The Mandalorian season 3 review: “Mandalorians are stronger together”

The third season of The Mandalorian recently wrapped up, so now we can consider the whole season overall. I’ve already written a few pieces about this.

For example, I’ve written about how the story took a legendary artifact like the darksaber and honored the mythos behind it, while also allowing the characters to grow through it. I’ve also written about how, overall, the story’s weakness is in how in most other areas it’s afraid of actually setting up lasting stakes that force Din Djarin to grow. I’ve looked at some of my favorite moments from the season, and I’ve written about how the story sets up some of the key threads for the next stage(s) of the Mandoverse. In this article, I want to take a big picture view of the season and interact with the overall story that was told, which I think was fantastic.

It could be summed up well by the words of Bo-Katan Kryze in the finale, as she defiantly says to Moff Gideon that “Mandalorians are stronger together.” That is the big theme of the season, and one that this story told well.

The season starts with Din Djarin and Grogu on a quest: Din must bathe in the living waters in the mines of Mandalore to atone for his sin of removing his helmet. There’s just one problem: the planet has been poisoned, according to reports, which makes bathing in the mines impossible. Din sets off on a quest to determine this – but before he does, he visits Bo-Katan Kryze. She’s dejected that her efforts to lead Mandalore supposedly failed, because when she returned without the darksaber her forces scattered. Din believes in the legend of the creed, while Bo believes in the legend of the darksaber. And both of them have, it seems, failed to live up to it.

But before long, some important developments happen. Din discovers that the planet actually isn’t poisoned. Bo has to rescue him, and in the process wins the darksaber (though that’s not discovered quite then). Din bathes in the waters. And Bo sees a real, live Mythosaur in the waters! It had been said that the Mythosaur would awaken to usher in a new age of Mandalore, but Bo-Katan believed it was nothing more than a legend. This forces her to consider that maybe, just maybe, there’s a little bit of truth in legends. That’s the step that was needed to allow her to work alongside the Children of the Watch, people who are religiously devoted to the creed, even though she herself is not. And having been rescued by Bo-Katan, Din is also able to work alongside her, even though she freely removes her helmet. The friction between these factions is beginning to crack.

And it’s Bo-Katan who realizes the need for it. As she guides Din to the living waters, walking through the ruins of the once-great city of Sundari, he mentions to her that it must be painful to see it like this. “What pains me,” she responds, “is seeing our own kind fight each other time and time again. Killing each other for reasons too confusing to explain. It made us weak. We had no hope to resist being smashed by the fist of the Empire.”  That becomes a defining theme for her throughout the season, as she mentions repeatedly that Mandalorians have spent enough time fighting one another. It’s time to bring them together, and Bo-Katan is uniquely positioned to do it. The Armorer recognizes this. I suppose we all owe her an apology after suspecting she was a traitor, but it turns out not (at least as far as we know). Instead, she was the one to walk forth with Bo-Katan, saying that Kryze can walk both ways and unite their people.

She does gather their people, regain the darksaber, and lead them into combat against Imperial forces that were, surprisingly, headquartered on Mandalore. But she doesn’t do it alone. The third season of The Mandalorian really focuses on three main characters: Din Djarin, Grogu, and Bo-Katan Kryze. From one point of view, the three of them are the least likely to get along. Even though they’re all three Mandalorians, they’re quite different. Bo-Katan is Mandalorian royalty, a member of the famous House Kryze, a well-known leader yet also a skeptic toward many of the Mandalorian ways and customs. But those ways and customs are at the very heart of things for Din Djarin, a member of the Children of the Watch, who swears by them. When they first met, in the season two episode “Chapter 11: The Heiress” Djarin accused Kryze of being an imposter: “Where did you get that armor? … You do not cover your face. You are not Mandalorian.” And Kryze, explaining their difference, said that Djarin belongs to “a cult of religious zealots.” They didn’t exactly start off on the right note. But then there’s a third group, and it’s Grogu: a Mandalorian foundling, yet also a Jedi. The Jedi and Mandalorians fought against each other long before, and many – like Din – are still raised to think of the Jedi as their enemies.

But what happens as the season goes on is that these three Mandalorians come to trust one another with their lives, and work together to usher in a brighter future for their people. They can talk about unity, but they also demonstrate it. The differences between their clans are not ultimate, and they are not stronger than what unites them. That’s why this series didn’t come out (yet) and point out how the Children of the Watch are wrong and bad for their adherence to the Creed. Many fans wanted them to, and wanted Din to realize it (often for justified reasons story-wise), but that’s not the story this season was telling. Instead, it told a different, better story: adherence to the Way is not a bad thing, but it becomes a bad thing when it breaks unity rather than fosters it. The Children of the Watch are true Mandalorians seeking to honor the Creed, but their adherence there doesn’t mean that others who don’t adhere to it as zealously are fakes. The sides come to accept this as the season goes along. And it’s Grogu who helps do it. In one of the best moments of the season, Paz Vizsla and Axe Woves get into a fight over the rules (literally, the rules of a game, which is obvious symbolism for their deeper differences)… and then it’s Grogu who breaks it up, saying repeatedly “no!” He’s walking the way of the Jedi and the Mandalore, and him being the one to step in to put an end to the fight is poetic. It’s these three heroes who join together to win.

And that’s why the final fight against Moff Gideon was so satisfying, because all three of them work together to defeat their enemy. It’s true: Mandalorians are stronger together. They’re the galaxy’s best warriors, yet they fell because they so often turned that strength against each other. Which is, of course, the very same problem that plagued the Empire for its entire existence, by Palpatine’s design. The Empire was created to only truly need one person (the Emperor) and make everyone else expendable, but in the process, the Imperial officers all were looking out only for themselves. That’s highlighted again in this series with the Imperial remnants, particularly in the meeting of the Shadow Council. The warlords have a fragile alliance, waiting for a leader like Thrawn to return to lead them, but each member is individually working for their own power – including Gideon. He’s got his own cloning projects, and he’s got his own plans. The Empire can’t work together, and that’s their downfall. That plays out on a smaller scale with Gideon here, because he is defeated by three united Mandalorians where he’s left all alone. It’s no surprise that a united Mandalore would defeat a fractured Empire, but the season shows us how it got to the point where the Mandalorians could unite, not around a darksaber or a Creed but around the honor and loyalty and character needed to bring a new age for their people. It’s exemplified in Paz Vizsla, who can go from fighting Axe Woves to risking his life to allow Woves to escape for help, and then giving his life so that other Mandalorians – of all different backgrounds – can escape. He’s as devoted to the Watch as it comes, but he’s also willing to lay down his life for the hope of a brighter future for their people.

So Mandalore has been re-taken, the Great Forge has been re-lit, the Mandalorians have been re-united, and the Mythosaur has re-awoken. That’s the story the season was focused on telling, and it was terrific.

Yet running alongside that was also a bit of focus on the Imperial remnants, and a bit more on the New Republic, and we see how those factions are in varying states of disunity too. The Imperial remnants are obviously fractured, but the New Republic is a fledgling group trying to keep it together. They’re trying to do what is right, but they don’t have the capacity to do it. The Amnesty Program is admirable, but allows people like Elia Kane to more easily infiltrate it. The New Republic doesn’t have the strength to support worlds in the Outer Rim, allowing their enemy to grow stronger, much to the frustration of Carson Teva, who recognizes that this approach will lead to it being too late. They’re united around the right ideas, but they are far from united about what to do with these remaining Imperial remnants. That will wind up being their downfall decades later, when they don’t agree with Leia Organa’s concern about the First Order and pay the ultimate price for it.

The point is that coming together makes you stronger, whereas staying apart, staying different factions and groups with competing interests, weakens you. This season, the focus was on the Mandalorians needing to learn that. They did, and it made for a terrific storyline as the season went on.

To read more of my thoughts on The Mandalorian season three overall, check out my other season review wrap-up articles:
And for more on the individual episodes of The Mandalorian season three, check out the episode reviews:

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