute delight. It looks so good, and I’d be sad not to see it again in combat. I love Bo-Katan, and the potential of her leading Mandalore with the darksaber is thrilling. So as a fan I’m quite bummed it’s destroyed (though in this show, stakes have a way of being undone before long, so we’ll see). On the other hand, I love the story dynamics of it, as we truly get to see how Bo-Katan has grown. And that’s ultimately Gideon’s downfall: he misunderstands what it truly means to be a Mandalorian. We’ve had to see our heroes wrestle with it, too, and come to learn it, but Gideon assumes that by destroying the darksaber he’s put an end to this threat. He assumes that he’s succeeded in dividing them once again, making them no match for his strength. The last thing he expects is for, in the immediate aftermath of having the darksaber destroyed, Bo-Katan to express confidence in a united front. That’s all a very powerful story, and I’m all for it.
And it plays out on an even larger scale in the episode. We got some clarity on what Gideon’s cloning project was all about, and it’s not really a surprising answer: he’s made clones of himself, and he’s tried to infuse the Force in them. He boasted last week about being able to take the best of everyone and combine them, making him the ultimate warrior, and he seems to view the Force as the missing element in his design. That’s what he was trying to do, and why he had such an interest in Grogu. (As a quick side note, I’m not surprised that Gideon’s cloning efforts had to do with him, but I would be surprised if Brendol Hux’s cloning efforts don’t have at least something to do with what will eventually become Snoke.) Gideon seems to think that he’s simply able to take these things from others and capture their same strengths, but in doing so, he actually misunderstands where the strength really lies. It’s a classic Imperial trope in Star Wars: the Empire tries to use a culture to their own advantage without actually taking the time to understand it, and that winds up being their very undoing. Gideon has a whole force of Imperial troopers wearing beskar armor, but it’s readily apparent that they are no match for true Mandalorians. Their armor is important, yes, but it’s not ultimately what makes a Mandalorian (though the Armorer might disagree…). The Empire can take their armor, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to replicate their power.
Ultimately, the reason for that is because the Empire can never actually come together. That was the regime’s very design under Palpatine, and in this post-Empire era the warlords of the different remnants are all mostly out for themselves, with only a fledgling alliance uniting them. Gideon was interested in his own power and his own projects, and he paid the price for it. As another side note, for as much as I love Giancarlo Esposito in this series, I really hope Gideon is actually dead. It would be a bit of an eye-roll to have him pop up for a fourth different season finale after being defeated, but we’ll see. But the fact that his clones were revealed makes me wonder if there’s more in store… especially with as much as Force-sensitive clones played a role in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire Thrawn trilogy. I’m not convinced we’ve seen the end of that story thread. It’s a poetic end to his character if he’s really dead, though, because he highlights the Empire’s very problem: they’re strong but arrogant, thinking that they can use other cultures without understanding them, and acting for self-interest rather than together. In the climactic moment, Gideon was all alone; but Djarin, Kryze, and Grogu were together. That was the difference.
These themes all worked very well, even if there were some other things that felt a bit odd. For example, what happened to the Imperial ships in atmosphere? Are we supposed to assume that Axe Woves took them all out, or did they just bail? They’re never seen from again. If Moff Gideon was so upset that Din destroyed his clones, and if Gideon was tracking his every move waiting for him… then why did he wait until after Din destroyed the clones to confront him? Are we now supposed to assume that “Din” is actually his surname, since it’s Din Grogu? And if so, why do no other Mandalorians follow that same tradition (it’s Clan Kryze, not Clan Bo-Katan)? The story of this episode felt a bit rushed at times. The story also basically tied up most of the plot threads, often in the most predictable way possible, but it mostly worked well.
It led to the episode feeling a lot like the series finale, though, instead of the season finale. We know that Jon Favreau has already written season four, so the show will likely continue, but this felt like a completion of a three-episode arc. We’ve seen Din and Grogu become a family (the adoption ceremony was sweet and satisfying, but… I guess we all just assumed he’d already basically adopted Grogu, so it wasn’t quite as emotional of a payoff as it was meant to be). We’ve seen the Mandalorians retake Mandalore (and the Mythosaur has awoken, supposedly a symbol of a new age of the people’s history). And we’ve now seen Din and Grogu settle down on Nevarro. That itself is a completion of an arc, one that began in season one, when on Sorgan Din was offered a chance to settle down. Earlier this season, Din expressed how he wanted to retake Mandalore so that their kids could play outside in the sun again. The last shot of this season was, fittingly, Din and Grogu settling down on Nevarro with Grogu playing in the sun. We even got the iris closing that George Lucas used on his films – only this time, the shot lingers for a bit on Din and Grogu.
That’s not to say that there’s no indication of where the story is going. Bo-Katan has led their people to retake the planet, but there’s plenty more stories that could be told. We learned that the planet can actually support plant life, the great forge has been rekindled, and the Mythosaur has awoken, but there’s still much rebuilding to do (and I wonder if that’s how the seemingly out-of-place story on Plazir-15 this season will come into play, as that’s another planet that has rebuilt itself using domed cities). I’m sure we’re not done there. But we also see Djarin and Grogu develop an alliance with the New Republic. This season showed us how the fledgling government can’t keep up with the threats in the Outer Rim, so Djarin is stepping into that role. Perhaps the shelved Rangers of the New Republic series is being repurposed for this, and I’m actually a bigger fan of this potential than others. I wonder if a fourth season could see Din having to track down some of the Imperial warlords seen in the Shadow Council, and it of course creates some very easy ways narratively that he can be brought into the Thrawn crisis too. It makes it all the more possible he could even show up in Ahsoka later this year.
The adventures of Din Djarin and Din Grogu will continue. But this episode marks a significant and satisfying conclusion to a key arc in this show, one that’s best summed up by two words: “for Mandalore!”