The Mandalorian Season 3: We review the first two episodes

The first two episodes of the Star Wars series’ third season kick off with big action teasing epic events to come.

Plot: The journeys of the Mandalorian through the Star Wars galaxy continue. Once a lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin has reunited with Grogu. Meanwhile, the New Republic struggles to lead the galaxy away from its dark history. The Mandalorian will cross paths with old allies and make new enemies as he and Grogu continue their journey together.

Review: It has been over two years since The Mandalorian last aired on Disney+. While The Book of Boba Fett featured the reunion of Din Djarin and Grogu early in 2021, it has felt twice as long since we have heard Ludwig Goransson’s theme music or followed the adventures of Mando and The Child. The wait is finally over, as Disney+ debuted the premiere of the third season today for audiences worldwide. While the first episode keeps the action somewhat mellow, I have seen the second chapter of the new season and can promise there is much more coming this year than any of us are prepared for. The Mandalorian is back, and the stakes are bigger than ever over two chapters that promise to delve deeper into the history and mythos of the title warriors and the powers of his diminutive Jedi companion.

The premiere episode of The Mandalorian, titled “The Apostate,” opens with The Armorer (Emily Swallow) forging a helmet for a small child. At first, the sequence seems like it may be a flashback to Din Djarin becoming a Mandalorian and following The Way, but it quickly reveals itself to be a new sect of the mysterious order that raised Din. Much time has passed, but the banished Din is told once again by The Armorer that the only way to redeem himself is to return to the planet Mandalore and bathe in the waters of the Beskar Mines. Thus begins Din’s new quest for the season. Early on, he finds himself venturing back to Navarro, which has changed dramatically under the supervision of now High Magistrate Greef Carga (Carl Weathers). While contending with some local pirates, Din reveals his need to restore droid bounty hunter IG-11 (Taika Waititi) so that he can return to Mandalore. Learning he needs a new part to fix the droid, Din sets out to find it. The brief half-hour episode quickly showcases an intense space dogfight as well as the return of Bo Katan (Katee Sackhoff).

Regarding premiere episodes, “The Apostate” is fairly mellow despite a cool gunfight, a massive alien alligator, and a cool space chase sequence. The Rick Famuyiwa-directed episode is packed with easter eggs and references, including looks at both Salacious Crumb and Babu Frik’s species in action. There is also a brief mention to explain the absence of Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) from the start of this season and the tease of what is to come. I can understand if some fans were expecting more with just this episode premiering today. Next week’s episode will change all that with a massive boost in intensity and action, delivering one of the best single episodes of The Mandalorian to date. Featuring a brief return to Tatooine, and a solid callback to The Phantom Menace, the second episode wastes no time in finally taking Din Djarin back to Mandalore.

I won’t spoil what happened in the episode, but I will tell you that director Rachel Morrison does an incredible job with this Jon Favreau-penned chapter. Giving us a lot of much-needed character development, the episode provides Bo Katan and Grogu with some substantial focus in the story. Both characters get to flex their screen time in a way they have yet to do in this series, which is the first time we have seen Mandalore in live-action. The footage in the trailers barely scratches what we will see this season, but this forty-two-minute episode is jam-packed with action, blasters, and the Darksaber. Several alien species in this episode feature some of the best effects work to date from this production team. Favreau, who penned both of these first episodes solo, delivers a lot of information about Mandalore that fans of the comics and animated series would be versed in that some casual fans need to understand what is coming on The Mandalorian. It also helps that new composer Joseph Shirley, picking up from the themes created by Ludwig Goransson, builds on the music we have become familiar with and some new sounds that amplify the stakes this season.

While I have not seen the episodes directed by Carl Weathers, Bryce Dallas Howard, Peter Ramsey, or Lee Isaac Chung, I am blown away by cinematographer Rachel Morrison’s direction on the second episode. Between Rick Famuyiwa and Morrison, the Stagecraft elements that looked slightly underwhelming in the first two seasons appear much more tangible and organic this year. Both directors benefit from advancements with the Grogu effects as the child Jedi is much more agile and mobile this year. The quality of these first two episodes is consistent with what we have come to love in The Mandalorian. At the same time, the shift away from the quest of the week format to a more serialized and focused narrative appears to be setting up a major improvement in the intensity and consistency of this story.

On its own, the premiere episode of The Mandalorian is a welcome return to the adventures of Din Djarin and Grogu. Still, the brief episode feels somewhat anticlimactic after two years away from audiences. I assure you, you will feel very differently next week as the second episode ups the stakes significantly and teases an epic season to come. The Mandalorian has always been a space western mixed with a ronin tale in the vein of Lone Wolf and Cub, but this season feels more like Star Wars than ever before. Fans of the animated series by Dave Filoni will definitely experience goosebumps seeing Mandalore in live-action. At the same time, everyone else can feel the adrenaline flood that will come over the next eight weeks. The Mandalorian is back and better than ever, with big action and plot elements sure to turn into this series’ most epic season.

The Mandalorian airs new episodes on Wednesdays on Disney+ starting today.



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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.