“The Mandalorian” season 3 under-delivers

The hit series returns with heightened stakes but lowers expectations


Lucasfilm Ltd.

The series follows Din Djarin and Grogu traversing the galaxy.

Nameek Chowdhury

Venturing into the desolate planet of Mandalore, audiences return to the galaxy far, far away in the third season of “The Mandalorian” streaming on Disney+. 

The space western follows the Mandalorians, a group of armor-clad warrior zealots, adhering to their stoic beliefs. After losing their homeworld of Mandalore to a purge, they are scattered across the galaxy and believe their planet is inhabitable. As a newly excommunicated member, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) attempts to atone for his past wrongs by visiting Mandalore, where he discovers that not everything is as it seems. With the help of other Mandalorian factions, the season chronicles the Mandalorians’ attempt to reclaim their home from the one responsible for the purge, warlord Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). 

Wielding the Darksaber, Bo-Katan Kryze leads the Mandalorians to retake their home world. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

While past seasons have a strict focus on the adventures of Djarin and his apprentice, Grogu, commonly known as Baby Yoda, it takes a backseat this season as the stakes are higher and the lore is expanded upon. Although the series pushes multiple narrative arcs further in season 3, the father-like relationship between Djarin and Grogu is a highlight of the series. “The Mandalorian” loses a part of its identity by spending less screen time on this relationship, becoming yet another generic series in the “Star Wars” franchise. In this critical facet of the show, there are little to no advancements — instead, the existential threats take up most of the screen time, making the show feel impersonal. 

The well-packaged season finale also detracts from what the show is typically known for, as there are no loose ends since the “happily ever after” ending concludes most of the series’ conflicts. Rather than getting audiences excited for the next season, “The Mandalorian” not only remedies conflicts within season three, but also the overarching conflicts from the previous seasons, setting up a fresh start. Giving more screen time to add depth to the characters and provide more insight into their motivations is something that the screenwriters have struggled with, and the clean slate approach leaves all of it on the table.

However, the other expectations set up throughout the series stick around as the more noticeable elements help to mask the underwhelming storyline. Spaceships, armor and backdrops draw inspiration from all three of the Star Wars trilogies, and “The Mandalorian” balances the line between blatant fanservice and visual storytelling. References to previous Star Wars entities are cleverly blended to extend the plot in a creative manner that makes sense within the confines of the universe set up over decades. Environments vary drastically between each episode and new creatures and characters are introduced through unique designs. The show also excels with its cinema-quality special effects mixed with the excellent fight choreography, which are engaging enough to conceal the lack of substance behind each week’s episodes.

With its flaws, the flagship series in the Star Wars franchise has taken a few steps back in season three by focusing on a more grandiose scale of storytelling while sacrificing its underlying ethos of the parent-child dynamic between Djarin and Grogu. With its seemingly fresh start approach to the forthcoming season, a return to previous characterization is greatly needed.