By George Bate and Josh Reilly B.
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian – Season 3, Chapter 17
The Mandalorian season 3 is finally here. The highly anticipated third outing of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni’s hit show debuted on Disney+ today with its first episode, Chapter 17: The Apostate.
The last time Din Djarin led an episode of his own show was in December of 2020, where he was heartbreakingly separated from Grogu as the child went to train with Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. A lot has happened since then, though, particularly in The Book of Boba Fett, making that show essential viewing in order to understand the full story. Grogu was given a choice between continuing his Jedi training or returning to Djarin, and he ultimately decided to go with the latter.
Now that the two have been reunited, they are free to continue their adventures together across the galaxy. That’s exactly where season 3 begins, with Djarin and Grogu saving his clan of Mandalorians before receiving instructions from the Armorer in order to make up for the sin of removing his helmet. As the trailers reveal, Djarin is tasked with heading to the mines of Mandalore to bathe in the waters below the surface, as is said in the creed. The rest of the episode sees Djarin and Grogu prepare for their trip to his homeland by heading to Nevarro to see Carl Weathers’ Greef Karga and to visit Bo-Katan Kryze.
The Apostate certainly serves as a reset of sorts for the story of this show. Jon Favreau made waves this week by revealing some interesting details about the timeline of The Mandalorian, including that Grogu trained with Luke for two years before returning to his father, and this season premiere does a good job of conveying that time has passed. The Nevarro sequence in particular, where the planet has been completely transformed from a bounty hunter haven to a peaceful trading town, shows how Karga has been able to reshape his home in these years.
Despite the passing of time, the heart of this show is still the relationship between Pedro Pascal’s character and Grogu, even as the story shifts focus towards the culture of Mandalore. The Apostate does well to double down on that, showing the two at their lovable and dynamic best. Grogu is still up to his usual antics and Pascal proves, if their was any doubt, that he’s perfect for a paternal figure role. The child treating Babu Frik’s species, previously seen in The Rise of Skywalker, as a pet shows the innocence of Grogu and allows Djarin to display his parenting skills.
Across the different planets and settings in this premiere episode, of which there are several, a particular highlight is the chase sequence between Djarin in his Naboo Starfighter and the group of pirates that he angered while visiting Greef Karga. Rick Famuyiwa shows his excellent directorial skills here with a thrilling space fight and further shows that he’s one of the best filmmakers working on this series. There’s a true artistry to Famuyiwa’s work here and the sheer care and attention to detail is an excellent example of the austerity on display.
This episode features some incredible creature designs as well, with the pirate leader in this sequence serving as a true highlight. Gorian Shard is the criminal in question and is shown briefly, but he has a sizable impact just based on his appearance alone. Shard looks like a cross between a Star Trek villain and the Creature of the Black Lagoon, thus is his visual uniqueness when compared to other citizens of a galaxy far, far away. There’s plenty of other great designs in this episode as well, particularly the Babu Frik species, aka the Anzellans, the Kwokian monkey lizards, and the various species that form the pirate gang.
Perhaps the biggest strength of this episode is that it doubles down on what The Mandalorian does as a show when it’s at its best. Jon Favreau has crafted an excellent adventure series, and one that is episodic by nature. The point of the show is not just to see the overarching story continue to the next episode, but also to simply enjoy the adventure that these two lead characters are on. George Lucas was so heavily inspired by the serial adventure series of his youth when creating this franchise, so it feels fitting that the very first live action Star Wars show returns to where it all began.
Broadly speaking, it is an interesting choice to have this season seemingly focus primarily on Djarin atoning for his decision to take off his helmet in Chapter 16. At that point in the story, it felt as if Djarin’s steadfast commitment to the way was broken, at least partially, so it’s a somewhat surprising decision to have him double down on these beliefs. In a lot of ways, it does appear to be a journey of self discovery for Djarin, deviating from the creed only to then regret his actions and attempt to reconcile with his clan. Thinking about his arc in that way might help calm the uneasy feelings regarding Djarin’s character development in this new season.
If there is a criticism to be had of this new episode, it’s that it serves mostly as a setup for the rest of the season, but one that’s made more entertaining with the inclusion of a few well-timed action sequences. The story is different this season (at least thus far), hence the framing of this outing as a reset of sorts, as the rising Imperial remnants take a back seat to the Mandalore plot. While that makes sense, The Apostate does feel, at least to a certain extent, like an episode that sets the stage for the rest of the season rather than one that is able to stand out on its own.
The Mandalorian Season 3 kicks off with an adventure-filled premiere that features Din Djarin and Grogu at their very best. The stage is set for the rest of this season, perhaps to the detriment of this individual episode, and it promises to be another eventful journey for these characters. Rick Famuyiwa’s directing is a standout here as he continues to go from strength to strength.