The Mandalorian: Chapter 3 Review
Given the negativity that has plagued Star Wars since December 2017, it’s very refreshing to see how much praise that The Mandalorian is getting. With every episode, we’re getting converted (or re-converted) fans, praise for The Mandalorian being the best of Star Wars and declarations that each episode of The Mandalorian is the best one yet. We’re only three episodes into the first season of The Mandalorian but this episode sure seems to live up to all of that hype.
Spoiler Warning: This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian (including this episode) and may contain spoilers for other Star Wars TV series, movies and novels.
In the last review, I mentioned that a big moment in a series doesn’t have to be a big plot twist. A hallmark of good writing is being able to set things up and pay them off. In the last episode, we had the question of when and how Baby Yoda would use Force powers (since everyone was fairly certain that he would so the question wasn’t “if”). The eventual payoff was spectacular, even if we knew that it was coming.
So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Mando suddenly has an apparent change of heart. What starts as a simple exchange of an asset for payment turns into a moral quandary for Mando. Does he save The Child and break the Bounty Hunter’s code or does he doom The Child to whatever experiment that the Imperial Remnant has in mind for it? The answer seems obvious to the viewer but it’s the journey to get there that makes the payoff more satisfying.
If anything, the plot twist isn’t the way the story is progressing but rather subverting one’s expectations of a bounty hunter. We’re so used to bounty hunters being soldiers of fortune whose only loyalty is to the next dollar. Instead, we have a bounty hunter who serves a moral code above the bounty hunter’s code. It’s not what you expect from someone who just disintegrated a bunch of jawas for tearing apart his ship / being jawas.
One of the benefits of The Mandalorian being on a streaming service is that each episode isn’t followed by a “next time on” teaser. It let’s us come into the next episode with an idea of what to expect based on how the previous episode ended but without potentially spoiling what happens next. So we came into this episode expecting what would happen but how we get there is the fun part of the journey.
Part of that journey is payoffs to things brought up in this and previous episodes. In Chapter One, Mando liked the odds of being outnumbered four-to-one by stormtroopers. In this episode, we get the payoff as he takes down four stormtroopers by himself. Inside this episode, we had a few in-episode payoffs. Greef telling Mando that everyone else in the Guild hates him pays off when they all go after him. Also in Greef moments, he showed off his beskar steel finders fee in his jacket pocket which saved him at the end of the episode. And there was this episode’s signature moment (which I won’t spoil) which was teased with its own series of scenes.
There was even some retroactive payoff. Some people saw it in the first episode flashback but this episode’s flashback scene clearly had a Separatist droid attack on his home. Given Mando’s insistence that he didn’t have a droid piloted speeder back in Chapter One, that starts to tie together too. The logical extension from this would be that young Mando was saved by a Jedi (here’s a good way to get Ewan or Hayden back into the fold or bring Ahsoka into live action) which is what gives him a soft spot for Baby Yoda.
And the actual way we see this play out during the episode is just as good as how it was written. The story callbacks are linked together with visual cues such as a little metal ball. There was some great action as the episode progresses, including some that were setup earlier in the episode. The first big action sequence of the episode was done in a more bounty hunter style than we’re used to from Star Wars. It fits with his introduction in the first episode. The second big action sequence was more Star Wars with lots of blasters and explosions with the hero escaping victorious. I guess it parallels the concluding fight in the pilot. They established Mando’s prowess in close-quarters and with a blaster in earlier episodes and callback to it here.
Normally, I’d note this in other random points of note but this warrant mention up top: This episode was directed by Deborah Chow. Star Wars fans may know that name because she’s been put in charge of the upcoming Obi-Wan series that is supposed to start production next year. Considering how this episode played out and everyone’s reactions to it, I’d say that it was a good call by Disney and LucasFilm to put her in charge of the Obi-Wan series. As much as I will stump for Dave Filoni, who wrote a lot of Obi-Wan in The Clone Wars animated series so it’s safe to say he understands the character, Chow sure seems like a good choice after this week.
Also, I feel like I haven’t mentioned Pedro Pascal as much as should to this point. He’s so good at conveying things with very few words and just a little body language that you know exactly what Mando thinks and feels. It’s definitely important in this episode more than any.
Overall, this is another great episode. It’s equal points to both Jon Favreau and Deborah Chow. Favreau wrote a great episode that is tying up hints from earlier episodes and sets more threads to be tied in future episodes. Chow had the task of executing on the script which certainly isn’t as easy as it seems from this side of the TV (or phone or tablet, etc). Always two there are, a writer and a director.
Other random points of note:
- Since Greef called him Mando, I guess that I can call him just “Mando.”
- Now we know how Baby Yoda got out of his crib.
- Also, who thought that Baby Yoda was going to pull that lever and launch them randomly into hyperspace?
- It has been pointed out a few times that Werner Herzog’s scientist friend has a Kamino cloning emblem on his sleeve. You’ll see that same symbol on the clones’ garb in Episode II.
- This is the way.
Next time, Mando is on the run. The Bounty Hunters Guild sure seems eager to cash in on the bounty on the child (and Mando, by proxy). There may not be a safe star system outside the Core for Mando and non-Mandalorian allies sure seem in short supply. The bounty hunter and his baby sure need to be using all of their tools and abilities to survive.