By Josh Reilly B. and George Bate
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian – Season 3, Chapter 24: The Return
The Mandalorian Season 3 concluded today with Chapter 24: The Return, an episode that was packed full of action and resolutions to the various plot lines introduced in the show thus far.
This season has been mainly focused on the retaking of Mandalore, first with Din Djarin going to bathe in the living waters and proving that the planet is indeed still breathable. Then, he and Bo Katan became closer and it was the latter’s presence within the Watch group that seemingly helped to unite her side of the Mandalorians with theirs. With all factions of the people together, this finale sees the Mandalorians fight Moff Gideon as they attempt to wipe him and his forces out once and for all.
At the end of the last episode, Din Djarin was captured by Gideon’s new soldiers and the Mandalorian group was fractured and split up on the planet. Things quickly get better for them all here, though, as Djarin manages to escape custody from the Imperial remnants and reunite with Grogu. From there, he makes it his mission to hunt down Gideon and end him once and for all in order to stop the purge of Mandalore from ever being fully completed. Meanwhile, Bo Katan and co. are fighting these forces in the cave again, but receive reinforcements from The Armorer and a few other allies. These plot lines intersect when Djarin and Bo Katan team up to defeat Gideon together, and it’s here that the villain appears to meet his end (more on that later). Finally, the episode ends with the official retaking of Mandalore and Din Djarin going off with Grogu (now named Din Grogu) to work for the New Republic and live on a peaceful farm on Nevarro, given to him by Greef Karga.
As stated, this was an action heavy episode, and these battles are well directed and shot by Rick Famuyiwa. He is arguably the best filmmaker working behind the camera on this show, so it’s nice to see him helming the finale here as he truly deserves it for all of his incredible efforts across the three seasons so far. In many ways, this finale mirrors that of The Book of Boba Fett, where it’s mostly action and fighting for the duration of the runtime. However, in that last episode, the action felt more of a chore at times, particularly as the finale went on, whereas The Mandalorian’s Famuyiwa does well to keep the proceedings entertaining and engaging the entire time.
Much of the storylines from the first two seasons are seemingly resolved here as well, for better or worse. Moff Gideon’s ultimate plan is finally revealed as Giancarlo Esposito’s villain has apparently been working to clone himself this entire time, and wanted Grogu in order to make these copies have the Force. For all of the teases about these cloning projects of Moff Gideon’s somehow relating back to Palpatine and/or Snoke, that conclusion feels a tad underwhelming. It remains to be seen if there’s more to the story, however, which could easily be case. The pacing of the reveals of this plot are also extremely odd, especially when looking back at how these events proceeded. The first two seasons were focused on Gideon and the cloning heavily, but there was little of any actual explanation or revelation as to what he was doing or what his overall plan was. Gideon and the cloning appeared to be dropped all together for the majority of season 3, only to return in these last two episodes where the villain neatly, and conveniently, explains himself before dying. It almost feels as if a greater mystery was being teased and important information was held back until later, only for Gideon to casually drop all of the details in this finale, which only adds to the underwhelming feeling.
More broadly, one of the best things about this finale is that Din Djarin actually features prominently throughout. This season has had a frustrating lack of screen time for the title hero, which adds to the overall thinking that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni might not know exactly what they’re doing with this character or where he’s headed in the future. This show has always been at its best when focusing on Djarin and Grogu, so it’s nice to see the duo finally getting something to do in this final episode of season 3. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that Djarin has still had very little to do over the course of this season. His arc essentially concluded in the second episode of season 3, and that in itself was just a reversal of what the second season had been working towards, with Djarin appearing to learn to move away from the Watch and remove his helmet.
Djarin and Grogu do get a nice and satisfying conclusion at the end of this outing, which is what they deserve after all they’ve been through over the course of this show. It’s also interesting to see Djarin volunteering to work for the New Republic to help stamp out the Imperial remnants going forward, so clearly he will still be involved in this fight against the rising Empire for the foreseeable future. That feels like an interesting story going forward, especially as Djarin will presumably continue to be at the center of this MandoVerse story.
The Mandalorian season 3 concludes with an eventful and action packed finale. This outing is incredibly well shot and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, who continues to prove that he should be in the running to direct a Star Wars feature film one day. However, the episode feels rushed throughout, and the conclusion of various different plots is often underwhelming and unsatisfying.