The Mandalorian Chapter 24 (S3 Finale) Review

As with every episode of The Mandalorian Season 3, Chapter 24 doesn’t represent the series at its best. Among other objective criticisms I’ve read or heard, I agree that the script feels too rushed and choppy.  However, the chapter still delivers almost everything I would want from a finale, and not much of what I didn’t want. The parts I want to discuss most badly occur during the second half, including apparent precautions for a potential delay of Season 4. (Even before the Writers’ Strike, I feared a repeat of Lucasfilm or Disney+ pushing back the release of the Season 3 premiere.) In order to judge the value of this “ending” for Din Djarin’s story, this article will “spoil” as much about this 15 day-old episode as I deem necessary.

Brief Thoughts on Chapters 22-23

  • 22. Guns For Hire: I kept getting distracted while playing this episode, but aside from the anti-climactic transfer of the Darksaber, it didn’t seem important enough for me to give another chance.
  • 23. The Spies: This promising first half of the season finale benefits from delivering some of the season’s sweetest and most shocking moments.

The Return

Airdate: April 19, 2023

Director: Rick Famuyiwa

Writer: Jon Favreau

Let it be written in Song that Din Djarin is accepting this foundling as his son.

-The Armorer

Din Djarin and Grogu, separated from the other Mandalorians who have gathered to reclaim Mandalore, venture to destroy Moff Gideon and his clone army.  After Bo-Katan finishes gathering the remaining Manalorians for battle, she assists with Din’s efforts to defeat Gideon.  As the united Mandalorian tribes begin rebuilding their planet, Din accepts a duty that will again require himself and Grogu to spend time away from the other Children of the Watch.

The plentiful instances of Din Djarin taking back the spotlight help me forgive most of this episode’s flaws.  Due to how often he needs someone else to save him, I strongly feared that his capture at the end of “The Spies” would render him inactive – if not absent – for most of this episode.  Fortunately, his swift escape enables him to claim a vital role in taking Mandalore back from the Imperial Remnant.  Even when Grogu and Bo-Katan must help him, it still ultimately feels like he performs the most action in his plot line; especially when he gets to help them in return.  Din’s strongest set pieces here continue to exhibit the importance of his resourcefulness and resilience, while other standouts allow Grogu to display how his powers have evolved; thanks to Din’s efforts to ensure his survival and education.

Some of the finale’s disappointments revolve around Moff Gideon.  Since he never directly interferes with Din’s escape towards the command center, his rage during their final confrontation feels disproportional with how quickly Din destroys the clones beforehand.  Due to a personal negative bias, the sight of him in Dark Trooper-inspired armor also fails to excite me.  His fights against other adults in armor remind me too strongly of when Jon Favreau’s Iron Man degraded into metal suits duking it out, kicking off a tiresome tradition of Marvel Studios – whose interconnected media influences the direction of The Mandalorian and its spin-offs – pitting its protagonists against enemies with similar abilities.  Even if I feel more excited whenever the scene cuts away to Din and Grogu combining their distinctive skillsets against Praetorian Guards, I will give the battles against Gideon credit for continuing to emphasize practical choreography and effects over CGI. While that doesn’t apply to his demise at the hands of multiple Mandalorians, and Grogu, the demise still feels satisfying in the context of Mandalorian Seasons 1-3 as a whole.

The final minutes help treat Din and Grogu to what feels mostly like their ideal ending, especially for viewers who favor Star Wars protagonists with ordinary backgrounds or positions.  Despite Din prioritizing his fatherly duties – such as officially adopting Grogu – above the chance to become Mand’alor, he proves his value towards achieving a bountiful future for Mandalorians.  Not only did he set off the events that led to Mandalore’s revival, but his freelance work for the New Republic gives him an unspoken role in maintaining or strengthening the public’s trust in and respect for Mandalorians.

(Speaking of Grogu’s adoption, I should admit that even though I usually insist upon referring to “Baby Yoda” by Lucasfilm’s official terms, “Din Grogu” sounds too confusing for me to frequently use.)

Arguably, the episode could have illustrated more strongly the unification of conflicting Mandalorian tribes.  Bo-Katan overtly proves that the Children of the Watch have reshaped her perception of Mandalorian values, when Gideon’s destruction of the Darksaber fails to destroy her confidence as a fighter and leader.  Inversely, the Children of the Watch only subtly imply that she has reshaped their perception, when Ragnar (Wesley Kimmel) swears a Creed lacking any requirement to conceal his face.  Viewers expecting to see any Mandalorians pull off their helmets afterwards will feel disappointed that such an event doesn’t occur onscreen, if at all.  Not even Din seems ready to let Grogu see his face again.

To most viewers, the unveilings of Din across The Mandalorian Seasons 1 and 2 suggested the journey of a zealot realizing the impracticability of his beliefs in an evolving society.  I usually don’t blame him for wanting to resume the helmet rule afterwards, considering his dependency on his helmet for curbing his chances of head trauma and symptoms of social anxiety.  His commitment to his atonement reshapes his journey into one of holding onto beliefs, even if society attempts to render them irrelevant.  This lesson also sounds noble, when applied to beliefs that don’t promote discrimination.  The legend of the Darksaber does sound more discriminatory than the thought of a Mandalorian always hiding their face, considering a surface-level interpretation of the legend would make physical strength sound like the most important quality of a leader. Without the blade, the last we see of Mandalore depicts unmasked Mandalorians triumphantly intermingling with the Children of the Watch, to the extent of the Armorer sharing the stage with Bo-Katan.

The updated Creed and accessibility to Living Waters help leave open the chance of Din revealing himself to Grogu at least once again.  The new Creed also suggests that when Grogu officially becomes a Mandalorian, he will have the choice whether or not to shroud his “bright eyes” from the rest of the Galaxy. However, since we don’t know when or where the clan will appear next in canon, I would have preferred not to wait any longer to see if Din’s old religion has truly permanently closed off Grogu from his humanity. (I have trouble buying the thought of The Last of Us leaving Pedro Pascal with no time at all to film another unmasking scene; considering Vanity Fair and Empire Magazine both shared new photos of him wearing Din’s armor without the helmet, and Jen Kober confirmed him appearing fully-suited in Chapter 22: “Guns For Hire”.) Despite that and other flaws, “The Return” delivers satisfactory exploration of the clan’s skills and evolution.

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