Din Djarin and Grogu are back after a long hiatus with the first episode of The Mandalorian season three. It’s about 35 minutes of solid programming, nothing mind blowing like the show can produce but certainly nothing terrible.
The opening sequence shows how far the series as a whole has come. It provides an unique insight into the inducting of a young Child of the Watch member, with the Armor’s ranks clearly grown. Here is the Mandalorian culture this show can do. But wait, it’s not just that. A huge crocodile monster attacks the gathering, evocative of the Krayt Dragon in season two. Mando comes at the last minute to blast the beast with his starfighter.
It’s an amazing sequence, and shows that the story is now capable of delivering huge monster fights, culture, showcasing the power of The Volume. And that’s just in the first five minutes.
Mando visits the Armor, and she provides a recap of his mission. While it’s necessary for those who haven’t seen The Book Of Boba Fett, it was recapped in the previous section, making it feel somewhat repetitive. No matter.
On their way to Nevarro, Grogu spots whale-like creatures while travelling through hyperspace. These are Purrgil, seen in Star Wars: Rebels. They can go through hyperspace naturally, but the more important part is a group of Purrgil transported Grand Admiral Thrawn and Ezra Bridger to who knows where. This is a huge tease to both characters, who are on their way to live-action. Hopefully this is just the start of the hints, which are oh so sweet.
Arriving on Nevarro, Mando meets up with Greef Karga, who is now High Magistrate of a bustling town. He wants to make the planet an independent trade anchor, and offers Mando a place to stay, but it’s declined. Mando is strictly here on business, and he’s here to fix IG-11.
Bringing back dead characters isn’t new to Star Wars, but it still undermines their original death. The episode handles this in a clever way, when they switch IG-11 on, instead of him as the sweet nurse droid, he has reverted back to base programming, which is to kill Grogu. This Terminator-style sequence is a nice flip of a tired trope, though it’s mainly done to set up a head pun.
Their meeting is interrupted by a group of pirates, who want Greef Karga to return Nevarro back to its bounty hunting days. Din stands confidently at the back, ready to act as backup, which is inevitably needed. Even in his armor, Pedro Pascal’s confidence shines through, a testament to his acting.
Some Anzellans (think Babu Frik) show up, and hilariously Baby Yoda tries to squeeze one, obviously seeing another small alien as a threat to his cuteness. Otherwise, this beat mainly serves to set up a quest for Mando, to secure a new part for IG-11.
Leaving the planet, Mando runs into the pirates again, and has a visually spectacular space battle, culminating in Din having a run in with a huge warship. It’s led by Pirate King Gorian Shard, a mossy swamp creature, and someone who looks like he will be an antagonist over the season. It’s a pulpy sequence, full of aliens, but this is the side of Star Wars that Andor glossed over. While that show was phenomenal, it’s nice to return to this different flavour.
To cap off this slightly jumpy episode, Din visits the planet Kalevala, the ancestral home of Duchess Satine Kryze and Bo-Katan Kryze. Katan is putting on a hissy fit. She failed to get the Darksaber, her forces abandoned her, and she’s now apathetic about Mandalore. This reversal of how she was brought into the show shows how much of a rule follower she and her followers truly are, despite mocking Din for it. It shows more of her hypocrisy.
This week was a solid start to the season, providing the action, pulp and connections expected from the show. Whilst there is nothing mind blowing about the episode, there wasn’t anything boring either. It jumps about location wise perhaps a bit too much for an opener, and has a lot of recap, but otherwise sets the characters up for the season ahead.