The Mandalorian Season 3 Finale: A Battle Ensues During the Return to Mandalore

Moff Gideon declares war on the Mandalorians reclaiming their homeworld, including foundling Grogu.

by | April 19, 2023 | Comments

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While the title of last week’s episode, “The Spies,” left many wondering if a traitor hid under a Mando helmet and the overall tone made us wonder if everything would end with a Charge of the Light Brigade, the final installment of The Mandalorian’s third season — “The Return” — makes it clear what to expect. But just who or what returned and what does it mean in the short term for the New Republic, subsequent seasons of the series, and the further-flung future of Star Wars. Let’s take a look at the various returns and their potential meanings.

Spoiler alert: The following reveals details from the seventh episode of The Mandalorian season 3, “Chapter 24: The Return.” Stop reading here if you have not watched the episode and wish to avoid spoilers.

The Return of Mandalore

Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in a poster for The Mandalorian, Season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

During a tactical retreat, Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) learns from the survivors who remained planetside that they have been planting native vegetation in a network of caves across Mandalore. The revelation is significant as most of the planet has been inhospitable to agriculture for centuries. As Bo-Katan herself puts it, life outside the domed cities was an impossible ask — even in her lifetime. That soil could be suitable for crops in just 25 years illustrates that Mandalore is as resilient as its people, but also just how devastating the in-fighting must have been across the generations.

Maybe this is why the Mythosaur slept for so long and, potentially, why it did not reveal itself to the Mandalorians when they assembled at the Living Waters to complete Ragnar Vizsla’s (Wesley Kimmel) induction. The planet may still regard them as hostile invaders.

At the same time, the survivors’ success with farming points to a way forward for the Mandalorians. When they start to rebuild their cities, they will not have to enclose them in domes. Additionally, they may be able to begin a new farming boom in the caves just under the surface even as they rein in the wilder animal life above and below. Would a surplus of food allow them a new way to interact with the galaxy? Potentially. But it remains to be seen if The Way will allow that sort of commerce in its strict warrior code.

Then again, will Mandalore even want to interact with the galaxy at this point?

The Return of the Mandalorians


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Despite the odds and a penultimate episode as grim as Star Wars: The Bad Batch’s season 2 finale, Bo-Katan, Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides), the Armorer (Emily Swallow) and the others did what seemed impossible just seven weeks ago. The retaking of Mandalore may have been a little too swift for some, but for others, the plot point has been decades in the making. And, as Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) suggested last week, a united Mandalorian race could be formidable opposition to the Imperial Remnant. Even the others on the Shadow Council agreed with that, offering him additional resources to stop the threat.

He failed in spectacular fashion, of course — a tactical sacrifice on the part of Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) to remove a rival perhaps? — but not before critically damaging the Darksaber. That detail may affect a more long-running development for the Mandalorian people. Will Bo-Katan be able to lead with it destroyed?

One option, of course, is to simply rebuild it. Bo-Katan knows someone trained in the Jedi arts who could potentially aid her in that endeavor. But it is also possible her efforts in retaking the planet will change the requirements to rule it. Actions speak as loudly as superstition among the Mandalorians and with Bo-Katan now claiming they are stronger together, dogma may be massaged to allow her, at long last, to lead without her succession constantly being questioned.

The Armorer (Emily Swallow, far right) in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Indeed, the Armorer’s seeming tolerance of mainstream Mandos who remove their helmets suggests The Way can be flexible. Or at least, stretched enough for the good of restoring the world and reuniting the people. If she has any ambitions of her own, it will likely take the form of converting people to her interpretation of The Way. Its crucial presence in the retaking of the world will be a powerful recruitment tool.

Nevertheless, it is interesting that victory was achieved without this tension about Mando religion being resolved. Well, at least in dialogue. Allowing Bo-Katan to relight the Great Forge without her helmet is a striking visual, as is the image of Mandos with and without helmets shouting “For Mandalore” in unison. Perhaps a season 4 episode will come back to this topic or, perhaps, it is something executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni will return to much later.

As we’ve mentioned across the season, Mandalorians are completely absent from the Sequel trilogy. That could be down to the interests of directors J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson in that part of the timeline or an indication that this grand reunification failed as it has for the Mandalorians across millennia. But considering the planet is shielded from the outside galaxy by its atmosphere, it is also possible the people looked inward for a generation as the First Order rose and fell.

If that’s the case, it would be interesting to see them gain a wider presence just as Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) New Jedi Order takes shape some forty years later.

The Return of Lone Wolf and Cub

Din Djarin and Grogu in a poster for The Mandalorian, Season 3

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As we mentioned last week, The Mandalorian started with a vibe borrowed from the Japanese manga series Lone Wolf and Cub. We’ll even argue this season, despite abandoning the wandering mercenary format, still echoed some of writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima’s longer tales of ronin assassin Ogami Itto and his child. But no matter how consciously Favreau regarded the manga for this part of the story, he seemed to make a promise that the initial format will return next season.

Following Ragnar’s induction, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) requested the same for Grogu. But as The Way is forever revealing new wrinkles, the Armorer leveled several objections — starting with Grogu’s inability to speak Basic (the common language across the hyperspace lanes) to the fact his parents could not offer consent for The Mandalorian to train him as an apprentice.

The back and forth culminated with Djarin adopting Grogu and revealing “Din” is his family name. That detail is interesting for us as we’ve gone back and forth on calling The Mandalorian “Din” or “Djarin” — an indecision inspired by the fact that, much like Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), the name never sounds quite right without both words being present. But it also suggests a link to Djarin’s past prior to being adopted by the Watch. Perhaps that link will be something for Din Djarin and Din Grogu to search out while once again wandering the galaxy.

Armorer character poster forThe Mandalorian, Season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Roaming is Djarin’s new mission as proscribed by the Armorer. This time, though, part of the assignment is to train Grogu in the ways of the Mand’alor before he can finally commit to the Creed in his heart and by his words. To us, that means season 4 — which Favreau claims is already written — will return to the more episodic format of the first two seasons as the Clan of Two work New Republic bounties and, occasionally, take breathers in the house on Nevarro.

After a season of action with galactic implications and ties to the greater story Filoni will tell on Ahsoka and his feature film debut, returning to the episodic wandering will be welcomed by many. And, of course, it still echoes the format of Lone Wolf and Cub, which also switched between short tales and longer epics.

And, we assume, Grogu will finally say “The Way, this is” before too long.

The Return of Boba Fett?

The Mandalorian season 2 Boba Fett poster

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Our last return for the episode is more of a suggestion as Boba Fett remains an outlier among the Mandalorians. Sure, many grumble at the ultimate execution of The Book of Boba Fett, but his continued presence in the galaxy is a story point. And as the acknowledged successor to Jabba’s criminal enterprise, he seemingly takes the place of Talon Karrde in any adaptation of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy. Although, in hindsight, Karrde would’ve made a great antagonist for the former bounty hunter in his eponymous series.

No matter his future in the wider part of Filoni’s story, his status as a Mandalorian is still in question and if Bo-Katan truly believes her people are stronger together, than settling matters with him is something she will have to undertake.

Natasha Liu Bordizzo in Lucasfilm's AHSOKA

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

This notion also extends to the other known Mando out in the galaxy: Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo, pictured above in an image from the Ahsoka trailer). While she was happy to leave the affairs of Mandalore to Bo-Katan when she gave her the Darksaber, her relationship to her people some ten years later may be something to explore. And if Bo-Katan is trying to reunite everyone who wears a Mando helmet, reaching out to Sabine on Lothal (or wherever she ends up as Ahsoka runs its course) will also be part of any potential ambassadorial duties.

Read also: Everything We Know About Star Wars Series Ahsoka

Odds and Ends

Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian season 3 character poster

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

• As we suspected, Gideon was attempting to infuse The Force within his next generation Death Troopers and within himself. Although, it is unclear if he meant for that generation to also be the clones of himself Djarin destroyed. Either way, his ambition is yet another shadow of Sheev Palpatine’s (Ian McDiarmid) aims in both the old Extended Universe and the Sequel Trilogy. It will be interesting to see if Thrawn ever comments on it when he finally makes his presence known.

New Republic pilots in THE MANDALORIAN chapter 24

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

• Djarin’s trip to the New Republic outpost wasn’t just a chance to make arrangements with Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), but also an opportunity for Filoni and fellow executive producer Rick Famuyiwa to cameo once again as their New Republic ranger characters Trapper Wolf and Jib Dodger. The pair first cameoed in The Mandalorian‘s first season, alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow, establishing a tradition of sorts that may eventually lead to Favreau showing his face in an X-Wing pilot jumpsuit. We also suspect Djarin and Carson’s arrangement will follow-up on some of the ideas proposed for the abandoned Rangers of the New Republic series.

The photo shows New Republic pilots including Trapper Wolf (Dave Filoni, wearing hat), Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, in center) with Bartender (Misty Rojas).

Taika Waititi voices assassin droid IG-11, The Mandalorian character poster (Disney+)

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

• Establishing IG-11 (Taika Waititi) as the marshal of Nevarro and Greef Karga’s (Carl Weathers) land grant to Djarin is about as happy of an ending as could be found for the story threads bound to that planet. Indeed, the iris-out on Grogu at the end of the episode suggests a certain finality for the characters even as new horizons lay ahead for the Clan of Two. We’ll be surprised if Karga or IG-11 have much more to do in subsequent seasons beyond some tactical support, though.

85% The Mandalorian: Season 3 (2023)  is now streaming in its entirety on Disney+.

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