What is it with Star Wars shows sacrificing themselves for future Star Wars shows?
After an uneven third season, I was hoping that the Mandalorian finale would finally bring the drama and emotional rush that the previous two season finales had.
Last week ended on a cliffhanger with Bo-Katan Kryze’s mission to retake Mandalore being delayed by an ambush by Moff Gideon’s Imperials, so this episode was going to need some heavy lifting to give us a satisfying ending. When I saw that the finale was 39 minutes long, I got worried. Unfortunately, my predicted worries became actualized as I finally watched Chapter 24 of “The Mandalorian.”
Sure, there was plenty of amazing fight choreography and Grogu was cute and provided some comic relief as always, but the whole episode felt shallow. didn’t get the payoff I thought I would seeing the Mandalorians retake their home planet after an Imperial genocide wiped out their people.
Here’s a summary of what happened in Chapter 24, interspersed with some thoughts throughout:
- Bo-Katan and her ground forces escape Gideon’s base, telling Axe Woves to use their stolen Imperial capital ship as a decoy so the rest of the Mandalorians could join them as reinforcements on the ground.
- Din Djarin, who keeps getting captured this season for some reason, escapes Gideon’s Imperial commandos because someone let Mecha-Grogu, a literal baby wearing the skin of an assassin droid, go off on his own to find him.
- On their way to find Moff Gideon, Din and Mecha-Grogu are confronted by the most dangerous weapon in all of Star Wars: ray shields. They fight more commandos two-by-two as R5 raises each shield, which I will admit was an incredible fight scene.
Din and Mecha-Grogu find a bunch of naked Gideon clones in pods, which Din summarily kills because if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Star Wars, it’s that clones aren’t *real* people. (Sarcasm)
- The survivor Mandalorians take Bo-Katan and the rest of the crew to their lush underground farms, saying, “Life persists,” and, “All they need is room to grow.”
- The music swells as the Armorer tells Bo-Katan her reinforcements have arrived and Bo responds, “Let’s take back our planet.”
- We see Bo lead her army into battle, wielding with the Dark Saber, side-by-side with the Mandalorians she had not-so-long-ago referred to as zealots.
- Gideon does the classic Bad Guy monologue in which he tells Din he was building a Force-sensitive clone army of himself. He’s really mad that Din killed them all, and, you know what, fair.
Din goes to battle with Dark Trooper Gideon and his Praetorian Guards and is almost defeated when Mecha-Grogu leads the three red boys to another room.
- The Praetorian Guards kill IG, de-mechaing Grogu, who has to use the Force to jump high and avoid their weapons.
- It looks like everything’s not going to be okay, but Bo-Katan flies in to get Gideon off of Din and tells him to save his kid.
- We get a beautiful duel between Bo and Gideon with the Dark Saber while Din and Grogu lay waste to the Praetorian Guards, Grogu using the Force strategically. Luke’s training paid off! Yay Grogu!
- Gideon has Bo-Katan on her knees as he smashes the Dark Saber with one hand, saying Mandalorians are weak when they lose their trinkets. Bo replies, “Mandalorians are stronger together,” as Din waltzes in, firing at Gideon.
- Axe Woves comes in hot in the disabled capital ship and hits the base at just the right time, “killing” Gideon (or was it one of his clones??) and our heroic Clan of Three is protected by Grogu using the Force to shield them from the fire.
- The Mandalorians retook their home planet and relit the Great Forge.
- Din wants Grogu to become an apprentice. Unfortunately, the Armorer disagrees, saying he is too young to speak the Creed. Din then says he wants to adopt Grogu as his own (Didn’t he basically already do that when he took him as a foundlinh?). Now apparently Grogu is Din Grogu, Mandalorian apprentice. But what is with that name? Shouldn’t he be Grogu Djarin? I don’t get that at all.
While we saw the Mythosaur again for a few seconds, Boba Fett, the first Mandalorian ever, was nowhere to be found this season.
- Din and Din Grogu (I really hate this name) chat with Carson Teva about becoming an off-the-books New Republic bounty hunter that will hunt down Imperial remnants. Grogu is fascinated by a disembodied IG head at the bar, which Mando takes as his advance payment.
- The disembodied head becomes the new IG-11, the Marshall of Nevarro, which is kind of out of character for the assassin droid, but I digress.
The season ends with Din Djarin and Din Grogu relaxing on their new plot of land on Nevarro. A happy ending??
Honestly, I really disliked the episode. It felt rushed and there wasn’t much emotional payoff for me. A villain we thought was done-for a few episodes prior came back to be the Big Bad, then (probably) died again. The Mandalorians banded together and retook Mandalore, but it seemed like it didn’t take much struggle (even though Paz Viszla did sacrifice himself when he, arguably, didn’t have to.).
Unsatisfied, I went back and rewatched the whole season again to see if I missed anything that would make the finale more compelling. And I will say that watching the episodes all at once made the season feel less disjointed overall. The seemingly “random” episodes with Dr. Pershing and Plazir-15 actually did serve to move the plot along, although by adding stopping blocks that weren’t necessary.
Those plot pit stops did do a lot if you view the whole season as a criticism of various forms of government. We see that the New Republic, while better than the fascistic Empire in many ways, is still failing its people. And while the direct democracy of Plazir-15 was great for the human citizens of the planet, but relied upon the subjugation of droids. Mandalore fell because it was a fragile monarchy that was undermined by constantly warring factions and given a death blow by the Empire, but rose again because the heiress of that monarchy brought those factions back together to fight a fractured Imperial Remnant. But was that really what writer Jon Favreau wanted us to take away from the season? I’m guessing not and that I am just way too into politics.
Overall, season three of “The Mandalorian” fails for the exact same reason “The Book of Boba Fett” failed: it became solely a bridge to set up the next Disney+ Star Wars show. But where “The Book of Boba Fett” had an overarching narrative goal that we understood from episode one (Boba Fett is struggling as the Daimyo of Mos Espa), we didn’t really know that the goal of “The Mandalorian” season three was to retake Mandalore until almost the end of the season entirely. And like “The Book of Boba Fett,” the titular protagonist also took a backseat to another character in his own show, experiencing very little character growth.
I will say that I loved seeing Bo-Katan’s growth over the season, from a defeated cynic spending her days alone to the ruler of Mandalore who brought her people back together for a cause, and that Katee Sackhoff’s portrayal was the highlight of the show for me.
After seeing the season three sneak peek at Star Wars Celebration in 2022, I was so ready to see just where a (premature, in my opinion) reunion between Din and Grogu would take the show. But unfortunately, this season sacrificed itself to lay the groundwork for Thrawn’s return in Dave Filoni’s baby, “Ahsoka,” when it didn’t even have to.
I would give Chapter 24 two out of five stars, and “The Mandalorian” season 3 as a whole three stars, bumped from a two out of five for the lackluster story to a three because the fight choreography and action scenes really were outstanding.