‘The Mandalorian’ – Season 3 Episode One Recap: “The Apostate”

(L-R): Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

*Warning: the following article contains spoilers for episode one of The Mandalorian – Season 3*

If you’ve been following my TV recaps through various publications over the past few years concerning Star Wars, I have not been pleased. Only Andor was genuinely spectacular, with impeccable action setpieces, a riveting story, an insistence on practical sets, and not relying on an ounce of fan service. It told the story it needed to tell without thinking, “oh, which expanded universe character can we bring this week?” And that’s why it succeeded, which is wild.

But the bar has been set so low with shows like The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Star Wars: The Bad Batch (though the latter has had a better second season) that it only took Andor to go back to the basics of what made Star Wars truly great that it got the most acclaim out of every single Disney+ Star Wars series to date. The Book of Boba Fett did irreparable damage with how The Mandalorian – Season 2 ended, and The Mandalorian – Season 3 is looking to do the same by retconning elements of The Book of Boba Fett and previous two seasons of The Mandalorian for cheap fan service.

Grogu’s story is done. As much as it angers fans of The Mandalorian, it’s true. He left off to train the ways of the Jedi with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). It’s over. There’s nothing more to tell. Therefore, The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian – Season 3 should be about something else. But with such an emotional ending, it seems that this brought showrunner Jon Favreau in a screenwriting impasse. Do I expand the story of Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) excitingly, or do I kowtow to the fans by bringing Grogu back with Djarin, removing the emotional power of that finale?

Of course, Favreau chose the latter and made what should’ve been an awesome spinoff series centering around Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) into The Mandalorian 2.5, with episodes five and six of The Book of Boba Fett robbing the spotlight away from the famous bounty hunter to retcon season two of The Mandalorian‘s powerful ending. And now, here we are with a season that retcons more elements of previous Mandalorian installments to “move the story forward.”

And by “moving the story forward,” we mean weekly self-contained sidequests with a cameo of the week that’ll make the internet go nuts before the next one arrives. It’s boring, and I cannot believe most enjoy it. Oh well. Still, I hope that season 3 will be somewhat interesting because it’s off to a pretty decent start.

After an incredible action set-piece where Djarin saves most of the Mandalorians from a sea creature, episode 1 begins with Djarin and The Armorer (Emily Swallow) discussing the terms of his atonement after the events of Season 2 saw the titular Mandalorian removing his helmet to say goodbye to Grogu. Because of this, he is no longer a Mandalorian but can redeem himself if he goes to the destroyed mines of Mandalore.

This leads him to head to Nevarro, where Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) now rules the town as High Magistrate. Audiences learn where Cara Dune (Gina Carano)’s character is at after the actress got fired two years ago from the show due to her hate-filled tweets. The character isn’t killed off as some fan theories circulated on the internet, but the writers have ensured we will never see her again (and to that, I say, good!).

Karga is having problems with the Pirates, but Djarin kills most of them in a standoff. The Mandalorian believes he needs IG-11’s (Taika Waititi) help to travel Mandalore, but the droid blew himself up at the end of season 1. However, some parts are intact, and the two attempts to reboot him. To say it doesn’t go well is an understatement, and we get a pretty horrific (and effective) scene of IG-11 attempting to kill Grogu as he crawls on the floor (all the more reason as to why he should’ve stayed with Luke!)

As Djarin leaves Nevarro, he is pursued by pirates. We get another great action sequence, brilliantly captured by ace cinematographer Dean Cundey (who is too good to shoot something like this anyways). He goes to see Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and asks to join her clan after being rejected by The Armorer. But it doesn’t go well, and I suspect a confrontation between the two will feed in most of the season.

That’s what I hope to see, but I know that most of the episodes will be fed with side quests and haphazard character development, which is what the previous two seasons of The Mandalorian brought to the table. The setup is always good, but the execution has been quite poor.

I hope I’m wrong and that Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and directors Rick Famuyiwa, Carl Weathers, Lee Isaac Chung (!!!), Peter Ramsey, Rachel Morrison, and Bryce Dallas Howard knock it out of the park. But Favreau’s comments on the show not having an ending have me worried. We can tell that the show has very little direction and now has to retcon its most crucial moments to move the story forward instead of slightly veering off from The Skywalker Saga. The filmmakers are great, but the stories aren’t. Let’s see what this new season has in store for us.

The first episode of The Mandalorian – Season 3 is now available to stream on Disney+.


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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