TL;DR – While you could say they spared their best to last, it was still frustrating that this energy went missing a lot during this season.
Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this show.
The Mandalorian Review –
I am not sure we thought that at the start of the season, we would be feeling a bit odd now that we are drawing to an end. Indeed, I had to correct myself because I had inadvertently written this as the fourth season, though in hindsight, I don’t think that is far from the truth given how Book of Boba Fett turned out. However, as we come to the end of this season, and maybe even the series at the time of writing season 4 is not confirmed, I wonder what we got.
So to set the scene, in The Spies, most of the disparate groups of the Mandalorians came together to help reclaim Mandalore after discovering that it was potentially inhabitable. However, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) realised their plan. He set a trap because neither of the Mandalorian groups knew is that Gideon always knew the planet was habitable and had made his base there. A realisation that happened after Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) was captured. Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) was leading the survivors off to escape and warn the armada above that they were about to come under attack. Still, only time would tell if they would get the warning before obliteration. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode, and season, as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
This week’s episode is very much a ‘part 2’ episode, so much so that I wonder if the original plan did not split this episode up. However, we quickly blast through all the suspense that was hanging after last week as Axe Wolves (Simon Kassianides) warns the fleet, Bo-Katan, and the Mandalorians escape, and somehow Grogu helps break Din Djarin out. It is best not to think too hard about that last point, given it does not make sense with what we see, but it is a good scene, so you let it pass. However, there was a feeling that all the potential tension from last week was for naught because it did not go anywhere. We then get a complete dismantlement of every part of this complex.
On the theme of disappointment, the impact of a cruiser into the base was strangely anti-climatic, all pomp and no circumstance, with the juxtaposition of the high of Grogu’s force powers on full display with the limp ending to Moff Gideon. However, up to that point, we did get some beautiful visuals. I liked Bo and The Armorer (Emily Swallow) teaming up to take rocket-troopers out of the sky with blasters and hammers. The season’s highlight might be the fight with Din and Grogu taking on the praetorian guard or Grogu’s force powers at full display. Even R5 gets a moment to shine this week.
Where this week shone and touched my heart a bit was when it focused on Din and Grogu becoming a family. This felt like the culmination of four seasons of story, and if nothing else this season, I am glad that they nailed this part. One thing that I did find surprising was how little this episode forwarded the greater Star Wars universe. They must have been content with all the set-up last week, but given this is meant to be their tentpole series, I was surprised that there was no nod to anything in the future. In fact, this very well could work as a series finale, which is an odd feeling to find yourself in.
Moving away from the season finale, I want to take a moment to look at the season as a whole. I wanted to take that step because this has been an interesting yet frustrating experience at times. I have said it before in other reviews this season, but there has been an awkward experience at times. Part of that stems from the fact that it has felt like we have been missing a strong, compelling throughline throughout the season. Now, don’t get me wrong, there has been the tentative ‘unite all the Mandalorians’ towards the back end of the season. However, it felt like there was a lot of wasted space before that started to click into place. It was a season of returning and finishing all those side quests you had left dangling around.
There was also the aimlessness of a show that shifted who the focus was on without doing the groundwork needed to make that work. To be clear, I am not attached enough to Din and Grogu that I would be averse to them shifting that up. However, if you are going to reinterpret your show’s groundwork dramatically, you need to do it with intent rather than slip into it. Part of this also stems from an increasing feeling that Pedro Pascal is doing most of their work from a voice booth. It honestly feels like they discovered before this season that there would be a movie tying all this up in the future, and they had to pivot this season into getting everything ready for that.
In the end, do we recommend The Mandalorian: Chapter 24 (The Return)? I think it worked pretty well as a single episode or a two-parter. The action and character growth were there, and we killed off the yes-no working corpse of Taika Waititi-bot. What’s not to like? However, as a season. Well… that is a more complicated question. For me, there was only one truly bad episode, The Convert,but I seem to be alone on that front. However, while fun, I am not sure I would add many of this season’s episodes to a rewatch. Fun but forgettable was almost the motto this season, which is a shame. But if nothing else, Lizzo got to live out her Grogu dream, and the season might be worth it just for that joy in the universe.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Mandalorian
Directed by – Carl Weathers, Rick Famuyiwa, Rachel Morrison, Lee Isaac Chung, Peter Ramsey & Bryce Dallas Howard
Written by – Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni & Noah Kloor
Created by – Jon Favreau
Based On – Star Wars by George Lucas
Production/Distribution Companies – Lucasfilm, Golem Creations & Disney+
Starring – Pedro Pascal & Katee Sackhoff with Carl Weathers, Emily Swallow, Amy Sedaris, Jack Black, Lizzo, Christopher Lloyd, Giancarlo Esposito, Katy M. O’Brian, Simon Kassianides, Mercedes Varnado, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Temuera Morrison, Tait Fletcher, Brendan Wayne, Lateef Crowder, Dawn Dininger, Leilani Shiu, Ariel Shiu, Omid Adtahi, Ahmed Best & Tim Meadows and Taika Waititi, Misty Rosas, Xander Berkeley, Brian Gleeson, Jonny Coyne, Jodi Long, Hemky Madera, Ron Bottitta, Marco Khan, Imelda Corcoran, Charles Baker, Charles Parnell, Parvesh Cheena, Matthew Bellows, Max Fowler, James Chen, Wesley Kimmel, Jason Chu, Nonso Anozie, Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa, Deborah Chow, Steve Blum, Marti Matulis, Max Lloyd-Jones, Christine Adams, Harry Holland, Dale Dickey, Matthew Wood, Seth Gabel, Jen Kober, Travis Parker & Shirley Henderson
Episodes Covered – Chapter 17: The Apostate, Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore, Chapter 19: The Convert, Chapter 20: The Foundling, Chapter 21: The Pirate, Chapter 22: Guns for Hire, Chapter 23: The Spies & Chapter 24: The Return.