This Is A Different Way: A Review of ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3

The hit Disney Plus show returns with a different perspective in the Star Wars universe, and the response is mixed.


Emmanuel Denier / Unsplash

Over the course of season three, Grogu utilizes his Jedi training sessions with Luke Skywalker to get out of numerous tough situations. He also becomes more immersed in the Mandalorian clan as he officially becomes Din’s son, Din Grogu in the season three finale.

On March 1st, 2023, about 1.5 million households tuned in to ‘The Mandalorian’ season 3 premiere to see Din Djarin and his son Grogu (a.k.a. Baby Yoda) once again. There were many successful aspects of the show’s third season, such as incorporating the style of Western movies, exploring Grogu’s mysterious past, and reinforcing the bond between Din and Grogu. However, the season’s pivot onto an expanded cast of characters reduced the focus on Din and Grogu, leaving some viewers dissatisfied. As season 3 was greeted with mixed reviews from critics and season 4 is already in the works, many fans are wondering what’s next in store for the iconic father and son duo.

The following review will contain spoilers for ‘The Mandalorian’ seasons 1-3.

Season 3 largely focuses on the Mandalorian people and their different factions. Din, who follows The Way, learns to cooperate with Bo-Katan Kryze, who is the leader of the Nite Owls. Over the course of the season, the two factions unite to take back their home planet, Mandalore. Some characters, such as Paz Vizsla and Axe Woves, initially oppose this union. Bo-Katan rescues Din from his captor and, in return, is handed the Darksaber. This establishes her as the rightful ruler of Mandalore. In the season’s penultimate episode, fans once again saw the familiar villain, Moff Gideon, as he escaped from the New Republic off-screen. Using the fictional Beskar alloy, Gideon’s new armor and dark troopers posed the biggest threat to the Mandalorians since the Great Purge. The Darksaber is destroyed as the Mandalorians fight against Gideon, and sadly, Paz Vizsla sacrifices himself. Although the Mandalorians have won the battle, it is unclear whether Gideon survived. If he did, it is certain he won’t give up until he has won the war.

The biggest flaw of ‘The Mandalorian’ season 3 is that the main focus is no longer on the Mandalorian himself. The majority of the season revolves around Bo-Katan Kryze, played by Katee Sackhoff, and her eventual claim to the Mandalore throne. Although this is not a bad path for the show to follow, it is a disservice to its initial premise and marketing. From the very first teaser trailer of ‘The Mandalorian,’ Din Djarin and Grogu have been the main protagonists. Viewers were promised stand-alone Western-styled episode adventures of a father and son moving throughout the galaxy. When Din and Grogu were made into side characters, many fans online were quick to point out the sudden shift of focus.

At the end of season 3, Bo-Katan Kryze becomes the official ruler of Mandalore and all Mandalorian factions are united once more. Bo-Katan strives to restore Mandalore to the prosperous and lively planet it used to be. (Michael Marais / Unsplash)

“Overall, I was a little disappointed with season 3. As much as I’m a fan of the story of Mandalore, which kind of plays out like a political drama over the course of different media, I felt like it here it took away from Din’s story. By spending more time on larger plotlines, between the retaking of Mandalore and the resurgence of the Empire, the show had less time to spend on developing individual characters,” said Lucas Melendez ’23. 

An Executive Producer of the show, Rick Famuyiwa, has stated in an IGN interview,” ‘Who is the Mandalorian at this point?’ And so I think it could be anyone. And I think that’s what they’re trying to define in many ways, is ‘what does that mean to be Mandalorian?'” 

Season 3 of ‘The Mandalorian’ adds a new perspective to the show, but it could have been more successful in continuing the plot of the other seasons. Season 3, episode 3 was the biggest divergence from the show’s typical premise, as most of the episode focused on Dr. Pershing and his cloning research. Dr. Pershing was a minor side character from the past two seasons, and no one expected his extensive screen time. As a result, episode 3 seems disjointed from the other episodes, and the natural flow of the season is interrupted. The Dr. Pershing side story also did little to progress the plot and failed to maintain audience interest.

Fans undoubtedly noticed the lack of the Mandalorian in his own show. He managed to regain the spotlight in his two episodes in the miniseries, ‘The Book of Boba Fett,’ but the issue of Din’s screen time could’ve been resolved if these episodes were included in ‘The Mandalorian’ season 3. 

When asked about the two stand-alone episodes from ‘The Book of Boba Fett,’ Jon Favreau, Creator and Executive Producer of ‘The Mandalorian’ (as well as Bronx Science alumni from the Class of 1984), elaborated on the difficulty of constructing a show without the father and son duo together. “I don’t know how I would’ve been able to tell stories without those… having separate storylines with two of them over a long time. showing how both of them were not flourishing. That they were both in this imbalanced state. Because although it’s interesting to watch the two of them alone, you definitely got the sense that they weren’t doing as well as they could have. That this was not their destiny,” said Favreau in an interview with IGN.

Season 2 of ‘The Mandalorian’ had ended with many open-ended questions, such as how Din would reunite with Grogu and how Din would train with the Darksaber. Those questions were disappointingly answered in only 4 episodes (‘The Book of Boba Fett’ Chapter 5, Chapter 6, and ‘The Mandalorian’ Chapter 17, Chapter 18). Those sudden resolutions lessened the dramatic weight and importance of ‘The Mandalorian’ season 2. At times, season 3 seemed very unfocused and overwhelming.

Season 3’s lack of focus may be due to setting up future Star Wars projects, such as ‘Skeleton Crew,’ ‘The Acolyte,’ and ‘Ahsoka,’ with the last being a limited TV series set in the Star Wars universe predicted to release in the summer of 2023. The show will follow Ahsoka and most likely Thrawn, taking place after the events in ‘Return of the Jedi.’ As all the Star Wars projects are owned by the parent company, Disney, this busyness may not be surprising to some. 

“My least favorite moments [in ‘The Mandalorian’] were definitely the ones that were clearly trying to set up future ‘Mandoverse’ stories. To me, it felt cheap to invoke Thrawn’s name to get people more excited for where the story is headed, as I think each show should also be able to stand on its own,” said Melendez. 

It is difficult to continue watching the series past episode 3. Many plotlines are introduced in the first three episodes, and at first, they don’t seem connected. However, the season 3 finale conveniently wraps everything up nicely, leaving little to no loose ends. Mandalore has been reclaimed, Din and Grogu can rest on Nevarro, and Gideon’s plan was foiled… well, at least for now. 

Looking on the brighter side, a huge improvement made during this season was the expansion of the main storyline for the show and involving higher stakes. For the past two seasons, audiences have criticized the repetitiveness and similarity of the episodes. Every episode would involve Din making a deal with a character, and the rest of the episode would follow Din as he completes his end of the deal.

The Creator of ‘Star Wars Rebels’ and Executive Producer of ‘The Mandalorian,’ Dave Filoni, has stated in an IGN interview, “The story I think has, like I said, grown to a point that we want to expand a bit and do a little bit of a bigger thing than we’ve been doing on our streaming shows. And it just presents a different structure than episodic series, making a film. So I’m looking forward to the challenge of it while still being partnered with this guy, [Jon Favreau]. So it’s going to be hopefully the same brand of excitement that people are used to from what we’ve been making.” 

The main highlights of the show were the VFX, acting, and surprise cameos – some by the most unlikely of actors.

“It was really cool to see the return of actor Ahmed Best. He got a lot of hate for playing the role of Jar Jar Binks, so it was nice to see him redeemed in a more significant, respectable role,” said David Pagan ’23. 

Ahmed Best has received lots of backlash from fans since the prequel Star Wars movies were released. Many were annoyed with his character’s lengthy screen time and questionable actions, which were out of Best’s hands. Thankfully, Best got a second chance to portray a Star Wars character in season 3 of ‘The Mandalorian’ named Kelleran Beq. Best’s return to the Star Wars universe resonated with fans as his character plays a crucial role in rescuing Grogu.  

When asked about how he deals with negative criticism today in an interview with Metal Magazine, Best responded, “Here’s what I say has changed: my focus on it. In the beginning it was debilitating, now it’s just interesting and I don’t have a big emotional reaction to it. The hardest part is when I still hear industry professionals use it as a reason to not hire me, which I’ve heard recently. To that I’ll say: I don’t understand, especially with all the information now… I can walk in a room and be me now, and I couldn’t do that maybe even 10 years ago.”

At the end of season 3, Bo-Katan Kryze becomes the official ruler of Mandalore and all Mandalorian factions are united once more. Bo-Katan strives to restore Mandalore to the prosperous and lively planet it used to be. (Michael Marais / Unsplash)

All the actors in the show deserve praise for their stellar performances. Pedro Pascal can still display a wide range of emotions as Din Djarin, even without showing his face. Another character that provides amazing voice acting is Emily Swallow as The Armorer. Audiences can easily understand the character’s inner thoughts through the impeccable voice acting. Despite Moff Gideon’s limited screen time, Giancarlo Esposito manages to steal the show. Esposito effortlessly portrays the menacing and intimidating Gideon, leaving fans in anticipation of his probable return in season 4. 

The VFX this season is also worth noting, as the crew on the show utilizes the Volume. In simple terms, the Volume contains LED screens that create realistic-looking backgrounds while crew members film in real-time. Using video game technology, backgrounds can be altered based on the camera’s perspective. An article that does an excellent job of explaining the technology in greater detail is linked here.

In terms of character development, Din Djarin is very static this season. At the end of season 2, it was hinted that Din would slowly learn how to be a true leader of Mandalore. In the past two seasons, Din encountered many obstacles and, as a result, learned how to be a better father for Grogu. However, in season 3, none of these paths were explored. Din was absolutely pushed to the side for season 3, which is ironic since he is the show’s protagonist. 

The relationship between Din and Grogu didn’t drastically progress throughout the season, except for Din officially adopting Grogu as his son in the season 3 finale. However, Grogu has always been Din’s adoptive son, so making it official did little to strengthen their relationship.

Characters that truly shined in season 3 were Bo-Katan Kryze and Paz Vizsla. Although they were mere side characters in season 2, viewers learned their true motivations in season 3. Their successful, dynamic character development throughout the season made Bo-Katan’s rise to the Mandalore throne and Paz’s brave sacrifice even more impactful.

Now that Din and Grogu are residents of Nevarro, there are many opportunities for episodes to revolve around domestic issues. In a brief discussion between Din and New Republic Captain Carson Teva in the season 3 finale, it is implied Din will return to his life as a for-hire bounty hunter. Season 4 may be more reminiscent of Season 1, with each episode focused on a target Din has to capture. 

‘The Mandalorian’ season 3 took brave departures from its previous seasons with varying levels of success. The heart of the show, Din and Grogu’s relationship, was partially sidelined, but the stakes were raised by branching out the story to the Mandalorian people. With both its highs and lows, ‘The Mandalorian’ still remains one of the most popular Disney Plus shows on the platform. There is no telling what will happen in season 4, set in a galaxy far, far away… 

“I love for these stories to go on and on. And so these characters potentially could be with us for a while…” – Creator and Executive Producer of ‘The Mandalorian,’ Jon Favreau ’84