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

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

After a significant time away, The Mandalorian has returned to Disney+. But much has changed since Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) said goodbye to Grogu in the season 2 finale — including their reunion on a different show.

Naturally enough, the first episode of the program’s third season, “Chapter 17: The Apostate,” attempts to cover some of the material and update the state of the universe since we last saw Djarin and his child face off against a crime syndicate in The Book of Boba Fett, but there is still much to discuss about how it all ties together and just how much time has passed between seasons. So let’s dive in and see if we can’t get our chronometers aligned.

Spoiler alert: The following contains details about The Mandalorian season 3, episode 1,  “Chapter 17: The Apostate.” Stop reading here if you haven’t watched the episode and wish to avoid spoilers.

The Cliffhanger That Wasn’t

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in The Mandalorian season two

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Season 2 ended on something of a cliffhanger. Grogu left with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, pictured in season 2 above) to train as a Jedi, but Djarin, Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado), and Cara Dune (Gina Carano) were left aboard the Imperial Remnant cruiser to deal with the next problem: Bo-Katan’s claim to the Darksaber. Since Djarin won it in battle from Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), the only way she could take it and secure the right to rule over all Mandalorians was to best Djarin in a fight.

But when Djarin took over The Book of Boba Fett for an episode (or three), he still possessed the legendary weapon, a lightsaber forged by the first Mandalorian Jedi and the symbol of office for Mando royalty. Somehow, he left the cruiser with the issue unresolved. So much so, in fact, that when he finally caught up with the Armorer (Emily Swallow), he had to asked questions about Bo-Katan and the Darksaber. Something in the plan clearly changed. (Tait Fletcher as Paz Vizla fights Din Djarin for the Darksaber in an image from The Book of Boba Fett “Chapter 5” below.)

Darksaber fight

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Granted, it is unclear what creator Jon Favreau originally meant to occur at the start of season 3 from the standpoint of where the program was two years ago — he has learned from fellow executive producer Dave Filoni how to evade questions — but we know from the 2020 Disney Day Investors presentation that The Mandalorian was supposed to expand in a very significant way. At the time, the series was to intersect with upcoming Ahsoka and a third series, Rangers of the New Republic in some grand, culminating event. By 2021, though, Rangers was put on hold indefinitely, The Mandalorian changed production schedules, and The Book of Boba Fett took its place in its traditional winter release slot for 2021/2022.

We surmise that Boba Fett ultimately had to carry some storylines forward to get to where Favreau now wanted The Mandalorian’s third season to begin; hence, over several episodes of Boba Fett, we see Grogu training with Luke and Djarin wandering before the duo are reunited.

And in recent days, Favreau has added a new wrinkle: the two years between seasons are now part of the story, with Grogu’s training at the new Jedi Academy lasting nearly as long. Of course, the exact time the diminutive Force-user spent with Luke is unknown, but the expansion of what seemed to be a pretty tight timeline leads to questions and opportunities for the program going forward.

“That’s High Magistrate”

Greef Carga (Carl Weathers) in a poster for The Mandalorian, Season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

One of the most obvious ways the show can reveal the progression of time is with its initial setting: the planet Nevarro. Originally depicted as a dusty backwater where bounty hunters found work and the Remnant could operate without fear of the New Republic, Djarin and Grogu’s trip back in this most recent episode reveals the planet is thriving – more so than seen in season 2, which is further evidence that years have passed. Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) has been promoted to High Magistrate, as he constantly likes to mention. Resources around the system are being gathered and sold at tremendous profit. The planet is also becoming a key anchor in a hyperlane, meaning trade and travel are also key parts of the economy. The result: clean white walls in the city center, thriving vegetation, and plenty of opportunity should Djarin want to settle down there.

The Nevarro sequence also offers two significant updates to the cliffhanger that wasn’t. Cara Dune was recruited by New Republic Special Forces and no longer serves as Karga’s marshal. Moff Gideon (pictured in the season 2 finale below), meanwhile, was delivered to a new war crimes tribunal to receive judgement for his action.

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) , Grogu and Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) in The Mandalorian season two

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The former is interesting as it writes out Carano’s character by, essentially, sending her off to what we assume was the premise of Rangers of the New Republic. It is still unclear if that program was intended to be a spinoff with Carano’s Dune as the lead character, but it was the assumption prior to the actor’s controversial social media posts and Disney’s decision to cut ties with her. Sometime afterward, development on the project stopped.

The Gideon update syncs up with what Esposito told us at Star Wars Celebration last May about his character’s current status quo and state of mind. At the time, he said, “The assumption is he’s in jail or behind bars or cuffed. And he has to try to free himself [from who he was]. It’s such a mental analogy for what life really is: to see things a different way … but he doesn’t want to do that. He wants to be able to ‘help’ people through his investigation of who this Child [is].”

But with the news that as much as two years have transpired since Dune delivered him to the New Republic, it is likely he has spent all this time on some prison planet. Although, we expect his accommodations are more humane than the Imperial penitentiary seen on Andor.

Pedro Pascal and Carl Weathers in THE MANDALORIAN, season 3

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The Nevarro scenes also offer up two intriguing concepts for the series going forward. First, Karga attempts to recruit Djarin as his new marshal and mentions he choose not to request a replacement from the Republic as he does not want to be subordinate to a “far off bureaucracy.” This seems to contradict his cozier relationship with the Republic in season 2 and suggests that some of the tensions Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) exploited prior to the Clone Wars and during that conflict are already starting to reemerge just seven years after the fall of the Empire.

The other idea is the introduction of Pirate King Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie). From dialogue, we learn Karga worked with him and used a portion of some previous score to fund the initial development of Nevarro. That connection means Shard’s gang still expects to be welcome in the settlement and find their drinks are on the house. Things go badly for them, of course, with Shard ultimately taking a special interest in Djarin and his Naboo N-1 starfighter. Considering Anozie plays the moss-covered pirate, we expect he will return at the worst moment possible to further trouble our favorite Mandalorian.

Anzellans (Shirley Henderson) and Grogu in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season three

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

And before we jump to another system, the Nevarro sequence reminds us of something seemingly forgotten from the series’ earliest days: IG-11’s (Taika Waititi) original client. When Djarin reactivates what remains of the droid, he reverts to his original programing and states his contract is to “eliminate the asset.” Clearly, he was not on the same orders Djarin received from the Remnant to collect Grogu, so who wanted the child dead? Perhaps the Anzellans (pictured above with the “no squeezie – bad, baby!”) will be able to retrieve more data should Djarin find the component they need to repair IG-11.

“There’s Nothing Left”

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

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The debut episode of season 3 also takes us back to the most critical story points of the ongoing story. Having found evidence that Mandalore can be explored, Djarin seeks out the Armorer to request an opportunity to be redeemed. To accomplish this, he must bathe in the Living Waters under the mines of Mandalore. She agrees, which sets him on the path to Nevarro and to Kalevala — a world in the Mandalore system where Bo-Katan has set up residence. The watery planet is a seemingly appropriate place for her to sulk, as we learn her failure to return with the Darksaber cost her the fleet and all of her forces.

That revelation once again centers our key question: Why did she let Djarin leave in the first place? Hopefully, that will be answered sooner rather than later. But their discussion also introduces the idea that, maybe, Djarin is fated to rule. In a lot of Star Wars stories, this would already be text, and he would’ve declared his intentions to do so with Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) in tow. But considering all he cares about is redemption in the eyes of the Armorer, the notion of leading the other Mandos seems like a joke. Or, considering the way Sackoff delivers the line, it could also be an insult.

Katee Sackhoff in THE MANDALORIAN, season three

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Either way, seeing the usually confident Bo-Katan so despondent is one of the most surprising things in the series to date. But considering Sackhoff is credited as a full star this season alongside Pascal, we imagine the character’s deflation is just a starting point and not a new normal. Even in her sadness, she points out something integral to the overall story of the Mandalorians across various media: their infighting is their greatest weakness.

Nevertheless, the news that two years have transpired since that day on the Remnant cruiser only further compounds the curiousness of her decisions. Why let Djarin leave without any attempt to claim the laser sword for herself? Then or now? Although the episode mostly covered the timeline issues left over from realigning the season 2 cliffhanger, this is the one remaining sticking point, and we hope its exclusion is a meaningful one.

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

Thumbnail image by Lucasfilm Ltd.

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