The Mandalorian Season 3 Review: Mando And Grogu Hit The Reset Button And Deliver The Star Wars Goods

This review covers the two episodes that screened at the world premiere of "The Mandalorian" season 3. There are no spoilers.

"Star Wars" is always at its best when it has a thumping heartbeat of adventure — the story moves at lightspeed and we jump from one adventure to the next. The long-awaited "The Mandalorian" season 3 does just that, jumping right into the adventure and skipping over huge parts of the narrative with sly nods and hand-waving explanations.

One of the big things the third season of the show barely addresses (and rightly so, I think) is the reunification of Grogu and Din Djarin, events that happened over in "The Book of Boba Fett," which was teased at the end of the Mandalorian's second season. For those who skipped over that show, the answer they'll get about how Din and Grogu were reunited is simply, "it's complicated."

It's a lot less story than got skipped between "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith" or even "The Last Jedi" and "The Rise of Skywalker." Showrunner Jon Favreau clearly chose a tone and vibe for "The Mandalorian," and went for it with everything he's got.

That formula really consists of the pairing of Grogu and the Mandalorian going on adventures week-to-week as the overarching plot inches forward as episodes go by. The two first episodes, which screened at the world premiere, are really no different, easing us right back into what we loved about the show in the first place: the relationship between Din and Grogu, mythos-expanding "Star Wars" action, and a whole lot of fun.

This first episode resets the table for the new quest. The first two seasons sent the Mandalorian seeking Jedi to deposit Grogu with so that he may be with his people. This new season quickly sets the stage for Din Djarin to atone for his transgressions against his creed and find the way back to the Mandalorian people, and he's going to need a lot of help along the way. And that means a lot more of the side missions that "The Mandalorian" is known for.

Recurring characters

Bo-Katan and Greef Karga return in these episodes, as evidenced in the trailers for the show, among a few other familiar characters I won't mention here. What was noticeable were characters that were absent, notably Cara Dune, and the explanations for their absence were perfect for the story, but might be unsatisfying for those few fans who hope to see her return to the show. But she's gone and the explanation works well in the canon of the series.

With the characters so far assembled for these two episodes, it's going to be interesting to watch this season unfold. There will be some trust issues and conflicts that continue to smolder as the season carries on, promised by these episodes. We're in for a lot of turmoil and drama, which makes fertile soil for seasons of television like this.

The acting really delivers as well. I know there are a variety of performers in the Mandalorian's costume, but they bring a cohesiveness to his physicality, all married to Pedro Pascal's voice. Naturally, it's fun to watch Carl Weathers chew scenery as Greef Karga, in only the best ways. It's perfect for "Star Wars" and his new storyline reminds me a lot of Lando Calrissian trying to go straight in "The Empire Strikes Back."

Katee Sackhoff, also returning, brings an edge to Bo-Katan that advances her narrative in ways that I can't wait to see explored. She's terrific in the part and it was absolutely the right choice to keep her embedded in Mando's quest. 

The feel of Star Wars

The thing that I loved most about these episodes is how they feel like "Star Wars." There are specific sequences that recall "Attack of the Clones" and "The Rise of Skywalker" in the first episode and "The Phantom Menace" and "A New Hope" in the second episode. Favreau and his team have really perfected the vibe of "Star Wars" in a way that keeps you invested and guessing about what's going to happen next.

The action sequences pop, and feel full like the full cinematic experience on this show, as though they've upped the budget of season 3 significantly. There are sequences in both episodes that, when viewed on the big screen, had the same impossibly high production value and spectacle that big-screen "Star Wars" outings have. They're getting more daring with the show's special effects, and that works to its advantage. It's only a disappointment when you realize you can't watch every episode in a movie theatre.

There's a speed to the show, too. Putting Din in such a fast ship is only part of that equation — it has a speed of storytelling and visuals that recall the dynamic sense of pace and visual wizardry from the best films in the series. 

The best part about these vibes from the cinematic offerings of the Skywalker saga is that they're not done with a lot of heavy-handed Easter Eggs — though, to my delight, those exist, too — but they build on the feel of the classic movies. "Feel," Qui-Gon told Anakin, "don't think. Use your instincts." And it feels like Favreau, Filoni, and team have done exactly that.

A welcome reset

These first two episodes feel like a reset for "The Mandalorian," starting a new quest for this new era of the show. It skips over the events of "The Book of Boba Fett" and moves right into the new narrative without missing a step, and gives us the formula that made the show so popular right off the bat. It's also expanding the mythos of the world, especially the canon details of the Mandalorian people.

I would also say that I think the second episode of these two is the better episode. If you enjoy the first one, you're in for an absolute treat with the second one, as it's better on just about every level. The first feels like it goes a little bit all over the place, bringing all the pieces of the show back together and establishing the quests, but the second episode really builds on that and finds its footing in the best ways.

If these two episodes are any indication, any complaints about "The Mandalorian" and how a major part of the narrative happened on "The Book of Boba Fett" will be forgotten by next week. The new season starts with a bang. It's fun, and spending time going back would have likely lopsided the narrative arc for the season. Instead, these episodes promise a hell of a roller coaster, and I'm strapped in and ready to fly.

The first episode of "The Mandalorian" season 3 is streaming now on Disney+