*SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SEASON 3*
The Mandalorian was the best thing to happen to Star Wars for quite a bit of time. I’m not saying it’s been my personal favorite entry in the franchise from the Disney era, but it was seemingly a show that every Star Wars fan could get behind due to how it balanced the episode-of-the-week nature while also clearly building to something much bigger. Season 2 was an even bigger step-up in my opinion, solidifying it as the flagship show for Disney+ in my eyes. So perhaps the expectations were fairly large for Season 3 – after all, the last season gave us a ton of fan-service within seeing Luke Skywalker, Ahsoka, and Boba Fett. But I was personally excited to see how the season would rely simply on the lore of Mandalore and the drama that accompanies that of the Dark Saber and who wields it.
Before I continue, I want to clarify that I’m not a The Book of Boba Fett hater – I actually enjoyed a majority of the episodes, despite some misgivings I have with the larger picture. With that being said, one of the most polarizing moments of that show was how it opted to have it become The Mandalorian Season 2.5 halfway through, not only taking away from Boba Fett’s own series but also stealing a core emotional moment away from what could’ve been excellently placed within The Mandalorian Season 3, as Grogu reunits with Din Djarin after the emotional and bittersweet farewell at the end of Season 2. It felt entirely out of place, and just like it would’ve been much more impactful in its own show. That reveal is not literally a flaw with The Mandalorian Season 3, but the principal of it maybe speaks to the larger issue that the show had this past season – it feels entirely half-baked and missing a key ingredient; undoubtedly full of fun, emotional, cool moments but largely and easily the worst of the three seasons thus far.
This isn’t to say the season is entirely bad, as there are some undeniable highs – one of which is the dynamic between Din and Grogu matched with that of Bo Katan. As a big fan of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, I’ve always really loved the character of Bo Katan – and I think Katee Sackhoff does a really wonderful job at bringing her to life in live action. I fully bought into her development this season, and found her ever-evolving relationship with Din to be a real high both emotionally and in terms of pure entertainment value. Even by the end, where I felt like the season lacked a hefty punch that a show of this caliber should at the end of any season, her arc felt really nice to me and I can’t wait to see where they go from there.
There are also a lot of fun, exciting moments for Star Wars fan and even entire episodes that standout among the rest – but my biggest issue this season is how undeniable it is that Din Djarin is taking a backseat to his own show. I’m all for the show becoming more about the Mandalorians as a whole and more of an ensemble than it was before, but it truly felt like season three lost track of what made the first two seasons so special and entertaining for people. At the end of the day, aside from the fan service and deep pulls from lore, what makes or breaks any of these shows are how much the audience cares about the characters. The Mandalorian obviously did a fantastic job at having its audience care about Din and Grogu – while I wouldn’t say this season completely squanders the previous development, it sure as hell makes the crucial mistake of undervaluing and maybe even misunderstanding what made them so great to begin with. At a certain point, it simply becomes repetitive – and it’s a shame since you have such an amazing performer like Pedro Pascal at your disposal.
This also leads into that of Moff Gideon, who is wonderfully played by Giancarlo Esposito. While Moff has always been somewhat of a cartoonish villain that is elevated purely off the performance from Esposito, I was deeply excited to see what they’d do with the character this time around due to how much he got under the skins of everyone in the second season and the history he holds with the Dark Saber. Not only does it feel like this season completely abandons what makes him interesting as a character and even barely gives Esposito a proper moment to shine, but it also completely fumbles the ball when it comes to giving the saga of the Dark Saber a proper conclusion. I suppose there’s a chance both the saber and Gideon come back, but even so, it felt like the finale was a rushed job instead of something that was fully planned out and realized.
I’m all for world-building and expanding the universe, even setting up other projects can be digestible if it’s done well! But The Mandalorian‘s third season felt like too big of a departure from what I’ve previously enjoyed and found endearing about the show prior; ultimately a bit hollow and loses all the warmth of character focus that felt like inhabited every frame of the first two seasons. Not awful and not without moments that are undeniably a ton of fun with solid action to go around – but it still managed to be quite a disappointment for me.