Spoiler Warning for The Mandalorian
For six episodes, a growing number of Star Wars fans have voiced their negative opinions of The Mandalorian’s third season, a consequence of slow burning narrative interspersed with sporadic sub-plots that may have worked during the first two seasons, but are now a tiring process that leaves viewers yearning for more.
What was once a desire to see Mando (Pedro Pascal) and his young green ward have a new encounter every week has been replaced by an anticipation for the frequently teased war for Mandalore, leading to a transition of interest. Fans now dismiss attempts to divert the narrative into fascinating, if slightly unrelated (looking at you Plazir-15) adventures as a consequence.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
That all changed this week. “Chapter 23: The Spies” heralded the beginning of the end, as the various Mandalorian factions unite to retake their ancestral planet. It’s amusing that three years ago, Dave Filoni was leading us to a similar conclusion in Star Wars: The Clone Wars,8 as the legendary Siege of Mandalore was brought to life on the small screen, paying off years of intrigue into a four part finale that delivered, and when I say delivered I mean delivered. Favreau doesn’t have the luxury of this guaranteed fan interest, and instead must rely solely on the third season to self-contain the Mandalorians’ desire to have a home planet again. What he does have however, as we learnt in Chapter 23, is one long-promised aspect of The Mandalorian that is finally being brought to the forefront of the space western streaming show; it’s ties to the sequel trilogy.
Since before the premiere it was promised: The Mandalorian would tie directly into the sequels-of-mixed-opinion, specifically the rise of The First Order, the origins of Snoke, and hopefully, the way somehow, Palpatine returned. This season, there have been little hints and whispers, mainly during Doctor Pershing’s (Omad Abtahi) initially confusing hour in the spotlight, but nothing so concrete until Chapter 23: we hear of cloning, Praetorian Guard, Thrawn, the Imperial Remnant and several other references that are sure to make fans of the sequels and the non-canon expanded universe happy (pay attention who attends the meeting at the beginning of Chapter 23!). It’s safe to say Chapter 23 is a highlight of not only this season, but Favreau’s grand plan for the direction and future of The Mandalorian.
It’s near-perfect timing to begin exploring The Mandalorian’s place in the greater Star Wars universe, fresh off the reveal that Filoni would be heralding a movie that concludes the story of The Mandalorian at Star Wars Celebration Europe. It seems that all parties involved are planning for the end, but in a way, this makes sense; I for one would rather see Din Djarin end on a high after four seasons, than be stale and wither away after eleven.
So where will we be this time next week? Chapter 24, which is as-of-yet unnamed, will hopefully see the Mandalorian armies deck it out with their twisted, imperial doppelgangers for control of the planet. With the death of Favreau’s own cameo-man Paz Vizsla, the stakes have never been higher, or more intimate; the fate of the Mandalorian people, gathered together and united for the first time in a long time, rests on the outcome of their battle with Imperial Remnant.
Alongside such realistic outcomes for the finale, the announcement of Lars Mikkelsen’s return as Grand Admiral Thrawn, fuels hope that our favourite blue villain could make a sneak peak in the finale, either as a cameo or a post-credits sting; realistically, it’s nothing more than a pipe dream, but you never know how closely Favreau and Filoni want to link The Mandalorian to Ahsoka, since it’s arriving this upcoming August. What we do know, however, is that with the progenitors to Snoke’s Praetorian Guard roaming around, and Moff Gideon, in dark trooper armour looking equally menacing, Mando and his friends have their work cut out for them if they want to finish season three of The Mandalorian in one piece.
Episode 24 of The Mandalorian: Season 3 airs 19/04/23
Edited by Barney Nuttall, Film and TV Deputy Editor