Reel Thoughts: ‘The Mandalorian’ season three has too many detours and not enough destination


Illustration by Beatrice Villaflor

Bo-Katan is thrust into the spotlight in season 3 of “The Mandalorian,” essentially taking on the role of co-lead.

Following two commercially successful seasons of “The Mandalorian,” fans highly anticipated the franchise’s latest installment. However, some felt disappointed by this season’s disjointed storyline. 

This latest dose of the show attempts to tackle too many plot lines at once, and consequently, leaves the audience with about three episodes of content sandwiching a season of side adventures. While more casual viewers may not mind these detours, many die-hard fans have been left wanting more of The Force, more danger and more tension that keeps fans at the edge of their seats.

Not every television show has to kill off characters at the pace of “Game of Thrones,” but this season’s refusal to take risks or present a palpable danger to characters results in the show losing its momentum quickly. The main protagonists never face a significant threat because nothing unfortunate ever happens to them. In fact, the sole protagonist who dies this season is Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher), who holds only a minor role. 

Since the characters never face grave danger or grapple with loss, the plot becomes less interesting as no quality of writing can overcome a lack of stakes. The death of series regulars like Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) or The Armorer (Emily Swallow) could have taken the story in a bold new direction and kept audiences hooked. But, the writer’s room was too timid to kill off more notable characters.

Even if “The Mandalorian” showrunners were bold enough to kill off main protagonists, most characters were not interesting enough this season for viewers to care about them. For instance, season three co-leads Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) were static characters throughout most of the recent installment, not undergoing any notable character development. On top of that, supporting characters like Paz Vizsla were rather unlikable at times, only serving to interrupt interesting plot developments in pursuit of side quests. 

To make matters worse, the show sidelined its big-bad Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and fan-favorite Greef Karga for most of the season, two of the most compelling characters in the entire show.

The show’s struggles in dealing with character development throughout the season could have been overlooked if its plot was exceptional. Unfortunately, the overarching storyline is consistently derailed by nonessential filler episodes. Perhaps the most egregious example of this trend is “Chapter 20: The Foundling,” which is one long side quest where the Mandalorians spend an unnecessarily lengthy amount of time trying to save Paz Vizsla’s young son. While watching these filler episodes, it feels as if the showrunners were contracted to make more episodes than the main story warranted, resulting in a stretched out season of television.

Amid the scattered side plots, however, there are several easter eggs that one would be remiss to not commend. From the first on-screen appearance of Garazeb Orrelius (Steve Blum) of “Star Wars Rebels” to mentions of Grand Admiral Thrawn, teasing these names and characters heavily implies their involvement in the upcoming “Ahsoka” series. 

Even fans less versed in the lore were excited to see Brendol Hux (Brian Gleeson), father of General Armitage Hux of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, appear in the Shadow Council. Despite this season’s disjointed storyline, viewers can at least appreciate the season’s efforts to fill in the plot holes introduced in the sequel trilogy. 

The third season of “The Mandalorian” is merely a mediocre extension of one of Star Wars’ most iconic series and is a bantha-sized step down from the quality of “Andor” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” The easter eggs and top-notch visuals elevate the viewing experience, but they cannot overcome the season’s lackluster plot and character development. 

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Twitter: @DannyMOGrady04 

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Twitter: @MilesAzumaHall

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