The Mandalorian Season 3 Premiere (aka Chapter 17) is a welcome return to our televisions, tablets and mobile devices of our favorite space daddy and his adorable, sweet baby boy. While it’s only been a year since the dynamic duo graced our screens, the less we talk about The Book of Boba Fett, the better … for all of us.
Yet, while this was a welcome return for Mando and Grogu, it definitely was not the best return for this tentpole Disney+ series. The Mandalorian Season 3 Premiere felt very rushed; breathlessly trying to dump as much exposition as it could while still making room for requisite action sequences.
Previous season premieres took their time with the episode’s storyline while laying the groundwork for the season ahead. This time around we have Mando literally flying all over the galaxy, meeting with various characters to tell them his plan of atoning for his transgressions in an underground spring on the planet of Mandalore. This gets old, fast.
The Mandalorian will never be confused for a series that delivers highly complex narratives. It’s always been straightforward with its stories, its messaging and approach — and it’s something audiences have loved. This time, however, it was way too blatant and heavy-handed so by the time you get to the episode’s end you’re left wondering, why the rush? Couldn’t this exact story been told in a 15 minute “episode zero” special on Disney+? Did they need to spell everything out so explicitly? Did we need to visit all these characters in the span of one episode?
The Mandalorian’s first two seasons are not dissimilar to a fine multi-course meal prepared by a chef with equal parts skill and heart. There’s plenty to whet your appetite, but when the main course comes it’s such a delicious, rich meal that you want to sit with it, take your time with it and enjoy every second you have with it. Here it felt like things were in such a rush that your meal was fast food picked up from a rest stop off the highway. It does the job but it’s nothing like that thoughtfully prepared meal. Here we got a solid episode, but with more time it could’ve been great.
Does this mean that The Mandalorian Season 3 Premiere is bad? Absolutely not. Just being back in the world of Dinn Djarin and Grogu is an absolute joy. It feels warm, comforting and lived in. We’re back with our space friends. As corny as that may sound it’s important — especially in today’s super-saturated content market — that a series has that type of atmosphere. The audience wants to be back here, and they’ll forgive the shortcomings of a premiere. The gravitas this series carries with it is higher than almost any other prestige show outside of a select few.
Besides, there’s everything you’d want in a Mandalorian episode in this premiere. Great action sequences, space chases, wild creatures and characters filling every corner of your screen, Mando is Mando, Grogu is still our sweetest baby boy, and the very blatant breadcrumbs left throughout the episode have the potential to lead to great television.
One of the wild things about the season premiere is that the stealer of the show was not in fact Papa Pedro Pascal or our sweet baby boy — it was Carl Weathers. This is easily Weathers’ best performance as Greef Karga. Weathers and the writing team took great care to make Karga more than a former crooked politician and gunman Mando can trust. He’s still a blustering and braggadocious character that can be counted on for some well-timed humor, yet there’s a degree of care in Karga we haven’t seen before. He’s proud of what he’s done with Nevarro, how he’s made it independent and legit. He’s willing to accept he had to do bad things to get that point, but those are in the past and he wants to protect his people and the way of life they’ve created. Nothing illustrates this better than the shoot out with the pirates. Greef makes a point to say the bar no longer exists and it’s a school, and not just any school, “his school.” That’s a wildly different Greef than we’ve experienced and it’ll be really interesting to see where this character goes.
Should viewers be worried about the third season of The Mandalorian based on the premiere? For now, the answer is no. This series, even when it stumbles (and it does every season), finds a way to deliver. The creative minds who’ve created the legend of this series are still intact here and the cast is one of the best ensembles Disney has gathered for any of its shows — so there is reason to remain calm and trust the process.