*Warning: the following article contains spoilers for episode four of The Mandalorian – Season 3*
Episode four of The Mandalorian – Season 3 is certainly the season’s most action-packed episode yet. Director Carl Weathers and cinematographer Dean Cundey craft three incredible action set-pieces, each extremely fast-paced and beautifully shot. The first action scene opens the episode and shows Ragnar Viszla (Wesley Kimmel) being abducted by a pterosaur after sparring with Grogu. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), and other Mandalorians immediately chase the pterosaur with their jetpacks.
It’s a simple setting yet shot with so much energy that we’re immediately hooked on the episode’s premise. I gave Cundey some flack earlier this season for being too good to shoot something like this, but can he produce some truly dazzling stuff here? One shot where Bo-Katan’s ship chases the pterosaur while the sun sets is a classic Star Wars shot that has been used repeatedly, but it’s always a thrill to see it.
For those unaware, Cundey has shot the first three Halloween films, Escape from New York, The Thing, the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Hook, and Apollo 13. His late-stage career is undoubtedly interesting: Garfield, The Spy Next Door, Jack and Jill, What Women Want, The Book of Boba Fett, and now The Mandalorian – Season 3. It’s been a while since he hasn’t cooked, and it’s great to see him do something as visually exciting as this.
He’s mainly in control when the show goes through a flashback set in Order 66, with Jedi Master Kelleran Beq (Ahmed Best) rescuing Grogu. For those who don’t know who Kelleran Beq is, you had to watch Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, which streamed free on YouTube during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s right, the reality show is not only canon to the Star Wars universe, but Beq plays an integral part in getting Grogu to where he is now. A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.
The chase involving Beq/Grogu and clone troopers is incredibly exciting and a significant variation of what audiences have come to expect from the show nowadays. However, the final action setpiece, where Din, Bo-Katan, and others rescue Ragnar from the pterosaur, is where the episode genuinely soars. Cundey and Weathers populate the scene with dazzling aerial shots that put us right into the action in ways that Star Wars rarely does. I call that a true visual artist with a singular vision who has always pushed beyond what a camera can do to produce incredible images. It’s the strongest element of the third season of The Mandalorian, and I sure hope Cundey shot the season’s following episodes as well.
However, the episode has little to no substance going on. Ok, sure, we have a brief flashback involving an actual deep cut that will make fans of Jedi Temple Challenge excited and other casual Star Wars fans happy to see Ahmed Best (who also played Jar Jar Binks in the prequels) play a Jedi master heavily involved in the show’s action. Still, very little character development is being done for the show’s other characters. It’s another aimless sidequest that proves that The Mandalorian severely lacks an endgame.
Jon Favreau‘s recent comments on wanting to continue The Mandalorian “forever” should worry fans of the series because it’s clear that the showrunners don’t know where to direct the characters and have no idea what overarching story they want to tell. Maybe it’s just me being impatient, but it was evident in the first season that it lacked direction. The main villain of your show is introduced in the seventh episode as a cliffhanger instead of developing the threat throughout the show. And speaking of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), where is he? It’s been a while since we’ve seen him do something. Hopefully, he will arrive next week instead of the penultimate episode. Develop your characters like last week’s episode, and you’ll have a winner soon.
The fourth episode of The Mandalorian – Season 3 is now available to stream on Disney+.