The Mandalorian Season 3 Premiere Is Confusing If You Haven't Watched The Book Of Boba Fett

This article contains spoilers for the season premiere of "The Mandalorian" season 3.

A lot can happen between seasons of a "Star Wars" television show. In the season 3 premiere of "The Mandalorian" (you can read /Film's recap of "The Apostate" by Bryan Young here), we check in on several characters who've changed considerably in the time since we last saw them. Carl Weathers' Greef High Magistrate Karga has established himself as the de facto leader of Nevarro, overseeing a "construction boom" bringing in all sorts of riches to the once-desolate planet. Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), on the other hand, has regressed considerably since losing her prized Darksaber and, subsequently, the ability to command fellow Mandalorians in battle.

And then there's Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and that little scamp Grogu, both of whom are in a very different place since they last appeared in "The Mandalorian." Remember when season 2 concluded with the tearful parting between Mando and Baby Yoda? A moment infused with such emotional heft and narrative significance that one fateful choice — Din Djarin removing his helmet to say goodbye to his young companion — still carries massive ramifications for the character to this day? Well, uh, I hope you enjoyed that moment of genuine pathos at the time, because all of that is undone by the time season 3 begins. Thanks to "The Book of Boba Fett" turning into a stealth "The Mandalorian 2.5," both of them are suddenly back together again in "The Mandalorian" ... with an absolute bare minimum of explanation.

It's a curious choice that risks alienating audiences, including many who simply don't have time to check out every episode of every tangentially-related series that Lucasfilm decides to release. All of it adds up to a bizarre experience that's wholly unique to our current era of "Peak Content," for better or worse.

Playing catch-up

Man, don't you hate it when you're just trying to watch your favorite show after a lengthy hiatus, only for it to turn out that almost a season's-worth of story for the two main characters was randomly spliced into a much less well-received spin-off series in the interim between seasons?

Forget the implications of such blatant shared-universe ambitions, or the question of whether a franchise like "Star Wars" can even sustain a storytelling approach taken straight out of the Marvel Studios playbook in the first place. Don't even worry about the increasing trend of storytellers burdening viewers with hours upon hours of homework, just to stay up-to-date on a slice of escapist fare. On a basic, common-sense level, can't we simply admit that this is an unnecessarily confusing way to keep up with one of television's most popular water-cooler shows?

And that's not even the weirdest part of all this, because there's one addition that would've rendered all my handwringing to this point into a pointless exercise. Just imagine if there was an established, quick-and-easy tradition in the medium of television used to jog viewers' memories or fill in the blanks entirely for latecomers through a series of rapidly-edited clips catching everyone up on what they previously missed. Oh, you know, like a "Previously On" segment? Jarringly enough, the beginning of the episode neglects to include any important footage from "The Book of Boba Fett" to bridge the gap between Mando and Grogu's tragic parting and their very first appearance in season 3, where they're reunited once again as if nothing were strange about that at all.

That ought to have been a no-brainer, yet inexplicably "The Mandalorian" continues to insist on taking the most convoluted path.

Where do we go from here?

Now, that's not to say that season 3 of "The Mandalorian" doesn't include any context at all for what transpired in "The Book of Boba Fett." Greef Karga at least voices the concerns of some of us when he asks Mando this very question early on, expressing confusion that he's "still running around here with the same little critter" despite having already completed his mission back in season 2. Din Djarin, with his usual penchant for conveying as much information in as few words as possible, replies: "It's complicated. I completed my quest. He returned to me."

Well, that about sums it up the Cliff Notes version of previous events, I guess! It's just not very satisfying.

The questionable storytelling involved in splitting the story of Din Djarin and Grogu across both "The Mandalorian" and "The Book of Boba Fett" isn't just a matter of logistics and practical concerns about how to keep up with so much content. This speaks to a much larger issue of what audiences really want out of these stories. Will viewers continue to give blockbuster IPs a pass and happily fill in the blanks themselves if it means getting more of what they originally came for? In this case, the buddy duo dynamic between the two main characters is clearly the heart and soul of "The Mandalorian" ... but there's something pernicious about the end of season 2 teasing a huge change in the status quo, only for season 3 to immediately hit the reset button and pretend as if none of that ever even happened at all.

Can "The Mandalorian" become more than just a crowd-pleasing, empty-calorie, fan-service delivery system? Maybe, but the early returns aren't promising.

New episodes of "The Mandalorian" stream on Disney+ every Wednesday.