Home TV The Mandalorian S3 Ep 8 Recap – The Return

The Mandalorian S3 Ep 8 Recap – The Return

The season finale is truly a family affair.

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We have come to the end. After last week’s harrowing episode, With Din Djarin captured and the Mandalorians on the run from Moff Gideon’s flying beskar troopers, it truly seemed that anything could happen. Could one of our leads die? Would Din be tortured and his helmet forced off? Was there a traitor in their midst that tipped off Gideon? (Online speculation was rampant.)

Well, guess what? All of those threads get resolved in about five minutes. Everyone is fine and the good guys win.  The end.

Oh, did you want a little more? Frankly, so did I.

One of my issues with The Mandalorian this season has been how they set up a lot of high stakes dilemmas and then just immediately pull the rug out from under them. Din’s quest to find the living waters, which was teased as a season long quest, took less than an episode. All the tensions between the royal Mandalorians and the Children of the Watch that we kept getting told about? One brawl at the chess barrel that gets broken up by Gundam Grogu and they’re all buddies. And all those cliffhangers from last week? Worry no more, Mandalore!

The bulk of this week’s episode is the battle to reclaim Mandalore. And while the action was exciting, it all seemed to come a little too quickly and easily. There is never really any doubt about who is going to win. Din quickly escapes from the troopers dragging him off to the torture rooms. Even with Grogu helping him in the IG-Suit, it’s still comical at how easily Din escapes and how bad these supposedly elite troopers are at their jobs. “Drag this prisoner 100 yards to the interrogation rooms, after you take away his jet pack and weapons, of course!” Nope! Not happening. To quote a YouTube channel I’m a fan of, this was super easy, barely an inconvenience. (And I may be wrong, but I thought Grogu ran off with the Mandalorians last week. Did he double back to help his dad?)

Axe Woves, who ducked out before the fight last week, makes it back to the capital ship in time to warn them of the incoming TIE Fighters. He sends the other ships and Mandalorians to the surface to help Bo-Katan, while he stays behind to use the main ship as a decoy, and hopefully pick off a few Imperial ships. The Mandalorians head into the cloud cover just before the TIEs break through and attack.

Meanwhile, Bo-Katan and the others have taken refuge in an underground garden that the survivors led them to. It’s one of several they’ve cultivated, with plants grown from native species thought long extinct. Again, I have to ask why literally no Mandalorian ever thought to check on this place for at least two decades, since apparently plants can grow and the sun looks nice. (Despite there being a planet wide communications disrupting smog, I guess?)

Din and Grogu are skulking through the base, looking for Moff Gideon. Din convinces scaredy-droid R5 to fly in to help them. And I know, canonically the R-series astromechs have been able to fly since Attack of the Clones which came out (gulp) twenty years ago, but I still think it’s incredibly weird to see these squat little guys flying around. That was clearly a gag to help R2 and C-3P0 out of a bind on Geonosis, and we’ve all just decided to accept it. Anyway… R5 avoids a pesky mouse droid, finds a data port and locates Gideon’s stronghold, and then flies out to avoid capture. (And gets to zap one of those annoying little mouse droids for good measure.)

On the way to the command center, Din and Grogu come across a room full of clones in their birthing pods. They’re all Moff Gideons. One opens his eyes, which freaks out Grogu. (Right there with you, kid.) Din sets the pods to destruct, and they hurry out of there, on to a confrontation with the Real Deal.

Now begins the Battle for Mandalore. The Armorer and the other Mandalorians have arrived on the surface where they team up with Bo-Katan and fly off to fight the Beskar clad troopers. Despite some striking images, like Bo-Katan soaring in while brandishing the Dark Saber, the fight choreography is confusing. Since everyone has a jet pack, it just looks like a bunch of angry wasps swarming everywhere and it’s hard to follow for the most part.

Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Moff Gideon starts to advance on Din. He’s super pissed because of the clone murder. As he helpfully explains in some more villain monologuing, the clones were the final step in perfecting the Dark Trooper program because they were bred to have Force capabilities. (Ah-ha! The reason Dr. Pershing wanted to chop up Grogu becomes clearer and clearer.) Then they would have been an unstoppable army! You know, just a thought, but if you’re worried about people blowing up your clones, maybe don’t have a self-destruct capability built into the pods. Again, I am but a humble blogger and not an Evil Genius Imperial, but come on.

Gideon summons his Praetorian guards to help him kill Din, but Grogu is being super brave and comes out to help. He distracts them, but gets trapped with the three guards in a separate room. They quickly hack apart the IG armor, leaving Grogu to force leap out of the way of their energy spears. Din is too busy fighting Gideon to help, and the beskar armour has enhanced Gideon’s strength immensely. Fortunately Bo-Katan swoops in with the assist. She has a score to settle, which lets Din go and help Grogu.

Once Din comes to help, Grogu is able to use the Force to help fight—knocking over the guards, pushing their weapons out of reach, and stopping their staffs mid swing. Together, they’re able to dispatch them.

Gideon is delighting in his taunts of Bo-Katan. Are you going to surrender again? Give me the Dark Saber and you’ll have a warrior’s death. This, of course, enrages her. They fight back and forth, until Gideon literally crushes the Dark Saber in his super-powered beskar glove. He cackles. “Mandalorians are weak once they lose their trinkets.” Bo-Katan retorts, “Mandalorians are stronger together.” At which point Din starts firing on Gideon, to display all the subtlety of the Fast and Furious franchise in hammering home the “family” message.

Axe Woves is falling out of the sky. After taking fire from all the TIE fighters, he’s aiming the capital ship for the base to destroy it. The other Mandalorians zip out of the caverns to get clear, as does Axe, who flies out of the ship when the course is set. It smashes into the base, burning Gideon to death in the subsequent explosion. But what of our trio? Well, always good to have a young Jedi Academy dropout around who can protect you with a fireproof force bubble. Grogu is showing some great mastery of the force, quite a step forward from the days of the “magic hand thing” Karga was asking him to do.

Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios

In the aftermath of the explosion, the Mandalorians reclaim their homeworld. The Armorer relights the Great Forge, and I assume she’ll be smelting down all that trooper armor. Ragnar finally finishes his creed, without a monster trying to eat him. And Din stands for Grogu to get his Mandalorian baptism as well. The Armorer says no. He cannot yet say the creed, so he’s too young. Din says that he is his apprentice and ward, and his parent can sponsor him, so he will adopt him officially. “This is the way.” Grogu is now named Din Grogu, and he looks so darn happy. Awww. The Armorer then sends them on their way so he can train Grogu by having adventures. (Sure. Why not?)

That training includes a stop back at the New Republic base on the tropical beach planet to see Captain Teva. Din has a deal for him. He knows the New Republic is stretched thin and can’t patrol the Outer Rim effectively. Since Din wants to set a good example for his boy, he’s going to be more selective about his bounties. He’ll catch those rogue Imperials that are causing trouble, and Teva will pay him under the table. Honestly, this seems like a way to get that galactic ranger show that was supposed to happen back into action as the plot of Season Four, only with Grogu and Din Djarin doing the hunting instead of Gina Carano. And you know what? That’s a pretty good setup. I would like to see Grogu go out and hunt some imperials!

As a down payment, they take the head of an IG droid that was decorating the bar with them. Oh gee, I wonder where this is going…

Yep, you guessed it. Back on Nevarro, the Anzellans took that memory chip and fixed up IG-11. He’s now the Marshall, and patrolling the streets to keep them safe. And, as promised, Karga has a nice plot of land for the Din family to relax on, In between their adventures, of course!

So, that’s it for the Mandalorian Season 3, with everything wrapped up in a neat little bow. Bo-Katan has reclaimed her homeworld, the Great Forge is once again operational, IG-11 is back as a Marshall of Nevarro, and the Din family has a nice plot of land to torture frogs on between covert missions of hunting down Imperial warlords.

Despite some fun moments, I’ve been pretty clear that I think this is the weakest season of The Mandalorian so far. It lacked the novelty of discovering little Grogu for the first time. It lacked the emotional depth of Din taking off his helmet and saying goodbye as Grogu went off to train with Luke. It spread out in all directions and didn’t really come together until the last couple of episodes. Was it cool to see Grogu in a mecha-suit? You bet! Was it adorable when Din Djarin adopted Grogu? Absolutely! Did we have to sit through a bunch of sidequests and space pirates to get there? No. And while I of course understand and accept plot contrivances in my space opera stories, everyone seemed a lot dumber than necessary this year. (Greef Karga had no planetary defenses? Bo-Katan never once trekked to Mandalore to see if it was inhabitable?) And the central premise this year, namely the retaking of Mandalore, just never really resonated with me.

Still, if the hook for next year is in fact Din Grogu: Imperial Hunter, I will be happy. If the show gets back to Grogu and Mando on their own, having adventures, and just hanging out together, I’ll be back for more.

Who am I kidding? I’ll be back regardless. I love all this stuff. See you in August for Ahsoka!

Episode Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Season Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Grogu Cuteness Meter: Our boy looked so proud when he was at the living waters and Din Djarin adopted him! I hope you have fun on the ranch playing with the frogs!

 

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