An action-packed finale provides very few twists but delivers a fair amount of payoff — and also suggests a new future for Mando and Grogu.
This recap of The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 8, “Chapter 23: The Return”, contains spoilers, and the article contains a full breakdown of everything that occurs during The Mandalorian Season 3’s ending.
Well, folks, we’ve made it to another season finale of The Mandalorian, which is historically cause for the entire internet to break down into sobs of uncontrollable nostalgic frenzy.
However, rightly or wrongly, this season has focused less on that sort of thing and more on a coherent redemption arc for the Mandalorians as a people, trying to reclaim their homeworld from the grip of tyranny and unite their fractured culture. In Episode 7, that fight went home to Mandalore, where Bo-Katan and the united Nite Owls and Children of the Watch discovered that Moff Gideon, on behalf of an Imperial Shadow Council, had been using the planet as a base of operations for the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn and something dubbed Project Necromancer.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Ending Explained
This is where we pick things up, with a fight on two fronts: Bo-Katan and other surviving Mandalorians who escaped Moff Gideon’s ambush trying to evacuate the Mandalorian fleet before the Imperial Remnant destroy it, and Mando, Grogu (in his new IG-12 mech), and R5-D4 trying to break into Moff Gideon’s control center and bring his longstanding crusade to an end.
What is Moff Gideon doing in the facility?
The action is immediate and impressive. There’s great-looking effects-heavy aerial combat to enjoy, but the hand-to-hand stuff with Mando is seriously great. His escape from the beskar-clad stormtroopers is cool enough, but a set-piece in which he moves one-by-one between barrier shields — like the ones that separated Obi-Wan from Qui-Gon and Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace — taking down troopers and using their pilfered weapons to tackle the next batch is probably the best small-scale fight of the entire series.
Deeper into Gideon’s base, Mando and Grogu make an alarming discovery — he has had himself cloned. Multiple times.
After destroying the clones, Mando confronts Gideon, who implies that through them he was trying to develop an affinity with the Force — cloning Force-sensitive beings is canonically extremely difficult, and is presumably the point of Project Necromancer, leading to Palpatine’s return in The Rise of Skywalker — and he’s supremely ticked off that Mando ruined that plan. So, boss fight time it is.
How is Moff Gideon defeated?
After telling Axe Woves to evacuate the capital ship, Bo-Katan and the other Mandalorians take shelter on the planet’s surface until the Armorer arrives with needed reinforcements, and the visual of the Mandalorians rocketing from the upper atmosphere, Bo-Katan leading the charge with the Darksaber, is another instantly-iconic set-piece.
While Mando takes on Gideon in his impenetrable Dark Trooper armor, the Praetorian Guards get involved, leading to them chasing Grogu into another room. Bo-Katan arrives to duel Gideon with the Darksaber while Mando rescues Grogu, who helps him take down the Praetorians by throwing them around with the Force.
When Gideon starts getting the upper hand, Mando and Grogu intervene for another showcase of Mandalorian togetherness and Grogu’s Force powers, which save them from the exploding facility. Gideon is killed, his clones are destroyed, and his facility is annihilated.
Why does Mando adopt Grogu?
With Mandalore retaken, the Armorer bathes Ragnar (Paz Vizsla’s son) in the Living Waters; it’s official graduation from foundling to apprentice. Mando wants the same for Grogu. Since he isn’t old enough to talk, though, he can’t speak the Creed, which makes him ineligible unless his parents agree for him to be a proper Mandalorian apprentice.
So, Mando adopts him. He’s now Din Grogu, Mandalorian apprentice, and Mando must leave Mandalore to take him on journeys and adventures. As the camera tracks down into the Living Waters, we see the Mythosaur open its eye.
Bo-Katan relights the Great Forge of a reunited Mandalore, the homeworld belonging to Mandalorians once more.
The third season of The Mandalorian ends with Mando visiting Carson Teva, offering to work for the New Republic as an independent contractor on a case-by-case basis. Since Grogu is his apprentice now, he’s going to be more selective in his assignments. All he wants in return is a “small advance” — the salvaged head of IG-11.
On Navarro, Greef Karga gives Mando a deed to a cabin where he can lay low between adventures, and Mando gives him a fully reconstituted and working IG-11, to function as the planet’s marshall.
The final shot is of Mando relaxing outside his new cabin while Grogu — sorry, Din Grogu — throws frogs around with the Force.
You can stream The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 8, “Chapter 23: The Return” exclusively on Disney+. What did you think of the ending of The Mandalorian Season 3? Let us know in the comments.