‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3, Episode 7-8 Recap/Review
This is a spoiler review for The Mandalorian Chapter 23: “The Spies” and Chapter 24: “The Return”. To read the review for Chapter 22, click HERE.
Chapters 23 and 24 of The Mandalorian finish off the season with some strange choices. Ultimately, those choices lead to a satisfying, albeit rushed finale that actually gives us a happy ending for the first time in a while. These episodes just continue to show the focal point this season was Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackoff), which was well deserved as Sackoff was incredible. But that doesn’t mean by any standard Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal/Brendan Wayne/Lateef Crowder) and Grogu are left behind, as what we’ve come to know and love as their father-son bond becomes official.
The Mandalorian steps into the penultimate episode with a trip back to Mandalore. It chooses to bring the different factions of Mandalorians together, and unite them with a common purpose. To defeat the Empire, and retake Mandalore as their home planet. It’s a decent episode directed by Rick Famuyiwa, though it doesn’t feel nearly as high stakes as previous penultimate episodes. Maybe it’s because it’s not Grogu on the line this time?
The opening of this episode is focused on the Imperial Remnant. Elia Kane (Katy M. O’Brian) reports to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) via an Imperial Probe Droid that Nevarro was saved by Mandalorians. Gideon joins a call with the Shadow Council, where he voices his frustration waiting around for Grand Admiral Thrawn’s plans. He is able to convince the council to give him his fighter reinforcements. They also give him three Praetorian Guards to supplement his staff to help prevent further attempts at capture.
We start out with Axe Woves’ (Simon Kassianides) fleet landing on Nevarro, where the factions unite and enjoy a meal together. Once finished with the meal, Bo-Katan Kryze asks for volunteers to go to Mandalore to establish a base. Djarin, Paz Vizla (Tait Fletcher), Koska Reeves (Sasha Banks) and surprisingly the Armorer (Emily Swallow) volunteer to go, among others. Before they leave, IG-11 has now been “fixed”. He’s now IG-12, and is basically a suit of armor now for Grogu. It’s a hilarious scene, and it’s how we get to hear Grogu’s first words! Landing on Mandalore, they come across survivors who maintain their loyalty to Bo-Katan.
Over dinner, Bo-Katan addresses the elephant in the room; her surrender of Mandalore. She tells the group how she surrendered the darksaber, and therefore leadership of Mandalore to Gideon in order to protect her people. And instead of following through on his promise, Gideon decimated the Mandalorians. Djarin gets the most passionate he’s ever been about someone other than Grogu, and tells her it doesn’t matter, that he will follow her no matter what. Most of the survivors are injured, or malnourished, and the Armorer takes them off on transport back to the forces above the atmosphere to get treatment.
The remaining survivors lead Bo-Katan and her forces towards the Great Forge. There they face off with a group of Imperial armored commandos. In the melee, Woves takes off to return to the fleet for reinforcements. The commandos lead the Mandalorians into a trap, and Djarin is captured. Gideon comes out in a new suit, a Dark Trooper suit to be specific! He asks Bo-Katan for the Darksaber, and she refuses, cutting a way out the back. Vizla stays behind, fighting off the entire group of Commandos, only to lose in a fight with the Praetorian Guards.
For the season finale of The Mandalorian, it’s a front-loaded, short episode that picks up right where Chapter 23 left off. Bo-Katan and the group of Mandalorians take off, and are able to get a grove the survivors had set up previously. Bo-Katan contacts Woves, and Woves is able to get all of the reinforcements down to Mandalore, saving them from the T.I.E.s that approach soon after. The reinforcements get down to Mandalore, and they all join up to fight the Imperial Commandos in the air. It’s a cool concept, though poorly executed in the effects work. Though even poorly done, seeing the darksaber used for fighting… in live-action is purely awesome.
Djarin manages to get out from under his commando guards, with some help from Grogu in IG-12. He connects with Bo-Katan, and she tells him to stay safe. His plan of action? Take out Gideon! It’s not a great plan, as Gideon has the father and son duo tracked through the base, but it does have some really fun action involved. Grogu even gets his own action sequence with the Praetorian Guards! Djarin and Grogu are able to reunite with Bo-Katan as they fight Gideon, but Gideon definitely kicks both of their butts. He even goes as far as to destroy the darksaber when Bo-Katan still won’t hand it over.
The saving grace of the Mandalorians is Woves, as he crashes the light cruiser into the Imperial base. Most of the group is able to escape, but Bo-Katan, Djarin and Grogu are stuck fighting Gideon together. The explosion takes out Gideon in a finite way, and the only way our parents and child survive is through the magic of the Force! The episode ends with a couple of elements to cement Djarin and Grogu as father and son, and send us on – almost a happily ever after feel?
First, Ragnar gets to finish his ceremony, being the first of the Children of the Watch to take the Creed with the Living Waters of Mandalore. After his ceremony is up, Djarin asks for Grogu to officially be made his apprentice. The Armorer reminds him he can’t because he is not old enough to speak. Djarin insists on having it in the song that he will adopt Grogu, making him Din Grogu. The Armorer confirms this, and Grogu becomes the apprentice, and son of Din Djarin.
Together, they take off to the New Republic base where they find Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee). Djarin asks to be an employee of the New Republic, on a case by case basis, strictly for the Outer Rim. Teva accepts, and Djarin takes an early payment, an IG head displayed as a trophy. He takes it back to Nevarro, where Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) gives them a home where they can rest between adventures. And IG-11 steps back in as the Marshal of Nevarro! The episode ends with Djarin kicking his boots off at home, and Grogu playing with a frog.
Both of these episodes are directed by Famuyiwa, and it’s a nice touch considering how much this could feel like one episode. The action choreography is all fantastic. The only failure, within the action department, is in the special effects for the jetpack fight sequence in Chapter 24. It just does not look good whatsoever. What irks me the most, however, is how this finale doesn’t give the emotion as the previous season’s penultimate and finale episodes have, with respect to Djarin at least. He’s made progress so much, with droids in the first season, and bonding with Grogu in the second. The Mandalorian failed to set itself up for success by splitting off the reunification of Grogu and Djarin in a show that wasn’t its own. And this season of The Mandalorian felt like The Book of Bo-Katan Kryze.
Yes, Djarin is the main character in this instance, but he fell by the wayside to Bo-Katan. The producers and showrunners set this up by setting expectations when they developed a new show. It’s important to note, at this point, that this was probably my favorite season of The Mandalorian so far. I have really enjoyed the overarching story with a big goal for the series for once. Despite the fact that it showcased some issues in the script department. I think in the case of Chapter 24, it only shows the flaws more. It’s a front-loaded episode that’s overall filled with action, and in the emotional beats it does carry, they’re stuck in the last eight minutes of the episode.
Chapter 23 similarly fails to impress, other than the romantic beats between Djarin and Bo-Katan. Entitled “The Spies”, there’s no follow-through on the potential plot outcomes for that title. One, of course, is Kane on Coruscant, but who is the other? Nothing played out in Chapter 24, unfortunately. Otherwise, the episode follows some essential plot points, and does nothing special. Though I will give it credit, Vizla’s fight at the end was probably my second favorite part, and something I did not expect from him. The darksaber being destroyed is also something significant for the future to need to explain. Will Ahsoka feature an episode with Bo-Katan now looking for help repairing the legendary blade?
If there weren’t already rumors of season 4 being written for The Mandalorian, I’d say we just saw the show end. Though, in a way, it is the end in a way. Famuyiwa has confirmed, the show was never meant to focus on one mandalorian. This finale could have signified the transition, especially with Pedro Pascal becoming more popular. Overall, these two episodes are good, but not the best of the best that The Mandalorian has offered previously. It’s missing some significant emotional beats that the rest of the season has carried. Thankfully, they stuck to their guns, and didn’t let Gideon get overrun by Thrawn as a villain. They gave Bo-Katan her moment to fight it out, and that mattered for her story. – Katie Rentschler
Chapter 23 Rating: 7/10
Chapter 24 Rating: 7/10
The Mandalorian season 3 is now airing on Disney+