I privately swore not to review The Mandalorian Season 3 unless I found an episode that both met the standards described here, and could earn stronger praise from me than Chapter 16.625 did. This took quite a while, partially due to my sense of Lucasfilm repeating some of my biggest frustrations with that series. Similar to when Boba Fett decided to become a Daimyo, Din Djarin embarked on a quest that I thought* seemed inconsistent with his characterization at the end of The Mandalorian Season 2, and often became overshadowed by other characters. If I compare Chapters 17-21 to the state of The Book of Boba Fett before Din’s hijacking, Mando‘s advantages sound so simple, that writing down would condemn Boba Fett‘s basic failures – including some I’ve already spent plenty of time describing – more effectively than they would praise The Mandalorian. Fortunately, Din does play a major role in this chapter, my favorite of the season so far. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee also earned higher billing than in his first three Star Wars appearances, which means I should detail whether or not I found his role in this story intriguing.

*past tense regarding Din Djarin.

Brief Thoughts on Chapter 20

  • 20. The Foundling: Despite a thrilling and cathartic look at Grogu’s past, some serious cases of sidelining Din help prevent me from enjoying the main plot.

The Pirate

Airdate: March 29, 2023

Director: Peter Ramsey

Writer: Jon Favreau

Perhaps it is time for us to live in the light once again on a planet where we are welcome. So our culture may flourish and our children can feel what it is to play in the sunlight.

-Din Djarin

Din Djarin and the other Children of the Watch receive a visit from Captain Carson Teva, who forwards a distress message from Nevarro to the tribe. Pirates led by King Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie) have begun attacking the capital, but the New Republic can’t help High Magistrate Greef Karga fight them. Din convinces the rest of the tribe to help free Nevarro from the pirates by offering the Mandalorians some land that Greef had previously attempted to sell to Din.

This chapter reinforces evolution that Din and the Children of the Watch have undergone since The Mandalorian Chapter 1.  While Din initially concentrated only on his bounty-hunting, his respect towards various foundlings has forged tighter connections to the rest of the tribe.  Additionally, his proposal to relocate the covert to a less secluded area reflects how helping out a wide array of the Galaxy’s denizens, for reasons beyond earning credits, has helped him understand the importance of widening his impact.  Even if he could easily convince the other Mandalorians to obey him by pulling out the Darksaber, it remains admirable that he continues to earn others’ respect and compliance through altruism and determination, rather than weaponry alone.  Din and Grogu could have easily formed their own Mandalorian tribe after the former’s banishment from the Children of the Watch, but considering all they did to bring up the orphaned Din, it would have looked uncharacteristically dishonorable of him to abandon them in a state of disarray.

Compared to The Mandalorian‘s previous attempt at exploring the faults of the New Republic, this chapter boasts an inverted structure. Chapter 19: “The Convert” relegated the Mandalorians to the bookends, focusing the entire middle on the Galactic Empire’s successor. “The Pirate” relegates the New Republic to the near-beginning and the very end, focusing the entire middle on the Mandalorians’ efforts to save Nevarro’s people.  Everything that happens by the time Teva receives Greef’s message remains engaging due to how emotionally attached the viewer has become to Greef and the city that once provided Din with income, while seeing them evolve beyond a disgrace and a scumhole across The Mandalorian Chapters 1-17.  Some might think it takes too long for any Mandalorians to appear, but I can’t complain; it makes sense for Teva to seek help on Coruscant first, and I appreciate another appearance from Elia Kane.

Peter Ramsey had previously won an Academy Award for helping direct Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, an action-packed, emotionally-charged demonstration of how embracing both similarities and differences with potential allies can help accomplish a common good. (And a movie I feel more fondly of than any other I’ve seen from a future Mandalorian Season 1-3 director, except maybe Jon Favreau’s Elf.) This makes Ramsey a fitting choice to helm a team-up between a Mandalorian who has begun rediscovering the importance of traditions she abandoned, a Mandalorian who holds onto his old beliefs while acting courteous to those who disagree with their worth, and Mandalorians who insist upon the superiority of their ancient Way above all others.  Of course, they all provide thrilling contributions to this chapter’s action scenes; unique when centered around any of the four central Mandalorians.  Even though Ramsey specializes in animation, this episode proves that he can direct compelling performances from live-action actors as well.

Among the Mandalorian fan circles I frequent, Carson Teva became a popular choice to replace Cara Dune as Disney+’s most prominent Ranger of the New Republic. He promotes inclusivity not only through his casting, but also through his varied, yet logical, choices on who deserves a chance to prove their worth.  His absence from the climax fortifies how strongly he believes in Din’s capability of contributing to society, and allows him to keep his word not to find out where the Children of the Watch will settle next.  Most of these qualities seemed apparent ever since Din first met him, but his open mind becomes especially admirable after Chapter 19’s demonstration of other New Republic officers’ difficulties accepting intellectual non-conformists.  Paul Sun-Hyung Lee also pulls off material more serious and urgent than in his earlier, fleeting Star Wars appearances – or in the typical Kim’s Convenience episode – including an unsettling teaser for the return of a foe from Din’s clan’s past.

While the Children of the Watch begin settling on Nevarro, the Armorer assigns Bo-Katan with uniting Mandalorians on other planets. This conflicts earlier impressions that since Din twice won ownership of the Darksaber, he would have to unite them alone. Bo-Katan has indeed proven more capable than him of adjusting to Mandalorians’ conflicting beliefs – we haven’t canonically seen his face since December 2020, after all – but her assignment creates more opportunities for her to steal Din’s spotlight. He badly needs more focus before this season ends, but since I’m writing this review before watching Chapter 22, I don’t know exactly how much focus the latter gives to him. “The Pirate” overall both triumphantly and ominously heralds future-reshaping developments for the Galaxy’s Mandalorians.

Author’s Note

I previously wrote that I would cover the Mandalorian Season 3 finale in either brief thoughts, or a complete review. However, now I think that whether I cover it at all will depend on how much I like it compared to this episode.

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