Season 3 of The Mandalorian kicks off with a confident return, though one admittedly burdened by a bit of fan-servicey toing and froing.
This recap of The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1, “Chapter 17 – The Apostate”, contains spoilers.
The opening sequence of The Mandalorian‘s Season 3 premiere could constitute showing off, I think. It could have just been a little snippet of Mandalorian culture, cracking a window into the coming-of-age process by which young followers of the Creed don helmets that they’re never to take off. It could have just been an action sequence, a battle against a giant CGI space crocodile, or whatever that thing was. It could have just been a reintroduction to Din Djarin and Grogu, a cool welcome-back moment for Mando, and a nice little cute comedy beat for the little one. But, no. It had to be all of the above.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1 Recap
This is The Mandalorian in a nutshell, and the reason it has broken the internet more than once. Say what you want about nostalgia-bait, dodgy Mark Hamill CGI de-aging, and naked efforts to sell cuddly merchandise — the reason this show works is that it’s exceedingly confident and competent television. In our age of always-online fandoms and rampant anti-pop cynicism, it wouldn’t work at all if it was anything else.
How does Mando plan to redeem himself?
Mando is visiting the Armorer and the rest of The Tribe to make clear his intentions to return to Mandalore, previously thought to be completely uninhabitable after The Purge, and bathe in the Living Waters beneath the mines. This, as dictated by the Mandalorian Creed, should redeem him for willingly removing his helmet in the Season 2 finale — “This is the Way”, as the Armorer puts it, still somewhat skeptical about the state of the planet, even if a little trinket petrified by fusion rays and recovered by Jawas from a wayward traveler suggests that Mando might be onto something.
Why does Mando return to Nevarro?
But there’s a diversion to make in the meantime — back to Nevarro, now a thriving little city with a statue of IG-11 taking pride of place in the street and Greef Karga now a High Magistrate presiding over what has become a vital trade spur of the Hydian Way. That means a construction boom, lots of money to be made, and potentially even a parcel of land for Mando and Grogu, where they could live out the rest of their days off the fat of the land as gentry — a compelling offer for an apostate, you’d think, but Mando has bigger fish to fry. Besides, as it turns out, you can’t just completely reinvent a planet as an independent trade anchor without some teething issues. Greef is having trouble with pirates who still want to drink in the bar that is now a school, and he won’t request official help from the New Republic to preserve Nevarro’s autonomy. Mando would make an ideal lawman, but that wouldn’t be the way.
What Mando needs from Nevarro is IG-11, or at least what’s left of him, since he needs a trustworthy droid to explore Mandalore’s surface. The courtyard statue is comprised of all the parts that were recovered after his self-destruction, so with Greef’s blessing, Mando sets about rebuilding him. Does this seem a bit fan-servicey? Absolutely. But it subverts expectations a bit by having IG-11 revert back to his original programming when he’s reconnected to a power source, which sends his murderous torso crawling after Grogu (his original target). Greef’s protocol droid has to crush him with a bust of Greef’s likeness, mostly so that Mando can drop the line, “Now that’s using your head.”
The ending — and checking in on Bo-Katan
But this also sets up our first fetch-quest of the season, since Mando has to recover a necessary part so that the local Anzellan droidsmiths can repair IG-11. Of course, Grogu has a bit of cute patter with these diminutive little creatures, and Mando sets off to retrieve the gizmo, running right into a dogfight with the pirates that he helped Greef embarrass earlier. This is a fun, very visually-striking sequence, but it’s mostly in service of introducing Pirate King Gorian Shard, a swampy-looking thing in full prosthetics that Mando escapes from for now but will doubtlessly reappear later when Mando returns to the system to repair IG-11.
That won’t be for a while yet, though, as he doesn’t even bother going after the part in this premiere. Instead, he stops in on Kalevala, another planet in the Mandalore system, to visit a sulky Bo-Katan, who has been abandoned by the remainder of her forces after returning without the Darksaber. She’s adamant that the magical reputation of Mandalore’s mines is all superstition, and that the planet is ruined and unliveable, but Mando remains determined. He heads off, with knowledge of where the mines are located, and a clear objective for Episode 2.
You can stream The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1, “Chapter 17 – The Apostate” exclusively on Disney+.