Never Trust a Pirate – The Mandalorian Season 3 Premiere (2023)

Even for as contentious as Star Wars fandom can be, just about everybody seems to like The Mandalorian. While Disney’s other streaming series from the franchise have met with mixed to outright hostile reaction, most fans still eagerly awaited the return of beloved characters Mando and Grogu. Now that it’s back for a third season, does the current Star Wars flagship live up to expectations, or has the show already passed its peak?

Recent interview comments in which Executive Producer Jon Favreau suggested that he has no long-term plans or endgame mapped out for the series raised some concerns. With just one episode of the new season available, it’s not clear whether any hand-wringing over the show’s direction is merited just yet. The episode is pretty decent, all things considered. At the same time, a perhaps unavoidable sense of wheel-spinning has definitely set in.

The Mandalorian 3.01 - Carl Weathers
Title:The Mandalorian
Season:3
Episode:3.01 – The Apostate
Release Date: March 1, 2023
Watched On: Disney+

Also of some annoyance to fans, the season premiere opens with the expectation that you should have watched The Book of Boba Fett spinoff. That’s potentially a concern since the Boba Fett show was not well received, and some viewers may have dropped out before the critical crossover episodes featuring Mandalorian characters. By the start of this season 3 premiere, little Grogu is already back at his pal Mando’s side, whereas season 2 ended with him leaving to go train with Luke Skywalker (a digitally de-aged Mark Hamill). An unspecified amount of time has passed between seasons without any explanation. Grogu’s appearance in Boba Fett filled in that gap.

The new season storyline finds Mando (a.k.a. Din Djarin, played by Pedro Pascal) wishing to seek redemption for the sin of removing his helmet in front of other living beings, which his religion considers a sacrilege. To do that, he must bathe in the waters in the mines beneath the surface of home planet Mandalore. The problem is that Mandalore was ravaged by war and is now considered uninhabitable. Nevertheless, Mando is determined to find a way. To do that, he pays a visit to friend Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) in order to rebuild the pieces of bounty hunter droid IG-11, which he thinks will somehow prove useful. When that fails, he must set off to obtain special rare parts needed to repair the droid.

In essence, Mando has to go on a quest to get a thing so that he can go on another quest to do another thing. Neither is terribly interesting, and the logic behind needing IG-11 isn’t well explained. If they have to replace his entire brain circuitry, how is it even the same droid?

In the meantime, Mando quarrels with space pirates, has a pretty exciting chase scene through an asteroid belt, and finally makes a pit stop to see Bo Katan (Katee Sackhoff), who’s in a grumpy mood and refuses to help him. Also, the episode takes the time to inform us in dialogue that Mando’s friend Cara Dune has been written out and won’t be seen again due to actress Gina Carano being a fucking idiot who couldn’t keep her bigoted mouth shut on Twitter.

All told, the premiere episode is fairly entertaining. It has a few good action scenes and the characters continue to be enjoyable. However, it’s also distressingly short at just 38 minutes (barely 32 before the end credits come up) and the plotting feels thin. Off the bat, I’m not terribly invested in the idea of Mando begging for forgiveness from a cult of extremist religious nuts. Perhaps that will be addressed later by Mando leaving the cult, but I’m not sure how much patience I’ll have if that takes the entire season to happen.

The show’s cutesiness factor has also been noticeably amped up quite a bit this season. Every alien screams of latex and Muppetry, and Grogu spends most of his screen time staring moon-eyed into the camera, as if directed to do so by Disney Corporate in the hopes of selling more action figures and plush toys. That may have always been an aspect of this show, but something about it feels more overt and shameless than usual.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian 3.01 - Katee Sackhoff

Video Streaming

I don’t recall being overly impressed by the 4K streaming quality of either previous season of The Mandalorian, but I don’t have time to go back and look at them again right now. In any case, the season 3 premiere struck me as a step up, visually. The 2.40:1 image is, for the most part, bright and pleasingly sharp, with a nice application of HDR. Highlights such as flames, blaster fire, and explosions pop nicely.

With that said, I noted that cinematography duties for the series appear to have transferred to veteran Dean Cundey (Halloween, The Thing), which I suppose means that if you try to rewatch his episodes in a year, he’ll have completely changed all the colors and contrast without warning or rational explanation.

Consistent with previous seasons, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack has a lot of cacophony during the action scenes, but little dynamic range. Drums in the musical score and hammering sounds from action on-screen deliver negligible bass. The episode’s asteroid chase scene also feels like a missed opportunity that should make more effective use of swishing and swooping sounds from the surround and overhead speakers.

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One thought on “Never Trust a Pirate – The Mandalorian Season 3 Premiere (2023)

  1. Have yet to see this new episode.

    Two things:

    a) ‘a.k.a. Din Djarin, played by Pedro Pascal’. I read some reports that Pascal only voices the character this season. Apparently, ‘The Last of Us’ demanded all his live-action attention. Not that it matters.

    b) ‘A cult of extremist religious nuts.’ Imagine if they used that to explain Carano’s absence. ‘Yeah, she’s involved in a cult of …’

    Like

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