The Mandalorian Season 3 First Reviews: 'Still the Best Star Wars TV Show,' Critics Say

Hear what critics have to say about the next installment of the hit Star Wars series, starring Pedro Pascal and his still-adorable little, green Jedi ward, Grogu.

by | March 1, 2023 | Comments

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The Mandalorian has finally returned. Season 3 of the hit Disney+ series, which stars Pedro Pascal as the lone warrior Din Djarin (better known as “Mando”), premiered on the streamer on Wednesday, March 1.

Season 2 of the series left off with Grogu leaving Mando to join Luke Skywalker to learn the way of the Force. But season 3 won’t simply pick up from that end-point. Let’s remember, the final two episodes of The Book of Boba Fett acted as a mini season of The Mandalorian and found Din obtaining the Darksaber, getting a new ship, and reuniting with his little green pal to travel to Mandalore to, as he says in the trailer, “be forgiven for past transgressions.”

Cast members joining Pascal in the new episodes are Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon, Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze, Carl Weathers as Greef Karga, Amy Sedaris as Peli Motto, and newcomer Christopher Lloyd in a yet-to-be-revealed character.

The buzz is high for this one, but do the new episodes deliver the goods? Critics received two screeners ahead of the premiere on Disney+. Here’s what they’re saying about The Mandalorian season 3 so far.

How does it hold up to previous seasons?

Grogu and Pedro Pascal in THE MANDALORIAN, season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Seasons one and two were all about unlocking the mystery of Grogu and his Force powers. Yet, with that puzzle solved with the appearance of Luke Skywalker, Mando and Baby Yoda have hit a narrative impasse. —Ed Power, Daily Telegraph (UK)

The Mandalorian Season 3 premiere dives straight back into the action and awe of everyone’s favorite Wolf and Cub while setting the stages for a story that has the potential to unpack the layers of trauma and misconceptions that have created the titular character. —Maggie Lovitt, Collider

I would argue that the two prior seasons were entertaining but directionless, which left a lot of room for throwaway episodes. That feeling isn’t there, at least not at the start of season three. We know what Din’s plan is, what he’s looking to accomplish, and so far Jon Favreau isn’t screwing around in setting him on that journey. If Favreau can stay on this course, this could be the best season of The Mandalorian yet. —Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Showrunners Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni seem to have abandoned the spaghetti-Western leanness that gave Seasons 1 and 2 such narrative drive and elegance. —Dan Jolin, Empire Magazine

Without getting into spoilers, the first two episodes provided to critics reflect a troubling start to the Emmy-nominated series’ return, primarily because they reveal the flaws often lurking beneath the storytelling. Both episodes feature the same creature fun and space hijinks that are Star Wars signatures. Unfortunately, what they lack is the momentum of the previous two seasons, as Din Djarin’s quest to restore his status as a true Mandalorian is… not exactly a quest as urgent as “save Baby Yoda from Giancarlo Esposito!” —Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

How’s the writing?

Pedro Pascal and Mandalorians in THE MANDALORIAN, season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd)

As before, The Mandalorian’s stories strike a smart balance between familiar stomping grounds and recognizable faces, and fresh frontiers and foes. —Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

The Mandalorian instantly proves why it is the best of the Star Wars series with action, humor, and high stakes. —Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Favreau has created a fun for all the family TV show that has a little of The A Team and Knight Rider in it as well as those Fifties serials. That it is also the best Star Wars creation since The Empire Strikes Back is almost too obvious to state. —Martin Robinson, London Evening Standard

The Mandalorian Season 3 premiere goes back to the show’s beginning, checking in on the state of the world and key characters while setting Din Djarin on a quest for redemption. —Samantha Nelson, IGN Movies

How are the cast?

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd)

Much has been made about Pedro Pascal’s performance as Mando/Din Djarin, or should I say, the lack of a performance by him. The busy actor is still the voice, heart, and soul of the character, but it’s good to see Disney finally acknowledging the physical efforts of Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder. Pascal’s got enough glory coming his way over on HBO for The Last of Us. Spread the wealth. —Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Carl Weathers is also a delight, but it’s Katee Sackhoff who deserves the lion’s share of praise for these first two episodes. In season 2, she was somewhat overshadowed by the novelty of her animated character being brought to life in live-action. A glorified cameo in many ways now becomes a solid supporting role and Sackhoff takes the opportunity to show why Lucasfilm made the right decision to bring her back when it would have been easy to recast the character with any number of “bigger” stars. —Josh Wilding,

Katee Sackhoff does a great job selling wearied despair, lounging on a throne in an empty hall like an abandoned queen. —Samantha Nelson, IGN Movies

Plus, a new foe arrives in the mossy-faced form of space pirate Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie), who understandably takes against Mando for killing a bunch of his men. —Dan Jolin, Empire Magazine

What about the world-building and action sequences?

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd)

And so episode 1 of season 3 kicks off with Mandalorians fighting a giant crocodile, it features a nice quick of the draw shoot-out in a town, and a very pleasing space battle in an asteroid field between our heroes and some dastardly pirates. —Martin Robinson, London Evening Standard

The Mandalorian expands its universe through unique locations and incidents, as well as via the introduction of myths, rituals and legends that contextualize, and deepen, its present-day story. —Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

There’s still the fun of discovering new creatures, and oohing and ahhing over how real, how tactile, they look. (Marvel could stand to borrow a page from Star Wars on that front, just saying.) —Angie Han, Hollywood Reporter

It’s classic Star Wars dog fighting, with Din cleverly using the environment to reduce the impact of their numbers, even if he has to smash some mining equipment in the process. —Samantha Nelson, IGN Movies

The spectacle of the space fight, the shooting of the croc-monster, and the quick draw all showed how The Mandalorian can be so good. —Alan French, Sunshine State Cineplex

We open and close “The Apostate” with some big set pieces and a reminder of why The Mandalorian is top-tier Star Wars. —Josh Wilding,

Has Grogu changed much since last we saw him?

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd)

Grogu is stronger in the Force than we last saw him. It certainly shows in his abilities in the first two episodes alone. —Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

Grogu continues to be painfully adorable, whether snuggling in Din’s lap while flying or stealing some candy from Greef’s desk. —Samantha Nelson, IGN Movies

Jon Favreau’s writing is pretty effective in rekindling our love for the father-son relationship between Mando and Grogu. The latter is slightly more mature, and his training in the force makes him a more formidable character in the series. It’s good to see that Grogu is not all that helpless and merely dependent on Djarin. —Neil Soans, The Times of India

Grogu, meanwhile, continues to bring the adorable factor, giggling as starship blasters fire and spinning happily in Karga’s big office chair. It’s openly audience-pleasing stuff, but in the first episode, at least, the show’s central dynamic thankfully still sings, blending tough and tender to winning effect. —Dan Jolin, Empire Magazine

Any Final Thoughts?

Pedro Pascal and Carl Weathers in THE MANDALORIAN, season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd)

As The Mandalorian returns for season three, the first two episodes promise bigger adventures and excitement ahead. —Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

The new series undoubtedly represents an improvement over meandering spin-off, The Book of Boba Fett. But Andor has shown what Star Wars can become with sufficient ambition. In that context and, for all its positive qualities, the once gleamingly exciting Mandalorian is in danger of losing its shine. —Ed Power, Daily Telegraph (UK)

It’s the second episode that fully solidifies that this new season is a turning point for The Mandalorian’s storytelling—the world may still feel small around Din, but it’s growing by leaps and bounds too. —Maggie Lovitt, Collider

Still the best Star Wars TV show, The Mandalorian returns with everything fans love about the franchise and plenty of hints that this will be the most thrilling and revealing season yet. —Josh Wilding,

In a manner superior to its most recent feature-film brethren, The Mandalorian tells a distinctive stand-alone genre affair that also feels spiritually and narratively linked to Lucas’ galaxy. —Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

The Mandalorian is perhaps the ultimate expression of what George Lucas was getting at all along… Star Wars should never have been a set of films, it should just have been a TV show. Thank the Maker we finally have it. —Martin Robinson, London Evening Standard

85% The Mandalorian: Season 3 (2023) premieres on Wednesday, March 1 on Disney+.

Thumbnail image by Lucasfilm Ltd.

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