The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1 Gives Star Wars An Injection Of Sergio Leone-Style Action

This post contains spoilers for "The Mandalorian" season 3, episode 1 "The Apostate."

Seventeen chapters in, "The Mandalorian" continues to serve up plenty of classic film homages. The most overt one in the season 3 premiere, "Chapter 17: The Apostate," sees the torso of the assassin droid IG-11 dragging itself across the floor while droning, "Terminate asset," in a clear homage to James Cameron's "The Terminator." However, "if I visit the planet and can bring you proof that I have bathed in the living waters beneath the mines of Mandalore," would you believe there's another homage to Sergio Leone's influential spaghetti westerns in this episode?

Since before "The Mandalorian" even premiered on Disney+ back in November 2019, we've been hearing that Pedro Pascal's title character was inspired by the Man with No Name, played by Clint Eastwood in Leone's Dollars Trilogy. In a panel at "Star Wars" Celebration in April 2019, where the first finished footage of "The Mandalorian" was shown, Pascal acknowledged "he's got a lot of Clint Eastwood in him." Of course, Mando, like Grogu (better known as Baby Yoda), has a canonical name now, Din Djarin, but there have been a number of references to the Man with No Name's adventures throughout his series already.

In season 2, for instance, Tatooine's small-town lawman, Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), wears a metal vest similar to the one seen in Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars," when Eastwood's cigarillo-chomping protagonist throws off his poncho to reveal his makeshift bulletproof armor. Mando's first bounty hunter team-up with IG-11 back in the series premiere also recalls the one in the Leone-directed sequel "For a Few Dollars More." It should come as no surprise, then, that "The Mandalorian" breaks out some Leone moves yet again in season 3.

The Greef, the Vane, and the Mandalorian

"The Apostate" sees Din Djarin return to Nevarro, where he links up with his old pal Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), who is now High Magistrate. The place has undergone a big cosmetic makeover since we first saw it. As Bryan Young noted in his /Film review, "Nevarro looks more like Disneyland now than the rough-and-tumble outpost it began as in season one." Karga even offers to make Mando the marshal of the new and improved, Galaxy's Edge-style outpost.

Nevarro's new layout confuses some of the returning alien space pirates, expecting to find a saloon where a school now stands. They're the pirate king Gorian Shard's men, we're told, and the leader, Vane (Marti Matulis), talks like he wandered in from another Disneyland attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean. ("Avast, Mandalorian.") Naturally, Vane and his men are all packing heat. This leads to a showdown in the street that's very reminiscent of one you might see in a Sergio Leone film.

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" contains what is probably the most famous example of such a showdown, as the Man with No Name finds himself in a tense three-way standoff with some other bad hombres. "The Apostate" simply substitutes Karga, Mando, and Vane and his men for Leone's gunslingers.

As Vane steps out into the street and he and Karga finger the blasters on their belts, director Rick Famuyiwa begins tightening the camera on their faces in Leone-esque close-ups. The buildup is slow before the scene explodes in a shootout that is over quickly. This is another hallmark of Leone's spaghetti westerns, and it just goes to show how deeply indebted "The Mandalorian" is to them still, even after three seasons.

New episodes of "The Mandalorian" air Wednesdays on Disney+.