Star Wars has always been more than a space opera. It mixes in different genres from action-adventure to space westerns. It even takes inspiration from the great Akira Kurosawa. And The Mandalorian brings a lot of what we love about Star Wars and throws in a brand-new story that doesn’t have much to do with the Skywalker saga.
So after two long years, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu are back, and they are ready to head off on new and exciting adventures where redemption, pirates, and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katie Sackoff) await them, at least in the first two episodes.
It’s a safe bet to say that you probably need to watch Chapter 5 and Chapter 7 of The Book of Boba Fett to understand how Din and Grogu reunited and why Din is now considered an apostate. Let’s just say that nothing keeps the two separated and Din, owner of the Darksaber, broke the Mandalorian creed by removing his helmet. Of course, there’s a lot more nuance to that but it is the oversimplification of what happened.
So “Chapter 17: The Apostate” opens with another exploration of Mandalorian culture. In what can best be described as a ceremonial rite of passage, we see the Armorer (Emily Swallow) forge a new helmet that would eventually induct a boy to become a Mandalorian. Although the ceremony is ruined when a large beast decides to crash it by eating fellow Mandalorians. Though Din and Grogu save them, this sets the stage for the title character’s quest for redemption. The Armorer informs Din that he must travel to a posioned Mandalore and bathe himself in the living waters in order to clear his name. Despite having the darksaber, Din honors the Mandalorian code and abides by the rules that govern his creed.
So the pacing of the first episodes feels like its in a race, as Din jets off to Nevarro in order to get some parts that will help him find out if Mandalore is as bad as legend says. During the course of this episode we visit at least three different planets and see a few hyperspace sequences. All the while establishing some new villainous pirates and the threat they pose when it comes to Greef Karga (Carl Weathers). He is in desperate need of a new marshal now that Cara Dune has left. The reunion is brief, but we get to see how far Greef as come in cleaning up Nevarro’s image. But Din is there on business and when he can’t find what he needs, he sets off on a different quest, where he will eventually meet Bo-Katan, who isn’t exactly the ruler she saw herself being.
There’s a certain kind of edge to Bo-Katan as she holds a degree of resentment towards Din, who still possesses the Dark Saber. Though she sits on the throne, she has no one to lead as her followers left to become nothing more than mercenaries. So while it’s not exactly the warm welcome Din thought he’d be receiving from Bo-Katan, we’ll get to see how their relationship develops more in “Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore.”
And Chapter 18 strikes a nice balance between the character-driven story and action-sequences, while also mapping out what remains of the Mandalorian culture. It’s quite literally a fascinating deep dive into the mythos of the people and their home world. To be honest, Chapter 17 was more exposition-building, with a few favorite nodes like Mexican Standoffs and galactic dogfights. With everything established, we have a better understanding of Din’s determination to seek redemption for his transgressions. Not only that but we get to see a creepy crawly villain and a few cave trolls as well. Even Grogu gets in on the action. Won’t say how but he will share a few moments with Bo-Katan as well.
What makes the first two episodes of season 3 stand out is that it sticks to letting the creative voices direct without any outside interference. Rick Famuiywa understands the world so well, and his episode shines not only in exposition but also action. And Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison. There’s certainly a larger and more cinematic feel that befits what we would see in any Star Wars epic.
Not only that, these episodes manage to squeeze in a few Easter Eggs for the fans who have been with Star Wars for as long as they can remember. It’s not only a nice bit of fan service, but it does a lot to remind us where The Mandalorian is in the Star Wars continuity. But we all know who’s story this is, and it will be very exciting to see where Din and Grogu go in season three of The Mandalorian.