mandalorian grogu lightsaber

I Can Pinpoint the Problem with The Mandalorian Season 3

So everyone’s been in debate whether this season of The Mandalorian was any good or not. Some people give it a thumbs up because it delivers an engaging adventure and characters. Others thought it abandoned the main characters for others’ storylines (ex. Bo-Katan, the pirates, Elia Kane) or that it violated “Show, don’t tell” or was aimless. I think all that could have been forgiven if this season delivered something the other two seasons did.

Give us something unexpected.

This season played it safe. Too safe. They didn’t do anything that broke open a mystery or risked offending fans or twisted established lore.

The first season delivered two big chunks in the premise alone. One was focusing on a Mandalorian. He was essentially Boba Fett in all but name–a bounty hunter, no known history, same weapons, same race, same type of ship.

The second chunk was bringing in a baby Yoda. Previously, there was only ever one Yoda in the entire universe (Yaddle’s status is only semi-canonical at best) and we didn’t even know the name of his race. And EVERY race in Star Wars has a name and lore and background. But Yoda had nothing. And no one in the Star Wars universe talks about it. Either they don’t need to mention what they already know or the writers are purposefully obfuscating this.

Fans were eager to learn more about the biggest mystery in Star Wars. Maybe we’d find out this character’s mysterious origins, his home planet, why he seems innately attuned to the Force, if they all talk like him. Star Wars has always kept that mystery close to the chest, maybe because Yoda’s singularness was part of his characterization–giving him that lonely hermit mentor vibe.

In the second season, the premise has been established, so we as the audience are asking “Yes, but what else have you done for me lately?” For one thing, it brought back Boba Fett, confirming a long-held fan wish theory that he survived the Sarlacc Pit (we’d have to wait for The Book of Boba Fett a.k.a. The Mandalorian Season 2.5 to find out how). Not only that, but it unmasked him for the first time. For another, it brought back Luke Skywalker pre-The Last Jedi but post-Return of the Jedi. It showed him in the act of trying to establish the Jedi Order.

But who did Season 3 bring back? Babu Frik? R5-D4? A droid bar? Well, whoopty shit.

Season 3 played it safe two ways. One, it was barely about Din Djarin and Grogu. It didn’t add to their characterization or development. They didn’t learn anything or change in any way. Once he redeemed himself in the Mines of Mandalore in episode 2, his story arc was over. He’d finished what he was supposed to do, and then it became his job to assist Bo-Katan Kryze. He became a side character in his own show. He even just gives up the Darksaber to her.

And Grogu–nothing new about him at all. They didn’t even let him keep his new mech. I thought the Yes/No buttons would give him SOME way to communicate, but no, forget that. The best he gets is being formally adopted, which changed nothing about their relationship.

So what did we get? We got a New Republic that 1984‘s ex-pats from the Empire in an episode that better belonged in a series called “Tales from the Star Wars Universe”. We got Moff Gideon escaping like a Bond villain (I bet he survived that big fireball too). We got a big action set piece of a pirate fight. We got Jack Black and Lizzo.

The reason people liked The Mandalorian is that it was written by a fan for the fans. It was the connective tissue between the original trilogy and the new trilogy. It wasn’t afraid to get dirty. It wasn’t afraid to take risks with the storytelling. It wasn’t afraid to step on some hearts. This season? I don’t know what happened, man. Maybe they decided it was better to sell toys. After all, this is the way… for Disney.

“No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.